Sunday, December 13, 2015

1652 - Massachusetts takes over Maine

Territorial Expansion of Massachusetts Bay in 1652

January, 1652 –  The fleet sent by the English Parliament to support its newly appointed commissioners arrive at Jamestown escorted by a military company. 

After vainly trying to convince Virginia to recognize the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords, as well as to adopt the Book of Common Prayer, the new Commonwealth government had sent last autumn a 15-vessel fleet commanded by Captain Robert Dennis to make apply the embargo, but this one had suffered so many storms and shipwrecks that they were only 4 ships to reach port.

January 19, 1652 - After a long debate, the commissioners negotiate the surrender of Governor William Berkeley and his council. The House of Burgesses decides to disband the 1000-men army stationed at James City.

This decision seemed all the wiser since new king Charles II had just been beaten at Worcester, dashing the hopes of a return of the Stuarts to the throne while Barbados had just joined the Commonwealth. Isolated, Virginia had no other choice but rally too.

Governor John Endecott
March, 1652 - The general Court of Plymouth proposes to organize a Thanksgiving's day in honor of the victory of the parliamentary army.

March, 1652 - John Endecott is re-elected for a second running one-year stint as governor of Massachusetts.

March 11, 1652 – In Virginia, the County of Northampton swears allegiance to the new English government.

March 12, 1652 – Supported by the forces arrived from England, commissioners Richard Bennett, William Claiborne and Edmund Curtis, representing the Parliament of London sign at Jamestown the act of submission of Virginia.

Governor William Berkeley had to resign but the colony got a rather advantageous treaty. It put an end to the embargo and reinstated free trade. Virginia was moreover confirmed in its rights and boundaries and granted a one-year delay before using the Book of Common Prayer. Both parts were all the more satisfied by the agreement that there had been no bloodshed.

March 23, 1652 - Nathaniel Sylvester, a rich merchant representing a sugar company in Barbados buys Shelter Island to Pagatticut, chief of the Manhanset tribe 
for $ 1600 of sugar.

This 8 000-acre island, located at the eastern end of Long Island, was originally part of the territory granted in 1620 to the Plymouth Company by King James 1. It was, at that time, known to be rich in white oak, a variety whose wood was used to make barrels for the transport of rum and molasses.

Nathaniel Sylvester (1610-1680), whose family got in Barbados a prosperous company in sugar cane refinery, chose to settle down definitively on Shelter Island together with his young 16-year-old wife. He had Sylvester Manor built, a real stately home with outstanding gardens.

April, 1652 – Director General of New Netherlands Peter Stuyvesant recognizes the incorporation of Beverwijck (current Albany), a town lying near Fort Orange by the Hudson River. He allows this new settlement to be removed from the lands of Rensselaerwijck and to have its own administration.

April 5, 1652 – With the encouragement of new commissioner William Claiborne, the settlers of Kent Island, Maryland, sign their inclusion in the British Commonwealth, and declare to get free from the tutelage of the king and the House of Lords.

April, 1652 – commissioners of Virginia Richard Bennett and William Claiborne manage to get from William Stone, the Protestant governor of Maryland, the surrender of the province and the promise to comply with the guidelines of the English government.

But after Stone’s refusal to grant them an interview, Claiborne and Bennett took over the government and appointed a council consisted of 10 members. Five of them signed a peace treaty with the Susquehannock chiefs and their Swedish allies. The Yaocomico and Matchoatick tribes were invited to stay confined South of the Potomac

April 11, 1652 - Edward Hopkins is appointed governor of Connecticut. It is the twelfth time when he holds that office every other year alternating with John Haynes.

April 30, 1652 - Governor of Virginia Sir William Berkeley is relieved of his duties and the General Assembly chooses Richard Bennett to succeed him. Citizens’ rights are confirmed and the colony becomes a free trade area. On the other hand, those who refuse to swear allegiance are ousted from the colony during one year.

Berkeley paid somehow his loyalty to the royalist party while Bennett who was a Puritan and a faithful supporter of Cromwell made his return after  a three-year exile spent in Maryland and England. From September, 1651, he had been a member of the committee appointed by the Parliament to bring about the submission of colonies remained loyal to the monarchy, also including William Claiborne, Edmund Curtis, Capt. Robert Dennis and Thomas Stegge.

May, 1652 - Although the States General of Holland chose to endow New Amsterdam with a City government, the directors of the colony oppose Peter Stuyvesant's removal. Cornelis Van Tienhoven, controversial and unpopular character becomes however the first mayor (schout).

May, 1652 - John Smith is elected for the second time President of the Rhode Island Plantation.

May 18, 1652 - Rhode Island enacts the first American law making slavery illegal.

Meanwhile, the United Provinces of Holland authorized the colony of New Netherlands to import black slaves. A law determined however the treatment afforded to them in order to prevent abuses. They couldn’t now be sentenced to be whipped without the permission of the colonial authorities. But even in Rhode Island, the law failed to be set up and slave traders of the colony continued unhindered to meet demand in other markets.

May, 1652 - Virginia, the remote settlers of the Eastern Shore send a request resuming a complaint dated 1647 based on their refusal to pay taxes under the pretext they were never invited to The House of Burgesses. They consider themselves separated from the rest of the colony.

They added that they had of to fight alone, without the help of the General Assembly, against the Dutch accused of selling weapons to the Indians. The matter ended peacefully and the County of Northampton stayed in Virginia. 

The Flower of Gelderland anchoring before Fort Orange
May, 1652 - Jan Baptist Van Rennsselaer (1629-1678) arrives at Fort Orange aboard the Flower of Gelderland (Gelderse Blom). He is accompanied with his young brother Jeremias and 12 others hired to work on the family domain including teacher and minister Gideon Schaets. He has to take the direction of the manor whose patroonship is managed since Holland by his elder brother Johan.

The first member of the family to come to Rennsselaerwyck since the founding of its extensive domain, he would remain there until 1656, when he returned permanently to Holland. He imposed, during his stay, uses due his position bringing a rich furniture, paintings, silverware and various luxury objects.

May 31, 1652 - The General Court of Massachusetts passes a bill integrating Maine’s territory within its borders, thus dashing the hopes of independence of this province. All the settlements of Sir Ferdinando Gorges up to the Bay of Saco should now fall under its authority.

June, 1652 - William Bradford is re-elected governor of Plymouth.

Fort Orange in 1652
June 5, 1652
- Thomas Chambers, a settler living near Fort Orange, buys to two members of the Esopus tribe a land in the confluence of Rondout Creek and Hudson River.

An Englishman, Thomas Chambers had fled with some of his companions, the religious quarrels and bullyings by all-powerful patroons, looking for a place to settle and prosper. He had been welcomed by the Esopus of whom he had heard that they got rich soils and wished that Christians come settle.
They were soon more than 60 farmers to move to this land and form a village named later Wiltwijck (current Kingston, NY). The neighborhood with the Indian tribes would inevitably generate territorial quarrels and abuses on both sides.

Massachusetts 1 shilling coin
May 27, 1652
- The Massachusetts Bay Mint Act

Challenging the English law, the General Court of Massachusetts decrees to issue its own currency. These are silver coins of 1 schilling, 6 and 3 pennies representing a pine-tree on one side accompanied with the mention Massachusetts and on the other side the vintage year 1652 together with the words New England. This currency is minted in Boston in the workshop of silversmiths John Hull.

June 15, 1652 - While he has just set sail for Brazil aboard The Fame of Virginia, Walter Chiles is arrested and taken prisoner by captain Richard Husband, holder of a warrant issued by the " Defenders of Liberty ", the name given to Oliver Cromwell’s new government.

While he had just left the County of Accomack bound for Brazil with a cargo of tobacco, Chiles had his ship seized for lack of the license to trade with a foreign country. He stepped immediately in the Court of Northampton which ordered his release and allowed him to leave, giving rise to the commissioners’ anger. Chiles had argued that seizing his shipment was totally illegal under free trade granted by the Commonwealth to all the residents of the colony. The judges considered that this reason was valid and ordered Husband to restore the goods. But ironically, this one had meanwhile escaped on Chiles’s boat and the Court had no other appeal but to refer the case in England for the prosecution to be engaged against the fugitive. Nevertheless, Chiles never got back his boat.

Walter Chiles (Bristol 1608 - Jamestown 1653) A manufacturer, he left England for Jamestown in 1637 when he started quickly his own trade business between Virginia and Europe. He was on the other hand allowed to deal with the western Indian tribes of the colony, including the Sapony and the Occaneechi. He purchased then his first boat and lands in Charles and James City Counties along the Appomatox River. Respected by the settlers, he represented Charles City's county to the House of Burgesses in 1642 and 1643 then James City between 1645 and 1649 of which he became president in 1652.

Susquehannock territory

July 5, 1652 – The Susquehannocks sign a treaty by which they give to the English lands on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay with the exception of Kent Island and Palmer Island that William Claiborne considers his.

Isolated since the defeat of their Huron allies, they were indeed afraid that the expansionism of the Iroquois Confederacy eventually threatens them directly.

July 10, 1652 - England declares war to Netherlands. This will have a significant impact at colonial level.

August 31, 1652 - The English Parliament orders an investigation about the surrender and constitution of the plantations of Virginia intended to examine the real rights of the settlers. It relies on some scrolls on Maryland and at the request of the residents of the colony.
It has been recognized that while the planters of Virginia have mainly decided against the Parliament, Lord Baltimore has given the order to his officers and his subjects to accede to the interests of the Commonwealth.

October, 1652 - William Coddington is dismissed from his term as President of Aquidneck Island.

In November, 1651, Roger Williams and John Clarke had returned to England with the aim of renewing the charter of their plantation and get enough support to prevent William Coddington to carry out his unification project with Massachusetts. They met for it Henry Vane, Oliver Cromwell and John Milton and received the backing of agent of Plymouth Edward Winslow, governor of Connecticut Edward Hopkins and Arthur Haselrig, a leader of the Parliament.

October 19, 1652 – Its growing distrust of England decides the General Court of  Massachusetts to declare independence. 

To protect against any eventuality, the General Court enacted a law requiring all Indian and African servants to undergo a military training in order to be able to defend the colony.

November, 1652 - a law passed in Virginia grants to the Indians a land of their own.

Recent history had shown that territorial disputes were the root of most conflicts between Natives and settlers. The Assembly of Virginia decreed that each Indian bowman of the colony would be granted a 50-acre land (an area exactly corresponding to what an English settler received for the coming of each indentured servant) so as to recognize them territorial rights and help them to become farmers. The Indians also were permitted to hunt and to assemble outside the area ceded to the colonial government with the exception of areas where plantations were. These provisions wouldn’t last long because of the growing number of farmers attracted by the lands beyond the border. Some did not hesitate to settle within Indian reserves rekindling old animosities.

November 20, 1652 - the government of Massachusetts appoints a commission to establish in Maine the County of York, the first one in its claimed jurisdiction located beyond the Piscataqua River.

The General Court appointed commissioners to determine the border, what did not go without protest nor opposition from the settlers of Maine. The government of Massachusetts would gradually widen its authority to the North. It got from 1652 the control of Kittery and Gorgeana (former Agamenticus), two towns on the southern boundary of the province, at the mouth of the Merrimac.

Rev. John Cotton (1585-652)
December 23, 1652 - Rev. John Cotton, the famous preacher and teacher of the church of Boston dies at the age of 67.

Emblematic of Puritanism, Cotton had become a conservative over the years but had always kept the respect of his community. He had been Anne Hutchinson's defender during the antinimial crisis before becoming his most ardent opponent and had caused Roger Williams's banishment.
His written work includes extensive correspondence, many sermons and a small catechism for children published in 1646 under the title " Milk For Babes.


  1. Hi, very interesting and enjoyable. Think I may have more questions in due course but for now : can you please give the source of the picture of the Flower of Gelderland [ De Gelderse Blöm ] ? It looks rather like a modern interpretation rather than an original contemporaneous work? Also, there are assertions elsewhere on the www that the ship was a galjoot 60 - 70 which I think is a large fishing smack?, whereas the ship portrayed does not seem to be such?

    With kind regards

    Laurence van Kleek

  2. Hi, following on from the above, I have checked the www and Wikipedia at : asserts that Jan Baptist van Rensselaer travelled in 1651 and i must say that I think this accords with other records. Olive Tree Genealogy has the Gelderse Blöm sailing from Amsterdam after 20 March 1651 and arriving at Nieuw Amsterdam by 31 July 1651 and it names the 12 workers hired by van Rensselaer as a reconstruction I think from the vR records. I think this was the first journey of several annual trips made by the ship from 1651 to ? 1657. I am interested because it seems very likely to me that my ancestor was on the 1652 trip. Also, it is asserted elsewhere that Gideon Schaets was onboard in 1652, not 1651. Are you able to confirm this please and perhaps adjust your blog? Researchers may be misled perhaps.

    all the best

    Laurence van Kleek