Samuel Maverick


"The only hospitable man in all the country." —JOSSELYN'S ACCOUNT.
MANY the hero of the old-time days,
Whose memory claims our honor and our praise;
This one for freedom's cause scorned all beside,
For conscience, justice, God, another died;
But round one name, in all the wide country,
Shineth the halo of sweet charity.
Did other virtues fail,—yet fail they not;
Whate'er his faults,—none lacketh them, God not!
Of him, once more, may write the angel's pen,—
"Behold a man who loved his fellow-men!"

S. Alice Raulett, The New England Magazine, September, 1893
Contrast the Boston of today with its hundreds of thousands of people, its teeming industries, and its commercial activities, with the picture of almost utter solitude suggested in "Wonder-working Providence," by Edward Johnson, who came over with Gov. Winthrop's colony: "The planters in Massachusetts bay at this time [1629] were William Blackstone at Shawmut, Thomas Walford at Mishawum, Samuel Maverick at Noddles Island, and David Thompson at Thompson's island, near Dorchester. How or when they came there is not known." Until recently the exact year of Maverick's advent upon our shores has not been known. Various dates ranging from 1625 to 1629 have been given. Whether he came in one of the fishing shallops which cruised along the coast soon after the settlement of Plymouth, or how, is not known, but the actual year of his settlement has been now authoritatively fixed. [footnote: "Whence these people came, what brought them to the shores of Boston Bay, and when they set themselves down there, have been enigmas which the antiquaries, after exhausting conjecture, have generally dismissed with the remark that they will probably never be solved." Charles Francis Adams, Jr., in "Old Planters About Boston Harbor." Proceedings Mass. Hist. Soc. for June, 1878.]

That delver in American antiquities, Mr. Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, of Salem, now resident in London, has proven that this "one of the first white men who ever settled on the shores of Massachusetts Bay," this one of the "old planters whom Gov. Winthrop found here," came as early as 1624. Plymouth had been founded; Wessagusset had commenced its career; Weston's colony had come and gone. Mr. Waters has found among other important things, notably the Winthrop map, Maverick's "A Briefe Discription of New England, and the Several Townes therein, together with the present Government thereof," wherein he says: "Now before I come to speak of Hudson's River, I shall most humbly desire the Honble Councill to take it in consideration the great benefits and profitts, which may redound to the English by these Westerne Colonies if well managed. Of their present condition I have given a briefe accompt in my foregoing Relation, being my observations which for severall years I have spent in America, even from the year 1624 till within these two years last past." This "Discription" was written, probably, in the year 1660, to Sir Edward Hyde, then King Charles the Second's Lord High Chancellor, and shows that Maverick had travelled over New England, and the adjacent territory, extensively, and was well acquainted with the locality and products of the various places in New England of which he speaks,—some fifty or more of them. Some of his observations are curious and instructive: "In the yeare 1626 or thereabouts there was not a Neat Beast Horse or sheepe in the Countrey and a very few Goats or hoggs, and now it is a wonder to see the great herds of Catle belonging to every Towne I have mentioned; The braue Flockes of sheepe. The great number of Horses besides those many sent to Barbados and the other Carribe Islands. And withall to consider how many thousand Neate Beasts and Hoggs are yearly killed, and soe have been for many yeares past for provision In Countrey and sent abroad to supply Newfoundland, Barbados, Jamaica, and other places, As also to victuall in whole or in part most shipes which comes there." And of Boston: "And the place in which Boston (the Metropolis) is seated, I knew then for some yeares to be a Swamp and Pound, now a great Towne, two Churches, a Gallant Statehouse & more to make it compleate than can be expected in a place so late a wilderness."

It has generally been considered than when Winthrop's colony arrived in Boston Harbor, in July, 1630, Maverick's residence was on Noddle's Island, now East Boston. The sole authority for this statement, says Hon. Mellen Chamberlain in his "Samuel Maverick's Palisade House of 1630," and the one which all historians have followed, is Edward Johnson, in his "Wonder-Working Providence," published in 1654, who says, "On the north side of Charles River, they landed near a small Island, called Noddel's Island, where one Mr. Samuel Maverick was then living, a man of a very loving and courteous behavior, very ready to entertain strangers, yet an enemy to the Reformation in hand, being strong for the lordly prelatical power. [Like Blackstone, Walford, Thompson, and others, Maverick was an Episcopalian.] On this Island he had built a small Fort with the help of one Mr. David Thompson, placing therein four murtherers to protect him from the Indians." [footnote: Phillips' "New World of Words, or Universal Dictionary," printed in 1706, defines "Murderers, or Murdering Pieces," as "small cannon, either of brass or iron, having a Chamber or Charge consisting of Nails, old Iron, &c., put in at their Breech. They are chiefly used in the Forecastle, Half Deck, or Steerage of a Ship, to clear the Decks, when boarded by an Enemy; and such shot is called a Murdering Shot."]

Untrustworthy as Mr. Chamberlain proves many of Johnson's statements to be, it is to be noticed that, although he says "on this island he had built him a small Fort," he previously says they landed near a small island, called "Noddels Island;" and that he did land near that island, at Winnisimmet, and that he there built a house, "the first permanent house in the Bay Colony,"—which stood as late as 1660—is now satisfactorily proved by Maverick's own "Discription," which says: "Winnisime.—Two miles South from Rumney Marsh on the North side of Mistick River is Winnisime which though but a few houses on it, yet deserves to be mencond. One house yet standing there which is the Antientest house in the Massachusetts Government, a house which in the yeare 1625 I fortified with a Pillizado and fflankers and gunnes both belowe and above in them which awed the Indians who at that time had a mind to Cutt off the English. They once faced it but receiveing a repulse never attempted it more although (as now they confesse, they repented it when about 2 yeares after the saw so many English come over." And that he was living in Winnisimmet (Chelsea) as late as 1633, is confirmed by Winthrop, who says, under date of Dec. 5th of that year, while speaking of the ravages of the small-pox among the Indians: "above thirty buried by Mr. Maverick of Winesemett in one day;" "only two families took any infection by it. Among others, Mr. Maverick of Winisemett is worthy of a perpetual remembrance. Himself, his wife, and servants, went daily to them, ministered to their necessities, and buried their dead, and took home many of their children. So did others of their neighbors." This was none other than Samuel Maverick, as Mr. Chamberlain says: "Uniformly and without exception, both in the Colony Records and in Winthrop's Journal, Samuel Maverick is called 'Mr. Maverick.'

"This "Manor of Winnesimett," as it came to be called, and the land belonging, in which a John Blackleach seems to have been a part owner, and the "fferry att Wynysemet graunted to Mr. Sam'll Mauacke" by the General Court, were sold to Richard Bellingham, Feb. 27, 1634, soon after he arrived from England.

Another mention of Mr. Maverick's property is as follows: "Mystic Side" was granted to Charlestown, July 2, 1633, when it was ordered that the "ground lyeing betwixte the North [Malden] Ryvr & the creeke on the north side of Mr. Mauacks & soe vpp into the country, shall belong to the inhabitants of Charlton." The year before Oct. 2, 1632, he had been admitted a freeman. Noddle's Island having been granted to Maverick April I, 1633. by the General Court, [footnote: 1633. I April. Noddles Ileland is graunted to Mr. Samll. Mauocke, to enjoy to him & his heires for ever, yeilding & payeing yearely att the Genall Court, to the Gounr for the time being either a fatt weather, a fatt hogg, or x ls in money, & shall give leave to Boston & Charles Towne to fetch word contynually, as their neede requires from the Southerne pte of the sd ileland.] and he having sold his Winnisimmet house, he built him a house on his new island home, probably during the year 1634, or spring of 1635, for although he was absent in Virginia from May 1635 to May 1636, his wife wrote a letter dated "Nottell's Iland in Massachusetts Bay, the 20th November, 1635;" and it is clearly indicated also by the Court records. Here he lived for many years, dispensing his hospitality on many and divers occasions as is witnessed by Josselyn, [footnote: The only hospitable man in all the countrey, giving entertainment to all Comers gratis." Josselyn's Account, p. 12, (Mass. Hist. Coll. vol. iii, p. 220).] who made a voyage to this country in 1638, and other early travellers. Other grants of land were made to Maverick; one of 600 acres and one of 400 acres; the latter being located in "the upper parts of Monotocot River, neere Taunton Path," which he assigned to Edward Bendall in 1643. He was one of the patentees of lands in Maine, as early as 1631, as is witnessed by a deed found in the York County records.

If not the earliest, Maverick was one of the earliest slaveholders in Massachusetts, having purchased one or more slaves of Capt. William Pierce, who brought some from Tortugas in 1638. Slavery was always repugnant to the feelings of our Puritan fathers, and from this fact, and the Episcopacy of Maverick, there was gradually engendered an ill-feeling between him and the government, which began to show itself as early as March, 1635, when the Court ordered Maverick to leave Noddle's Island by the following December, and take up his abode in Boston, and, in the "meantyme" not give "entertainment to any strangers for a longer tyme than one night without leave from some Assistant, and all this to be done under the penalty of £100." This, for fear that he might aid in some way, an anticipated and threatened change in New England affairs, to uproot Puritanism and establish Episcopacy; a plan concerted in England, but which came to naught. This injunction upon Maverick was repealed before December arrived. This was but one of many similar controversies which sprang up between Maverick and the government. Sumner, in his "History of East Boston," says: "His hospitable disposition subjected him to numerous fines, which, however, were frequently remitted; indeed, he seems generally to have been at war with the government."

Notwithstanding all this, he was frequently entrusted by the colonial government with more or less of the public affairs, as is abundantly witnessed by the records, although he held no public office. He seems to have been a man holding the goodwill and respect of all who came in contact with him; but, owning to his religious opinions, was involved in these difficulties with the government. These ecclesiastical troubles resulted in harsh and oppressive acts, on the part of the government, towards all who were members of the Church of England and who were simply contending for their rights. In 1646, a petition signed by "Robt Child, Thom. Burton, John Smith, John Daniel, Thomas Fowle, David Yale [and] Samm: Maverick," was addressed to the General Court, setting forth what they considered their grievances. For this a fine was imposed. Then the petitioners claimed the right of appeal to the commissioners for plantations, in England, which was not allowed; nevertheless, they appealed to Parliament. The signers of this appeal were treated with much indignation; and May 26, 1647, the Court passed sentence upon them as follows: "The Courte having taken into serious consideration the crimes charged on Doct Robt Child, Mr. John Smith, Mr Thomas Burton, Mr John David & Mr Samuell Mavericke, & whereof they have been found guilty upon full evidence by the former judgement of this Courte, have agreed upon ye sentence here ensewing respectively decreed to each of them." Mr. Maverick's fine was £150, a half of which was finally remitted after several petitions from Maverick, the first of which was as follows:

"I Sameull Mavericke humbly request that wereas, at a Corte held in May & June, 1647 there was layd to my charge conspiracy for wch i was fined 150£, no witnes appearing either viva voce or by writinge, but was refered to the records for sufficient testimony to convince me, wch records I could not obtaine in thirteen weekes, in the space of one month after sentence I yielded myself prisonner according to the order of the Corte, & after my abode there 12 dayes paid the fines, & so was discharged, wch time haveing gotten coppies of the records, and finding nothing materiall against me, whereby I may, (as I conceive) be rendered guilty, so as to deserve so great a fine, or to lye under so great disparagement upon record.

I therefore humbly desire this honored Courte, that my fine may be repaid, and my Credit repaired, by recording my innocency, if such testimony do not further appeare, as may render me guilty.

8, (3), 1649.          SAMUEL MAUERICKE."

Additional evidence that Maverick was incarcerated during these troubles is given in a petition to Sir Edmund Andros, February 13, 1687, by Mary Hooke, his daughter, who first married John Palsgrave, and then Francis Hooke, in which she says her father was "imprisoned for a long season." By this same petition of his daughter it is evident that for a while he became dispossessed of his home on Noddle's Island in a rather dishonorable and unfilial manner. She says, after referring to the above fine: "Which sume he resolveing not to pay, and fearing the sd Island would be seized to make payment of itt, he made a deede of Gift of the sd Island to his Eldest sonne, not wth any designe to deliver the sd Deede to him, onely to prvent the seizure of itt. But yor Peticonrs sd Eldest Brother heareing of itt, by a Crafty Wile contrary to his Father's knowledge gott the sd deede into his custody. But whether he sold it, or how he disposed of itt yor Peticonr canot sett forth, soe that yor Peticonrs sd Father in his life tyme and yor Peticonrs Father being one of the King's Comissrs sent with Collonll Nicolls, Gen. Sr Robt Carr & Collonll Cartwright to settle the affaires in New York & New England but were interrupted at Boston wth sound of the Trumpett."

But by deed recorded in Suffolk Registry of Deeds, Lib. I, fol. 122, it seems that matters were adjusted only a few years after these troubles, for, in 1650, the Island was sold to "Capt. George Briggs of the Island of Barbados, in the West Indies, Esq.," by Samuel Maverick and his wife, Amias, their son Nathaniel,—" the Peticonrs sd Eldest Brother," above referred to,—"for divers good causes & valuable considerations vs hereunto moveing, especially for & in the consideration of fourty thousand pounds of good white sugar, double clayed," "giue grant bargaine sell alien convey enfeoffe assure confirme vnto the sd Capt. Georg. Briggs a certain p cell of land or an Island comonly called or knowne by the name of Nodles Island lying and being in the Bay of Massachusetts in New Engl. aforesaid, together wth the Mansion house millhouse & mill, bakehouse & all other of the houses outhouses barnes stables edifices buildings, water privileges easments commodities advantages immunities & emoluments whatsoever." There were some subsequent conveyances, but in 1656, the same parties, Maverick, wife and eldest son, made a final deed to one Col. John Burch, as "Sd Samuell hath Received full satisfaction of the sd £700 stirling menconed in the aboue order made at the Generall Court aforesayed."

Referring to the troubles that resulted in thus driving Mr. Maverick away from Boston, Drake says: "It may appear strange that Mr. Maverick should submit to so many indignities as from time to time it has been seen that he did; a man that Boston could not do without. He was a gentleman of wealth and great liberality. [W]e have seen how much the town was indebted to him for help to rebuild the fort on Castle Island. He may have looked upon these and other proceedings against him as petty annoyances, to which it was best quietly to submit, not wishing to set an example of opposition to the government, or, having a large property at stake, he might not wish to jeopardize it."

Certain it is that he now left his home on Noddle's Island; and his subsequent life shows him to have been a royalist, true to Episcopalianism and to the King; and upon the restoration of Charles II. he went to England to complain to the King; and was two or three years soliciting that commissioners might be appointed who should visit New England with authority to settle all difficulties. In this he succeeded; and April 23, 1664, the King appointed four commissioners, "Colonel Richard Nichols, Sir Robert Carre, Knt. George Cartwright, Esq., and Samuel Maverick, Esq.," "to visit all and every of the same colonies aforesaid, and also full power and authority to hear and receive, and to examine and determine, all complaints and appeales in all causes and matters, as well military as criminal and civil, and to proceed in all things for the providing for and settling the peace and security of the said country." Upon the arrival of the Commissioners in this country there commenced a controversy and a conflict between their authority and that of the colonial government, particularly that of Massachusetts Bay, which was persistent and determined. Many letters passed between them; reports were made by the Commissioners to the Lord Chancellor; and only with the recall of their Commissioners did anything like peace reign, and that but temporarily. An extended and interesting account of this controversy, together with many of the documents passing between the parties, is given by Gen. William H. Sumner, in his "History of East Boston," chap. VI., pp. 127-160.

Just when and where Maverick died is not known, but it is generally thought that at the time of his death he was living in New York, probably in Broadway, in a house presented him by the Duke of York for his fidelity to the King. "During the early years of his residence in the colony, upon Noddle's Island, he was distinguished for his hospitality, public spirit, and hearty cooperation in efforts for the welfare of the province; and if in subsequent years, he manifested feelings different from these, they can only be considered as the natural result of the harsh treatment he had received. Like all men, he had his faults; but they were so small in comparison with his traits of character as a man, citizen, and public officer, that, in spite of all opposition he rose to stations of high importance, enjoyed the confidence of his sovereign, and identified himself with the efforts to establish religious freedom in the colony."

This sketch of one of our very earliest Bay settlers, whom Adams pronounces "a man of education and refinement" and "a man of substance," cannot be better closed than by giving a few words of John Ward Dean's introduction to Maverick's "Discription" which was printed in the "Historical and Genealogical Register" for January, 1885. Speaking of this account of New England, his letter to the Earl of Clarendon, printed in the Collections of the New York Historical Society, for 1869, p. 19, and his letters printed in the third volume of the New York Colonial Documents, he says: "They show the persistency displayed by Maverick in his efforts to deprive New England, and particularly Massachusetts, of the right of self-government which had so long been enjoyed here . . . The death of Maverick, which occurred between October 15, 1669 and May 15, 1676, did not bring repose to the people of Massachusetts. In the latter year a new assailant of their charter appeared in the person of Edward Randolph, whose assaults on their liberties did not cease till the charter was wrested from them, and the government under it came to an end May 20, 1686."

Elbridge H. Goss, The New England Magazine, November, 1886

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