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F the first settlement of the town, no authentic date can be ascertained. The copy of the records of the First Church in 1694 begins with the quotation from a Scripture in these words, "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty years." The early settlers were familiar with the scriptures of the Old Testament, and would hardly have made such a quotation at so solemn a time as the formation of their church had the reference not been true, and as it could only have referred to the time when the town was first occupied by white settlers, it has always been considered that the first settlement was in 1654.
"These may certify all whom it may concerne, that the fourth of March, 1658, that these men whose names are vnderwritten, by the intelligence of an Indian, came to a place a little below Namaskett, where the Indians tooke vpan English man out of the Riuer of Tetacutt, with a blew paire of stockings and a gray listed garter, and likewise pte of a lockorum paire of briches with wyer bottons fastened about his wast; but wee found noe blemish about the man that should any way cause his death, but as wee conceiue was drowned accedentally ; and finding the man thuse, wee haue buried him, and haue satisfyed the Indians for theire paines.
Samuell Edson Thomas Haward, Junir
Nathaneell Willis William Snow
John Willis Lawrance Willis
John Vobes Solomon Lenerson
Arthur Harris Guydo Bayley
John Haward, Senir Nathaneell Haward
Marke Laythorpe John Carew from Bridgwater."1
1 Plymouth Colony Records, vol. iii, pp. 159-160.
The Twenty-six Men's Purchase was made.
Purchade Purchase was made.
Five Men's Purchase was made.
"This year, there having been a complaint of the inhabitants of the town of Taunton for some years in reference to the bounds of their town, an order was made to establish those bounds."1
Little Lotmen's Purchase is recorded.
This year the lands on the westerly side of the Namasket River were apportioned by the General Court among the various owners in the Little Lotmen's Purchase.
"At the Court held on the 2d of July, there was granted Robert Finney 100 acrees of land where mr Alden and Captaine Southworth hath land att Namassakett River, if it may be had there; if not, then to haue such a portion with Hugh Cole neare Acushenet.2
"The bounds of the land of Francis Coombs were laid out lying on the westerly side of Namasket River and was called the 'Black Sachem's ' field, abutting upon the river against the stone weir." 3
In 1668 Governor Thomas Prince and Francis Coombs purchased a tract of land within this territory (known as Prince and Coomb's Purchase).
In June of this year the court ordered Major Winslow, Captain Southworth, and Lieutenant Morton "to lay out this land, as they shall think meet or to settle the whole of it to him if on the site and view thereof, they shall see cause."
From the number of purchases made by order of the court at Plymouth for different settlers during the ten years previ
1 Plymouth Colony Records, vol. iv, p. 45. a Ibid. vol. iv, p. 160.
* Ibid. vol. iv, pp. 171, 172.
ous, it is evident that there was a population sufficient for the town to become incorporated, although the number with the names of all who were then inhabitants cannot at present be accurately ascertained. At the court held on the 1st of June, 1669, the town was incorporated by the following order:
"Att this Court, the Court graunted that Namassakett shalbe a township, and to be called by the name of Middleberry, and is bounded with Plymouth bounds on the easterly syde, and with the bounds of Taunton on the westerly syde, and the bounds of Bridgwater on the northerly side or end, and on the southerly side or end to extend six mile from the wadeing place, (and att the end of the said six mile to run east to Plymouth line, and from the said line west to Taunton line; and incase the west line runes to the southward of Taunton line, then to run vntill wee come vp to the southermost pte of Taunton bounds, and then square of north to it.) And it is further ordered by the Court, that a competencye of land be prouided and reserued for a minnester within theire township, of such lands as are vnpurchased." 1
John Nelson was elected constable and surveyor of highways, and William Haskins was probably elected town clerk and served in that capacity for many years, although there is no record of his election until the year 1680. There is no record of any other town officer chosen that year.
On the 29th of May, 1670, Nathaniel Morton, Secretary of the Court at Plymouth, made a transcript of all of the freemen in the colony at that time, and from that record we learn of the freemen in Middleboro.2
In this year John Morton, who had formerly resided in Plymouth, bought into the Twenty-six Men's Purchase and took up his residence here, and was then chosen to represent the town in the General Court for the month of June, the first representative sent from Middleboro.
No deputy was sent to the General Court, and the only town officer of whom any record is made is Gershom Cobb, who was chosen constable.
1 Plymouth Colony Records, vol. v, pp. 19-20. The addition of the part of the bounds in parentheses was made at the General Court July 7, 1680. Hid. vol. vi, p. 48.'
3 See page 517.
The tax of the colony, exclusive of officers' salaries or wages, for which all the towns were proportionately rated, was .£268, but Middleboro was not taxed for the year.
At the General Court held on the 8th of July, the colony was ordered to furnish 102 men to meet a threatened insurrection of the Indians, and Middleboro's quota was two men for this expedition.1
"It was alsoe ordered by the Court, that the armes of the Indians of Namassakett and Assowamsett, that were feched in by Major Winslow, and those that were with him, are confiscate and forfeite from the said Indians, for the grounds aboue expressed, they being in complyance with Phillipe in his late plott, and yett would neither by our Goure order nor by Phillips desire, bring in theire am1es, as was engaged by the treaty; and the said guns are ordered by the Court to the major and his companie, for theire satisfaction in that expedition." 2
The town was not taxed by the colony.
An island in Quitticus Pond, variously spelled, but in the record called " Quettequas," was let by the colony to a Mr. Palmer to plant and sow.
Elizabeth Howland, the wife of Mr. John Howland, Sr., deceased, came into the court of Plymouth and acknowledged that she freely gave and surrendered all her rights in the lands of her late husband lying at Namasket in the township of Middleboro to Mr. John Gorum of Barnstable.
This year an agreement was made between Mr. Constant Southworth and Philip, the sachem, in reference to the boundary of the land at Assawampsett Pond.
The South Purchase was made. John Morton was chosen deputy for the last time to the General Court this year. The town seems to have chosen no selectmen.
In September there was another court at Plymouth, and a new summons was issued, and Jonathan Dunham was chosen to represent the town, probably on account of the decease of John Morton, the former deputy. The town was not taxed for its proportional part of the expenses of the colony.
As there had been a former grant of certain lands between Assawampsett Pond and the bounds of the town of Dartmouth, the town of Middleboro laid claim to a greater por
1 Plymouth Colony Records, vol. v, p. 74. 2 Ibid. vol. v, pp. 63-64.
tion thereof, and the court ordered "that the town should recover these lands, and that the purchasers thereof have liberty to purchase land elsewhere."1
"The Treasurer and Serjeant Tomson are appointed by the Court to make purchase of such lands in the township of Middleberry as the Indians doe or may tender to sell, which may be by them purchased for the vse of the towne, and the propriators of the land in that township, and for the payment of such debts as the Indians owe to any as occation may require, and what lands they purchase; the pay for it to be defrayed by the towne and propriators aforsaid, for the cecuritie of them the said Mr. Constant Southworth and Serjeant Tompson, and in case the said purchassers and propriators doe not make payment of the charge of the purchase within one yeare after the said purchase is made, that then it shalbe in the libertie of the said Treasurer and serjeant to make sale of soe much of the said land as will defray the charge thereof."2
The colony tax was .£188, 15 shillings, and 10 pence, Middleboro's portion of which was £4, 19 shillings.
"In reference vnto the first propriators of the lands in the Majors Purchase, soe called, which is in the township of Middleberry, between the two pathes, that wheras the record of theire graunte expresseth onely thirty acrees a peece and proportionable comonage, the Court heerby declares, that theire intent was, that all the lands within that tract called the Majors Purchase is settled and doth appertaine vnto them and theire heires and assignes for euer, excepting such smalle psells as haue since bin graunted vnto seuerall psons within said tract, wherof a psell was thirty acrees in the said tracte graunted to John Dunham, Junir, as followeth : —
"Thirty acrees of land is graunted by the Court, with the consent and concurrance of such as are the propriators in the said Majors Purchase, vnto John Dunham, Junir, being layed out & bounded by Willam Nelson by order from Captaine Southworth, is as followeth, vizs.: it lyeth on the easterensyde of the head of Rauen Brooke, marked with a stake att the northwest corner, and att the northeast corner with a smalle red oake, and on the southeast corner it is bounded with a rocke, and att the southwest corner it is bounded with a smalle red oake." 3