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Plaistow and Hampton .
Dunstable and Merrimack
Nottingham West and Litchfield
Rochester 1768. Keene
Several minor changes in representation which do not lend themselves readily to tabulation should also be noted. In 1762 Dunstable and Merrimack, which formerly had been grouped together with one representative, were disassociated, and regrouped, Dunstable with Hollis, and Merrimack with Monson. Each of these new groups was allowed one representative, which added one to the total. In 1722 Hampton Falls, which was set off from Hampton in 1712, was assigned one member, and the latter town, which previously had sent three, was reduced to two. A similar readjustment occurred again in 1727, when Rye, which was incorporated in 1726, was allowed a representative, and Newcastle, from which it was taken, was reduced from two to one. These two last mentioned changes did not affect the total representation, nor did the grouping of
Atkinson with Plaistow and Hampstead in 1770. Dover returned only one representative for each triennial term of the Assembly from 1755 until 1762, but sent two in the latter year, and thereafter until the first Provincial Congress.
In 1727 the term of service of representatives was limited to three years. Previous to that date the term had been indefinite, and Assemblies continued in exist
until prorogued by the governor, when a new election was ordered.
A list of ratable polls prepared for the General Assembly in 1768, shows that, in the case of the four original towns represented, while the proportion of polls to population had greatly increased, the apportionment had become extremely irregular. Portsmouth had increased from 71 polls in 1679 to 910 in 1768; Dover, from 61 to 384; Hampton, from 57 to 199; and Exeter, from 20 to 390.
But each of these towns during the entire period from 1680 to the first Provincial Congress in 1774 was represented by the same number of deputies provided by the act of 1680, except Dover during the period 1755-1774, as previously described.
During the period from 1698 to 1774, however, it is to be noticed that each town, or group of towns, when admitted to representation, whatever its population, was allowed only one deputy, and was given no more till the end of the period.
The last session of the provincial General Assembly, whose basis of representation from its beginning in 1680 has now been traced, was adjourned by Gov. John Wentworth, July 15, 1775, by message from Fort William and Mary, whither he had withdrawn at the opening of the revolutionary conflict. For some time, however, the necessity of some stable form of government during the impending struggle had been clearly foreseen, and in spite of Governor Wentworth’s protests of illegality the Assembly, as early as the 28th of May, 1774, had taken measures through a committee to provide for a representative governing body.
As an immediate result of this action, on July 6, 1774, a call was issued to the “ several towns and parishes” to send deputies to Exeter upon the 21st of July, and in accordance with this call eighty-five delegates appeared on the appointed day. The journals of this body, known as the First Provincial Congress, were not preserved, but an account of the proceedings was published in the New Hampshire Gazette of July 29, 1774. The membership as far as it is known has been compiled from town records. Portsmouth sent seven, Dover and Exeter each five, Hampton four, Kingston three, Chester, Durham, East Kingston, Epping, Greenland, Lee, Rye, Somersworth and Stratham, each two, and twenty-two other towns are known to have sent one each. Of the remaining twenty-one members no record can be found.
A second Provincial Congress met at Exeter, January 25, 1775, with 144 delegates in attendance, though from town records a list of only 121 can be compiled.
A third Provincial Congress met April 21, 1775, in the same town, with a membership of 109. According to the journal of this Congress the number of representatives was considered inadequate properly to express the mind of the people on the important question of raising an army.
Pausing here to examine again the basis of representation, we discover that for the first three Provincial Congresses there was no attempt at equal apportionment. Dover with a population of 1665 sent five delegates to the First Congress, while Rochester with 1,548 inhabitants was represented by only one. To the Second Congress, Dunstable with a population of 705 sent three delegates, and Durham with a population of 1,214 was represented by only two. Exeter sent five to the Third Congress to represent 1,741 inhabitants, while Londonderry returned but one member for a population of 1,290. Such examples might be multiplied.
The Fourth Provincial Congress met at Exeter, May 17, 1775, with a membership of 151. On November 4, toward the end of a long session, it was :
" Voted, That the Delegates or Representatives to be chosen to represent this Colony in Future shall be chosen by the voices or Votes of the Electors and not by the value of their Estates.
“ That every Elector for Representatives in this Colony be Possessed of a Freehold or real Estate to the value of Twenty Pounds Lawfl money in such Town or place where the Election shall be.
" That every Person so elected shall be worth Three hundred Pounds L money in real Estate in this Colony; the Election to be adjudged of by the Selectmen & the moderator of the meeting, saving an Appeal to the Congress or House of Representatives.
“ That every Town, Parish, or Precinct in this Colony containing one hundred Freeholders as aforesaid may send one Delegate or Representative to the Congress or General Assembly; and that Every such Town, Parish, or Precinct having a greater number of Freeholders, may send a member for every hundred such Freeholders.
"That Precepts be sent to every Town, Parish, or Precinct in this Colony, Directing them to Elect a member & send to the Congress to be holden at Exeter in said Colony on the . . . . day, of .... next, if such Town, Parish, or Precinct contain one hundred such Freeholders, and if not, then to couple with one or more other such Towns or Parishes untill they make up that number of such Freeholders.”
Ten days later, on November 14, it was voted:
“That every Legal Inhabitant paying Taxes shall be a voter.
“That every Person Elected shall have a Real Estate in this Colony of the value of Two hundred Pounds lawful money.
“That no person shall be allowed a seat in Congress who by themselves, or any Person at their Desire Treat with Liquor &c any Electors on that Account.
" That the Towns, Parishes, & Places in this Colony be represented as Follows, viz.