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CHAPTER w

1623.

Nov. 26.

1623.

1621.

1622.

tion of Parliament. The Commons passed a bill for the
protection of the fishermen, but it failed in the Lords.
Liberty in England was not yet fledged; and Coke, the
famous lawyer, Pym, and other leaders of the Commons,
were imprisoned after the adjournment for their alleged
factious behavior.
Parliamentary interference having thus failed, the
Council for New England, sustained by a royal procla-
mation prohibiting disorderly trading within the limits of
their patent, sent out Francis West, the same person,
probably, who was temporary governor of Virginia a few
years later, with a commission as admiral of New En-
gland. Already thirty or forty fishing vessels sailed an-
nually to that coast, upon which West sought to impose
a tribute in the shape of license money.
The indefatigable Gorges, engaged for so many years
in traffic to the coast of New England, had found a part-
ner much to his mind in John Mason, “a man of action,”
bred a merchant, afterward a naval commander, and
more recently an adventurer in the projected settlement
of Newfoundland. Having been appointed secretary to
the Council for New England, Mason had obtained the
grant of a tract which he named Mariana, extending
from Naumkeag, now Salem, to the mouth of the Mer-
rimac. This was followed the next year by a grant to
Gorges and Mason jointly, of the whole tract from the
Merrimac to the Kennebec, extending westward to the
River of Canada. This grant was named LAconia. Ma-
son and Gorges induced several merchants to adventure
with them as the “Company of Laconia,” and sent out
a colony of fishermen, a part of whom, under David
Thompson, settled at Little Harbor, at the mouth of the
Piscataqua, afterward called Strawberry Bank, now Ports-
mouth. The others settled some eight miles up the river,

at Cocheco, now Dover, under William and Edmond chores

Hilton, fishmongers of London, one of whom, however,
had qualified himself for the enterprise by a short resi-
dence at New Plymouth. But the company of Laconia
did not prosper; and these towns, the oldest in New
Hampshire, and, with a few exceptions, the oldest in the
United States, remained for several years little more
than mere fishing stations. Thompson soon left Little
Harbor, and established himself on an island in Massa-
chusetts Bay, which still bears his name.
Cotemporaneously with the settlement on the Piscat-
aqua, another colony was attempted further to the east-
ward. With very little regard, it would seem, to the
patent of the Council for New England, though per-
haps with their consent, James I., in his character as
King of Scotland, had issued, under the Scottish seal, a
grant of all the territory between the Gulf of St. Law-
rence and the River St. Croix, under the name of Nova
Scotia, or New Scotland, to Sir William Alexander, a
poet and court favorite, afterward Secretary of State for
Scotland, and created Earl of Sterling. This grant in-
cluded not only the present province so called, but also
the territory now known as New Brunswick. A ves-
sel was fitted out, which explored the shores and entered
some of the harbors in the vicinity of Cape Sable; but
the French were found to be already established at sev-
eral points along this coast.
About the time of the appointment of West as Ad-
miral of New England, a territory of ten miles on the
northern coast of Massachusetts Bay, adjoining Mason's
grant of Mariana, and extending thirty miles inland,
was bestowed on Robert Gorges, son of Sir Ferdinando.
He was appointed also Lieutenant General of New En-
gland, with a council, of which West, the admiral, and

1623.

1621.

1623.

chores the Governor of New Plymouth for the time being, were

1623.

August.

to be members, with power to restrain interlopers, al-
ready beginning to establish themselves along the coast.
Gorges sailed to take possession of his government, tak-
ing with him a number of indented servants, and accom-
panied by one Morrell, a clergyman appointed by the
Archbishop of Canterbury, commissary of ecclesiastical
affairs. Gorges and Morrell resided a year or more in
New England, a part of the time at Plymouth, and the
remainder at Weston's deserted plantation at Wissagus-
set, where Gorges endeavored to establish a settlement,
preferring that situation, it would seem, to his own
grant on the north shore of the bay. At Plymouth
Gorges encountered Weston, who had come out to New
England to look after his colony, but had been ship-
wrecked on the eastern coast, and robbed by the Indians,
escaping barely with his life. He found refuge and as-
sistance at Plymouth; but the good people there re-
garded his misfortunes as a judgment upon him for de-
serting them, and Gorges appears to have taken some
proceedings against him as an interloper.
The colony of New Plymouth, though still the chief
settlement of New England, remained, as yet, very fee-
ble. The best dish that could be set before the third sup-
ply of colonists, about sixty in number, who came in the
Anne and the Little James, was a lobster, a piece of fish,
and a cup of “fair spring water.” As to bread, there
was none in the colony. Among the passengers was
Nathaniel Morton, then a boy eleven years old, a nephew
of Governor Bradford, afterward secretary and historian
of the colony. The Anne was laden with clapboards,
and such furs as had been collected; and Winslow went
back in her, to obtain in London a supply of goods,
without which the little settlement was in danger of

perishing. He published, while there, a tract, entitled chorea “Good News from New England,” and, having succeeded in obtaining a much-needed loan of £1800, nearly 1624. $9000, he returned in the spring, taking with him, March among other things, a few cattle, the first brought to New Plymouth. At the same time came one Lyford, recommended by some of the partners in London as a minister for the colony. But he was not inclined to go the full length of the separatists, and insisted upon administering the sacrament by virtue of his episcopal ordination. To this the majority would not consent; some disturbance resulted; and a ship sailing for England with letters from Lyford on board, Bradford followed her in his canoe, examined the letters, and found matters therein of a dangerous tendency. Lyford was presently expelled, along with Oldham and Conant, his principal adherents. These expelled colonists established themselves on Nantasket, at the entrance of what is now Boston harbor. These proceedings, with a growing jealousy and difference of opinion upon this question of separation from the Church of England, seem to have increased the misunderstanding between the colonists and their London partners. The non-existence of private property, the discontent and unwillingness to labor thence arising, and the exorbitant interest, as high as forty-five per cent., paid for money borrowed in London, were serious drawbacks to the prosperity of New Plymouth. It was found necessary, indeed, to enter into an agreement that each family 1623. should plant for itself; and an acre of land was accord- 1624. ingly assigned to each person in fee. Under this stimulus, the production of corn soon became so great, that, from buyers, the colonists became sellers to the Indians. At the end of the fourth year after its settlement, Plymouth had thirty-two dwelling-houses, and a hundred and eighty

charter four inhabitants. The general stock, or whole amount

of the investment, personal services included, amounted

1624. to £7000, or $34,000. The London partners were very

unwilling to make any further advances.

John Robinson died in Holland, and several years elapsed

before his family, and the rest of the Leyden congregation, could find means to transport themselves to New Plymouth. Those already there—passengers by the Mayflower, the Fortune, the Anne, and the Little James— were afterward distinguished as the “old comers,” or “forefathers.” Six or seven years elapsed before the colony received any considerable addition to its numbers. The lieutenant general, admiral, and archbishop's commissary for New England, finding little subject-matter for the exercise of their authority, or little prospect of any respect being paid to it, soon quitted the country. Morrell, who had employed himself in writing a descriptive poem in Latin and English, had said nothing to the settlers at New Plymouth about his ecclesiastical authority till he was just about leaving, though the affair of Lyford might seem to have afforded some occasion for its exercise. In England, the rights of the company were again brought in question. James's fourth Parliament had no sooner met than the New England charter was referred to the committee of grievances. Sir Ferdinando Gorges was heard by counsel on behalf of the patent, which Coke pronounced void on account of its attempted monopoly of the seas. Another bill passed the Commons for the protection of the fishermen, but it failed again in the Lords. The members of the Council for New England, contemplating, perhaps, a surrender of this unpopular charter, appear to have divided their territory into provinces, for which they cast lots in the

presence of King James; but this division was not at this

time carried into effect.

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