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NOTES ON DUXBURY IN THE COUNTY OF PLYMOUTH.
A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY.
August 25, 1820. SIR, IN 1793, at the request of my respected friend, Hon. James Winthrop, I prepared a topographical description of Duxbury, the place of my nativity. It was afterwards published in Vol. II. of the Collections of the Historical Society. The account was prepared at short notice, and contained very little relating to the history of the early inhabitants of that ancient town. I have since collected some anecdotes and facts respecting the first settlers there, which I have now the pleasure to communicate, and which serve to shew, more fully, the opinions and manners of “the Pilgrims," while they preserve a recollection of the particular virtues and deeds of individuals.
Of the first company, who came to Plymouth in 1620, and who were the worthy founders of that ancient colony, several located themselves, within a few years, on the north side of the bay, and soon after gave to it the name of Duxburrow. Among those who took up their residence in this place, we find some, who were men of influence, and who were concerned in administering the government-as Capt. Myles Standish, William Brewster, William Collier, John Alden, and Jonathan Brewster; and many who were substantial landholders and freemen—as William Bassett, Love Brewster, Francis Eaton, Experience Mitchell, Philip Delano, Henry Sampson, Stephen Tracy, George Soule, Edmund Chandler, Edward Bumpas, Henry Howland, Richard Church, Daniel Prior, Moses Simmons, Francis West, Edmund Freeman, Thomas Bisbee, Edmund Hunt, and Edmund Weston. And, a few years later, the following persons were distinguished inhabitants of Duxburrow: Constant Southworth, Samuel Nash, Rev. Ralph Partridge, Francis
Sprague, William Paybody, Christopher Wadsworth, Joseph Rodgers, &c.
William Brewster, often, in the early records, called Elder Brewster, lived only a few years of the latter part of his life in Duxbury. He died in 1644, aged eightytwo. He was the oldest person of the company, being sixty-one, or sixty-two, when they landed in Plymouth. Stephen Hopkins is supposed to be the next oldest. There is, indeed, no direct and positive assertion in the early records, that he resided in Duxbury: But it appears evident, from the account of the settlement of his estate between his two sons, Jonathan and Love, that he not only owned lands in that place, but that he built a house there, and resided in it, a short time before his death. His name is also on the list of freemen in Duxbury in 1643. The settlement he made, and on which his sons and grandsons afterwards lived, was in the south-east part of the town, adjoining land owned and occupied by Capt. Standish ; and which is not only pleasant on account of its local situation, but contains some of the best soil in that part of the country.
The character of this learned, pious and apostolick man has been so fully and justly given by Rev. Dr. Belknap, and by the writer of the ecclesiastical history of Plymouth, that it would be entirely superfluous here to speak of his various social and Christian virtues. It is sufficient merely to mention, that he has ever been considered one of the founders and supporters of the Puritan church, which first existed in the north of England, then fled to. Holland, and afterwards to this part of the New World, and here was established “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the Chief Corner Stone."
Capt. Myles Standish, the military hero of the company, and the defender of the pilgrims, had land allotted him in Duxbury, at an early period; and here his family resided. He had a large tract granted him on a peninsula in the south or south-east part of the town. The soil is good, and under judicious cultivation at this day yields a handsome income. Captain's Hill is included in this
tract; and affords an extensive and beautiful view of the surrounding country.
The heroism and bravery, the zeal and fidelity of Capt. Standish, and his great services to the infant colony, have been deservedly eulogized by Dr. Belknap, in the American Biography. No one was more able, and no one more disposed, than this learned and patriotick writer, to appreciate the labours and sufferings of the leaders of the pilgrims; yet in his biography of Standish, he has unfortunately omitted to record several of his publick actions, which merit recollection, and the preservation of which are justly due to the character of this brave and useful man. Perhaps it is not too much to say, that, but for him, the infant settlement had been broken up; and most of the early inhabitants had fallen a prey to the power and cruelty of the savages.
Dr. Belknap observes, in the closing paragraph of the biography of Standish, “that, after 1628, we have no account of him, and that he is not mentioned in the Pequot war in 1637.” Standish did not, indeed, share in the honour of that hazardous enterprise. Capt. Mason, of Connecticut, attacked the Pequots by surprise, and achieved a most brilliant and useful victory, before either the men from Plymouth or Massachusetts arrived. But it is also a fact, that the government of Massachusetts applied to Plymouth for aid in that expedition ; that the magistrates there immediately ordered men to be raised for the purpose, and Capt. Standish was appointed to command them. Major Stoughton commanded the Massachusetts troops, and was to have been chief of the whole military united. In 1642, Gov. Winslow and Capt. Standish were sent by the Court of Plymouth to Massachusetts, to solicit protection from the Indians, who, it was said, were meditating an attack upon them. In 1645, the commissioners of the four united colonies appointed a council of war, and placed Capt. Standish at its head. Mason of Connecticut, and Leverett and H. Atherton of Massachusetts, were his colleagues. At this time, a war was apprehended with the Narraganset Indians, and the troops were to be commanded by “Sargent
Major Gibbons.” He was also appointed, 1649, to command and inspect all the military companies in the colony; and “he condescended thereunto.”
In 1653, a period of great alarm, Capt. Standish was one of the council of war in Plymouth colony; and in 1654 he was appointed to the command of the Plymouth forces, consisting of about sixty men, destined to act in concert with the Massachusetts and Connecticut troops, against the Narraganset Indians and the Dutch, who had combined to destroy all the English people in these parts. The news of peace between England and Holland, which reached America in June, rendered the expedition unnecessary; and the troops were discharged. It is also proper to mention, as it shews the confidence the magistrates of Plymouth colony had in Capt. Standish, that he was sent to Boston, in the spring of the same year, to consult with Major Sedgwick, appointed commander in chief, respecting the proposed expedition against the Indians and Dutch. He was a man of talents and judgment, as well as of great courage, and was often selected to advise as well as to execute. He was frequently employed in surveying grants of land and laying out roads; and was sometimes made arbitrator between those who had disputes and controversies. In ecclesiastical concerns, he was also sometimes called upon to settle differences. In 1655, he and John Alden were appointed by the Court, on a petition from Marshfield, to go to that town and signify to them the Court's desire, that the inhabitants there would take notice of their duty, and contribute, according to their ability, freely to the support of the ministry. He was also sent to Rehoboth, in the course of the same year, for a similar purpose. He was treasurer of the colony for several years, and held the office in 1656, the year he died. When he was chosen to this office for the last time, on settlement of his accounts for the two former years, it appeared that he had £15 of publick money in his hands; but this was granted him as a compensation for his services, he not having received any salary during that period. He had also, at the same time, a grant of 300 acres of land near
Satuckett Pond in Bridgewater. In 1651, Gov. Bradford was authorized by law to deputize some one to act in the office, should any exigency require it. In 1653, expecting to be sometime absent, he appointed Capt. Standish.
Capt. Standish left three sons—Myles, Alexander and Josiah. The eldest removed to Boston, and was living there in 1662. Alexander and Josiah were several times representatives from Duxbury; and the former was sometime captain of the military company there. Josiah was also one of the council of war, at the time of alarm occasioned by the Sachem Philip's.warlike preparations. He married a daughter of John Alden. Some of the descendants of Capt. M. Standish, to the fourth generation, lived on the land, which he originally owned in Duxbury. But there are none of them now living in that place. Josiah inherited the land in Bridgewater, which had been granted his father, and one of his children settled on it. Some of his descendants are now living in the county of Plymouth.
William Collier, for many years an assistant, resided in Duxbury. He was early chosen to advise the governour in the civil affairs of the colony, and continued to be appointed to that trust till he was very aged, in 1670, when the court allowed him a servant at the publick expense. He was esteemed as a man of great sobriety, prudence and integrity. In 1642, he and Edward Winslow were appointed to treat with the court and government of Massachusetts on the subject of a union of the four colonies. He was afterwards one of the commissioners from Plymouth colony, who met those from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Haven, to devise measures for the general defence and welfare of the whole. During several years, he was chosen one of the council of war in the Old Colony. He is said to have been opposed to the measures of intolerance towards the Quakers, who, though not so severely persecuted by the government of Plymouth as of Massachusetts, were forbidden there to disseminate their wild and disorganizing opinions, and were often banished the