20 The Forerunners of the Weywouth Settlers 20The Geology of Weymouth 130
23 Thomas Weston and his Relations to the Pilgrims 23
26 Thomas Weston and Wessagusset 26
29 The Weston People at Wessagusset 29
32 The Weymouth Hanging 32
35 The Indian Fight at Wessagusset 35
38 The Defense of Thomas Weston 38
43 In Defense of the Weston Colony 43
46 The Passengers on Weston's Ships 46
50 Sir Ferclinando Gorges and his Charter 50
55 The Gorges Settlement 55
60 The Wessagusset Plantation 60
64 Boston Founded by Weymouth Settler 64
67 Thomas Morton and Town Government 67
71The Coming of the Hull Company 71
76 Early Settlers not Squatters 76
81Fear of Land Shortage 81
86 Early Religious History of Weymouth 86
92 Early Ministers and Churches 92
97 The Enforcement of Conformity 97
101 The Pequot War 101
107 King Philip's War 107
111 The Beauty of Weymouth in 1623 111
117 Up the River to House Rock in 1623 117
124 Back River and the Ponds 124
The Weymouth Sphinx 157The Flora of Weymouth 163
General History 168
Weymouth in the First United States Census, 1790 206
Ecclesiastical History 212
First Church 217Origin of the Early Roads of Weymouth 286
Second Church 233
Union Congregational Church of South Weyniouth 248
Union Congregational Church of Weymouth and Braintree 252
Fast Weymouth Congregational Church 254
Pilgrim Church of North Weymouth 257
First Methodist Episcopal Church 259
Porter Medodist Episcopal Church 263
Unitarian Church 265
First Universalist Society of Weymouth, 266
Second Universalist Society of South Weymouth 269
Third Universalist Society of North Weymouth 275
First Baptist Church 278
The Catholic Church 281
Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church 282
Church of the Holy Nativity 283
Faith Mission Church 285
The Revolutionary War 392Early Libraries in South Weymouth 413
The War of 1812 338
Militia Companies 341
The Mexican War 345
The Civil War 346
The Spanish War 376
The World War 377
Welcome Home Day 397
Weymouth Cavalry Company, 1798-1811 400
Fogg Library 415Laws, Acts and Resolves 420
Tufts Library 416
Provincial Laws, Acts and Orders 422
Acts and Resolves 448
Representatives in General Court of Massachusetts 480
A Society whose purposes have been so often stated in the meetings of the town and in the public press does not now need to put forth any reiterated statements of what it wishes or hopes to accomplish, but in a utilitarian age like the present, when the pursuit of wealth and material success proves supremely attractive to a large proportion of every community, the question "What is the good of it?" is constantly asked of the supporters of every projected enterprise which does not promise bread to the hungry and wealth to the greedy. It is therefore not always a waste of time to endeavor to show the right of such a Society as our own to exist, and to claim its share of attention and respect.
And first, I claim that the thoughtful and discriminating study of local history and biography is more valuable to the student than the study of general history as taught in the textbooks of the schools or the volumes of the great authors. To illustrate: the triple due[ between the three Horatii and the three Curiath that saved a general battle of the Romans and the Albans may seem important history and worthy to be committed to memory in all its details by every schoolboy, but it is not an essential part, as I read it, of any philosophy of history, nor to be compared in importance to us or our children with the account of the visit of Capt. Myles Standish to this very town in 1623, and his roughshod but effective disposal of Pecksuot and his allies. Here is the veritable history of a merciless but conclusive settlement, in the cause of Whites versus Indians, of the "survival of the fittest," whose results will be as far~reaching as the history of our Republic.
Again, the general history of the United States as commonly understood treats largely of the location of the great battles for freedom, the names of the general&, the numbers of the contending armies, and the instances of individual heroism. Local history details the steps as they led to the wars as they appeared to the individual citizen; the price paid for liberty in the homes and by the firesides; the everyday trials and makeshifts of the widow and fatherless; andthen therelief and prosperity that followed therestoration of peace. The general history makes little impression on the mind or memory, fout the local history a.,! die fireside stories of the g-.a2dfatfuer finger in the mind of the youth and impress it forever.
General history is the hated task (I speak from
experience) forced upon the unwilling scholar. The local history and the
fireside stories are the delight of the home. The one is an attempt to
burden the memory with names and dates, bare and uninviting as a census
table; the other is the narrative of personal experience full of anecdote
and reminiscence, and needs to be heard but once to be forever remembered.
The one is often an endeavor to compress many facts into little space without
illustration or figure of speech, while the other cultivates the imagination
and holds the attention by clothing the facts in the antique language and
the actors, and pictures again the houses and landscapes where the scenes were enacted. In short, national histories are often but the skeleton outline of struggles for political supremacy - almost useless for guide or precedent except as local gleaners have clothed the bare bories with the warin flesh and blood of individual action and emotion, and shown ]low the senseless squabbles of Kings and Emperors have resulted under the guidance of Providence in the real progress of mankind.
(Ur own town of Weymouth, settled almont ~it the very beginning (if Colonial history in America, and exhibiting all through its town, church and family records the gradual advance in political, religious and social life of an industrious, thoughtful people, will illustrate all that is valuable in history better than a score of ponderous volumes full of taics of tyranny and bloodshed,
Although to pass as an educated man, it may be essential that one should know just those things which other educated men are ~upposcd to be familiar with, to be truly educated is to have a mind improved and disciplined by a thoughtful acquaintance with real issues, the reasons for them, and the results that follow them. It is from this latter standpoint that I urge the claims of local history.
The best education is not always that which is crowned with the A.B. of the schools, but with the deserved respect and confidence of the intelligent and the thoughtful.
But how does this all apply to the kindred studv of genealogy? Here, indeed, is room for discussion if genealogy resulted in nothing Out the family tree with its parental trunk and its numberless branches Pach (list inguished from the other only by name and date, and though even then an innocent hurnan curiosity i.,5 gratified and a liiiriiiless~imusciiietiteiicouraged. Butthisisnotall. Thethoughtful studentofgenealogymay find in it, if I maysospeak,hisownancient and medieval history; may trace his family inheritance through long generanons; may bee the influences that have shaped the character of father and grindfather, and have done much to mold his own. He tnay learn lessons of thrift from the rise of industrious ancestors from poverty to competency; lessons of patriotism from tile personal sacrifices of his fathers upon the altar of liberty; and lessons of piety from the earnc~t utterances and correspondence of the longburied (lead. He may, in short, come nearer perhaps than in any other way to the hNing a life's experience in advance, and, less than most other men, have cause to say, " If I could only live my life over again I ~110111(1 know better how to live."
Even if this be only fanciful and nothing more, the facts remain that tile Book of Books has given space to genealogical lines; that almost every nation has revered the magnificent lineage; and that every day narae and more the study of genealogy is gaining in popular estimation.
Though we do not see why, it may be confidently
claimed that Providence has a design in all this, and that the preservation
of the names and biography of the men whose descendants we are is in sonic
way helping on the weal of mankind.
What is meant by history in this ycai of our Lord? And why in the name of history is this symposium published in Weymouth's tercentenary?
"History," says Carlyle, "is the essence of innumerable biographies, and is as perfect as the historian is wise, and is gifted with an eye and a soul." The question, who has an eye and a soul, and the wisdom to deliver a round, unvarnished tale, " nothing extenuate and naught set down in malice," is as old as history itself.
William Bradford sensed this problem, and in his introduction "Of Plimmoth Plantation" says, "The which I shall endevor to matiefest in a plaine stile, with singuler regard to the simple trueth in all things; at least as near as my slender judgernente can attain the same." And in his 2d Booke declares, " I shall for brevitis sake handle by way of annalls, noteing only the heads of principall things and passages as they fall in order of time, and may seem to be profitable to know and to make use of." And Bradford's original manuscript, in the custody of Massachusetts at the State House, is undoubtedly the old Bay State's most precious historical document.
And yet, in our day, while we must accept Bradford's "simpletrueth-in-all-things" idea, - for instance, when he writes of Plymouth, "Marvelous it may be to see and consider how some kind of wickednes did grow and break forth here," - we must question his theology in accounting for that condition, namely, "The Devill may carrie a greater spite against the churches of Christ and the gospell hear by how much the more they endever to preserve holyness and puritic amongst them." We realize that theological terms have changed their meaning since Bradford wrote the Annalls, so, while the modern historian must go to them for practically all the facts in the Pilgrim enterprise, it must be his function to re-interpret those facts in terms of to-day's philosophy and language.
Mr. H. G. Wells, in his epochal work "Outlines
of History," claims that it also is a plain history of life and mankind,
a framework which the people might have in common, and into which one might
fit his own particular reading and historical interest; it tried to give
all history as one story. But this author of the best seller of histories
is challenged by scholars, who denounce his whole framework of evolutionary
philosophy as unsound; and by laymen in all la.ds, who declare that his
innumerable biographies are inaccurate. What Frenchman, for instance, will
not protest at Napoleon the Great being set down as "an adventurer, a wrecker
and a pestilence?" What American will think of Washington, the
Father of His Country, as "a conspicuously indolent gentleman"? -and when Mr. Wells continues, "If one were to write a true, full and particular history of the I Tnited States it would have to be written with charity and high spirits as a splendid comedy."
We retort that Mr. Wells' particular reading and historical interest, which have fitted him to take our country as a joke, have unfitted Iiiiii as an author of all history, and we discredit the Outlines, framework, story and all. In a subsequent book, "The Salvaging of Civilization," Mr. Wells says that be wrote the Outlines in three years' time in consultation with a half dozen experts in various fields of knowledge, and he admits it to be "a corrupting mass of faults and minor inaccuracies;" but does he out of that experience suggest abetter way of writing history? I-lesays,"Why should we not have a great educational conference of teachers, .scientific men and historians from the civilized peoples of the world, and why should they not draft out a standard world's history for general use in the world's schools? Why should not that draft be revised by scores of specialists, discussed and rediscussed, polished and finished and made the opening part of a New Bible of Civilization, - a new common basis for a world's culture?"
Sure enough! Why not? But this process must be continuous, for we know that our Holy Bible was constructed on substantially the foregoing lines, yet to-day, from a historian's viewpoint, it is practically obsolete. The Creation, Adam and Eve, Babel, the Flood, are ruled out of history's facts into the realm of myth and folk-fore tales, and unless the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen reveals a Book of the Dead, corroborating the Plagues of Egypt, we shall have to give up Moses as a historic personage, for we know that all allusions to him by profane historians are unreliable. We inquire whether the half hundred writings referred to in the Old Testament, but missing now, were really lost, censored out, or were the victims of the Apochrypha fraud of early date? We know that "Proofs of Holy Writ" of Shakespeare's and the Pilgrim's day are now told us as fabled tales.
In his prospectus of this New Bible of Civilization
by Mr. H. G. Wells we readily see that as history the Old Bible would contribute
very little. But this idea of a New Bible is not new; it was proposed by
Commenius in Pilgrim days three hundred years ago. A bill before the Massachusetts
Legislature, which provides that "no book shall be allowed to be read in
any public school criticizing the acts of Federal officials, or the Federal
army, during or after the Revolutionary War," shows the trend of the times,
and points out that Mr. Wells' suggested world's conference could not convene
too quickly to save the good name of history- There is no question that
the World War has brought about the realization that all history has been
written by uninformed and prejudiced men, and in the light of present-day
knowledge must be rewritten at the earliest opportunity.
13UL the question arises whether a great educational conference such as Mr. Wells suggests could come as near agreement to-day as in the days of Commenius - whether such a history is possible, or even desirable? Again, George Borrow has written, "People are afraid to put down what is common on paper. They seek to embellish their narratives, as they think, by philosophic speculation; they are anxious to shine, and people who are anxious to shine can never tell a plain story." INTRODUCTION 9
Van Loon, who defines history as the sequence of human events, attributes the success of his work, "The Story of Mankind," to his training as a newspaper columnist; he.tells the btory in a popular way. The desire "to shine" and the demand for a shining literature are not confined to any age, but certainly the early seventeenth century has never been equaled in this quality of composition. Luther, Milton, Shakespeare, Bacon, Jonson -we ne'er shall see their like again!
With the printing of the English Bible in 1610 there developed a tendency to independent religious thinking which made at once for sectarianism. That has continued until now there are two hundred religious sects in Christianity alone, each asserting a claim of gospel truth, and all defending their claims with a militaristic spirit contrary to the instructions of their founder, "the Prince of Peace. "
The Separatists of England were early in the field. In their church at Leyden, the Sabbath service opened with a two-hour discourse by the pastor on a Bible text, and this was followed by a two-hour period of "prophesying" by the elders. The expounding of Scripture was carried to even greater lengths in the New World, of which it was said, "We have a strange weakness in New England that when we are speaking we know not when to conclude; the fault is in the climate."
The Simple Cobbler of Agawam notes this: "He that is willing to tolerate any religion or discrepant way of religion besides his own, Unless it be in matters merely indifferent - either doubts of his own or is not sincere in it; he that has any well-faced phansy in his crown and doth not vent it now, fears the pride of his own heart will dub him dunce forever."
These were writers of the shining literature of the time, and according to their lights they wrote sermons, "Lives of the Saints," " Pilgrim's Progress ... .. Paradise Lost," and histories too. But now these are mainly relegated to the back shelves of libraries and preserved as literary curiosities of a bygone age. The school, the press, the forum, the spread of knowledge, and particularly the Darwinian theory of evolution of 1859, have destroyed the whole philosophic basis on which these writings rested, and they have lost their interest and influence. But history is eternal, and must be continuously interpreted in terms of to-day.
The use of the cinema in portraying historic events
may have suggested the Outlines method to Mr. Wells. With continuous pictures
as a framework,. and a " talkless talk" for the story, the read
ing and imagination of each particular individual will do the rest - more in accord with the " simple trueth " idea of Bradford than has been the fortune of the jot-and -tittle method of the old-time historian.
The radio further accentuates this idea of simple
truth and brevity, for criticism-, already filed show that unless a man
has an idea and can present it in pictures(
. . - lue form, be will be cut off as a
cumberer of the air.
Mr. Wells' final word in the Outlines is that history is and always inust be no more than an account of beginnings. Life begins perpetually. The viewpoint changes. Words themselves change in meaning. And so we find our warrant for this new History of Weymouth in the present form.
From the foregoing observations we are justified in presenting a series of pictures of historic events in Weymouth, - The Coming of the First Settlers, Early Records, Church History, Folk Lore, Geology, etc., concluding with the Genealogy of all the old families. Here is an excellent framework made by men to the manner born; it is the simple truth, "noting only the heads of principal things such as it may seem profitable to know arid to make use of, " and it is hoped that this work may inspire to more particular readindand interest in historic documents of which ti-- town of Weymouth is the possessor of a large body.
The oration of Him, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., on the occasion of the celebration of the two hundred arid fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the town, and his paper, "Weymouth Thirty Years Later," take first rank in this respect. The writings of Mr. Gilbert Nash, particularly his "Weymouth, First Twenty Years," are a valuable contribution, and there are many other notable documents. I will mention especially Mr. Edmund S. Hunt's "Reminiscences of Weymouth," in which Mr. Hunt gives an inimitable story of the life rounds of the "Landing" for a period covering the last three-quarter* of the nineteenth century. If such annals had been made of the whole life of Weymouth, what a history it would be!
If we agree with Emerson that "history very early resolves itself into the biographies of a few stout and earnest persons," then the early days of Weymouth suggest the names of Weston, Gorges arid Hull. These are not names to conjure with, like those of Brewster, Bradford arid Standibl) of the Plymouth Colony, and yet Mr. Adams has said of Mr. Weston, in his "Three Episodes of Massachusetts History," " It must always remain an undisputed historic fact that the individual co-operation of Mr. Thomas Weston was at one period indispensable to events which compose the second page in the history of a Continent." Not by any means faint praise! It may be that Weymouth's best chance for fame lies in developing this idea of co-operation with the Pilgrim Fathers.
We must remember that in 1620 it was one hundred
and fifty years, according to Mr. Lodge, to the time when Christians would
believe that God was working in the affairs of men by a progressive law which included all races in its operation. The Separatists held that God had chosen the Hebrews as the special recipients of His love arid favor. Accepting the Holy Scriptures as their rule in life, as direct spiritual descendants of God's Chosen People, the Separatists heard God calling them, as He did Israel of old, out of bondage into a new Land of Promise.
But some advance had been made in their conception of God's plan; they did not, like Moses, look for "a land of great and goodly cities which thou buildest not, and houses full of good things which thou fillest not, and wells digged which thou cliggest not, vineyards and olive trees which thou plantest not," nor did they plan to "spoil" the inhabitants of the land they left; but they did think their dream had come true when King James wrote in their charter for a New World possession: " I have been given certainty to know that in these last years there has by God's visitation raged a wonderful plague, together with many horrible slaughters and murther* committed among the salvages and brutish people there heretofore inhabiting in a manner to the utter destruction, devastaccon and depopulation of that whole territory."
When the Separatists at Leyden deci&d to seek the free shores of America, the claims of various lands came before them. Sir Walter Raleigh spoke for Guiana: "I am resolved it cannot be equated by any region either in the East or West. In Virginia were wild turkies of 50 pounds weight; 150 fowls to reward the labor of three charges of powder and shot; 500 fish at one draught of the net, and none under the measure of 2 feet in length." And a climate of simple perfection.
The Dutch offered them a home in their New World possession, but the Separatists were leaving Holland to avoid impending relations with the Spanish, and they ruled in Guiana. The English controlled the Virginia possessions, and as for the Dutch, they hoped to see the last of them when they quit Holland. Again, they found that beggars should not be choosers; their extreme poverty forbade independent choice.
Toy says that "history proceeds by crises, arid a crisis implies a great man." In this crisis in the affairs of the Pilgrims Mr. Thomas Weston, a London merchant, appears among them at Leyden. Bradford introduces him as "well acquainted with some of thern in their former proceedings," and Weston began his co-operation by persuading them to decide for New England. lie offered to finance their enterprise; a partnership agreement was outlined, and Robert Cushman and John Carver were appointed to represent the Pilgrims in Ergland and complete it.
Dr. Eliot has said that the Pilgrim adventure
was "a business enterprise with a religious motive." We may claim for Mr.
Weston a co-operation also in the religious motive of the affair; for the
famous Compact was really forecast in the last letter of Pastor Robinson
to the Pilgrims as they sailed from Holland: "We do
hold ourselves straitly tied to all care of each other's good" was one reason given the Virginia Company for their proposed emigration. Mr. Weston must have known that they held these views, and, of course, that this was the first attempt to found a colony on American soil which should include women and children, but he entered whole-heartedly into their plan.
Thomas Weston organized the London Company of Adventurers, composed of 75 members with the shares at XIO each. He recruited 67 persons in London to complete the "Mayflower's" passenger list of 102, - 35 of whom came from Leyden. He chartered the "Mayflower," and from his experience in such matters offered to stock her with the necessary supplies from London. But a Mr. Martin, who had been chosen to represent the London Company, became officious and proceeded to stock from Southampton, against the protests of Mr. Weston.
Upon the arrival of the Pilgrims at Southampton endless "quirimonies" ensued (according to Mr. Cushman), and when a final demand of X100 was made Mr. Weston refused and told them they 11 must look to stand on their own legs." The "Mayflower" was stocked with more butter than the law permitted to be taken from the country, and enough was sold to pay the customs dues, and so they sailed "scarce having any butter, no oyle, not a sole to mend a shoe, not every man a sword to his side, wanting many muskets, much armor, etc.," as declared by Bradford.
The case was actually much worse. Setting forth as a fishing colony they had neither hook nor net; as an agricultural settlement, with no tools to work the soil; as a trading enterprise, with no man who had ever seen a beaver skin. They had hired young Alden to make their barrels, and Myles Standish to lead them in battle against the wily red man, For ship furnishings they carried a miscellaneous lot of clumsy furniture, including a "great iron scrue" which proved useful in staying their mast.
The next year the London Adventurers sent over the " Fortune," which arrived in November, 1621, after a four months' voyage, not over well provided with necessaries by reason af the "parsemorrie, of the Adventurers," says Weston, and the long passage diminished even those supplies. But "they found all well and plenty of vitials in every house." The addition of twenty-five able-bodied men to the fighting force greatly encouraged the Fathers, and no doubt had a restraining influence on the Indians.
The next co-operative act on the part of Mr. Weston occurred early in 1622, when a 5hallop with seven men appeared off the Plymouth headland just as the Pilgrim council was about to turn over their Indian friend Squanto to the emissary of Massasoit, in accordance with a treaty between that chief and the white settlers. Squanto had attempted to serve two masters, but his apprenticeship to the Englishmen had been too brief to learn the game successfully, so he had been taken in the political toils. When the saluting grin was fired, the Indian ambassador, alarmed, betook himself to the woods, and the Fathers were saved a blot on their record. The shallop proved to be from the "Sparrow" of the north fishing fleet, owned by Messrs. Weston & Beachamp, and the men were reconnoitering for a permanent fishing station on the coa:st. A shallop of the Pilgrims accompanied that of the "Sparrow" to the fishing fleet, which supplied them with sufficient bread to allow each person at Plymouth a one-fourth pound per them until harvest time -- and at no charge. INTRODUCTION 13
Thomas Weston's main party to locate at the fishing station of Wessaguscus sailed in April, 1622, and consisted of severity single men, "A settlement made up of able-bodied men can do more in New England in seven years than in twenty years in Old England," said Weston, and lie had the authority of Bacon and St. Paul in this view. Arriving in June in the "Charity" and "Swan," the former sailed at once for Jamestown, leaving the "Swan" to serve the colonists. They established themselves at Wessaguscus late in September, under the leadership of Mr. Green, a brother-in-law of Thomas Weston.
Soon realizing that their supplies would prove insufficient for the winter, and as Plymouth was in the same predicament, a co-operative voyage was planned about the Cape in the "Swan" to obtain corn from the natives. Mr- Green was taken sick at Plymouth and died there, but the trip was made under the leadership of Captain Standish, and yielded some twenty-six hogsheads of corn and beans; and afterwards other trips were made which afforded some relief to the food situation.
The command at Wessaguscus now devolved on Mr. Sanders, and as their food diminished he asked permission of the Plymouth authorities to take corn from the Indians by force if necessary. This request being refused, he took the only course left, and sailed in the sballop for supplies to the north fishing fleet, but was never reported afterwards. While awaiting the return of Mr. Sanders the colonists began to be in actual distress, and -,-.~hen Phinehas Piatt stole away to Plymouth with his story of the situation and the plan of the Indians to wipe out the little settlement, be found the Pilgrim army of seven already drawn up in full panoply of war, with instructions from the council to thwart the Indian plan to destroy both settlements, -a plan revealed by Massasoit to Mr. Winslow in gratitude for curing him of a serious illness.
The Weymouth Massacre followed, and whether we view it from Plymouth with Standish, or from Leyden with Pastor Robinson, it proved effectual. The operation was successful, but the patient died, and Bradford wrote: "This was the end of them that sometime bosted of their strength (being all able lustie men) and what they could do and bring to pass, in comparison of the people hear."
A portion of the Weston colonists sailed north
in the "Swan," others returned with the Standish army to Plymouth, while
three or four remained to be tortured to death by the redskins. Mr. Weston
appeared on the scene later, a broken-down man mentally
and financially. He is commonly referred to in history and on the lecture platform as a "liar, a thief and a scoundrel," and similar endearingnames. The character of the Wessaguscus men is variously described. "They are so base a condition for the most part as not to be (it for an honest man's company," says Winslow. A recent writer of history in an urban daily paper quotes them: "A party of amiable cutthroats from the gutters of London."
Amiable they were, and too amiable for those fearsome days. And there was throat-cutting and kidnapping and torturing and even quirtering of the aborigines all up and down the coast, but those gutLersnipes of London had no part in it; that they left to those of whom, Stoughton later affirmed, "God had sifted a whole nation that He might send choice grain over to this wilderness." Head hunting was not a sport in the gutters of London.
There is no evidence that Mr. Thomas Weston exhausted the panel of " good men and true " when he drew the sixty-seven persons for the original "Mayflower" party. We do not class the Weston adventurerswith the "unspotted lambs of Christ," which a bodyof Puritans denominated themselves, but there was no blood spot on their body at any time. We must remember that the Wessaguscus proposition was always unpopular with the Plymouth people. There was nothing in common between them, and with the arrival of the Puritan in Boston the case was doubly worsened. Wessaguscus was between two rival camps, and was likened to " Issachar, a strong ass couching down between two burdens."
The arrival of the Gorges Company in September, 1623, rather accentuated the religious animosity, as it represented the Established Church and increased the opposition of the Pilgrims. The Gorges Company, as Mr. Gilbert Nash has noted, was started with orgamzation and machinery enough to carry on a colony of the greatest magnitude after years of successful growth, but it was forecloorned.
At the same time, the Puritans in 1623 were no more successful in their attempt to colonize Cape Ann and other places. Henry Truslow Adams, in his "Founding of New Englana," has thrown a deal of new light on the general situation in England in the 1600's. The great economic distress which prevailed over the whole Island urged Englishmen to strike out in every direction to better themselves. They got the notion that to own land would solve their problems, and that could be done only in the New World. At the end of ~hat has often been considered a period distinctly Puritan (about 1640), there were 16,000 English emigrants in Puritan colonies, and 50,000 elsewhere. There were 10,000 on the Newfoundland coast in the fishing season, and colonies in Bermuda, Barbadoes, etc.
The New England church membership was about 4,000 out of a population of 14,000, or a total of 65,000 who had left the old Country dUrlog, the "great emigration." Fourteen out of fifteen shunned the Bible Commonwealth. It is natural that Puritan and Pilgrim accountb of these non-religious emigrants should be taken with a grain of salt. John Winthrop wrote in 1629 of the Barbadoes settlers: "It must he the ruine of his soul to live among such company." There were 19,000 people of this sort in Barbadoes at the time.
An article by Ex-President Taft in the "National Geographic Magazine" sets forth conditions in those early days in Bermuda, and we can get a better perspective there for our own town's early history than in writings of Bradford or Winthrop.
The Pilgrim enterprise is concededly unique; its
influence, altogether beyond its earthly setting, savors of other worldness
outside the realm of mundane history to portray. All the gods seemed to
conspire to paint a halo round the Pilgrim episode, and, per contra, the
stars in their courses seemed to fight against Wessaguscus,
To think of Plymouth is to call to mind the Pilgrim Fathers, the
Mayflower," Plymouth Rock and the courtship of Myles Standish. The thought of Wessaguscus is of the roystering crew of seventy ablebodied men, the hanging of the cobbler, and the Massacre. But do we realize that the decorations of the Fathers were fortuitous and that really greatness was thrust upon them?
The name Pilgrim Father is posthumous. No Pilgrim ever answered to that name on earth, for it was not until 1799 that Voltaire, the infidel, gave them that name, taking it from Holy Writ, where Abraham, the progenitor of all pious Pilgrims, is called the Father of Many Nations.
Plymouth Rock, the most cherished of all Pilgrim memorials, was unconscious of fame until 1741, when Thomas Faunce, strolling along the beach with his son, happened to say that when he was a boy his father told him that the Pilgrims landed on that rock. The age-old myth that the gods dwelt in stones, - which was confirmed when at Bethel Jacob raised a pillar of stone to mark the place where God bad revealed that he should be the Father of Many Nations, - this ancient tradition carne to the rescue, and t'iymouth Pork was famous. It does seem sacrilegious that the bones of the Pilgrims should be gathered in sacred urn and be deposited under a canopy of granite quarried from the unholy Mount Dagon, and that seam-faced granite from the purlieus of Wessaguscus, stained with salvage blood, should build the earthly temple of the First Church Separatist of Plymouth.
Some time when Mr. Wells' conference of experts meets and interprets human events in scientific terms, without bias of pious tradition, Weymouth's rocks will speak out, and the trilobites on their ledgey bosoms, showing the footprints of our forbears in their upgrade way from lower forms of life, may rival Plymouth Rock's Story of the Pilgrims.
Until then Merry Mount and Wessaguscus must do obeisance to Plymouth.
The name "Mayflower" was not mentioned by Pilgrim
or contemporary writers, but seemed to come up from the ground overnight,
like the sweet-scented arbutus of the Plymouth woods,
shedding its incense all over the place. The courtship of Myles Standish, immortalized by the poet, was, of course, apochryphal; it gave a sadly needed romantic touch to the times when profane writers were insinuating that the Pilgrim mothers, in addition to their regular burdens, had also to endure the Pilgrim Fathers.
It is held by some that Thomas Weston was only the toot of Gorges, and the suspicion lie-, that the Pilgrims knew that they were dealing with the English Established Church at Wessaguscus. This would explain the bold restraint they put upon Sanders and bisfamily. The seventy able-bodied men bad no bloodthirsty ambition, and according to Bradford they were in no more danger of starvation than the Pilgrims, as they had, in addition to Plymouth's diet, a bed of oysters at Wessaguscus; and as a last resort there was always the fishing fleet to the northward.
if Plymouth had not interfered with Sanders in the management of his domestic affairs, who knows but what Wessaguscus might have been named Sylvania fifty years before William Penn arrived on these shores? But the preponderance in arms and the military spirit led to the usual result, and the Wessaguscus Massacre is credited to Plymouth's account and to the disgrace of Wessaguscus.
Again, the thief of Indian corn was tried according to English law, and hung in a dignified way at Wessaguscus in sight of all the people; but this act was changed from the credit to the debit side of the Wessaguscus ledger through the facetious writings of Thomas Morton in his "New England Canaan of 1632." Butter transmogrified these writings in his famous "Hudibras," to show that a novel plan of vicarious atonement was introduced at Wessaguscus. Governor Hutchinson in his time passed it on in his "History of Massachusetts." Now, even if the tale were true, that a bedridden weaver was substituted for an able-bodied cobbler, it was still a perfectly good atonement after a Bible model, it being recorded that a ram caught in a thicket by his horns (and so done for) was as satisfactory a sacrifice as Abraham's son Isaac.
The Maypole episode is another instance where history has dealt unkindly with Wessaguscus. This Morton was originally of Wessaguscus, but later raised his Episcopal attar at Wollaston; fair dealing with the natives brought him prosperity, and that in turn good fellowship. The Maypole, England's oldest festive symbol, had been raised before on these shores, but it was regarded by the Pilgrim and Puritan as Satan's own emblem, and sword and gun and fire obliterated the vile thing; and later Morton was tried in Boston and banished to the home land, but the Morton taint had affected the reputation of Wessaguscus.
With the coming of Hull in 1635, bringing twenty-one families and permission from the General Court at Boston to sit down at Weymouth, the town had finally arrived - name and all.
But there were about seventy-five families in
the town ,~ that time +l,qt had sifted in; in fact, the town of Weymouthh.,!
alread~ begun the custom, which it has continued to this time, of exporting
good blood to other locations. Blackstone, who claimed "I came front England because I did Dot like the Lord-Bishops, but I cannot join with you because I would not be under the lord-brethren," had moved on to Shawmut.
Samuel Maverick, "strong for the Lordly prelaticall power," had gone to Noddle Island; Thomas Walford, the blacksmith, to Charlestown. It is evident that Weymouth was functioning as a regular town, and had cut the leading-strings of Plymouth. The co-operation with the Pilgrims, which Mr. Adams claimed had given Mr. Thomas Weston and his Adventurers a place on the second page of the history of a Continent, is closed. Weymouth had turned over a new leaf; she had started on her independent career which will be interpreted to us by the following pages in this New History of Weymouth.