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ing black gloves with the fingers partly cut off, that he might the more easily turn the leaves of the Bible.
Isaac Backus, writing February 20, 1794, says, speaking of the people in the old colony of Plymouth : —
"There are very few men who are very rich, but the people are more upon a level than in most parts of our country, and the people retain many of the excellent qualities that were possessed by their fathers, and capital crimes are less known here than in many other places."
There was but little money in the inland towns of the colony until some time after the beginning of the last century. Payments for work and other things were usually made in products of the farm, wood, and lumber, the prices of which were fixed by a general understanding in the community; contracts and promissory notes were often made payable in so many pounds of pig iron. During the Revolutionary War, to supply this want of money, the Continental Congress issued paper bills to pass as a circulating medium, which, however, soon so depreciated in value as to become comparatively worthless. This money failed to supply the want of a standard value in currency, and served merely to embarrass people in the payment of taxes which had become burdensome. Under an act of the legislature in 1777, standard prices were fixed by the selectmen of the town, which continued in force for many years.
FOR THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN OF MIDDLEBOROUGH
Pursuant to an act of the General Assembly of the State of Massachusetts Bay in the year of our Lord 1777 —to prevent Monopoly and oppression it is hereby Enacted By the Selectmen and Committee of Said Middleborough That from and after the 24th Day of February 1777 —that the Goods Labor and Every Necessary and Convenient Article of Life herein after particularly Enumerated or otherwise included Shall not in said town of Middleborough Exceed the Price hereinafter particularly Enumerated or otherwise Proportioned to Said Goods and articles mentioned or included.
Common Farming Labour in the Summer season From the middle of aprel to the middle of October at 2s 6d a Day Common Labour From the middle of October to the middle of Aprel at 2s a Day mowing and Reaping at 3s 4d a Day Good Indian Corn at 3s 4d a bushel. Good Merchantable Wheat at 6s-4d a Bushel Good Merchantable Rye at 4s-2d a Bushell Good Merchantable Sheeps wool at 2s a Pound Good Merchantable Flax at 1s a Pound Good Beef at 2dl a Pound Good Fresh Pork at 4d a lb and Salt pork in proportion according to its Goodness and the price of Salt Raw hides at 3d a lb and Calf Skins at 6d a lb Good Cheese at 6d a lb Good Butter at 1od a lb potatoes at 1s: 4d a Bushal Small Turnips at 1s-8d a bushel mens Best Yarn Stockings at 5s : 4d a pair and so in Proportion for a meaner Quality Mens Shoes made of neats Leather of the Best Common Sort at 8s a pair and so in Proportion for a Lesser or Meaner Quality Salted Beef at 3f-12s-od a Barrel oats at 1s-8d a Bushel Good tried tallow at 7d4 & Good yard wide tow Cloth at 2s a yard and so on in proportion for other tow or Linen Cloth according to its widths and quality Good yard wide flannel Cloth Striped at p : 4d a yard and other flannel or woolen Cloth in proportion according to its width and Quality, good oak Wood Delivered at the Door of the Byer at 7s a Cord tanned hids at 1s: 3d a lb and Currid Leather in usual Proportion according to the Price of oil home Spun yard wide Cotten and Linnen Cloth at 3s : 4d yeard and other widths and Qualities in Proportion
Mutton & Lamb at 3d : J a lb Veal at 2d : J a lb
Horse Keeping or one Yoke of oxen one night or 24 hours with English hay 1s: 2d Good English hay from the meadow at 2f: os: od a Load and in Winter or Spring at 2f: 10s : od a Load and so on in Proportion for a meaner Quality or Sort of hay Teaming Work one yoke of oxen one Day Equal to a man in Common Labour and a Horse one day Two thirds as much as a yoke of oxen Excepting in plowing alone, and then equal to oxen: Horse hire at 2d I a mile for a single man and to Carry Double in proportion Milk in the Winter Season at 2d a quart Charcole at 10s : a Load or one third Part of a 100 of Good Bloomd Iron: nail Rods at 2f : 5s: od a 100 allowing an addition Sufficient for the Extraordinary Price of Sea Coal Common Good White pine or pitch pine Merchantable Bords at 2f: 5s : od a 1000 and so in proportion for other Qualities and Sorts : Common Good Board Nails and all other Sorts and Sizes of Nails at a price in Proportion to the price of Nail Rods Now Equal to What nails and nail Rods were in the former Usual proportion Oak Bark for Tanners at 13s : 4d a Cord Delivered the tan yard Hemlock Bark in proportion according to Usual Custom a Good Dinner at a Tavern is : od and Supper or Breakfast at :od: and Lodging at 3d } pr Night Good Sider at the press at : a : a Barrel and at other times at : 8s : a barrel Drawd off Shoe Making at home at 3s a pair from mans or womans Shoes or Pumps and so on in proportion for Smaller Shoes or Pumps, and Shoe making abroad at two thirds the Price of that at home to be proportioned as above Linen foot Wheals at 13s: 4d a Pair Clover Sead at: 9d: | a lb Hards Grass Seed at 1s: ad a Quart. Shoeing a Horse with plain Shoes all round at 4s: 4d: J and so in Like proportion for Steel Corks Consider the Price of Steel and all other Black Smith Work in Proportion to the above Said Shoeing Comparing The Same with former Smith work and the former prices of Plain Shoeing all Round at : 3s : 4d miling & masons work at 4s a day men Tailors Work abroad at 2s : 4d a Day Carpenters Joiners and other trades men not above mentioned at 3s 4d a Day and the Home Labor machaies and Tradesmen such as wheels plows yokes Carts Bedsteads Chairs and all other necessaries for Common Use not above mentioned are set at a price in proportion to farming Labour Comparing the former Price of Each article With the former price of farming Labour and all other Articles of Trade not above mentioned Common or Necessary among us not to be sold at a Greater Price Than in proportion with the present Price of the Articles above Mentioned Compareing the former price of Said articles of Trade with the former price of the Said articles Whereto a Price is now Set
Given at Said Middleborough February ye 20th : 1777
Wishing Love and Unity Peace and Plenty Fortitude Strength and Victory to be Constant Portion of all the Geneuine Friends to America
attest Zebedee Sprout By order of
Said Selectmen and
attest Abner Barrows Town Clerk
Notwithstanding the act of the legislature fixing the prices of all commodities, the depreciation of the currency issued by the Continental Congress deranged every branch of trade. All pecuniary obligations could be met by this depreciated money, which added to the great financial distress throughout the country. Middleboro, being generally a farming community, did not suffer as much as other towns, and to meet this condition, contracts and promissory notes were here often given, payable in so many pounds of pig iron or other articles for which there was a constant demand, instead of money, although all taxes were to be in specie.1 In 1780 pig iron was worth four dollars a pound in continental money
1 The following bill of items and prices shows the value of the continental money in 1781: —
Captain A. M'lane,
Bo't of W. N1cholls,
Received payment in full,
For Wm. N1cholls.
Lossing's Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i, p. 319.
|FTER the resettlement of the town, although the purchases of land had included almost the entire township, transfers of the different allotments were very numerous, and questions were continually arising therefrom. There was no one in town who had sufficient knowledge of the necessary forms and requirements of law to enable him to engage in its practice until about the year 1723. While there must have arisen various disputes over the bounds of lands bought and sold and questions of property rights, we have records of only two such controversies between the early settlers.
One of the first cases on record was that of. trespass, March 5, 1691, on the cedar swamp owned by the proprietors of the Twenty-six Men's Purchase, and a committee consisting of Lieutenant Tomson, Benjamin Bartlett, John Doggett, Isaac Howland, and Thomas Delano was appointed to prosecute the suit. The trespassers chose John Soule, John Nelson, and Adam Wright to defend them, and the tribunal so constituted decided that the trespassers should pay to the constable for the use of the proprietors : —
The widow Thomas, trespasser by Edward Thomas
William Thomas 3"
John Miller 2"
Phillip Bumpus 1 " 6 d.
Samuel Eaton 1 " 2"
James Wood 5"
John Holmes 2"
The proprietors of the South Purchase held a meeting on the 17th of May, 1698. John Soule and Jacob Tomson were chosen agents by the inhabitants and proprietors to defend their