from History of Hingham published 1893, pages 201-209
OCRed and editing by David Blackwell and Lisa Whiting 1998
HINGHAM is one of the oldest towns in Massachusetts. There were settlers here as early as 1633. Its first name was Bearcove or Barecove, more likely the latter, in view of the exposure of almost its entire harbor at low tide, and as appears also in the spelling of the name in the order of the General Court referred to below. So far as it had any legislative incorporation, it was incorporated, and this has been the usual statement of writers, Sept. 2, 1635, only eleven towns having in that respect all earlier date. Perhaps, however, the term incorporation is not appropriate in this connection, the brief order which the General Court, consisting of the Governor, assistants, and deputies, adopted and entered on that day being as follows, -- a form used before, and afterwards, in the case of several other towns:-- "The name of Barecove is changed and hereafter to be called Hingham."
Who was the first settler, or at what exact date he came, it is impossible to say. Mr. Solomon Lincoln, the historian of the town in 1827, gives the following interesting facts: --
"The exact date at which any individual came here to reside cannot be ascertained. Among the papers of Mr. Cushing, there is a 'list of the names of such persons as came out of the town of Hingham, and towns adjacent, in the County of Norfolk, in the Kingdom of England, into New England, and settled in Hingham.' From this list we are led to believe there were inhabitants here as early as 1633, and among them Ralph Smith, Nicholas Jacob with his family, Thomas Lincoln, weaver, Edmund Hobart and his wife, from Hingham, and Thomas Hobart with his family, from Windham, in Norfolk, England. During the same year Theophilus Cushing, Edmund Hobart, senior, Joshua Hobart, and Henry Gibbs, all of Hingham, England, came to this country. Cushing lived some years at Mr. Haines's farm, and subsequently removed to Hingham. The others settled at Charlestown, and in 1635 removed to this place. In 1634 there were other settlers here, and among them Thomas Chubbuck; Bare Cove was assessed in that year. To 1635, at the May court, Joseph Andrews was sworn as constable of the place. There was a considerable increase of the number of Settlers, and in that year grants of land were made to upwards of fifty individuals, of which a record is preserved. It was in June of that year that Rev. Peter Hobart arrived at Charlestown, and soon after settled in this place.
"I here subjoin the names of those who settled or received grants of land here, in the respective years mentioned. Possibly there may be some names omitted, which have escaped my observation, and those of others inserted to whom lands were granted, but who never settled here. The list is as perfect, however, as long, careful, and patient examination of public and private records call make it.
"In 1635, in addition to those before-mentioned (namely: Joseph Andrews, Thomas Chubbuck, Henry Gibbs, Edmund Hobart, Sen., Edmund Hobart, Jr., Joshua Hobart, Rev. Peter Hobart, Thomas Hobart, Nicholas Jacob, Thomas Lincoln, weaver, Ralph Smith), were Jonas Austin, Nicholas Baker, Clement Bates, Richard Betscome, Benjamin Bozworth, William Buckland, James Cade, Anthony Cooper, John Cutler, John Farrow, Daniel Fop, Jarvice Gould, Wm. Hersey, Nicholas Hodsdin, Thos. Johnson, Andrew Lane, Wm. Large, Thomas Loring, George Ludkin, Jeremy Morse, William Nolton, John Otis, David Phippeny, John Palmer, John Porter, Henry Rust, John Smart, Francis Smith (or Smyth), John Strong, Henry Tuttil, William Walton, Thomas Andrews, William Arnall, George Bacon, Nathaniel Baker, Thomas Collier, George Lane, George Marsh, Abraham Martin, Nathaniel Peck, Richard Osborn, Thomas Wakely, Thomas Gill, Richard Ibrook, William Cockerum, William Cockerill, John Fearing, John Tucker.
"In 1636, John Beal, senior, Anthony Eames, Thomas Hammond, Joseph Hull, Richard Jones, Nicholas Lobdin, Richard Langer, John Leavitt, Thomas Lincoln, Jr., miller, Thomas Lincoln, cooper, Adam Mott, Thomas Minard, John Parker, George Russell, William Sprague, George Strange, Thomas Underwood, Samuel Ward, Ralph Woodward, John Winchester, William Walker.
"In 1637, Thomas Barnes, Josiah Cobbit, Thomas Chaffe, Thomas Clapp, William Carlslye (or Carsly), Thomas Dimock, Vinton Dreuce, Thomas Hett, Thomas Joshlin, Aaron Ludkin, John Morrick, Thomas Nichols, Thomas Paynter, Edmund Pitts, Joseph Phippeny, Thomas Shave, Ralph Smith, Thomas Turner, John Tower, Joseph Underwood, William Ludkin, Jonathan Bozworth.
"In 1638 there was a considerable increase of the number of settlers. Among them were, Mr. Robert Peck, Joseph Peck, Edward Gilman, John Foulsham, Henry Chamberlain, Stephen Gates, George. Knights, Thomas Cooper. Matthew Cushing, John Beal, Jr., Francis James, Philip James, James Buck, Stephen Payne, William Pitts, Edward Michell, John Sutton, Stephen Lincoln, Samuel Parker, Thomas Lincoln, Jeremiah Moore, Mr. Henry Smith, Bozoan Allen, Matthew Hawke, William Ripley.
"All of those preceding, who came to this country in 1638, took passage in the ship 'Diligent,' of Ipswich, John Martin, master. In addition to these, the following named persons received grants of land in the year 1638, viz.: John Buck, John Benson, Thomas Jones, Thomas Lawrence, John Stephens, John Stodder, Widow Martha Wilder, Thomas Thaxter.
"In 1639 Anthony Hilliard and John Prince received grants of land. The name of Hewett (Huet) and Liford, are mentioned in Hobart's Diary, in that year, and in the Diary the following names are first found in the respective years mentioned; in 1646;, Burr, in 1647, James Whiton; in 1649, John Lazell, Samuel Stowell; in 1653, Garnett and Canterbury.
"The number of persons who came over in the ship 'Diligent,' of Ipswich, in the year 1638, and settled in Hingham, was one hundred and thirty-three. All that came before were forty-two, making in all one hundred and seventy-five. The whole number that came out of Norfolk (chiefly from Hingham, and its vicinity) from 1633 to 1639, and settled in this Hingham, was two hundred and six. This statement, on the authority of the third town clerk of Hingham, must be reconciled with the fact that there was a much larger number of settlers here in 1639 than would appear from his estimate. They undoubtedly came in from other places, and I am inclined to believe that there may be some omissions in Mr. Cushing's list. It may be remarked here, that many of the names mentioned in the previous pages are now scattered in various parts of the country. Many of the first settlers removed to other places during the militia difficulties which occurred within a few years after the settlement of the town; and a considerable number had previously obtained lands at Rehoboth.
"The earliest record to be found of the proceedings of the town in relation to the disposition of the lands is in 1635. In June of that year, grants were made to a considerable number of individuals, and on the l8th of September, as has been before stated, thirty of the inhabitants drew for house-lots, and received grants of other lands for the purposes of pasture, tillage, etc.
"It was in July, 1635, that a plantation was erected here; and on the 2d of September following that, the town wall incorporated by the name of Hingham, from which it appears that there are but eleven towns in this State, and but one in the county of Plymouth, older than Hingham. I cannot ascertain satisfactorily when the first meeting for civil purposes was held. It is stated by Mr. Flint in his century discourses, to have been on the 18th of September, 1635. There is as much evidence in our town records, and in those of Cushing's MSS. which I have examined, that the first town-meeting was held in June of that year, as in September. The statements in the same discourses, that the inhabitaints of Hingham arrived in 1635, and that they obtained deeds of land from the natives to form the town previously to holding the first town-meeting, are unquestionably erroneous, being at variance with our town records, Cushing's MSS., and the Indian deed itself.
"The house-lots drawn on the 18th of September, 1635, were situated on the 'Town street,' the same which is now called North Street. During that year the settlement was extended to 'Broad Cove Street,' recently named Lincoln Street. In the year following, house-lots were granted in the street now called South Street, and in the northerly part of 'Bachelor Street,' now Main Street.
"Some idea of the relative wealth of several towns in 1635 may be estimated from the following apportionment of the public rule for that year. Newton and Dorchester were assessed each £26 5; Boston, £25 10; Salem, £16; Hingham, £6; Weymouth, £4, etc. In 1637 the number of men furnished by this town to make up the number of one hundred and sixty to prosecute the war against the Pequods, were six; Boston furnished twenty-six; Salem, eighteen; Weymouth, five; Medford, three; Marblehead, three. The assessment upon this town at the General Court in August following, was £8 10; the least, except that of Weymouth, which was £6 16. Property and population appear to have been unequally distributed and often fluctuating. In 1637 we find the first record of the choice of a town clerk. Joseph Andrews was chosen, and in 1638 the first record of the choice of assessors."
The following is a literal copy of the deed of the township of Hingham, given by the Indians in 1665:--
"WHEREAS divers Englishmen did formerly come (into the Massachusets now called by the Englishmen New England) to inhabit in the dayes of Chickatabut our father who was the Cheife Sachem of the sayd Massachusets on the Southward side of Charles River, and by the free Consent of our sayd father did set downe upon his land and in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred thirty and four divers Englishmen did set downs and inhabit upon part of the land that was formerly our sayd fathers land, which land the Englishmen call by the name of Hingham, which sayd Englishmen they and their heires and assosiate have ever since had quiet and peaceable possession of their Towneshippe of Hingham by our likeing and Consent which we desire they may still quietly possess and injoy and because ther have not yet bin any legall conveyance in writing passed from us to them conserning their land which may in future time occasion difference between them and us all which to prevent -- Know all men by these presents that we Wompatuck called by the English Josiah now Chiefe Sachem of the Massachusets aforesayed and sone and heire to the aforesayd Chickatabut; and Squmuck all called by the English Daniel sone of the aforesayd Chickatabut and Ahabden -- Indians: for a valuable consideration to us in hand payd by Captaine Joshua Hubberd and Ensigne John Thaxter, of Hingham aforesayd wherewith wee doe acknowledge our selves fully satisfyed contented and payd and thereof and of every part and parcell thereof due exonerate acquitt and discharge the sayd Joshua Hubberd and John Thaxter their heires executors and Administrators and every of them forever by these presents have given granted bargained sold enfoffed and confirmed and by these presents doe give grant bargaine sell Enfeoffe and confirme unto the sayd Joshua Hubberd and John Thaxter on the behalfe and to the use of the inhabitants of the Towne of Hingham aforesayd that is to say all such as are the present owners and proprietors of the present house lotts as they have bin from time to time granted and layd out by the Towne; All That Tract of land which is the Towneshippe of Hingham aforesayd as it is now bounded with the sea northward and with the River called by the Englishmen Weymoth River westward which River flow from the sea; and the line that devide, betwene the sayd Hingham and Weymoth as it is now layd out and marked until it come to the line that devide betwene the colony of the Massachusetts and the colony of New Plimoth and from thence to the midle of accord pond and from the midle of accord pond to bound Brooke to the flowing of the salt water and so along by the same River that devide betwene Scittiate and the said Hingham untill it come to the sea northward; And also threescore acres of salt marsh on the other side of the River that is to say on Scittiate side according as it was agreed upon by the commissioners of the Massachusets colony and the commissioners of Plimoth colony Together with all the Harbours Rivers Creekes Coves Islands fresh water brookes and ponds and all marshes unto
the sayd Towneshippe of Hingham belonging or any wayes app'taineing with all and singular thapp'tenences unto the p'misses or any part of them belonging or any wayes app'taineing: And all our right title and interest of and into the sayd p'misses with their app'tenences and every part and p'cell thereof to have and to hold All the aforesayd Tract of land which is the Towneshippe of Hingham aforesayd and is bounded as aforesayd with all the Harbours Rivers Creekes Coves Islands fresh water brookes and ponds and all marshes thereunto belonging with the threescore acres of salt marsh on the other side of the River (viz.) on Scittiate side with all and singular thapp'tenences to the sayd p'misses or any of them belonging unto the sayd Joshua Hubberd and John Thaxter on the behalfe and to the use of the sayd inhabitants who are the present owners and proprietors of the present house lotts in hingham their heires and assignes from the before-named time in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred thirty and four for ever And unto the only proper use and behoofe of the (the) sayd Joshua hubberd and John Thaxter and the inhabitants of the Towne of hingham who are the present owners and proprietors of the present house lotts in the Towne of Hingham their heires and assignes for ever. And the said Wompatuck Squmuck and Ahahdan doe hereby covenant promise and grant to and with the sayd Joshua hubberd and John Thaxter on the behalfe of the inhabitants of hingliam as aforesayd that they the sayd Wompatuck Squmuck and Ahahdan -- are the true and proper owners of the sayd bargained p'misses with their app'tenances at the time of the bargaine and sale thereof and that the said bargained p'misses are free and cleare and freely and clearely exonerated acquitted and discharged of and from all and all maner of former bargaines sales guifts grants titles mortgages suits attachments actions Judgements extents executions dowers title of dowers and all other incumberances whatsoever from the begining of the world untill the time of the bargaine and sale thereof and that the sayd Joshua hubberd and John Thaxter with the rest of the sayd inhabitants who are the present owners and proprietors of the present house lotts in hingham they their heires and Assignes the p'misses and every part and parcell thereof shall quietly have hold use occupy possese and injoy without the let suit trouble deniall or molestation of them the sayd Wompatuck : Squmuck and Ahaddun their heires and assignes : and Lastly the sayd Wompatuck: Squmuck and Ahadun for themselves their heires executors administrators and assignes doe hereby covenant promise and grant the p'misses above demised with all the libertys previledges and app'tenences thereto or in any wise belonging or appertaineing unto the sayd Joshua Hubberd John Thaxter and the rest of the sayd inhabitants of Hingham who are the present owners and proprietors of the present house lotts their heires and assignes to warrant acquitt and defend forever against all and all maner of right title and Interrest claime or demand of all and every person or persons whatsoever. And that it shall and may be lawfull to and for the sayd Joshua Hubberd and John Thaxter their heires and assignes to record and enroll or cause to be recorded and enrolled the title and tenour of these p'sents according to the usuall order and maner of recording and enrolling deeds and evedences in such case made and p'vided in witnes whereof we the aforesayd Wompatuck called by the English Josiah sachem: and Squmuck called by the English Daniell and Ahabdun Indians: have heere unto set our hands and seales the fourth day of July in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred sixty and five and in the seaventeenth yeare of the raigne of our soveraigne Lord Charles the second by the grace of God
of Great Brittanie France and Ireland King defender of the faith 1665. - - -
Signed sealled and delivered
In the presence of us:
|Jon Noeshteans Indian||}||the mark Å£ of (L. S.) Wompatuck|
|the marke of W William||}||called by the English Josiah chief|
|the mark of 8 Robert||}||the marke Ù of Squmuck (L. S.)|
|Mamuntahgin Indian||}||called by the English Daniell|
|John Hues||}||sonne of Chickatabut.|
|Mattias Q Briggs||}||the marke IIII of Ahahden (L. S.)|
|the marke of Ú Job Judkins||}|
JNO. LEVERETT, Ast.It needs but a glance at the names of the early settlers of Hingham, as given above by Mr. Lincoln, to recognize the founders of some of the most respectable and influential families of Massachusetts. Few names are more distinguished in the annals of the Commonwealth or nation than that of Cushing. There is reason to believe that Abraham Lincoln was one of the many descendants from Hinghm stock who have made it illustrious in American history. Nearly all of the names in the foregoing lists are still familiar in this generation. These first settlers were men of character and force, of good English blood, whose enterprise and vigor were evident in the very spirit of adventure and push which prompted their outset from the fatherland and their settlement in the new country. They were of the Puritan order which followed Winthrop rather than of the Pilgrim element that settled at Plymouth a few vears earlier. The distinction between the two is now well understood. The Pilgrims were Brownists or Separatists later called Independents, opposed to the national church, insisting on separation from it, and reducing the religious system to the simplest form of independent church societies.
Indeed it was natural that the spirit that led to reform and greater simplicity in church methods and organization, which was the aim of the Puritans, should go still further and demand entire separation and independence, which was Separatism, and of which the most illustrious type is found in the Pilgrims who sailed in the "Mayflower," and settled in Plymouth in 1620. It is to be noticed that those who thus went to the extreme of ecclesiastical independence were consistent in granting the Rome liberty to others which they claimed for themselves; and it is true that the Pilgrims were more tolerant than the Puritans. Lying on the border-line between the jurisdictions of Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay, the first settlers of Hingham are not to be too closely identified with either. They were within the outer limits of the Puritan colony, but from an early day they manifested a good deal of independence of the Boston magnates; and Peter Hobart's defiant attitude towards Governor Winthrop is one of the picturesque features of that early time. There is sometimes, undoubtedly, an inclination to exaggerate the religious element in the early settlements of New England. It was a mixed purpose that animated our forefathers. There was in them the genius of adventure and enterprise which in later days has peopled our own West with their descendants; there was the search for fortune in new countries over the sea; there was the spirit of trade and mercantile investment; there was the hope of new homes, and the ardor of new scenes, all clustering around what was unquestionably the central impulse to find a larger religious freedom than the restrictions, legal or traditional, of the old country afforded. This is evident from the fact that while the population of Massachusetts grew rapidly by accessions from England till the execution of Charles the First, yet, as soon as that event happened, the republic of Cromwell and the supremacy of Puritanism during his Protectorate were accompanied by a practical suspension of immigration to New England. For the next two hundred years it had little other growth than that which sprang from its own loins.
In these first settlements the ministers were the leaders. Their influence was supreme. They gave tone to the time, and color to history; and the communities which they largely moulded seem, as we look back upon them, to be toned by the ecclesiastical atmosphere which the clergy gave to them. But with all this there was still all the time an immense deal of human nature. The picture of the early time, if it could be reproduced, would present a body of men and women engaged in the ordinary activities of life, cultivating the farms, ploughing the seas, trading with foreign lands and among themselves, engaged in near and remote fisheries, maintaining the school, the train-band, and the church, holding their town-meetings, -- a people not without humor, not altogether innocent of a modicum of quarrel and greed and heart-burning, yet warm with the kind and neighborly spirit of a common and interdependent fellowship. The Massachusetts settlers indulged in no mere dream of founding a Utopia or a Saints' Rest. They were neither visionary philosophers nor religious fanatics. Their early records deal with every-day details of farm and lot, of domestic affairs, of straying cattle and swine, of runaway apprentices and scolding wives, of barter with the Indians, of whippings and stocks and fines for all sorts of naughtinesses, of boundaries and suits, of debt and legal process and probate, of elections and petty offices civil and military, and now and then the alarm of war and the inevitable assessment of taxes. They smack very much more of the concerns, and the common concerns, of this world than of concern for the next. They are the memoranda of a hard, practical life; and if the name of Hingham now and then appears in them during the first half-dozen years of its existence, it is in
connection with a fine for bad roads, or leave to make hay in Conihasset meadows, or permission to use its meeting-house for a watch-house, or the appointment of a committee to settle its difficulties with Nantasket, or something of equally homely import. There is in these records no cant nor sniffling, none of that pretentious sanctimoniousness which is so flippantly charged upon the Puritans. There is less reference to theology than to ways and means; and the practical question, for instance of restraining the liquor-traffic and evil, seems to have taxed the ingenuity and attention of their law-makers and magistrates very much as it does in the case of their descendants. There is no waste of words in the grim sentences, but a plain, wholesome dealing with the material needs of the colony. One cannot read them and not feel the sense of justice and righteousness that inspired the leaders of the settlement, and that songht, rigorously indeed but honestly, to institute and maintain a commonwealth which should be animated by virtue, thrift, education, the sanctity and sweetness of home, fear of God, and fair dealing among men. They were developing that sturdy, educating, self-reliant New England town life which till forty or fifty years ago was so unique, but which since then has gradually been disintegrated and changed by the tremendous influence of the transportations of the railroad, the wide scattering of the New England seed, the influx of foreign elements, the rapid growth of large cities, the drain on rural sources, and the general change from diffusion to consolidation, and from the simplest and most meagre to the most profuse and complex material resources.
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