Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the Legislature, by Rev. John Eliot, of Roxbury; agent and trustee for the Indians, for a grant of land, lying about Pawtuckett and Wamesit talls, to be appropriated to the sole and exclusive use of the tribe inhabiting thereabouts. This land, called the “great neck,' was the principal habitation of the Pawtucketts, once the most powerful tribe north of the Mas, sachusetts. Here they had erected wigwañs, and broken

up

land for planting. The 'court’ therefore, taking into consideration

both petitions, directed both an Indian and 1653 English plantation to be laid out ; and that

the request of the petitioners from Woburn and Concord should be granted, except some part of the tract petitioned for, lying on Merrimack river.

It was made a condition of this grant, that within two years of the date of the act, they should settle a competent number of families on it, twenty or more being so considered, that they might be in a capacity to enjoy all the ordinances of God.

Capt. Willard of Concord and Capt. Johnson of Woburn were appointed to lay out the plantation or township. *

It is difficult at this day to ascertain the original boundaries between the Indian and English plantations. But from a plot of them, presented to the court in 1656 and found among the original papers on file in the secretary's office, and from the documents subjoined at the end of this work it appears that the original grant for Chelmsford did not extend to Merrimack river on the north east, and barely coré nered on Concord river on the south east.

The plantation, constituting original Chelmsford, was in the form of a parallelogram or oblong square.

1653.--The first person born in town was Joseph Parker,son of Joseph and Margaret Parker, March 30. Tradition.

See No. 2 Appendix,

It was bounded on the north by a straight line, beginning at the glass manufactory and running to the house of Benj. Osgood, Esq. of Westford. On the south west by Tadmuck Swamp, and on the south east by a straight line, beginning at Pawtuckett stake, so called, by the side of Concord river at a point where Billerica, Chelmsford and Pawtuckett, or Wamesit meet, and running south west 43 deg. to the aforesaid Tádmuck swamp. On the north east by Pawtuckett or Wamesit, for which see No. 5, index.

The plantation thus granted May 18, 1653 and laid out in June following, was occupied within 18 months by a sufficient number of people to render it expedient to call a general meeting for the choice of officers to manage the public affairs of the place.' This meeting was holden on the 22d Nov. 1654 at which the following persons were chosen into office, viz:-Esdras Reed, Edward Spalding, William Fletcher, Isaac Learned, Simon Thompson, William Underwood and Thomas Adams.

Their early and liberal provision for the establishment and maintenance of religious worship and instruction, is worthy of special notice. At their first public meeting, measures were adopted for supporting a settled minister, the Rev. Mi. Fiske of Wenham, who had already removed or was about removing to this plantation. All that could be done in their circumstanc: s, they seemed willing to do.-They agreed to give him “ thirty acres of meadow and thirty acres of arable land, for his convenience; to build him a house thirty eight feet long and twenty feet wide, with three fire places and chimnies, built of brick or stone; to pay him fifty pounds sterling for the first year, and his maintenance for the future as the Lord should enable them."

Place of first Public Meeting. T'he first meeting was holden at William Fletcher's house, 22d ninth month, 1654. This house stood a few rods to the east of the house now occupied by Mr. William Fletcher, and his brother Capt. Josiah Fletcher, descendants of the aforesaid Wm. Fletcher, whose posterity have successively occypied the same premises.

Second Meeting—1655. The next Public Meeting was dated* • Month 1st, day 24' i. e. March 24, 1655. At this meeting they adopted measures for the more regular and methodical transaction of their public affairs in future. « • It Was ordered that the first second day of the first month, i. e. the first Monday in March, shall be observed by all the house-holders of the town, from year to year for the choosing of all annual officers, belonging to the town, as selectmen or committee, Deputy for the Court, three men to end all small causes under forty shillings, Surveyors of high ways,

*The custom of designating the months by numbers, began with the puritans, who affected to use scripture language in the common affairs of life. Hence instead of writing January February,&c.after the manner of the Greeks and Romans, the Puritans wrote month 1st, day 25 &c. or 25 day of lst month. And instead of the names of the days of the week, they said first, second &c. day of the week. It is farther to be observed that the computation of time from the Christian era was not introduced till about the year 567. Dionysius, a Roman Abbot first introduced the reckoning of time from the Incarnation of Christ. This was then supposed to have happened on the 25th of March ; but ii was afterwards de. termined to have been on the 25th of Dec. In Ceasar's time the equinox was on the 25th of March, which might be another reason for beginning the year on that day.

A reform of the callendar, rendered neressary by the precession of the equinox, and called the new style, had been made by Gregory 13th in 1582 ; but was slowly and reluctantly adopted by the protestants, because it came from the Pope. Hence the practice of using a double date froin January to March 25, was prevalent until an act of parliament 1752 fixed the commencement of the year on the first of January. Thus Feb. 6, 1656-7 or 1656-57 was in cominon use from 1582 to 1752. when the New Style waz by act of Parliament adopted. The third day of September was now called the fourteenth and all the other days of the year were reckoned accordingly.

B2

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and overseers of the fences and swine. It was also ordered that the next meeting should be bolden at the Meeting House at 9 o'clock in the morning -That every householder for the first hour's absence should be fined twelve pence ; and for a whole day's absence two shillings.*

Third Public Meeting, Jan. 16, 1655. The third public meeting was dated month 11, day 16, 1655 and, agreeable to a former vote, holden at the meeting house. How and by whoin the first meeting house was built are facts yet to be ascertained There appears to be a traditions that Samuel and Thomas Adams were at the principal expence of erecting this house. But the town records contain no information relative to it. It stood at the south west corner of the present house. It was built in the year preceding the erection of Mr, Adams’ saw-mill 1656 and in all probability was made of logs, hewed and locked together.

Having secured their title to the lands granted by settling thereon a number of persons competent for the maintenance of religious ordinances, and within the time specified in the act of Court,they requested an act of incorporation, which was granted them in the words following:

Incorporation, May 1655. % Upon information from Maj. Willard by a letter from Esdras Reed, Edward Spalding, and William

" An

* There was a similar custom at Cambridge as early as 1644. eight penny ordinary was provided for the townsmen upon their annual meeting day; and whosoever failed to be present within half an hour from the ringing of the bell, shall both loose his dinner and pay a pint of sack, or the value thereof to the present townsmen.”

Dr. Holmes His. Camb. *7'his is intimated in a letter from the late President Adams of Quincyto li m. Adams Esq. requesting to know, who built the first Meeting, house and Milis.

1

Fletcher, inhabitants of said plantation, that the number of inhabitants according to the time prefixed in the Court's grant, were there settled ; at their request theCourt do grant the name thereof to be called Chelmsford.'*

7th 3 month, 1656. Enlargement. Notwithstanding the favorable report of the committee appointed to examine this tract of land, it was found by experience to be incapable of affording them accommodations and advantages, which had been contemplated.

This appears from a petition, which the Inhabitants presented to the General Court for an additional grant, or enlargement of their township ; in which they assign as the reasons for a new grant I that the barrenness of one part and the stoniness of the other had constrained them to situate their habitation on the corner of their bounds; that their situation was near the north east line, and that they had no outlet for their cattle to feed upon. They requested the Court to grant them a small parcel of land from their north east line down to Merrimack river, and so bounded by said river about three miles ; from thence to run upon a south west line to Groton plantation.'

Jan. 1. At his request the land lying before his house over the brook is granted to Mr. Fiske as a part of his house lot.

*It was named after Chelmsford in England, county of Essex, which derived its name from the River Chelmer on which it is situated. “It's no unusual thing among us, that while an excellent, laborious and illu. minating preacher has been continued in a town, the place has ibriven to admiration. The gospel has evidently heen the making of our towns, and the blessings of the upper, have been accompanied by the blessings of the nether springs. There are few of our towns but what have their namesakes in England The reason why most of our towns are called what they are is because the chief of ihe first inhabitants would thus bear up the names of the particular places, whence they came." Hubbard. See Appendix No. 3 and 4.

« AnteriorContinuar »