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WINTHRop sailed from Yarmouth at the Isle of Wight, April 8, 1630, on board the Arbella, in company with three other ships, the Talbot, the Ambrose, and the Jewel. The Arbella was a ship of 350 tons, manned with 52 seamen and 28 pieces of ordnance, and was commanded by Capt. Peter Milborne. These four arrived at Salem—the Arbella, June 12; the Jewel, June 13; the Ambrose, June 18, and the Talbot, July 2. The rest of the fleet, seven other ships, viz.: the May Flower, Whale, Hopewell, William and Francis, Trial, Charles, and Success, not being ready to accompany the four above-mentioned, set sail from South Hampton in May, and arrived at Charlestown or Salem, between the 1st and 6th of July. These are the ships mentioned in the following letter, written by Winthrop to his wife, “from aboard the Arbella, riding at the Cowes, March 28, 1630,” which I have transcribed from Savage's edition of Winthrop's Journal, for the information it imparts; but still more, for the beautiful illustration it affords of the writer's domestic character.
“My faithful and dear Wife:
“It pleaseth God, that thou shouldest once again hear from me before our departure, and I hope this shall come safe to thy hands. I know it will be a great refreshing to thee. And blessed be his mercy, that I can write thee so good news, that we are all in very good health, and, having tried our ship's entertainment now more than a week, we find it agree very well with us. Our boys are well and cheerful, and have no mind of home. They lie both with me, and sleep as soundly in a rug (for we use no sheets here) as ever they did at Groton; and so I do myself, (I praise God.) The wind hath been against us this week and more; but this day it is come fair to the north, so as we are preparing (by God's assistance) to set sail in the morning. We have only four ships ready, and some two or three Hollanders go along with us. The rest of our fleet (being seven ships) will not be ready this sennight. We have spent now two Sabbaths on ship-board very comfortably, (God be praised,) and are daily more and more encouraged to look for the Lord's presence to go along with us. Henry Kingsbury hath a child or two in the Talbot sick of the measles, but like to do well. One of my men had them at Hampton, but he was soon well again. We are, in all our eleven ships, about 700 persons, passengers, and 240 cows and about 60 horses. The ship which went from Plymouth carried about 140 persons, and the ship which goes from Bristowe carrieth about 80 persons. And now (my sweet soul) I must once again take my last farewell of thee in Old England. It goeth very near to my heart to leave thee; but I know to whom I have committed thee, even to him who loves thee much better than any husband can, who hath taken account of the hairs of thy head, and puts all thy tears in his bottle, who can, and (if it be for his glory) will bring us together again with peace and comfort. Oh, how it refresheth my heart, to think, that I shall yet again see thy sweet face in the land of the living !—that lovely countenance, that I have so much delighted in, and beheld with so great content 1 I have hitherto been so taken up with business, as I could seldom look back to my former happiness; but now, when I shall be at some leisure, I shall not avoid the remembrance of thee, nor the grief for thy absence. Thou hast thy share with me, but I hope the course we have agreed upon will be some ease to us both. Mondays and Fridays, at five of the clock at night, we shall meet in spirit till we meet in person. Yet, if all these hopes should fail, blessed be our God, that we are assured we shall meet one day, if not as husband and wife, yet in a better condition. Let that stay and comfort thy heart. Neither can the sea drown thy husband, nor enemies destroy, nor any adversity deprive thee of thy husband or children. Therefore I will only take thee now and my sweet children in mine arms, and kiss and embrace you all, and so leave you with my God. Farewell, farewell. I bless you all in the name of the Lord Jesus. I salute my daughter Winth. Matt. Nan. and the rest, and all my good neighbors and friends. Pray all for us. Farewell. Commend my blessing to my son John. I cannot now write to him; but tell him I have committed thee and thine to him. Labor to draw him yet nearer to God, and he will be the surer staff of comfort to thee. I cannot name the rest of my good friends, but thou canst supply it. I wrote, a week since, to thee and Mr. Leigh and divers others. “Thine wheresoever, “Jo. WINTHROP.”
Our Charlestown records say that Winthrop and his company, amounting to about 1,500 persons in all, were brought over in twelve ships. Prince supposes that the Mary' and John, which sailed from Plymouth, March 20, and arrived May 30, at Nantasket, was one of the twelve. Gov. Dudley, in his letter to the countess of Lincoln, says that seventeen ships arrived in New England during the year 1630, “for the increase of the plantation here; but made a long, a troublesome, and a costly voyage, being all windbound long in England, and hindered with contrary winds after they set sail, and so scattered with mists and tempests that few of them arrived together.”
“We began to consult of the place of our sitting down,” says Dudley, “for Salem, where we landed, pleased us not.”
“And to that purpose, some were sent to the bay, to search up the rivers for a convenient place; who, upon their return, reported to have found a good place upon Mistick; but some other of us, seconding these, to approve or dislike of their judgment, we found a place liked us better, three leagues up Charles River; and thereupon unshipped our goods into other vessels, and with much cost and labor, brought them in July to Charlestown ; but there receiving advertisements (by some of the late-arrived ships) from London and Amsterdam, of some French preparations against us, (many of our people brought with us being sick of fevers, and the scurvy, and we thereby unable to carry up our ordnance and baggage so far,) we were forced to change counsel, and for our present shelter to plant dispersedly, some at Charlestown, which standeth 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 we first resolved on); some of us upon Mistick, which we named Meadford; some of us westward on Charles River, four miles from Charlestown, which place we named Watertown ; others of us two miles from Boston, in a place we named Roxbury; others upon the river of Sawgus, between Salem and Charlestown ; and the Western men, four miles south from Boston in a place we named Dorchester. This dispersion troubled some of us, but help it we could not, wanting ability to remove to any place fit to build a town upon; and the time too short to deliberate any longer, lest the winter should surprise us before we had builded our houses. The best counsel we could find out was to build a fort to retire to, in some convenient place, if any enemy pressed us thereunto, after we should have fortified ourselves against the injuries of wet and cold.” It will appear from an attentive reading of the above account, that Charlestown was not the site, which was selected either by the first or second exploring party. Governor Winthrop was probably of the first party. He says, under date of Thursday, June 17, “We went to Mattachusetts, to find out a place for our sitting down. We went up Mistick River about six miles.” The next party, who were sent, as Dudley says, “to approve or dislike the judgment” of the first, found a place they liked better, three leagues up Charles River. Mr. Savage says that this place was Charlestown, supposing that Dudley represents the mouth of Charles River at the outer light-house. But this supposition is inconsistent with Dudley's narrative, in which he gives as a reason for their settling at Charlestown and other places, their inability through sickness to go so far as the place they had selected, three leagues up Charles River. Besides, he describes Charlestown as “standing on the north side of the mouth of Charles River.” Prince supposes that this place, described as “three leagues up Charles River,” was “at the place whence the Dorchester people were ordered to remove,” which was afterwards called Watertown. It is certain, therefore, that Charlestown was not, as has been supposed, the place fixed upon by the colonists for their first settlement. And it is apparent, also, that the precise date of the landing and settlement of Winthrop and his companions in Charlestown, cannot be determined. Governor Everett, in his address delivered before the Charlestown Lyceum, calls the 28th June, 1830, N. S., the second centennial anniversary. This date is derived probably from that given by Winthrop, June 17; but the day corresponding to this, would be June 27, not 28; and besides, this date refers to the exploration of the Mistick, not to the settlement of the town by Winthrop and his company. The nearest approximation to the date of the latter event which can be reached, is that given by Prince, who says, “it seems as if the fleet arrived at Charlestown July 10, by Mr. Wilson's yearly allowance out of the public treasury beginning on that day.”
Note 2, page 10.
As this individual was the first white inhabitant of Charlestown, it may be interesting to learn what may be known respecting him.
He appears not to have lived amicably with the new settlers, for in April, 1631, he was “fined £10, and enjoined, he and his wife, to depart out of the limits of this patent.” In the following month, he was fined £2, and “he paid it by killing a wolf;” and in the following September, it was ordered that his goods be sequestered, “to satisfy the debts he owes in the Bay to several persons.” After this, he became a valuable citizen of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he is mentioned as being one of the trustees, or wardens of the church property."
NoTE 3, page 10.
DR. Morse says that this gentleman, whom he calls Thomas Greaves, but whose name is spelt Graves on our town records, was the son of John Greaves, and was born in Ratcliffe, England, June 6, 1605, and was the ancestor of the Greaves family of this place. Others have supposed that there was another Thomas Graves, and there are many things to favor this opinion. There was a Mr. Graves who was mate of the Talbot, when Higginson came over, and one of the mates of the Arbella, when Winthrop came, and who subsequently became master of a vessel, and of whom Winthrop says in his journal, under date of June 3, 1635, that “he had come every year for these seven years.” Prince says that the Thomas Graves, who desired to be made a freeman in 1630, afterwards became a rear-admiral in England. Now the Mr. Graves who “ had charge of the servants of the company of Pattentees,” before Winthrop's arrival, is spoken of as “a person skillful in mines of iron, lead, copper, mineral salt, and alum, fortifications of all sorts, surveying, &c.” and speaks of himself as a traveller, who had been in Hungary; it would seem, therefore, the more natural conclusion, that the Mr. Graves of whom Winthrop speaks, was the one appointed rear-admiral by Cromwell, “for his bravery at sea, in capturing a Dutch privateer, under great disadvantages.”
1 Savage's Winthrop, I. p. 53. 2 Hist, Coll. V. p. 220.