Saturday, January 16, 2016

1659 - The First "Esopus War"

Marmaduke Stephenson, Mary Dyer and William Robinson led to Boston Commons for their execution

January 12, 1659 - Baltimore County is founded in the province of Maryland.

February, 1659 - Merchant Isaac Allerton dies in New Haven at age 74.

During the 1620s, he had  represented the interests of the Plymouth colony in England before being dismissed for his bad business deals. Further to the inventory of his assets, it turned out that he was insolvent, despite the importance of his domain.

April 10, 1659 - John Winthrop, Jr. is elected governor of Connecticut for a second term.

April 18, 1659 - After several years of controversy, the dissident congregation of Minister John Russell (on 1626 - 1692) obtains permission to leave Wethersfield, Connecticut to Massachusetts where it will found the city of Norwottuck (become Hadley in 1661).

Graduated from Harvard in 1645, John Russell had succeeded five years later Rev. Henry Smith of Wethersfield. A strict Puritan, he had then entered the controversy with the nearby church of Hartford he blamed for its doctrinal laxness and Presbyterian orientations. The Congregationalist minority of the city had just joined him in Wethersfield whereas the General Court of Connecticut showed an inability to bring together the two parties.

May 25, 1659 - In London, new Lord Protector Richard Cromwell sends a letter to the Rump Parliament to resign his position. 
The days of the Commonwealth are numbered while Royalists rejoyce.

June 3, 1659 - Thomas Prence keeps his position as governor of Plymouth.

June, 1659 - John Endecott is reappointed as governor of Massachusetts.

Mary Dyer at a Quaker meeting
(Howard Pyle)
June, 1659
After being sheltered in Salisbury (later Amesbury)by Thomas Macy, Quakers William Robinson of London and Marmaduke Stephenson of Holderness are back in Rhode Island but their purpose is to return as soon as possible to Massachusetts. Hardly have they arrived in the colony that they are arrested and jailed.

They were accompanied with Patience Scott, a 11-year-old girl and Christopher Davis. All four ended up in prison. As soon as she was informed, Mary Dyer, regardless of the banishment that struck her, walked from Rhode Island to Boston to visit her friends. She was arrested from her arrival and jailed in her turn.

June, 1659 - Thomas Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard gives up the major part of the nearby Nantucket Island to a group of settlers among which Thomas Macy from Salisbury.

Thomas Macy (1608- April 19, 1682) - From Chilmark, Wiltshire, he arrived in Massachusetts in 1639 and went up first to Newbury before moving with other settlers to found the city of Salisbury (later Amesbury). A merchant specialized in textile, he was soon interested in Roger Williams' ideas. Gifted with a strong character but also very cultured, he had been one of the first to oppose the sale of liquor to Indians. Although first clerk of Salisbury and deputy to the General Court, his Baptist orientations drew the wrath of the Puritan government, forbidding him to preach on pretext he encouraged confusion in the law and order. His sympathy for the Quakers was for the Boston authorities a deadly offence. He was for this arrested and fined 30 schillings.

Nantucket Island
Bored with intolerance prevailing in Massachusetts, Thomas Macy chose, shortly after, to leave Amesbury with his wife Sarah, their seven children and their friend Edward Starbuck. He purchased from Thomas Mayhew (maybe his cousin) a part of Nantucket Island where he and his family were in particular welcomed by the local Wampanoag tribe. Nantucket would soon become a refuge for all banished or deported people, victims of the merciless laws of the United Colonies. 

July 4, 1659 - The company headed by Major Humphrey Atherton of Boston
purchases a vast plot of land to Narragansett sachems in doubtful conditions.

Quaker whipping
July 23, 1659 - The province of Maryland decrees that " several vagrants and unwanted people known as Quakers being introduced in the country and having tried to convince people to challenge military discipline, not to testify or become jurors must be arrested and whipped by the various police authorities until they are hounded out of the territory ".

July 27, 1659 – Rev. John Eliot who began to convert to Christianity the Massachusetts Indians is granted by the General Court a land he names Noonanetum (Rejoicing).

He had a big house built where he greeted several families to whom he taught mechanical arts and farming.

August 30, 1659 - William Dyer writes a letter to the Massachusetts officials in which he denounces the wrongful imprisonment of his wife " you have done more in persecution in one year that the worst bishops did in seven, and now to add more towards a tender woman... that gave you no just cause against her for did she come to your meetings to disturb them as you call itt or did she come to reprehend magistrates. She only came to visited her friends in prison and when dispatching that she intent of returning to her family as she declared to the governor, therefore it is you that disturbed her…".

September 6, 1659 - Heading a company of a dozen men come from Maryland, Colonel Nathaniel Utie goes up the Delaware River to inform the people of New Amstel that their territory is under Lord Baltimore’s jurisdiction and orders them to leave or to recognize themselves as his subjects. Director Jacob Alrichs and Commissioner William Beekman protest and get to a three-week deadline, the time to inform Peter Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam.

The Dutch settlers were all the same threatened with death by colonel Utie and informed that the English would send a military force. Beekman and Alrichs hastened Stuyvesant so that he goes personally on the South River (Delaware). The answer would, however, take time to arrive.

September 17, 1659 – Director General Peter Stuyvesant writes to his superiors to complain about the poor state of the New Amstel colony, deserted by the settlers who prefer moving towards Maryland or Virginia.

According to him, it remained there no more than thirty families and just 25 garrison troopers. Apart from the incompetence of the officials, disease and hunger, the English now threatened to seize the country asserting ownership over the South River (Delaware) on behalf of Lord Baltimore. At that time, there was indeed an alliance between England and Sweden as this one was at war with Netherlands. Governor Alrichs had moreover expressed his concern by saying that, dissatisfied, the Dutch settlers had been contacted by the people of Virginia who had promised them to live in freedom if the British took possession of the river.

September 20, 1659 - A group of residents from Wiltwyck, including Thomas Chambers, is in trouble with a party of Indians whom they offered liquor as payment for their services. The latter turn to the soldiers who recklessly kill one of them. This incident results in the First Esopus War
Dutch and Indians smoking the peace pipe
In response to this murder, an army of 500 Esopus Natives threatens to ransack the region. They burn farms and kill all free-roaming cattle before encircling the village where the  settlers found refuge.

The Esopus tribe belonged to the Munsee, northern division of the Lenape (Delaware), native people living in current New Jersey, Western Pennsylvania and half South of New York State. The so-called Esopus Indians included actually 5 sub-tribes living on the right side of the Hudson River in present-day Ulster and Orange counties. They had initially welcomed the newcomers who brought all kinds of utensils and equipment that made their life easier, but also being themselves farmers dedicated to growing corn, they kept a jealous eye on their lands. The long-lasting settlement of colonists in their neighborhood came to heighten tensions and revive a warlike spirit. They had fortified their villages ready if necessary to do battle with these overly intrusive settlers. But the worst was liquor, a drink increasingly used as currency that was also swift to generate violence.

September 23, 1659 - In a letter sent to Director of the New Amstel colony Jacob AlrichsPeter Stuyvesant condemns the Dutch officers’ behavior, arguing that they would have to arrest Colonel Utie and drag him to New Amsterdam being accused of spying.

He sent three boats to Delaware Bay and about sixty men commanded by Captain Martin Crieger.
These arrived three days later and Beekman, although he tried to put the blame on others, was forced to apologize for failing to be hostile towards the English. Crieger found out that most inhabitants of the colony complained about Director Alrichs. They reproached him for forbidding them to go to New Amsterdam, what had prompted many of them to flee to Maryland or Virginia, resulting in the English assault. Alrichs defended himself by accusing the Dutch West India Company to keep families in poverty by applying too high prices.
The real reason for this colony failed was to have sent people who were not pioneers. They were certainly good workers but while farmers were primarily required, these were only first storekeepers or craftsmen. Unable to offer the return on investment that awaited their backers, they were urged to live with all kinds of expedients.

Augustine Herrman  (1605-1686)
(Unknown artist 19th Cent.)
September 30, 1659 - Augustine Herrman is chosen by Peter Stuyvesant to head a delegation to meet the governor and Council of Maryland.

He left New Amstel accompanied with some soldiers and Natives guides. They found on the way Finnish settlers who had escaped from the colony at the time of former Governor Johan Prinz. They urged them to return to New Amstel but all did not agree. Herrman met the Maryland’s officials and both parts decided to set a boundary between their respective colonies along the Delaware River.

Augustine Herrman (1621 - 1686), Born in Prague (Bohemia), this merchant and adventurer had moved to Netherlands in 1642 before coming to settle down in New Amsterdam. He had been a member of the Board of Nine which had opposed the arbitrary methods of Director Peter Stuyvesant, what had not prevented him from being appointed in 1659 an ambassador of the New Nertherlands. He then spent several months in Maryland and Virginia before returning to Manhattan. Seduced by Maryland, he decided the next year to settle there permanently and brought all his family.

October 5, 1659 - in St Mary's County, Governor of Maryland Josias Fendall chairs Edward Prescott's trial, accused of hanging last year Elizabeth Richardson  for witchcraft.

The charges were presented by John Washington (1634-1677), an immigrant who accused Prescott of felony for hanging Elizabeth Richardson on his boat the Sea Horse of London when they were on the open sea bound for Maryland. Prescott said in his defence that he was certainly the owner of the ship but not the captain and that when he protested against this killing, all the crew threatened to mutiny. He was eventually acquitted because Washington had left in the meantime for the baptism of his son.

October 18, 1659 - in a statement following its meeting, the General Court of Massachusetts endeavors to justify its treatment of the Quakers. It intends to act within the limits of its rights and in compliance with the laws of God and the country. It adds that this one was purchased by his inhabitants and that nobody can live there without their consent so that  those who would break this rule would be regarded punishable by death.

October 19, 1659 - Quakers Mary Dyer, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson are hauled up before the General Court of Massachusetts.

Asked why they had returned, despite the law, they answered that " the reason was that of the Lord ". When Governor John Endecott pronounced against them the death sentence, Mary Dyer said that God's will be done. While awaiting the enforcement of the award, she sent several letters to the General Court claiming for banning and death penalty laws to be changed.

Sentenced to death just for being Quakers
October 27, 1659 - Sentenced to death on order of governor John Endecott under the laws of 1658, both Quakers William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson are executed in Boston. Mary Dyer who was also sentenced to death narrowly escapes hanging thanks to her husband’s intercession.

They were all three brought to Boston Commons (Boston Park) where the gallows had been raised, supervised by two hundred guards. The Quakers tried to address the crowd but their voice was drowned by the beating of drums. Robinson and Stephenson proclaimed their faith at the time of dying. Mary Dyer stood bound hand and foot, the rope around her neck, facing the crowd while William, her husband, begged to keep her alive. Petitioned behind-the-scenes by Gov. John Winthrop, Jr. and Thomas Temple from Nova Scotia, John Endecott, who was present, decided to stay her execution and commuted the death sentence into permanent exile, stating that this was the last warning.

November 1, 1659 – the Mohawks mediate in making peace between the Dutch and the Esopus Indians.

December 3, 1659 - Jacob Alrichs, the director of New Amstel, dies having appointed Alexander d' Hinoyossa as his successor.

There were not only people who died in this colony, animals too. Horses were fewer and fewer. Some had been killed, others had returned to the wild, giving an idea of its appalling condition.

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