The Real Founders of New England

Samuel Maverick of Winnesimmet was the son of the Rev. John Maverick, who crossed the sea a non-conformist in 1630 and served as the minister of Dorchester until his death in 1635/6. The son, here in 1623, came up from Wessagusset and settled at Winnesimmet, now Chelsea, where on 17 June, 1630, he entertained Winthrop. In December, 1633, he, his wife and servants cared for Indians dying of the smallpox, and buried as many as thirty in a single day. In 1634 he moved over to Noddles Island, which had been granted to him in April, 1633. There he built a house and entertained hospitably, as John Josselyn recorded in July, 1638. He was a staunch churchman and loyal to the King. Charles II appointed him with others in 1664 to settle the affairs of New England and New Netherland. He had a house on the Broadway, New York, and died there between 1670 and 1676. In 1660 he wrote a Description of New England, in which he has this to say about the treatment of the Old Planters by the Puritans:

"This Governor and his Councill, not long after their Aryvall made a law that no man should be admitted a Freeman, and soe Consequently have any voyce in Election of Officers Civill or Military, but such as were first entered into Church covenant and brought Certificate of it, let there Estates, and accordingly there portion of land be never soe great, and there taxes towards public Charges. Nor could any competency of Knowledge or inoffensiveness of liveing or conversation usher a man into there Church ffellowship, unless he would also acknowledge the discipline of the Church of England to be erroneous and to renounce it, which very many never condescended unto, so that on this account the far great Number of his Majesties loyall subjects there never injoyed those priviledges intended by his Royall ffather in his Grant. And upon this very accompt also, if not being Joyned in Church ffellowship many Thowzands have been debarred the Sacrament of the Lords Supper although of Competent knowledg , and of honest life and Godly Conversation, and a very great Number are unbaptized. . . .

"And whereas they went over thither to injoy liberty of Conscience, in how high a measure have they denyed it to others there, wittnesse theire debarring many from the Sacraments spoken of before meerly because they cannot Joyne with them in their Church-ffellowship; nor will they permitt any Lawfull Ministers that are or would come thither to administer them. Wittness also the Banishing so many to leave their habitations there, and seek places abroad elsewhere, meerly for differing in Judgment from them as the Hutchinsons and severall families with them, & that Honble Lady the Lady Deborah Moody and severalls with her meerly for declareing themselfes moderate Anabaptists, Who found more favour and respect amongst the Dutch, then she did amongst the English. Many others also upon the same account needless to be named. And how many for not comeing to theire assemblies have been compelled to pay 5S a peece for every Sabbath day they misse, besides what they are forced to pay towards the mantenance of the Ministers. And very cruelly handled by whipping and imprissonment was Mr Clark, Obadiah Holmes, and others for teaching and praying in a private house on the Lords day. These and many others such like proceedings, which would by them have been judged Cruelty had they been inflicted on them here, have they used towards others there; And for hanging the three Quakers last yeare I think few approved of it."

In the spring of 1627 Captain John Fells, master of a shallop who had come in Captain Johnston's larger ship with Irish settlers for Virginia, was received with his maidservant by Samuel Maverick at Winnesimmet and no doubt found congenial companionship. The settlement at Winnesimmet was in those days as to its standard in morals and drinking mid-way between Plymouth and Merrymount. Maverick himself was a cultivated and able gentleman, but of a convivial nature. The men who served him at his fortified trading post were of the type familiar to readers of Bret Harte's mining town stories. The Indians who camped near the white men were not slow to practice European vices. That Maverick was not expelled is due no doubt to his social position, his father's prominence as a clergyman, and perhaps in some measure to his genial nature.

It is probable that religious services were held from time to time at all the coast settlements. Mr. Blaxton as a friend and neighbor of Mr. Maverick must have preached at Winnesimmet. In the winter of 1629-30 the Rev. Francis Bright officiated there. His views were in harmony with Maverick's, and his rough and ready principles must have pleased the Winnesimmet type of settler. Captain Edward Johnson's statement that Maverick was very ready to entertain strangers may suggest that Blaxton was not an entertainer. We do know that he was acquainted with David Thomson, who lived to the east of him, and on occasion listened to the account of his travels and speculations in land. Blaxton must have visited Maverick, "an enemy to the Reformation in hand," as he was called, whose views on non-conformity and the Separatist doctrine were never concealed from those with whom he came in contact. Walford would have visited him to exercise his skill as a mechanic. These men, together with an occasional sea captain bearing the latest news, a wandering Indian begging bread or having a turkey or hare for barter, and now and then a visitor from Wessagusset, Plymouth, or Piscataqua, must have made the winter days pass pleasantly enough.

It was in 1625 that Maverick built his house opposite the north end of Boston in what is now Chelsea, then called Winnesimmet. He says that it had a "Pillizado and fflankers and gunnes both belowe and above." This suggests a larger house than Blaxton's. A short distance up the Mystic River the third settler in the Bay to leave Wessagusset, Thomas Walford the blacksmith, built a palisaded and thatched house for his family. These men, bound together by the ties of a common experience, were members of the Church of England. Maverick and Blaxton were gentlemen to whom Walford's skill must have been invaluable in the repair of tools, weapons of defence, and domestic hardware. Maverick was a trader in furs and a successful man of business. Blaxton, fond of flowers and fruit, a lover of woodland and sea, surely found these experiences of the summer of 1625 very enjoyable.

During the year 1626, perhaps in the autumn, David Thomson came from Piscataqua with his wife and son to settle on an island opposite the mouth of the Neponset River and east of the Dorchester peninsula. He had been a merchant at Plymouth in Devon, and had come in the spring of 1623 to "Little Harbor" on the west side of and near the mouth of the Piscataqua River. There he had built a "strong and large house," enclosed by a high palisade and protected by guns. ["Little Harbor," Thomson's settlement, is now Odiorne's Point in the town of Rye.] After three years of life at Little Harbor he came to the Bay to end his days.

If "Caribdis underneath the mould" of Morton's poem in the "New English Canaan", written for the May pole revels in 1627, represents David Thomson, and "Scilla sollitary on the ground" is Amias, his widow, then Thomson was dead before May, 1627. The new husband lacking "vertue masculine" is of course Samuel Maverick, said to have been as strong as Samson and as patient as Job. And she was, according to Morton, a difficult "Dallila"; but she was an heiress after Thomson's death, and suitors came by water from all about the Bay to pay their court to her. Mrs. Thomson was the daughter of William Cole of Plymouth, England. Perhaps her second marriage which prevented her return to England caused her father to threaten to deprive her of her property.

As one looks back upon the careers of the Old Planters of New England they seem to shine out against the background of intolerance and cruelty. The Rev. Mr. Morrell had ecclesiastical powers that could have been a menace to New Plymouth, but he never tried to exercise them. Mr. Maverick and Mr. Walford, Mr. Lyford and Mr. Oldham suffered slander and did not resort to violence. Roger Conant, the governor of the Dorchester Company settlements, suffered rebuffs without number and bore every affront with meekness. He deserves to be remembered. And Mr. Blaxton's Boston should more generously reverence their first inhabitant.

Charles Knowles Bolton

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