To the Right Honorable1, my very good Lady, the Lady BRIDGET, Countess of Lincoln.2
Your letters (which are not common nor cheap) following me hither into New England, and bringing with them renewed testimonies of the accustomed favours you honored me with in the old, have drawn from me this narrative retribution, which (in respect of your proper interest in some persons of great note amongst us) was the thankfullest present I had to send over the seas. Therefore I humbly intreat your Honour this be accepted as payment from him, who neither hath, nor is any more, than
Boston in New England,
March 12th 16313
For the satisfaction of your Honour, and some friends, and for the use of such as shall hereafter intend to increase our plantation in New England, I have in the throng of domestick, and not altogether free from publick business, thought fit to commit to memory our present condition, and what hath befallen us since our arrival here; which I will do shortly, after my usual manner, and must do rudely, having yet no table, nor other room to write in, than by the fireside upon my knee, in this sharp winter; to which my family must have leave to resort, though they break good manners, and make me sometimes forget what I would say, and say what I would not.
(Here commences the ancient MS copy, which probably contained an account of the Bays and Rivers, and then a brief notice of the Indian tribes living on them.)
Sachim in New England who I saw the last somer. Upon the river of Naponset neere to the Mattachusetts fields dwells Chicka Talbott, who hath between 50 and 60 subjects. This man least favors the English of any Sagamore (for soe are the kings with us called, as they are called Sachims southwards) wee are acquainted with, by reason of the old quarrel betweene him and those of Plymouth, wherein hee lost 7 of his best men, yet hee lodged one night the last winter at my house in friendly manner. About 70 or 80 miles westward from theis, are seated the Nipnett men, whose Sagamore wee know not, but we heare their numbers exceed any but the Pecoates and the Narragansets, and they are the only people wee yet heare of in the inland Country. Upon the river of Mistick is seated Sagamore John4, and upon the river Sawgus, Sagamore James5 his brother, both so named by the English. The elder brother John is a handsome young…
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…conversant with us, affecting English apparell and houses and speaking well of our God. His brother James is of a farr worse disposition, yet repaireth often to us. Both these brothers command not above 30 or 40 men for aught I can learn. Near to Salem dwellth two or three families, subject to the Sagamore of Agawam, whose name he told me, but I have forgotten it. This Sagamore hath but few subjects and them and himself tributary to Sagamore James, having beene before the last year (in James his minority) tributary to Chicka Talbott. Upon the river Merimack is seated Sagamore Passaconaway, having under his command 4 or 500 men, being esteemed by his countrymen a false fellow, and by us a wich. For any more northerly I know not, but leave it to after relacons. Having thus briefly and disorderly, especially in my description of the Bays and Rivers, set down what is come to hand touching the…
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Now concerning the English that are planted here, I find that about the year 1620, certaine English set out from Leyden, in Holland, intending their course for Hudson’s river; the mouth whereof lies south of the river of the Pecoates, but ariseth as I am informed, northwards in about 43 degrees, and soe a good part of it within the compass of our Patent. Theis being much weather beaten and wearied with seeking the river after a most tedious voyage, arrived at length in a small Bay, lyeing northeast from Cape Cod, where, landing about the moenth of December, by the favor of a calm winter, such as was never seen here since, beganne to build their dwellings in that place, which now is called New Plymouth, where, after much sicknes, famine, povertie and great mortality, (through all which God by an unwonted Providence caryed them) they are now groune upp to a people, healthfull, wealthy, politique and religious: such things doth the Lord for those that wait for his mercies. Theis of Plymouth came with Patents from King James, and have since obtained others from our Sovereigne King Charles, havinge a Governour and Councaile of their owne. There was about the same time one Mr. Wesen6, an English merchant, who sent diverse men to plant and trade who sate downe by the river Wesaguscus, but this not comeing for soe good ends as those of Plymouth, spedd not soe well, for the most of them dyinge and languishing away, they who survived were rescued by those of Plymouth out of the hands of Chicka Talbott and his Indians, who oppressed these weake English, and intended to have destroyed them, and the Plymotheans also, as is set down in a tract written by Mr. Winslow7 of Plymouth. Also since, one Capt. Wollaston8 wth. some 30 with him, came neer to the same place, and built on a hill, which he named Mount Wollaston; but being not supplied with renewed provisions, they vanished away as the former did. Also, diverse merchants of Bristow and some other places have yearly for theis 8 years or thereabouts sent ships hether at the fishing times to trade for Beaver where there factors dishonestly for their gaines, have furnished the Indians with guns, swords, powder and shott.
Touching the plantation which wee here have begun, it fell out thus: — About the yeare 1627. some friends beeing togeather in Lincolnshire, fell into some discourse about New England, and the plantinge of the gospell there; and after some deliberation wee imparted our reasons by lers. and messages to some in London and the west country9 where it was likewise deliberately thought uppon, and at length with often negotiation soe ripened that in the year 1628, wee procured a patent from his Matie10 for our planting between the Matachusets Bay and Charles River on the south and the river of Merimack on the North; and 3 miles on eyther side of those Rivers and Bay; as allso for the government of those who did or should inhabit wth in that compass: and the same yeare, we sent Mr. John Endicott11 and some with him to beginne a plantacon; and to strengthen such as hee should find there, which wee sent hether from Dorchester and some places adjioyning; from whom the same year receivinge hopeful newes, the next yeare, ‘1629, wee sent diverse shipps over wth. about 300 people, and some cowes, goates and horses, many of which arrived safely. These, by their too large commendacons of the Country and the commodities thereof, invited us soe strongly to go on that Mr. Wenthropp of Suffolke (who was well knowne in his own country and well approved heere for his pyety, liberality, wisedom and gravity) coming e in to us, wee came to such resolution that in April, 1630, wee set sail from old England with 4 good shipps.12 And in May following, 8 more followed13; 2 having gone before in February and March14, and 2 more following15 in June and August, besides another set out by a private merchant. These 17 shipps arrived all safe in New England for the increase of the plantation here this yeare 1630— but made a long, troublesome and costly voyage, beeing all windbound long in England, and hindered with contrary winds, after they set sail and soe scattered wth. mists and tempests that few of them arrived together. Our 4 shipps which sett out in April arrived here in June and July, where wee found the Colony in a sadd and unexpected condition, above 80 of them beeing dead the winter before, and many of those alive were weak and sick; all the corne and bread amongst them all, hardly sufficient to feed upon a fortnight, insomuch that the remainder of 180 servants wee had the two yeares before sent over, cominge to us for victualls to sustain them, wee found ourselves wholly unable to feed them by reason that the provisions shipped for them were taken out of the shipp they were put in, and they who were trusted to shipp them in another, failed us, and left them behind; whereupon necessity enforced us to our extreme loss to give them all libertie16, who had cost us about 16 or 20 £. a person furnishing and sending over. But bearing theis things as wee might, wee beganne to consult of the place of our sitting downe; for Salem17, where wee landed, pleased us not.— And to that purpose, some were sent to the Bay to search upp the rivers for a convenient place; who uppon their returne, reported to have found a good place uppon Mistick; but some other of us seconding theis to approove or dislike of their judgment, wee found a place [that] liked us better, 3 leagues up Charles river; and thereupon unshipped our goods into other vessells and with much cost and labor, brought them in July to Charlestowne: but there receiving advertisements by some of the late arrived shipps from London and Amsterdam, of some French preparations against us (many of our people brought with us beeing sick of feavers and the scurvy, and wee thereby unable to carry up our ordinance and baggage soe farr) wee were forced to change counsaile and for our present shelter to plant dispersedly, some at Charles Towne which stands 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 wee first resolved on) some of us upon Mistick, which we named Meadford; some of us westwards on Charles River, four miles from Charlestown, which place wee named Watertown; others of us two miles from Boston, in a place we named Rocksbury; others upon the river of Sawgus between Salem and Charles Towne; and the western men18 four miles South from Boston, at a place wee named Dorchester. This dispersion troubled some of us, but help it wee could not; wanting ability to remoove to any place fitt to build a Towne upon, and the time too short to deliberate any longer, least the winter should surprise us before we had builded our houses. The best counsel wee could find out was, to build a fort to retire to, in some convenient place, if an enemy pressed thereunto, after wee should have fortified ourselves against the injuries of wet and cold. So ceasing to consult further for that time, they who had health to labor fell to building, wherein many were interrupted with sickness and many dyed weekly, yea almost dayley. Amongst whom were Mrs. Pinchon, Mrs. Coddington, Mrs. Philips, and Mrs. Alcock, a sister of Mr. Hookers. Insomuch that the shipps beeing now uppon their returne, some for England, some for Ireland, there was, as I take it not much less than a hundred (some think many more) partly out of dislike of our government which restrained and punished their excesses, and partly through fear of famine, not seeing other means than by their labour to feed themselves, which returned back againe. And glad were wee so to be ridd of them. Others also afterwards heareing of men of their owne disposition, which were planted at Pascataway, went from us to them, whereby though our numbers were lessened, yet we accounted ourselves nothing weakened by their removall. Before the departure of the shipps, we contracted with Mr. Pierce19 Mr. of the Lyon of Bristow, to returne to us with all speed with fresh supplies of victuals, and gave him directions accordingly. With this shipp returned Mr. (John) Revell, one of the five undertakers here for the joint stock of the company; and Mr. Vassall, one of the assistants, and his family; and also Mr. Bright, a minister, sent hither the yeare before. The shipps beeing gone, victuals wastinge, and mortality increasinge, wee held diverse fasts in our severall congregations, but the Lord would not yet bee depricated; for about the beginning of September, died Mr. Gager, a right godly man, a skilful chirurgeon, and one of the deacons of our congregation; and Mr. Higginson, one of the ministers of Salem, a zealous and a profitable preacher;— this of a consumption, that of a fever, and on the 30th of September, dyed Mr. Johnson another of the five undertakers (the Lady Arrabella, his wife, being dead a month before.) This gentleman was a prime man amongst us, having the best estate of any, zealous for religion and greatest furtherer of this plantation. He made a most godly end, dying willingly, professing his life better spent in promoting this plantatacon than it would have beene any other way. He left to us a loss greater than the most conceived.— Within a month after, died Mr. Rossiter, another of our assistants, a godly man, and of a good estate, which still weakened us more; so that there now were left of the 5 undertakers but the Governour, Sir Richard Saltonstall and myself, and 7 other of the Assistants. And of the people who came over with us, from the time of their setting saile from England in Aprill, 1630, until December followinge, there died by estimacon about 200 at the least — Soe lowe hath the Lord brought us! Well, yet they who survived were not discouraged, but bearing God’s corrections with humilitye and trusting in his mercies, and considering how after a greater ebb hee had raised upp our neighbors at Plymouth, wee begaune again in December to consult about a fit place to build a towne upon, leavinge all thoughts of a Fort, because uppon any invasion wee were necessarily to loose our howses when wee should retire thereunto; soe after diverse meetings at Boston, Roxbury and Waterton on the 28th day of December, wee grew to this resolution to bind all the Assistants (Mr. Endicott and Mr. Sharpe excepted, which latter purposeth to return by the next shipps to England) to build howses at a place20, a mile East from Waterton, neere Charles river, the next spring, and to winter there the next year, that soe by our examples and by removeing the ordinance and munition thether, all who were able, might be drawne thether, and such as shall come to us hereafter to their advantage bee compelled soe to doe, and soe if God would, a fortified Towne might there grow upp, the place fitting reasonably well thereto. I should before have mentioned how both the English and Indian corne beeinge at tenne shillings21 a strike, and beaver beeinge valued a. 6 shillings a pound, wee made laws to restrain the selling of corn to the Indians, and to leave the price of beaver at liberty, which was presently sold for ten and 20 shillings a pound. I should alsoe have remembered how the halfe of our cowes, and almost all our mares and goats, sent us out of England dyed at sea in their passage hither, and that those intended to be sent us out of Ireland were not sent at all; all which together with the loss of our six months building, occasioned by our intended removall to a town to be fortified, weakened our estates, especially the estates of the undertakers, who were 3 or 4000£. engaged in the joynt stock, which was now not above many hundreds22; yet many of us laboured to beare it as comfortably as wee could, remembering the end of our comeinge hether and knowinge the power of God who canne support and raise us againe, and useth to bring his servants lowe that the meek may bee made glorious by deliverance. Psalms 112.
In the end of this December, departed from us the ship Handmaid of London, by which wee sent away one Thomas Morton, a proud insolent man who has lived here diverse years, and had beene an Attorney in the West Countryes while he lived in England. Multitude of complaintes were received against him for iniuries doone by him both to the English and Indians, and amongst others for shootinge hail shott at a troop of Indians, for not bringing a Cannowe unto him to cross a river withall, whereby her hurt one, and shott through the garments of another; for the satisfaction of the Indians wherein, and that it might appear to them and to the English that wee meant to doe justice impartially, wee caused his hands to be bound behind him and set his feet in the bill bowes, and burned his howse to the ground, all in the sight of the Indians, and soe kept him prisoner till wee sent him for England, whither we sent him, for that my Lord Chiefe Justice there soe required that he might punish him cappitally for fouler misdemeaners there perpetrated as wee were informed.
I have no leisure to review and insert things forgotten, but out of due time and order must sett them downe as they come to memory.— About the end of October this year, 1630, I ioined with the Governor and Mr. Maverecke23 in sending out our pinnace24 to the Narragansetts to trade for corne to supply our wants, but after the pinnace had doubled Cape Cod, shee putt into the next harbour shee found, and there meetinge with Indians, who shewed their willingness to truck25, shee made her voyage their, and brought us 100 bushells of corne, at about 4 shillings a bushel, which helped us somewhat. From the coast where they traded, they saw a very large island, four leagues to the east,26 which the Indians commended as a fruitful place, full of good vines, and free from sharp frosts, having one only entrance into it, by a navigable river, inhabited by a few Indians, which for a trifle would leave the island, if the English would sett them upon the maine; but the pynace haveinge no direction for discovery, returned without sailing to it, which in 2 houres they might have done. Upon this coast, they found store of vines full of grapes dead ripe, the season being past — whether wee purpose to send the next yeare sooner, to make some small quantitie of wine, if God enable us, the vines growinge thinne with us and we not having yet any leasure to plant vineyards. But now having some leasure to discourse of the motives for other men’s comeinge to this place, or their abstaining from it, after my brief manner I say this: That if any come hether to plant for worldly ends that canne live well at home, he commits an errour, of which he will soone repent him. But if for spirituall, and that noe particular obstacle hinder his removall, hee may finde here what may well content him, vizt: materialls to build, fewell to burn, ground to plant, seas and rivers to fish in, a pure ayer to breathe in, good water to drinke, till wine or beare canne be made; which, together with the cowss, hoggs and goates brought hether allready, may suffice for food; for as for foule and venison, they are dainties here as well as in England. For cloaths and bedding, they must bring them with them, till time and industry produce them here. In a word, wee yett enjoy little to be envied, but endure much to be pittyed in the sickness and mortallitye of our people. And I do the more willingly use this open and plaine dealinge, lest other men should fall short of their expectacons when they come hether, as wee to our great preiudice did, by meanes of letters sent us from hence into England, wherein honest men out of a desire to draw over others to them, wrote somewhat hyperbolically of many things here. If any godly men, out of religious ends, will come over to help us in the good worke wee 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 bee of the poorer sort yett, for diverse years; for wee have found by experience that they have hindered, not furthered the worke. And for profaine and deboshed persons, their oversight in comeinge hether is wondered at, where they shall find nothing to content them. If there bee any endowed with grace and furnished with meanes to feed themselves and theirs for 18 months, and to build and plant, lett them come over into our Macedonia and helpe us, and not spend themselves and their estates in a less pr.fitable employment; for others I conceive they are not yet fitted for this business.
Touching the discouragements which the sickness and mortality which every first year hath seized upon us, and those of Plymouth as appeared before, may give to such who have cast any thoughts this way (of which mortality it may be said of us allmost as of the Egyptians, that there is not an howse where there is not one dead, and in some howses many) the naturall causes seem to bee in the want of warm lodginge, and good dyet, to which Englishmen are habittuated at home; and in the suddain increase of heate which they endure that are landed here in somer, the salted meates at sea having prepared their bodyes thereto, for those only 2 last year dyed of fevers who landed in June and July; as those of Plymouth who landed in the winter dyed of the scirvy, as did our poorer sort, whose houses and bedding kept them not sufficiently warm, nor their dyet sufficiently in heart. Other causes God may have, as our faithful minister Mr. Wilsoune (lately handling that pointe) showed unto us, which I forbear to mention, leaving this matter to the further dispute of phisitions and divines—- Wherefore to returne, upon the third of January died the daughter of Mr. Sharpe, a godly virginne, making a comfortable end, after a long sicknes. The plantacon here received not the like loss of any woman since wee came hether, and therefore she well deserves to be remembered in this place; and to add to our sorrows, upon the 5th day, came letters to us from Plymouth, advertiseinge us of this sadd accident followinge— About a fortnight before, there went from us in a shallop to Plymouth six men and a girle, who in an hour or two before night, on the same day they went forth, came near to the mouth of Plymouth Bay, but the wind then cominge strongly from the shore, kept them from entering and drove them to sea wards, and they having no better means to helpe themselves, let down their killick27, that soe they might drive the more slowly, and bee nearer land when the storm should cease. But the stone slipping out of the killick, and thereby they driving faster than they thought all the night, in the morninge, when they looked out, they found themselves out of sight of land, which soe astonished them, the frost being extreme and their hands so benumbed with cold, that they could not handle their oares, neyther had any compass to steare by, that they gave themselves for lost, and lay downe to dye quietly, only one man who had more naturall heate and courage remaining then the rest, continued soe long looking for land, that the morning waxing clearer, hee discovered land, and with difficulty hoysted the saile, and so the winde a little turninge, 2 days after they were driven from Plymouth Bay, they arrived at a shore unknowne unto them. The stronger helped the weaker out of the boate and taking their saile on shore, made a shelter thereof, and made a fire; but the frost had soe pierced their bodyes that one of them died about 3 days after their landinge, and most of the others grew worse, both in bodye and courage;— noe hope of reliefe beeinge within their view. Well, yett the Lord pittyinge them and two of them who onely could use their leggs goeing abroad, rather to seeke then to hope to find helpe, they mett first with 2 Indian women, who sent unto them an Indian man, who informed them that Plymouth was within 50 miles, and offered together to procure reliefe for them, which they gladly accepting, hee perfourmed, and brought them 3 men from Plymouth (the governour and counsell of Plymouth liberally rewarding the Indian who tooke care for the safety of our people) who brought them all alive in their boate thether, save one man, who with a guide chose rather to goe over land, but quickly fell lame by the way, and getting harbour at a trucking house the Plymoutheans had in those parts, there he yet abides. At the others landing at Plymouth, one of them dyed as hee was taken out of the boate; another (and he the worst in the company) rotted from the feete upwards where the frost had gotten most hold, and soe died within in a few days. The other 3, after God had blessed the Chirurgeon’s skill used towards them, returned safe to us. I sett downe this the more largely, partly because the first man that died was a godly man of our congregation; one Richard Garrad, who, at the time of his death, more feared he should dishonor God than cared for his own life;— As allso because diverse boats have been in manifest perill this year, yett the Lord preserved them all, this one excepted.
Amongst those who dyed about the end of this January, there was a girle of 11 years old, the daughter of one John Ruggles of whose family and kindred dyed so many, that for some reason it was matter of observacon amongst us; who in the time of her sicknes expressed to the minister and to those about her, soe much faith and assurance of salvation, as is rarely found in any of that age, which I thought not unworthy here to committ to memory; and if any taxe mee for wasting paper with recordinge theis small matters, such may consider that little mothers bring forth little children, small common wealths;— matters of small moment, the reading whereof yett is not to be despised by the judicious, because small things in the beginning of naturall or politique bodyes are as remarkable as greater things in bodyes full growne.
Upon the 5th of February, arrived here Mr. Pierce with the ship Lyon of Bristow28 with supplyes of victuals from England, who had sett fourth from Bristow the first of December before. He had a stormy passage hether, and lost one of his saylors not far from our shore, who in a tempest having helped to take in the spritt saile, lost his hold as he was comeinge downe and fell into the sea; where after long swimminge he was drouned, to the great dolour of those in the shipp, who beheld so lamentable a spectacle, without beeing able to minister help to him; the sea was soe high and the ship drove soe fast before the wind, though her sails were taken downe. By this shipp wee understood of the fight of 3 of our shipps and 2 English men of war comeing out of the straites29 with 14 Dunkirkes30 upon the coast of England as they returned from us in the end of the last summer, who through God’s goodness with the loss of some 13 or 14 men out of our 3 shipps; and I know not how many out of the 2 men of war gott at length clear of them. The Charles, one of our 3, a stout shipp of 300 tunne, beeing soe torne, that shee had not much of her left whole above water.—
By this shipp wee also understood the death of many of those who went from us the last year to Old England, as likewise of the mortality there, whereby wee see are graves in other places as well as with us.
Also to increase the heape of our sorrows, wee received advertisement by lers. from our friends in England, and by the reports of those who came hether in this shipp to abide with us, (who were about 26) that they who went discontentedly from us the last year, out of their evill affections towards us, have raised many false and scandalous reports against us, affirminge us to be Brownists in religion, and ill affected to our state at home, and that theis vile reports have wonne credit with some who formerly wished us well. But wee do desire, and cannot but hope, that wise and imp.tial men will at length consider that such malcontents have ever p.sed this manner of casting dirt to make others seeme as foule as themselves, and that our godly friends, to whome wee have beene known, will not easily believe that wee are not soe soon turned from the profession wee soe long have made in our native country: And for our further clearinge, I truely affirm, that I know noe one person who came over with us the last year to bee altered in judgment and affection, eyther in ecclesiasticall or civill respects since our comeing hither; but wee doe continue to pray dayly for our Soveraigne lord the King, the Queene, the Prince, the royal blood, the counsaile and whole state, as duty bindes us to doe, and reason perswades others to believe, for how ungodly and unthankful should wee bee if we should not thus doe, who came hether by vertue of his Maj.stie’s letters patent, and under his gracious protection, under which shelter wee hope to live safely, and from whome [whose?] kingdom and subjects, wee now have received and hereafter expect reliefe. Lett our friends therefore give noe credit to such malicious aspersions, but be more ready to answer for us, then wee hear they have been: we are not like those which have dispensations to lye; but as wee were free enough in Old England, to turne our in sides outwards, sometimes to our disadvantage, very unlike is it that now (beeinge procul a fulmine31) wee should be so unlike ourselves: lett therefore this bee sufficient for us to say, and others to heare in this matter.
Amongst others who died about this time was Mr. Robert Welden, whom in the time of his sickness, wee had chosen to bee Captaine of 100 foote,32 but before hee tooke possession of his place, he dyed the 16 of this February, and was buried as a soldier with 3 volleys of shott. Upon the 22nd day of February, wee held a general day of Thanksgiveinge throughout the whole Colony for the safe arrivall of the shipp which came last with our provisions.
About this time, wee apprehended one Robert Wright, who had been sometimes a lynnen draper in Newgate market, and after that a brewer on the Banke side and on Thames Streete. This man wee lately understood had made an escape in London from those who came to his howse to apprehend him for clipping the Kinges coyne [one or two words wanting] had stolen after us.— Uppon his examinacon, he confessed the fact and his escape, but affirmed hee had the kinges pardon for it, under the broade seal, which hee yett not being able to provcue, and one to whome he was known chargeing him with untruth in some of his answers, we therefore committed him to prison, to be sent by the next shipp into England.
Likewise, we were lately informed that one Mr. Gardiner, who arrived here a month before us (and who had passed here for a knight by the name of Sr. Christopher Gardiner all this while) was noe knight, but instead thereof, had two wives now liveinge in a house at London, one of which came about September last from Paris in France (where her husband had left her years before) to London, where she had heard her husband had marryed a second wife, and whom by enquiryg she found out, and they both condoling each others estate, wrote both their lres. to the governour (by Mr. Pierce who had conference with both the women in the presence of Mr. Allerton of Plymouth;) his first wife desiring his returne and conversion; his second, his destruceon for his foule abuse, and for robbing her of her estate, of a part whereof she sent an Inventory hether, compriseinge therein many rich jewels, much plate and costly lynnen. This man had in his family (and yet hath) a gentlewoman whom he called his kinswoman, and whom one of his wives in her letter, names Mary Grove, affirming her to be a known harlot, whose sending back into Old England shee allso desired, togeather with her husband. Shortly after this intelligence, wee sent to the house of the said Gardiner (which was 7 miles from us) to apprehend him and his woman, with a purpose to send them both to London to his wives there; but the man, who having heard some rumour from some who came in the shipp, that lres were come to the Governor, requiring justice against him, was readily prepared for flight, soe soon as he should see any crossinge the river, or likely to apprehend him, which hee accordingly perfourmed; for hee dwelling aloone, easily discerned such who were sent to take him, halfe a mile before they approached his house, and with his peece33 on his neck, went his way, as most men think northwards, hopeing to find some English there like to himselfe; but likely enough it is, which way so ever hee went, hee will loose himselfe in the woods and be stopped with some rivers in his passing, notwithstanding his compass in his pockett, and so with hunger and cold, will perish before hee find the place he seekes. His woman was brought unto us and confessed her name, and that her mother dwells 8 miles from Beirdly in Salopshire, and that Gardiner’s father dwells in or neare Gloucester, and was (as she said) brother to Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and did disinherit his sonne for his 26 years absence in his travailes in France, Italy, Germany and Turkey; that he had (as he told her) married a wife in his travailes, from whom hee was divorced, and the woman long since dead; that both herselfe and Gardiner were both Catholiques till of late, but were now Protestants; that shee takes him to be a knight, but never heard when he was knighted. The woman was impenitent and close,34 confessing noe more then was wrested from her by her owne contradictions, soe we have taken order to send her to the two wives in Old England to search her further.
Upon the 8 of March, from after it was faire day light untill about 8 of the clock in the forenoon, there flew over all the towns in our plantacons so many flocks of doves,35 each flock containyng many thousands, and some soe many that they obscured the light, that passeth credit, if but the truth should bee written; and the thing was the more strange, because I scarce remember to have seen tenne doves since I came into this country. They were all turtles,36 as appeared by diverse of them we killed flying, somewhat bigger than those of Europe, and they flew from the north east to the south west; but what it portends I know not.
The shipp now waits but for wind, which when it blows, there are ready to go aboard therein for England Sr. Richard Saltonstall, Mr. Sharpe, Mr. Coddington, and many others, the most whereof purpose to returne to us again, if God will. In the meane time, wee are left a people poor and contemptible, yet such as trust in God and are contented with our condition, beeing well assured that he will not faile us nor forsake us.
I had almost forgotten to add this, that the wheate we received by this last shipp stands us in 13 or 14 shillinges a strike, and the pease about 11s. a strike, besides the adventure37, which is worth 3 or 4 shillinges a strike, which is an higher price than I ever tasted bread of before.
Thus, MADAM, I have as I canne, told your Hon. all ourmatters, knowinge your wisedome can make good use thereof. If I live not to perform the like office of my duty hereafter, likely it is some other will doe it better.
Before the departure of the Shipp (wch. yet was wind bound) there came unto us Sagamore John and one of his subjects requireinge sattisfaction for the burning of two wigwams by some of the English, which wiggwams were not inhabitted, but stod in a place convenient for their shelter, when uppon occasion they should travaile that wayes. By examination, wee found that some English fowlers having retired into that which belonged to the subject and leaveinge a fire there in carelessly which they had kindled to warm them, were the cause of burninge thereof; for that which was the Sagamores, wee could find no certaine proofe how it was fired, yet least hee should thinke us not scedulous enough to find it out, and soe should depart discontentedly from us, we gave both him and his subject satisfaction for them both.
The like accident of fire also befell Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Colborne upon the 17 of this March, both whose howses, which were as good, and as well furnished as the most in the plantacon, were in 2 hours space burned to the ground, togeather with much of their household stuff, apparell and other thinges, as allsoe some goods of others who soiourned wth. them in their howses; God soe pleasing to exercise us with corrections of this kind, as hee hath done with others: for the prevention whereof in our new towne, intended this somer to bee built, wee have ordered that noe man there shall build his chimney with wood, nor cover his howse with thatch, which was readily assented unto, for that diverse other howses have been burned since our arrival (the fire alwaies beginninge in the woodden chimneys) and some English wigwams, which have taken fire in the roofes covered with thatch or boughs.
And that this shipp might returne into Old England with heavy newes, upon the 18 day of March, came one from Salem and told us, that upon the 15 thereof, there died Mrs. Skelton, the wife of the other minister there, who, about 18 or 20 dayes before, handling cold thinges in a sharpe morning, put herselfe into a most violent fitt of the wind colleck and vomitting, which continuinge, she at length fell into a feaver and soe dyed as before. She was a godly and a helpfull woman, and indeed the maine pillar of her family, havinge left behind her a husband and 4 children, weake and helpeles, who canne scarce tell how to live without her. She lived desired and dyed lamented, and well deserves to bee honorably remembered.
Upon the 25th of this March, one of Watertown having lost a calfe, at about 10 of the clock at night, hearinge the howlinge of some wolves not farr off, raysed many of his neighbours out of their bedds, that by discharginge their musketts neere about the place where hee heard the wolves, hee might so putt the wolves to flight, and save his calf— The wind serveing fitt to cary the report of the musketts to Rocksbury, 3 miles off at such a time; the inhabitants there tooke an alarme beate upp their drume, armed themselves, and sent in post to us in Boston to raise us allsoe. Soe in the morninge the calfe beeinge found safe, the wolves affrighted, and our danger past, we went merrily to breakfast.
I thought to have ended before; butt the stay of the shipp and my desire to informe your honr. of all I canne, hath caused this addition, and every one having warninge to prepare for the shipps departure tomorrow, I am now this 28th of March, 1631, sealing my lrs.
1 Dudley, Thomas. “To the Right Honourable, My Very Good Lady, the Lady Bridget, Countess of Lincoln, March 28, 1630.” In First Planters of New-England, the End and Manner of Their Coming Thither, and Abode There: in Several Epistles, edited by Joshua Scottow and Paul Royster, Lincoln, NB: Joshua Scottow Papers, Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2007.
2 This copy of the Letter of Thomas Dudley to the Countess of Lincoln, written in March 1631, is the earliest complete printing of the text. It appeared in the New Hampshire Historical Collections, volume 4 (1834), pages 224-249. It was also issued separately in Concord, N.H., by Marsh, Capen and Lyon that same year. Approximately three-quarters of the letter had previously appeared in 1696, in the volume published in Boston titled Massachusetts, or The First Planters, possibly compiled and edited by Joshua Scottow. This present text was printed from a manuscript discovered “by one of the Publishing Committee” bound in a copy of Edward Johnson’s Wonder-Working Providence and Edward Winslow’s New England Salamander Discovered. The editor of this text, John Farmer, suggests that this manuscript was the printer’s copy for the text printed in 1696, relating that the excerpts are marked for the printer and correspond to the printed 1696 version.
3 1631 in the Julian calendar. The convention of the double date (1630/31) omitted.
4 His name in Narragansets is Wonohasquaham.
5 His name in Narragansets is Montowampate. He died three years after the date of this letter. (Lewis, History of Lynn, p- 16 & 17)
6 Thomas Weston who established the settlement of Weymouth in May 1622. He eventually returned to England and died at Bristol.
7 Edward Winslow
8 Richard Wollaston
9 meaning what remained of the Dorchester Company
10 Charles I
11 The Planters Plea printed in London by William Jones in 1630 give the following account of Endicott’s endeavor: “Master Endecott was sent over Governor assisted with a few men, and arriving in safety there, in September 1628, and uniting his own men with those which were formerly planted in the country, into one body; they made up in all not much above fiftie or sixtie persons. His prosperous Journey and safe arrival of himselfe and all his Company, and good report he sent backe of the Country, gave such encouragement to the worke, that more Adventurers joining with the first Undertakers, and all engaging themselves more deeply for the prosecution of the designe; they sent over the next yeare about three hundred persons more, most Servants, etc.”
12 The Arabella, Jewell, Ambrose and Talbot. The Arabella was the Flagship of the Fleet and named after Arabella Clinton-Johnson, sister to the Earl of Lincoln, Theopilus Clinton and wife of Isaac Johnson, the primary investor in the Massachusetts Bay Company.
13 The May-Flower, Whale, Hopewell, William an dFrancis, Trial, Charles, Success and Gift.
14 The Lyon and Mary-John
15 One of the two was the Handmaid. The other of the two and the merchant ship names are unknown.
16 meaning that they were provided for out of the new provisions.
17 Cotton Mather (Magnalia Vol.I p62) says the first settlers “called it Salem for the pet with they had hoped in it” but the Planter’s Plea (page 14) seems to be a better authority and says its original name, Naumkeag, was changed to Salem “though upon a faire ground in remembrance of a peace settled upon a conference at a general meeting between them and their neighbours, after expectancy of some dangerous jarre.”
18 from the Mary & John
19 William Pierce, Master of the Lyon out of Bristol.
20 later called the New Towne and afterwards, Cambridge.
21 For 1,000 years, until recent times, there were 12 pennies or pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to a Pound Sterling, the monetary denomination of the time. A Pound Sterling, £1, meaning then about a pound of silver, was worth about the equivalent purchasing power of the modern US$1,000.
22 Value of the stock in the London exchange.
23 Samuel Maverick, who resided on Noddle’s Island. He came over several years before Dudley did and was very useful to th early emigrants. According to Joselyn, he was “the only hospitable man in all the country, giving entertainment to all comers gratis.” Maverick died March 10, 1664.
24 a small boat, with sails or oars, forming part of the equipment of a warship or other large vessel.
26 Marth’a Vinyard
27 a heavy stone used by small craft as an anchor.
28 This rendering of Bristol was common among the first settlers of Massachusetts and the spelling conforms somewhat closely with the Saxon pronunciation, which was Brightstow.
29 the English Channel
30 enemy Spanish vessels from the Flemish coast
31 “far from his thunderbolt” from the Latin proverb: Procul a Jove, procul a fulmine or “Far from Jupiter, far from his thunderbolt”. Construction is similar to procul ex coulis, procul ex meant or “out of sight, out of mind”.
35 passenger pigeons, a species that is now extinct
36 turtle doves
37 expense of shipping & handling