Sunday, February 7, 2016

1661 - Massachusetts in the sights of Charles II

King Charles II
(Studio of John Michael Wright)
February 15, 1661 - The General Court of Massachusetts receives a letter from King Charles II in which he promises to encourage trade, himself concerned with the welfare of the colonies and looking with favour upon New England that he considers as the most important of all.

February 18, 1661 - In Maryland is created Talbot's County from part of Kent County, named so in honor of Lady Grace Talbot, the sister of Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore and the wife of 
Irish Statesman Sir Robert Talbot.

February 19, 1661 – Still considered the legitimate governor of the Province of Maine, Edward Godfrey testifies before the Council for Foreign Plantations that Massachusetts usurped his rights by placing all the country under its rule while it is in practice a free state.

March,1661 - According to the report of the committee appointed to deal with Indian affairs, it appears that the Susquehannocks and other northern tribes frequently land on the coast of Virginia, being a potential danger for the colony and its reserves. The Assembly therefore orders forbidding all the settlers of Maryland, the English and the Natives living in northern Virginia to trade and deal with the colonists and Indians of the south shore, assigning Colonel Wood to enforce those provisions.

March, 1661 - the Virginia Assembly confirms the ban for the colonists selling or buying lands belonging to the Indians.

Any offender was condemned to have his buildings demolished and consumed by fire. It was more demanded to build hedges protecting the Indians’ corn fields against incursions of the English cattle.

Samuel Maverick
"The only hospitable man in all the country"
March 14, 1661 - Captain Thomas Breedon, governor of Acadia and Nova Scotia, Edward Godfrey, governor of Maine, John Gifford, Samuel Maverick and other colonists are called to testify against Massachusetts in front of the Council for Foreign Plantations.

Breedon brought in a book where the laws of Massachusetts Bay were recorded, suggesting that these went far beyond the Charter originally granted to the Company in order to " reconcile Monarchy and independence." The Council received at the same time a petition signed by several people who had suffered rules imposed by Boston authorities. It was written that "because of the tyranny and oppression imposed by those in power, thousands of the king’s subjects have been unfairly and severely oppressed without regard to their own laws nor those of England ; they were imprisoned, sentenced, chained, whipped and some had ears cut off or their face branded, while others have been deprived of property and banished from the colony. "

March, 1661 - after being falsely accused of murder, the Patawomeck chief Wahanganoche is acquitted by the Court of Virginia.

It was recognized that he had been wrongly accused after refusing to give up his lands to a group of settlers. All those involved in this case, including in particular Captain Giles Brent and Colonel Gerard Fowke were ordered to pay a heavy compensation to Wahanganoche and excluded from any civil and military function.
Rev. John Eliot, The Apostle to the Indians 
March 18, 1661 – Rev. John Eliot, called the Apostle of the Indians publishes a book entitled Christian Community, in which he defends the principles of democratic freedom.

The General Court of Massachusetts banned the book just because it challenged the legality of the English government.

March 24, 1661 - William Leddra is the fourth Quaker to be sentenced to death and hanged in Boston.

He had just spent several months in prison in dreadful conditions but eager to apply the law literally and make a new example, Governor John Endecott had decided to enforce the sentence of death without further delay.

Quaker Wenlock Christison facing Gov. John Endecott
April 3, 1661 - in Boston, Quaker Wenlock Christison is brought before Governor John Endicott who sentences him to be hanged after a summary trial.

He had been arrested on March 24, the day when William Leddra was executed. 
He had, shortly before, been imprisoned in Plymouth and previously banished from Massachusetts, under the threat of a death sentence if he returned. But just like his Quaker friends, he had dared to flout the ban, knowing that he would face inevitably Governor Endecott’s inflexibility.

April 7, 1661 - Wenlock Christison is unexpectedly released from prison after signing the promise to leave the Massachusetts and never come back.

His execution was to take place on June 13 but a mandate from King Charles II, received meanwhile, ordered the British colonies not to sentence any more to death the Quakers in the name of tolerance granted to all sects for the free exercise of their religion. 
This provision did not put an end to persecutions but the death penalty will, from now, no longer be required against the Quakers.
John Winthrop, Jr.

April 10, 1661 - John Winthrop, Jr. is re-elected governor of Connecticut for the 3rd year running.

April 30, 1661 – Before leaving for England, Sir William Berkeley, appoints Francis Moryson as acting governor of Virginia during his absence.

Before he left, the Assembly and the Council of Virginia promulgated a series of laws among which the creation of a 20 £-tax per person, the ban to deal with the Indians without the prior consent of the governor and especially the recognition of the lifelong slave status to all children born to slave mothers.
Berkeley arrived early summer in London and stayed at his brother’s John. He hoped to win the support of the king in his project to reduce tobacco production and diversifying the economy of Virginia. He would finally stay a little more than a year in England but failed to get all what he wanted.
Francis Moryson had been major in the royal army during the Civil War and, like many Cavaliers, he had emigrated to Virginia in 1649, shortly after the execution of King Charles 1st. Immediately upon his arrival, Governor William Berkeley had appointed him commander of the fort of Point Comfort and he had thereafter been elected president of the House of Burgesses from 1655 till 1656. It was certainly because of his loyalty to the royalist cause that William Berkeley, new governor for a year, had just chosen him to take his place while he would travel to England.

April 29-30, 1661 - the Council For Foreign Plantations collects a number of petitions and complaints against Massachusetts. Robert Mason claims in particular his rights on New Hampshire and John Gifford sends a letter about the iron mines of Massachusetts and illegal coinage minting.

Gifford had been from 1650 chosen as agent of the Company of Undertakers for the Iron Works in New England replacing Richard Leader. He had then supervised the realization of the Hammersmith Forge at Saugus before being involved in 1653 in various legal disputes, earning him to spend some time behind bars. Back in England in 1658, he brought his own version of each other’s implications in the mismanagement of the Saugus forge and illegal mint.

May 2nd, 1661 - Director Peter Stuyvesant gives his agreement on the name of Wiltwyck to the colony founded in 1652 in the Esopus meadows by Thomas Chambers and a group of farmers.

May, 1661 - William Leete becomes the new governor of the New Haven colony. He succeeds Francis Newman, died in November, the previous year.

William Leete (1613-1683) - born in Dodington
(Huntingtonshire), his grandfather was Robert Shute, a judge at the king’s court, and it was certainly thanks to him that he began a legal career. He was appointed clerk to the court of the bishop of Ely in Cambridge, to investigate the activities of the Puritans. The contacts he maintained with them decided him to convert to their faith and in May, 1639, he left England with his wife Ann and their son to New Haven (Quinnipiac) with the Reverend Henry Whitfield (1597-1657), a friend of John Davenport, co-founder of the colony.
Leete was among the 25 founders of Guilford who signed the convenant of the Whitfield Company on June 1st, 1639 and bought at the time lands to the Natives. He was also one of the seven founders of the first congregational church of Guilford on June 19, 1643, and was elected the same year to the General Court of New Haven. He subsequently held various official positions to that of deputy governor of the colony from 1658 to 1661. He was engaged at he time with the royal agents to try to capture both Kingslayers Edward Whalley and William Goffe, but if his help avoided him being charged with obstruction of justice, it did not however allow to take down the fugitives.

A Susquehannock village
May 16, 1661 - Lord Baltimore, Proprietor of Maryland gives his agreement to the signature of a treaty with the Susquehannock chiefs. This one is concluded at Spes Utia with the representatives of the colony Council and delegates from the various tribes of the Indian nation.

The Susquehannocks were at war for three years against Iroquois and had just been struck by a smallpox epidemic which had decimated in particular the warrior ranks. This alliance with the English was especially timely since the government of Maryland agreed to provide them with a company of 50 soldiers under captain Obder, with mission to lend them a helping hand against the Senecas.
The Susquehannocks had their capital near present-day Lancaster (PA) when captain John Smith met them in 1608. It had about 2000 inhabitants and the tribe was expected to reach 7000 people. Impressed by their size and their weaponry, Smith described them as particularly aggressive and warlike. He was besides surprised that the Susquehannocks dealt at the time regularly with the French. On the other hand, these turned, for trading, to the Dutch, when was founded the colony of New Netherlands and started then a battle for influence against the Delaware nation. When the Swedes settled close to their lands, the Susquehannocks chose them as preferred trading partners and allies against the English they defeated in Maryland in summer 1644. The fall of New Sweden in 1655 having jostled the trade channels, the Susquehannocks had no other choice but to confront the Iroquois, their hereditary foes, and to conclude an alliance of convenience with their neighboring Marylanders.

The Senecas formed with the OneidasMohawks, Onondagas and Cayugas the 5 Iroquois NationsSettled in the western part of what is now the state of New York, they had a sedentary lifestyle. They regrouped in fortified villages and were known as great farmers, practicing artfully corn, squash and bean growing. The Senecas were also brave warriors and had quickly learnt to use the guns supplied by the Dutch. They got generally their body tattoed and shaved their head after the Mohawk fashion. They were perhaps wrongly attributed cannibalistic practices but it is certain, however, that they did not hesitate to torture prisoners. Politically, the Senecas had the peculiarity to choose their leaders among the most valuable men, regardless of their lineage, and had adopted a constitution which, according to some, could have served as model to, the American constitution. Choosing a leader was up to the women and even if the one they had chosen was supposed to rule the nation for life, they retained the power to remove him if he was guilty of corruption or had shown incompetence.

June, 1661 - John Endecott is reappointed as governor of Massachusetts.

June 3, 1661 - Thomas Prence is re-elected governor of Plymouth.

June 10, 1661 - The General Court of Massachusetts publishes a bill of rights in which it calls, for the settlers, the opportunity to choose their governors and their representatives, to elect annually their members of parliament and their judges to whom are entrusted the legislative and judicial powers as well as to dismiss the acts of the Parliament which would be contrary to their interests.

Arent Van Curler
June, 1661 - Acting Governor of Virginia Francis Moryson orders every County to form three militia companies consisted of “free men or faithful servants " because of the wide dispersion of the people of the colony and the inability to quickly mobilize them in case of emergency.
It was about training a special unit from the contingent but the project was fast given up because of what the governor and his Council regarded as the incompetence of the militiamen themselves.

July 27, 1661 – After obtaining the agreement of the New Amsterdam Council, Arent Van Curler purchases to Mohawks the territory of Shenectady, northwest of Fort Orange.

The area had just been affected by heavy rain, causing flooding that had destroyed some of the crops.

August, 1661 – Anxious to defend their interests and assert their existence towards Massachusetts, the authorities of Connecticut send John Winthrop, Jr. to England to be granted their own charter from King Charles II;

Winthrop was a brilliant and learned man. His knowledge in science constituted on the other hand a strong asset to gain the king’s favor, himself very involved in this area, especially as Charles II looked then suspiciously the colonies of New England and especially New Haven.

August 8, 1661 - The General Court of Massachusetts issues a proclamation acknowledging Charles II as the king of Great Britain, Ireland, France and all the colonies.

August 22, 1661 - Pierre Billiou, a Walloon Protestant arrived one year earlier with his wife and four children on the St John Baptist, introduces to the Council of New Amsterdam a petition for land allocations on Staten Island. He is the representative of nineteen immigrant French, Flemish and Dutch primarily concerned about religious freedom.

Whilelmus Beekman (1623-1707)
September, 1661 - a scandal rocks the Dutch colony of Delaware. The wife of the Finnish Reverend Laurent Lokenius has run away together with merchant Jacob Jong.

Jacob Jong was indebted to the Dutch West India Company and to Director Wilhelmus Beekman who hastened to write to the governor of Maryland and the magistrates of the Elk River Finnish colony, asking them to arrest the fugitives. He also made seize Jong’s goods that proved to be actually of little relevance.
Jacob Jong had presumably gone to New England. As for Reverend Lokenius, he got divorced and quickly married another woman, what did not appreciate Beekman who declared illegal this union celebrated by the minister himself. He accordingly made him ordered to pay Jong’s debts. Owning nothing, Rev. Lokenius appealed against the judgment to Peter Stuyvesant who had no choice but to condemn the outrageous practices of his son-in-law.

Massasoit's Lodge
September, 1661 - Wampanoag Massasoit (great sachem) Ousamequin dies at age 80. His son Wamsutta (Moanam) who succeeds him is granted from the Plymouth colony the name of Alexander Pokanoket (from his original tribe) and his brother Metacomet that of Philip.

It was in an area devastated by disease that Massasoit had welcomed in 1620 the founding Pilgrims of the of Plymouth colony. Bitterly weakened, the Great Sachem of the until then mighty Wampanoag Confederation had then to face the increasingly belligerent attitude of his western neighbors Narragansetts. He sealed with the English a timely alliance that allowed him to keep his position until he dies in spite of the sometimes very serious tensions between settlers always eager for new lands and his people, reluctant to constantly make concessions. A man of his word, tireless defender of peace, he maintained along his life strong ties with Roger Williams he had accommodated for several weeks after his banishment from Massachusetts. The question was now whether his son Wamsutta would continue or not the peaceful policy of his father.

September 9, 1661 – an order of King Charles II requires the governors of New England to release all the imprisoned Quakers and to send them back to England.

George Bishop's writings, including  "New England Judged", a book with the testimonies of Christopher Holder, John Rous and John Copeland, describing all the tortures they had endured, moved the English public opinion and the king decided to put an end to what he judged as an obvious abuse on behalf of the Massachusetts authorities. His councillor Edward Burrough had then the idea to have the royal order personally hand-delivered to governor John Endecott by Samuel Shattuck, the parishioner of Salem who had, two years ago, rescued Christopher Holder, what had been worth to him being banished from the colony. The king agreed to this suggestion and Shattuck sailed to Boston.

Charles Calvert, 3rd Lord Baltimore
September 14, 1661 - Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore appoints his 24-year-old only son Charles to succeed his younger brother Philip as deputy governor of Maryland.

Charles Calvert, 3rd Lord Baltimore (London, August 12, 1637 - Epsom (Surrey) February 21, 1715)  - he knew from his childhood that he would one day become Lord Proprietor of Maryland. As the son of Cecilius Calvert and Ann Arundell, his wife, Charles had in his youth the privileged life of the high English nobility, brought up in the catholic faith, just like the rest of his family. Further to his appointment, he moved to the province and settled in St Mary’s City. He took then the place of his uncle Philip Calvert at the head of the colony but this one remained his closest advisor.

October 27, 1661 - the General Court of Plymouth sells for £ 500 the " Kennebec  Patent" to John Winslow, Antinot Boyes, Edward Tyng and Thomas Brattle, four merchants of Boston. It had remained in the coffers of former Governor of Plymouth William Bradford since the project was abandoned in 1635. They wish in this way to re-open a fur trade post.
This attempt would finally failed partly as a result fur scarcity and bad relations with the Indians.

John Winslow (Droitwich (Worcesters.) 1597- 1674) was one the brothers of Edward Winslow, a signatory of the Mayflower Compact who had played a leading role in the foundation and the development of the Plymouth colony. Arrived in 1621 aboard the Fortune, he quickly was among the big owners of New England. He especially dedicated to his trade business although elected on some occasions a deputy of Plymouth. He also took part in 1653 in the War Council during the conflict between England and the States General of Holland. He chose in 1655 to settle in Boston with his family.

November, 1661 - Samuel Shattuck arrives in Boston, bearer of the royal order that he must deliver personally to Governor John Endecott.

He hastened to go to the governor where he was greeted with great coolness by John Endecott. But after realizing that Shattuck was sent by Charles II and having read the order he had given him, he had to submit to the royal command and release all the Quakers held in the Massachusetts’ jails.
28 Quakers were released as well but were not so far allowed to return to England. The Massachusetts government had perhaps heard of a recent shift in the position of Charles II who, even though he had forbidden death sentence now left to the authorities how to deal with them. The persecutions were not long to resume under John Endecott’s governorship.

Simon Bradstreet (1603-1697)
December 31, 1661 - Following the order confirming King Charles II’s goodwill about the Quakers, the General Court of Massachusetts sends to England magistrate Simon Bradstreet and Rev. John Norton, known for his anti-Quaker arguments, to hand him the letter confirming that the colony acknowledges him for its king.

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