Isaac Beecher 1623-1690
Mary Sperry 1624-1677
Isaac Beecher accompanied his mother to America, where they were to join his father who had come a year earlier. Unfortunately, upon landing, the young fifteen year old boy learned his father had died just months before, the victim of disease and harsh winter conditions.
Isaac Beecher was born in the year 1623, in Lewes, Sussex, England. He was the son of John Beecher and his wife Hannah Langford Beecher of Lewes.
In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Lewes like this:
Lewes.-- mun. bor., market town, and co. town of Sussex, on river Ouse, 8 miles NE. of Brighton and 50 miles S. of London by rail - bor., 1087 ac., pop. 11,199; town, 119ac., pop.6017; 2 Banks, 4 newspapers. Market-day, Tuesday. The town is well known for its agreeable scenery and the purity of its air. It is an ancient place, and was presented by William the Conqueror to his son William de Warren. At Mount Harry, in the vicinity, was fought (1264) the battle between Simon de Montfort and King Henry III., in which the latter was defeated. Corn, malt, sheep, cattle, coal, and lime are the chief staples of commerce. The mun. bor. of Lewes was incorporated in 1881. Lewes returned 1 member to Parliament until 1885.
The South Downes, Lewes, Sussex, England
Isaac's father immigrated to the American colonies in 1637, traveling on the "Hector" with the Easton voyage, settling in what is today New Haven, Connecticut. John Beecher was one of seven men elected to spend the first winter there in a crude hut. Unfortunately, he succumbed to disease while suffering through harsh winter conditions.
John's wife, Hannah and her children were to join John in the spring of 1638, but when their schooner landed, they received the tragic news of John's death. Hannah Beecher was a respected midwife and was allowed to settle on John's land, where she raised her family alone, never remarrying.
Isaac married Mary Sperry, also of New Haven, in 1643. They were married in New Haven. Isaac was 20 years old at the time of his marriage; Mary was 19.
Mary was born in London, England in 1624. She immigrated with her parents, Richard Sperry and Dennis Goodyear Sperry, aboard the "Hector", arriving with the first group of Puritans to settle New Haven, Connecticut.
Isaac and Mary had a family of five sons, all born in New Haven. The boys were: our direct ancestor,
- *John Beecher (1645)
- Joseph (1647)
- Isaac (1650),
- Samuel (1652)
- Eleazer (1655)
LIFE IN EARLY NEW HAVEN
Isaac and Mary spent their lives living and working on their land near New Haven. Isaac was a settler and planter.
He was the owner of 7 tracts of land totalling 61 acres. In 1685 his name appears in the New Haven List of Proprietors, and is also on the list of freemen in New Haven, July 1, 1644.
DEATH of MARY SPERRY
Records state that Isaac Beecher had three wives. We know that his first wife was Mary Sperry. Mary died in 1677 in New Haven, at the age of 53 years.
We also know that Issac's final wife (mentioned in his will) was also named Mary. But we haven't been able to locate the name of his second wife or the dates involved.
Isaac Beecher died on November 12, 1690 at his home in New Haven. He was 67 years old.
Probate Records, vol.2, pp, 62 63 and 64. Isaac Beecher, b. 1623, d. 1690. Made Will Sept 26,1689, in which he mentions sons John, Joseph and Isaac, and bequeath to each certain parcels of land described, and to Samuel the sum of five pounds. Also, to Eleazur one acre of meadow at that place called Springfield. Also, four acres running across the road that leads to West Farms. Also, about five acres land in that field called Ford's Field. Also, make and constitute my son Joseph Beecher my sole and only executor, and give him the remainder of my whole estate, and require him to provide for my loving wife, Mary Beecher, during her life, well and comfortably, and after her decease to get all the aforesaid legacies performed. Signed Nov. 12, 1690, in Court. Inventory includes house-keeping goods, farming tools, cattle, 7 tracts of land, amounting to 61 acres. Apprized £126.
His will was dated Sept. 28, 1689, and the Christian name of his wife was Mary.
* Continued here, is more of Earnest Baldwin's account of the early settlement in New Haven.
Isaac Beecher and his future wife Mary Sperry, both arrived with their families as teenagers on the first boats to arrive at the new settlement. Mary came in 1637, aboard the Hector, the same ship that brought Isaac's father, John Beecher. Isaac arrived with his mother and siblings the following year, 1638.
HARD WORK AHEAD
"Soon they had landed and were hard at work. The first thing they had to do was to make some kind of shelter for themselves. The weather was still quite cold and snow often covered the ground. A few huts had been built for them beforehand, but these were not enough. Some tents which they had brought with them in the vessel were taken ashore and set up. Then more rude huts were built and even wigwams such as the Indians used. But strangest of all were the cellars, which some dug in the side of the bank along the creek. These, when covered over, were very comfortable in dry weather, but damp and unhealthy when it rained.
While the men were putting up the tents and building huts the women were busy getting out the beds and clothing and pans and kettles, for they must have a place to sleep and something to eat. The boys and girls helped to carry things from the landing place to the huts but the smaller children clung tightly to their mothers' skirts frightened at the Indians and the strangeness of the place. What a tired lot of people that night! And how glad they were that the next day was Sunday!
We may be very sure that one of the first things taken ashore at Quinnipiac that Saturday was Mr. Davenport's Bible and the sermon he was to preach the next day. Sunday was a day of rest and worship for those Puritan founders of New Haven and they hoped it would be with those who should come after them for all time. Although they were very busy getting settled no work could be done on the Sabbath Day. If anyone forgot to take some needed thing ashore the day before he had to get along without it until Monday. They had no church but that did not matter; a large oak tree with spreading branches which stood near their landing place, was good enough for them until they could build a church.
First Sunday in New Haven.
With his people gathered about him seated on logs and stumps and the Indians standing around in awe, Mr. Davenport preached that first Sunday morning at Quinnipiac on the "temptations of the wilderness." This stern Puritan minister was wise enough to foresee unusual temptations. In a new and strange country the people would be tempted to do things which they would not think of doing at home. The desire to build their new homes as soon as possible would tempt them to neglect their religious duties. They would be tempted to cheat the Indians because they were ignorant and weak. So there was need for such a sermon. Just what Mr. Davenport said that April Sunday, 1638, we do not know, but we may be very sure the people believed his words and tried to do as he said. In the afternoon, another minister, Mr. Prud-den, preached, so the whole day was spent in worship and the people had no time for labor had they wanted it.
Monday morning found them again hard at work. It probably took them several days to unload everything from the vessel and get it under cover. Meanwhile leading men like Mr. Eaton and Mr. Goodyear were looking around to see just where to lay out the town. As most of them expected to engage in trade they wanted to live near together and within a short distance of the harbor. So they did not plan large farms for each family but small lots each just big enough for a house and garden. Now among these settlers was a young man named John Brock-ett who was a surveyor. It is said that he left his home in England because he wanted to marry a Puritan maiden who was in the company. With his help a half-mile square was marked out and divided into nine equal parts. One side of this square lay along the West .Creek and is now George street. At right-angles to this was another side which bordered the East Creek and forms the present State street. Grove and York streets were the other two sides of the square. What are now Church, College, Chapel and Elm, streets divided it into nine equal parts which they called "quarters". The central quarter was set apart for a market place, and has now become the beautiful Green. The other quarters were fenced in as soon as possible
How a Great Ship Went out through the Ice and Came Back in a Summer Cloud.
In proportion to the number of its inhabitants, New Haven was the richest colony in New England. Some of its Puritan settlers were quite wealthy for those early days Many of them had been merchants and traders in England, and wished to engage in the same business in America and make their new colony a commercial city. One reason Quinnipiac was chosen as the place for their settlement was because of its deep and sheltered harbor, where ships could safely anchor and land their cargoes. And then, in laying out the town, the central square, or "quart-ter," was reserved for a public "marketplace" where goods of all kinds could be bought and sold and divided among the "free planters." The free planters were those who had united to form the company and had given money to pay the cost of moving to New England and building a new colony. So each free-planter was given a lot. The size of the lot depended partly on the amount of money he had given, and partly on the number of persons in his family. Mr. Eaton, who gave the most money and had the largest family, of course, had the largest lot. Those who were old friends and those who had come from the same part of England were given lots in the same quarter where they could be near neighbors. As there was not land enough for all in the half-mile square, some were given lots outside. Some of these lots lay between what are now Meadow and lower State streets; others were on the other side of the West Creek.
The woods were not very thick where the town was laid out. In some places, where the Indians had planted corn, there were no-trees, but only tangled bushes and briers.
As soon as possible the trees were cut down, and fences built. Some of the latter were made of pickets and others of rough logs. Then they made ready the ground for their gardens. While many were busy in this way others were getting lumber ready for use in building houses. As they had no saw-mill, they had to saw the logs by hand. This was slow and hard work. We may be very sure there was many a backache when night came during all that first summer at Quinni-piac. Then, too, there were wells to be dug and boats to be built.
So the summer of 1638 was a very busy one for the new colony, and a hard one as well. The spring was late, the cold lasting until May. In some places corn had to be planted two or three times over, for it rotted in the ground. But the harvest was a good one and there was plenty to eat. In June, a terrible earthquake frightened the people and shook the little colony to its foundation. But they kept right on building and by late fall most of those who came in April had their houses ready to live in. Some were probably log cabins not much better than the huts they had made at first except that the cracks were stopped up with clay. Others were rude frame buildings made from squared timbers and covered with rough boards or shingles. But a number were quite large and stately houses, and, it is said, were better than any other houses in New England. It took much longer to build these, of course, and probably they were not finished during the first year. But before the first snow fell in the next winter the new town was well started on its career.
For two years after the settlement of the town, Quinnipiac was the only name it had. In 1640 the General Court decided to give It a new name, and the old record of that year says, "This town now called New Haven." By that time it had grown to a population of nearly five hundred and had become the mother of other settlements. The people who came from Herefordshire, England, and were given the southwest quarter, all moved to Wepowaug in 1639; there they built a town of their, own and named it Mil-ford. A year later a number of families from Kent, England, moved to Menunkatuck and founded Guilford. About the same time some people from Norfolkshire, England, went across to Long Island and built the town of Southhold. In 1640 New Haven bought the territory at Rippowams from the Indians and the same year sold it to a company that came from Wethersfield, Connecticut. This new settlement was named Stamford. In 1644 Totoket was settled by another company from Wethersfield and given the name Branford. All these new towns united with the town of New Haven under the same government and thus formed the "New Haven Colony."
How Momaugin Sold Quinnipiac
When the founders of New Haven began their settlement at Quinnipiac in 1638, the Dutch at Manhattan (New York) did not like it at all. They declared that Quinnipiac belonged to them, and the English had no right to settle there. But the English claimed it, too, and paid no attention to the Dutch. Mr. Eaton and Mr. Davenport, however, as they were wise and honest men, thought that after all, Quinnipiac belonged to the Indians who lived there. At any rate they did not think it would be right to stay there without paying the redraen for the land. Thus they would obtain not only a good title to the soil but the goodwill and friendship of their dusky neighbors as well.
Now, there were only a few Indians living in the country around Quinnipiac in 1638. Great heaps of oyster shells found along the shore by the English proved that there had been a large number of them years before. But wars with other tribes, famines and terrible diseases had killed them. There were hardly enough left to make one small tribe, and they were called the Quinnipiacs. Momaugin, the Sachem of this tribe, could find but forty-seven men and boys for his band of warriors; and there were but a few women and children besides. They lived in what is now East Haven. Beyond East Rock there were a few more under the lead of Montowese, and there were only ten men among them. So by 1639, there were probably as many, if not more, English people at Quinnipiac than Indians.
These Indians had long lived in great fear of their enemies, the Pequots, and especially of the Mohawks, who came from the Hudson River region, and treated them with great cruelty, sometimes forcing them to pay long strings of wampum for taxes. So terrible was the war-whoop of a Mohawk to their ears, that they had several times fled to the settlement at Hartford for protection. And so when the English came to live near them, and on their own lands, the Quinnipiacs were not angry, but welcomed them as friends and protectors.
As soon as Mr. Baton's company decided to go to Quinnipiac a letter was sent (probably by an Indian runner) to the men who were staying there, asking them to make arrangements with the Indians for the purchase of their land. No written agreement could be made then, for the Indians and the white men did not understand each other very well. But the Indians made it plain that the English would be welcomed; and the price offered for their land was very satisfactory to them. So when Mr. Eaton arrived they were ready to sign a treaty of sale.
It was sometime before the actual purchase could be made, however. In the first place they must find some white man who could speak the Indian language and explain the treaty to the Quinnipiacs. And then it would be better to wait awhile and see how the redmen behaved. Then they could judge better what the terms of the treaty ought to be. This was a very wise thing to do, for before the first summer was passed the Indians were found to be very troublesome neighbors. In fact they were a nuisance. Of course, they were not used to the habits of the English and they did some things which were not very nice, and others which Mr. Davenport probably thought were quite wrong. They used to walk right into the English huts without knocking or asking permission. They often stole fish from the English nets and used boats and canoes without leave. They set traps where the cattle would be caught and injured. They sometimes came into the town on Sunday to trade, and hung around the houses while the people were at church.
Or course the English could not allow such things to go on very long, and so, when the treaty was drawn up, Mr. Eaton made the Indians agree not to do them any more. Now the only white man living anywhere near Quinnipiac, who could speak the Indian language well, was Thomas Stanton of Hartford. So they sent for him to come and explain the treaty to the Indians. It was the last of November, 1638, before Mr. Stanton arrived. Word was then sent to Momaugin, and he and his Councillors came into the town to hear what the strange looking paper with the English writing on it meant. The signing of this treaty between the English and Indians at Quinnipiac probably took place somewhere on the "market-place." Perhaps Momaugin and his Councillors, wrapped in blankets, with leading men of the colony, sat in a circle around the fire, for the season was late. About them stood the rest of the people curiously watching the Indians and listening to the reading of the treaty. Mr. Stanton, standing in their midst, spoke in a loud, clear voice and explained each word and sentence of the writing to the Quinnipiacs in their own language. Momaugin no doubt showed his approval by frequent grunts, and, when the reading was finished, signed the document by making his "mark" in the form of a bow. Several of his Councillors also made their "marks," and then, underneath these, was the "mark" of the squaw Sachem, Shampishuh, the sister of Momaugin.
Now let us see what the terms of this treaty were, and how they were carried out. In the first place Momaugin declared that he owned all the land in Quinnipiac and alone had the right to sell it. Mr. Eaton did not wish to give others a chance to claim it later. Then the treaty stated that the Indians freely gave up to Mr. Eaton and the other Englishmen, all right to all the land, rivers, ponds and trees, with all the liberties belonging to them, in Quinnipiac, as far as it extended East, West, North and South. In return for all this they asked but for three things: first a place in what is now East Haven where they could live and plant their corn; second, the right to hunt and fish in Quinnipiac; andthird, protection from the Mohawks and their other enemies.
No doubt the English were very glad to get so much land and timber so cheaply, and readily agreed to these conditions. But, remembering how badly these same Indians had acted during the few months they had lived at Quinnipiac, Mr. Eaton and his friends had them agree to the following terms. They must not set traps where cattle might be caught or hurt; or frighten away or steal fish from the English nets. They were not to come into the town on Sunday to trade or hang around the houses while the English were at church. They were not to open the latch of any Englishman's door without permission, or remain in the house when told to leave. They were not to take any boat or canoe belonging to the English without the consent of the owner. Not more than six at a time were to come into the town with bows and arrows or other weapons; nor must they in any way harm an English man, woman or child. They must pay for cattle they killed or injured and return those that strayed away. They must not allow other Indians to come and live with them without the consent of the English; and they promised to tell the English of any wicked plots against them. Finally, they agreed to have all wrong-doers punished by the English.
On their part the English agreed to pay the Indians for any damage done them, and to punish all who wronged them in any way. Then in return for all they received, they gave to Momaugin and his followers these things: one dozen coats, one dozen spoons, one dozen hoes, one dozen hatchets, one dozen "porengers," 4two dozen knives, and four cases of French knives and scissors.
Two weeks later (in December) the English bought some more land from Montowese and his small band of warriors who lived beyond East Rock. The terms of this treaty were nearly the same as those with Momaugin. The Indians were given what is now called Montowese for their home, and had permission to hunt and fish like the Quinnipiacs. They promised to pay damages when their dogs injured the English cattle, and the English agreed to pay them damages when their hogs injured the Indians' corn. Monto-wese and his followers were given one dozen coats, the one for Montowese himself being "made up after ye5 English Manner."
The land which the Indians sold in these two treaties is now covered by the towns of New Haven, East Haven, Branford, North Branford, North Haven, Wallingford, Cheshire, Hamden, Bethany, Woodbridge and Orange. It would seem to us that Mr. Eaton and his friends paid a very small sum for this great tract of land which is now worth so many millions of dollars. But we must remember that it was unimproved land and had to be cleared and made fit for use by the English. And then it was really not worth much to the Indians. They could not use all of it, and a small place grew corn enough to support their few numbers. They could still hunt and fish in the remainder, and that was all they had ever done with it. And then,too, these few knives and hatchets and hoes were greatly valued by the redmen. That was not all they received for it, however. The best part of the bargain, they thought, was the protection the English gave them from the Mohawks.
These agreements with the Indians were faithfully observed by the English settlers at Quinnipiac. They always treated their savage neighbors with justice and kindness, not only because they wanted to keep them friendly, but because it was right. If an Indian was wronged or injured by a whiteman, justice was done. When an Indian guide named Wash was attacked and had his arm broken by an angry sailor, because he asked for his pay, the Court sent the seaman to prison and ordered the doctor to care for the broken arm. At another time a man stole some meat from an Indian named Durance. He had to pay the Indian double the price of the meat, and twenty shillings fine to the town, and then sit in the stocks awhile.
Once the Indians complained that the hogs of the English ate their corn and made their squaws and children cry. They asked the English to help them fence in their land to keep the hogs out. At the same time the Sagamore wanted the town to give him a coat because he was old and poor and couldn't work. So the town gave the poor old Indian warrior a coat and appointed men "fit and able" to help build fences around the Indian cornfields. As a result of these kind acts no Indian tomahawk was ever raised against New Haven nor an Indian war-whoop ever heard in its streets.
How the Laws of Moses Became the Laws of New Haven.
When the founders of New Haven came to Quinnipiac in 1638, they brought no laws with them except the laws of Moses which they found in the Bible. For more than a year they got along without any settled form of government, merely agreeing to do everything according to these laws. During that time, as well as later, Mr. Eaton was looked up to by all as a father and judge. If two persons got into a quarrel, they asked Mr. Eaton to settle it. Then he took down his Bible and read the law on the subject and decided the dispute accordingly. When anyone did something wrong, Mr. Eaton looked in the Bible again to see what the punishment should be; if he was not sure about ithe probably talked with Mr. Davenport and found out what punishment he thought was best.
A whipping post was set up somewhere on the market-place and some "stocks" built with which to punish wrong-doers. Perhaps there was little need for them the first few months because the people were too busy to get into very serious mischief. Still it was a wise plan to have them ready, otherwise some evil-minded persons would be tempted to make trouble.
The agreement they made to go by these old Mosaic laws was written down in their records in the following words:
"In the layinge of the first fowndations of this plantation and jurisdiction, vpon [upon] a full debate wth [with] due & serious consideration it was aggreed, concluded & setled as a fundamentall law, not to bee disputed or questioned hereafter, that the judiciall lawes of God, as they were deliuered [delivered] by Moses, & expownded in other parts of scripture, so farr as they are a fence [defence] to the morrall law, & neither tipicall, [typical] nor cererao-niall, nor had reference to Canaan shalbe accounted of morrall & binding equity and force, and as God shall helpe shalbe a constant direction for all proceedings here, & a gennerall rule in all courts of Justice how to judge betwixt partie and parti, & how to punish offenders, till the same may be branched out into per-ticulers [particulars] hereafter."
Not only did these founders of New Haven" have no laws but those of the Bible when they landed; they had no charter of government even. They knew King Charles would not have given them one if they had asked it. So they had no written constitution of any kind to tell them how they were to be governed. But that did not trouble them much, for they knew they could govern themselves quite well. They waited more than a year before they decided what form of government to establish for their new colony, and there were several good reasons for this.
In the first place it was a very important matter and must not be settled in a hurry. For awhile they were too busy building their new homes to attend to it. Then some of their number were planning to build a separate town nearby, and did not care to say anything about the kind of government New Haven should have. These people did move away very soon and founded the town of Milford.
But there was a still more important reason for this delay. We have already learned that the early settlers of New Haven were strong Puritans who left England because they wished to worship God in a different and more simple way than the English Church allowed. Now, while they all agreed as to the way they ought to worship, they did not all agree as to the way they should be governed.
Mr. Davenport came to New England with the ambition to found a state "whose design is religion." That is, he thought that, as the main object of a state should be to train men and women to be God-fearing and Christian, so the government of the state ought to be managed by Christians only, and by Christians he meant members of the Church. They alone should have the right to vote and hold office, for they alone were fitted for such duties. Mr. Eaton and most of the others in the company believed in the same way.
There were some among their number, however, who, like the Pilgrims, had separated from the English Church. These Separatists believed that in civil government men should have the right to vote and hold office even if they were not members of the Church. So when these founders of New Haven came to talk over the question of what form of government they should have, they did not all quite agree. Mr. Davenport was, of course, the leader of those who believed that only free planters belonging to the Church should rule. He tried to prove this from the Bible. Reverend Samuel Eaton, brother of Theophilus Eaton, was the leader of the other party, and thought that all the free planters should have the right to vote.
After they had discussed the question for a long time, finally in June, 1639, they all met to decide it. This meeting was held in Mr. Newman's big barn which stood not far from the present building of the New Haven Colony Historical Society on Grove Street. Mr. Davenport did most of the talking at this meeting and told the people what form of government he thought they ought to have. A number of questions were written down and read aloud by Mr. Newman, and then voted upon. Mr. Davenport urged them to think very carefully about each one, and not vote for it unless they were sure they were in favor of it. And to make it doubly sure they voted on each question twice.
They first agreed that the Bible contained a "perfect rule" for the government of the State as well as of the Church. They next voted to go by the laws of the Bible in all their public affairs, just as they had done during the first year. Then they all declared by holding up their hands, that they wished to become members of the Church they were about to form. At last they took up the important question as to who should have the right to vote and hold office. They finally decided that only Church members should have that right, although Mr. Samuel Eaton would not agree to it, and said that all the free planters ought to vote.
Before the meeting was ended "they appointed twelve men, who, in turn, chose seven of their number to organize a Church. So these seven men became the "pillars" of the first church formed at New Haven. Their names were Theophilus Eaton, John Davenport, Robert Newman, Matthew Gilbert, Thomas Fugill, John Punderson and Jeremiah Dixon. The Church was formed in August, 1639, and, soon after, a meetinghouse was built in the centre of the marketplace. The next October the voters met and held their first election. Mr. Eaton was chosen "magistrate for the tearme of one whole yeare" and others were appointed to assist him. Thus Mr. Eaton became the first Governor of the New Haven colony, and was re-elected every year until his death.
On the day after his election the Governor had to try an Indian who was charged with murder. A few days later this Indian was condemned to death and his head was cut off and stuck on the top of a pole in the market-place. From that time on Mr. Eaton was kept busy looking after the affairs of the colony, and punishing wrong-doers. Servants made a great deal of trouble and were continually getting drunk or stealing. One boy stole a pig and a goat from Governor Eaton himself and sold them. Mr. Eaton usually scolded these law breakers and told them what a terrible "sinn" it was to do such things, and then fined them or ordered them whipped and set in the stocks. The law against burglary provided that the culprit be branded on the hand with a letter B. If a person staid away from church on Sunday he was fined, and had to give a pretty good excuse to escape punishment. Men who failed in their duty of keeping watch at night were fined.
And then in those early days, as now, there were people who took things that did not belong to them. In 1643 a woman was arrested for stealing. She confessed that she stole nearly five thousand pins from Mrs. Lamberton together with come "lynning" [linen] and a "jugge." She also stole things from Mrs. Gilbert, taking them out of a "tub of water in the colde of winter when the famyly was att prayer." She went to visit a friend, at Connecticut, and stole a napkin from her. She was certainly a bad thief and needed severe punishment. The old record gives the sentence of the court as follows:
"Now forasmuch as itt appeares to have beene her trade she having beene twice whipped att Connec-tecutt, and thatt still she continues a notorious theefe and a lyer, itt was ordered thatt she should be seveerly whipped and restore whatt is found wih [with] her in specie, and make double restitution for the rest."
On the same day another thief was tried by the Court:
"Andrew Low, Junr [Junior] for breaking into Mr. Lings house, where he brake open a cup (board) and took from thence some strong water, and 6d in mony, and ransackt all the house from roome to roome, and left open the dores, for wch [which] fact he being comitted to prison brake forth and so escaped, and still remaines horrible obstinate and rebellious against his parents, and incorrigable vnder [under] all the meanes thatt have beene vsed [used] to reclaime him, wherevpon itt was ordered thatt he should be as seveerly whipped as the rule will beare, and to worke with his father as a prisoner wth [with] a lock vpon his leg, so as he may nott escape."
Therefore Andrew was taken to the market-place and tied to the whipping post. Then forty blows of the whip were struck on his bare back, for that was as many as the Bible rule would allow; and they were very careful to do exactly as the Bible said. Thus Governor Eaton and his Assistants judged criminals and punished them according to the "laws of Moses."
The General Court or Town-meeting was one of the most important branches of the government of the New Haven Colony. This was a meeting of all the free planters to talk over town affairs and pass laws; but only those who were church members could make the laws. At the October meeting they elected the Governor and other officers. The meeting was called by the beating of a drum and any who staid away were fined. Sometimes they were excused because they didn't hear the drum, or were away looking for lost cows, or someone in the family was very sick. One of the first things this town-meeting had to attend to was the question of military protection. There were two enemies whom they always feared, the Indians and the Dutch. Fortunately they never had any trouble from either one, and perhaps the reason was because they were always prepared to defend themselves.
New Haven, for the first few years of its history, was a sort of armed camp. All men between the ages of sixteen and sixty were required to have "a good serviceable gunne, a good sword, bandeleers,7 a rest, all to be allowed by the military officers, one pownd [pound] of good gun powder, fower [four] pownd of bullets, either fitted for his gunne or pis toll bulletts, wth [with] fower faddome [fathom] of match fit for service wth every match locke, & 4 or 5 good flints fitted for every firelock peece [piece], all in good order & ready for any suddayne [sudden] occasion, service or view." The military companies drilled every Saturday and the soldiers had target practice. A mark was set up to "shout [shoot] att for some priz [prize]." An artillery company was also formed.
One of the regular duties of the soldiers was to keep the watch. Seven men kept watch every night and a watch house was built on the market-place for their use. At sundown the drummer beat the drum to call the watchmen together. During the night these officers walked about the town looking out for enemies or fire. Strict laws were made to compel the watchmen to perform their duties faithfully. On Sunday one company went to church armed and sat near the door while a soldier kept watch in the tower on the roof. No one could furnish an Indian with a gun or other weapon without an order from the Governor, for they wished to keep them unarmed.
Laws were also passed to protect the town from fire. The roofs of many of the houses were of thatch or straw, and would easily catch fire. Of course only wood was burned in their fire-places and the chimneys had to be cleaned very often or the soot would catch fire. It was the special duty of Goodman Cooper to sweep chimneys. People could clean their own of course, but they had to do it well or Goodman Cooper would complain of them. Each house was also furnished with a ladder reaching to the roof; and fire-hooks were provided by the town. Then, as another measure of safety, people were not allowed to make bonfires in the town. As a result of all these arrangements New Haven never suffered from serious fires.
The town meeting passed a good many laws about fences, too. The fences which were built at first soon rotted and were easily broken down by cattle. This made a lot of trouble and cows often got into the cornfields; they found that even pigs would swim small streams and get through weak fences. Many people kept goats and let them feed on the market-place; but they found that goats could climb fences and get into gardens and orchards and do much damage. To put a stop to all this trouble they passed laws compelling house owners to repair their fences or build better ones; and no goats were allowed to feed on the market-place without a keeper.
Then this old colonial town-meeting looked after a number of other things. Bridges had to be built and kept in repair; and where they could not build bridges they had to have ferries. Boats and canoes, which were hastily made when they came to Quinnipiac, became leaky and unfit for use after awhile. After they had had a number of accidents from the use of such boats, two men were appointed to examine them and mark the good ones. Then if a person rented an unmarked and leaky boat, he was fined. Some people got into the habit of borrowing oars and paddles and carts and wheelbarrows without asking the owners' permission; then when they were through using them forgot to return them. So a law was passed to stop that.
The town-meeting made laws about money, also. The most common coins were English shillings and Spanish "peaces of eight." But Indian money, or "wampum," was used as well. This consisted of strings of polished beads made from shells. The white beads were worth twice as much as the black ones, Sometimes people tried to pay their debts with the black wampum because it was not as valuable; and some even put it on the contribution plate in church. It was hard to get rid of this poor wampum, so the town-meeting made a law fixing its value, and Mr. Goodyear was appointed to judge whether wampum was good or not.
Then they had to make laws about weights and measures. Men were appointed to examine all the weights and measures used in the colony. Those which they found to be correct they marked with a seal NH. Ever since then there have been "Sealers of weights and measures." Thus we see what a great variety of matters the old colonial town-meeting had to attend to, and how much there was to do, to get the new government into running order.
EDUCATION in NEW HAVEN
When the Puritan founders of New Haven landed at Quinnipiac in 1638 they intended to make their settlement not only a busy trading center, but a leading college town as well. Mr. Davenport, who was a graduate of Oxford College, England, especially desired this and looked forward with eagerness to the time when a college could be set up at New Haven. He believed that schools and colleges were necessary in a state "whose design is religion," for intelligent and educated men alone could make such a state strong and safe. Mr. Eaton and the other leaders in the new settlement agreed with him; and, that they might set up a school as soon as possible, they took a school teacher with them to Quinnipiac.
The name of this school teacher was Ezekiel Cheever. He came from London and was only twenty-three years old. As soon as his house was built and he had a place to keep a school he began to teach. The old town record states what agreement was made with him and what the purpose of the school was to be:
"For the better training up of youth in this town, that through God's blessing they may be fitted for public service hereafter, either in church or commonweal, it is ordered that a free school be set up, and the magistrates with the teaching elders are entreated to consider what rules and orders are meet to be observed, and what allowance may be convenient for the schoolmaster's care and pains, which shall be paid out of the town's stock. According to which order 20 pounds a year was paid to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, the present schoolmaster, for two or three years at first; but that not proving a competent maintenance, in August, 1644, it was enlarged to 30 pounds a year and so con-tinueth." By a free school they meant a school to which all were free to send their children, but they were to pay something for it.
Only boys were sent to school in those days for they alone were to become citizens and officers in church or state. They were taught Latin and English, principally, for children learned to read and write at home or from private teachers. Little arithmetic and no geography or history were taught. It was expected that children would learn such things from experience and by listening to the stories pf strangers, travellers or sailors. The old record of 1644 says that "Mr. Pearc desired the plantation to take notice thatt if any will send their children to him, he will instruckt them in writing or arethmatick."
Mr. Cheever was an excellent teacher for those days. When his scholars did not study as hard as he wished, he was very apt to use a rod on their backs. It is said that he wore a long white beard and when he stroked it clear to the end, it was a sign for naughty boys to look out. Although they sometimes forgot the Latin they always remembered the rod. Mr. Cheever wrote a book for the study of Latin which was used as a school book in New England for a great many years. He taught in New Haven for more than ten years and then moved to Boston. He lived to be ninety-four years old and was a schoolmaster for seventy years.
After Mr. Cheever's departure it became necessary to find another teacher. John Hanford was at length secured. The town voted "that his work should be to perfect male children in the English after they can read in their Testament or Bible, and to learn them to write, and to bring them on to Latin as they are capable, and desire to proceed therein." The town agreed to pay for his room and board, and give him 20 pounds besides. Once a year, in harvest time, he could visit his friends. Mr. Hanford did not stay very long, however. His health was poor and he complained because he had to teach spelling. The school at New Haven went on in this unsatisfactory way for several years. Teachers did not remain very long and few scholars cared to study Latin.
Mr. Davenport did not give up hope that "a small college should be settled in New Haven." Some land was set apart for a college but the years went by and no college was started. The little town was too poor to support one. Although they could not have one of their own, the people of New Haven were willing to give something to the college in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Every person "whose hart was willing" gave a peck of corn which was sent to Boston for the support of poor scholars at Harvard College. This yearly gift was known as the "college corn."
In 1657 there seemed a possibility that Mr. Davenport's hopes would be fulfilled. Mr. Edward Hopkins, who once belonged to the New Haven company, but settled in Hartford and became Governor of the Connecticut colony, died in England. In his will he left fourteen hundred pounds and a "negar" [nigger] for the "breading up of hopeful youths in New England both at Grammar school and college for the public service of the country." Mr. Davenport was named as one of the trustees who were to have charge of this money. Part of the gift was to go to Hadley, Massachusetts, part to Harvard College, and part to New Haven. Before the money could be obtained, however, Hartford secured a share of it. What became of the "negar" isn't known.
In 1660 the Hopkins Grammar School was started in New Haven. Mr. Jeremiah Peck became the first teacher. He taught Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Oratory. His salary consisted of "30 bushels of wheat, i barrel of pork, and 2 barrels of beef, 40 bushels of Indian corn, 30 bushels of pease, i firkin of butter, 100 Ibs. of flax, 30 bushels of oats." School began at six or seven o'clock in the morning and there were only twelve days of vacation during the year. The school was kept in the old school-house on the market-place and continued to be held there until 1815. Seats were provided in the church for the "schollers" and a man was appointed to keep order. This new grammar school which Mr. Davenport hoped to see a college some day, was not very successful at first. There were so few scholars that it hardly paid to keep it open. In 1668 Mr. Davenport told the town that unless they sent more scholars to the school he would have the money given by Mr. Hopkins sent where it would do more good, for the condition of the school was such that the will of Mr. Hopkins was not being carried out. Several then promised to send their sons to study Latin and that satisfied Mr. Davenport. When he left New Haven, later, he gave the money to the care of others for the benefit of the school. From that day to this the Hopkins Grammar School has been oneof the most famous college preparatory schools in the country.
Mr. Davenport did not live to "see a college set up at New Haven." But the good men who followed him did not forget his ambition nor let his efforts toward that cherished object be in vain. Not many years after his death the ministers in and about New Haven began to think seriously of the plan to start a college. The Grammar school students were compelled to go to Harvard if they wished a college education. Many of them did go; but it was thought to be a hardship, because it was so far away from home. Mr. Pierpont, the minister at New Haven, was interested in a college, and had energy enough to take the lead in the matter. In the year 1700 ten ministers were selected to act as trustees of the proposed college. They held a meeting at the home of Reverend Mr. Russell in Branford and there founded what later came to be called Yale College. Each minister gave some books saying, "I give these books for founding a college in Connecticut." About forty books were collected in this way.
The colonial Assembly which met at New Haven in 1701 gave these trustees a charter for the new college. This charter did not call it a college, however. It gave it the name "collegiate school." It was said that it was given "so low a name" that it "might the better stand in wind and weather." That meant that the King might interfere with the enterprise if he learned that a colonial assembly had given a charter to a college. That was a right which belonged to him.
In November, 1701, the trustees met at Saybrook and decided to locate the college there. It was much easier to travel by water than by land in New England in those early days, and Saybrook could be reached irom both Hartford and New Haven in that way Then the first president (or Rector, as he was called in those days) was Reverend Andrew Pierson, the minister at Kil-ingworth (now Clinton), Connecticut, and that was near Saybrook. Jacob Hemingway of New Haven was the first student and he was taught by Mr. Pierson at Killingworth. Soon other students attended the college and tutors were appointed to assist in teaching. The commencements were held at Saybrook each year.
In 1707 Mr. Pierson died and Reverend Samuel Andrew of Milford became Rector. The senior class went to Milford to study under his direction while the rest of the students remained at Saybrook in charge of the tutors. The little college struggled along in that way for several years. Not many students entered and few were graduated, for England and France were at war and the New England colonies were sending men and spending money to defend themselves from the Canadians. Besides, the students did not like to stay in Saybrook very well, as there were few people in the town and their life was very dull. Then, too, they complained of the tutors because they were poor teachers. These complaints became so numerous that the trustees finally voted to allow the students to study in other places. So in 1716 some went to Guilford and others to Wethersfield.
Of course the college could not go on very long, split up in that way, and its friends saw that it must have a suitable home somewhere if it was to succeed. Several towns wanted it, but New Haven and Hartford were especially anxious to secure it. Just as soon as some of the students went to Wethersfield, the people of Hartford asked the Colonial Assembly to move the college to their town. They declared Hartford was the best place for it, because it was nearer the center of the colony and most of the students were already near there. Unfortunately for Hartford most of the trustees of the college lived near New Haven and were determined to locate the school there. In 1716 they voted to do this, and ordered the students to meet at New Haven the next year. The Wethersfield students refused to go and much excitement and bad feeling resulted. Meantime the trustees began the erection of a college building at New Haven and held the first commencement there in 1717.
Hartford would not accept the decision of the trustees and again appealed to the Assembly. The lower house of the Assembly then voted to remove the college to Middle-town, but the Senate, under the lead of Governor Saltonstall, would not agree to it. After a long debate the Assembly decided that the trustees had the right to locate the college where they pleased and that settled, the question. To comfort Hartford the Assembly voted to build a State House there.
The reasons which the trustees gave for choosing New Haven as the home of the college were these: The air and soil were agreeable; it would be cheaper for the students to live there; and more money was given to the college by the people of New Haven. The town gave eight acres of land and various persons gave forty acres more. These reasons did not satisfy either the students at Wethersfield or the people of Saybrook. When an attempt was made to remove the library from the latter town there was trouble. The Sheriff was finally sent with some officers and the books removed to New Haven by force. The wheels of the carts on which they were loaded were taken off, bridges were broken down on the road, and many of the books were torn or lost.
The students at Wethersfield who refused to go to New Haven, set up a rival college and held a commencement of their own. Reverend Elisha Williams, who sought to have the college located at Hartford, gave the degrees. When the Assembly ordered these students to go to New Haven, however, they unwillingly obeyed. They made a great deal of trouble for the college and were called a "very vicious and turbulent set of fellows." In 1726 the bad feeling was put at an end by the election of Mr. Williams as Rector. He was a very popular man and the college prospered under his direction.
For more than fifteen years this college which had wandered about from pillar to post and at times had seemed more dead than alive, had no other name than that of "collegiate school" given by the charter. It was now old enough to have a better name and obtained one. This is how it happened: Mr. Jeremiah Dummer, who was the agent of the Connecticut colony in England, was much interested in the college and told his friends about it, asking them to give books for the library. More than eight hundred volumes were collected in this way. Among those who became interested through Mr. Bummer's efforts, was Elihu Yale, the son of David Yale who had landed at Quinnipiac with Theophilus Eaton in 1638. Soon after the settlement of the town Mr. Yale moved to Boston where probably Elihu was born. Later the family went back to England. When he became a young man Elihu was sent to the East Indies where in time he became the Governor of Madras. When he returned to England he was a very rich man. In his boyhood he had often heard his father tell the story of the voyage to New England and the landing at Quinnipiac and now he thought it would be a very nice thing for him to make the college there a present. So in 1717 he sent some books, a fine picture of the King of England and a quantity of East India goods which were to be sold in Boston and the money given to the college. The sum received for these goods amounted to more than five hundred and sixty pounds and was a very welcome gift, for it enabled the trustees to finish the college building. This building was three stories high and painted blue. At the Commencement of 1718 it was dedicated. There was great rejoicing, and, in honor of Mr. Yale, it was named Yale College. Far greater sums have often been given to the college since then but none has been more timely or welcome than the gift of Elihu Yale. It gave new life and hope to all who had labored so patiently for its success, and started it on that career which has made the name of Yale honored around the world. Thus was fulfilled the earnest wish of John Davenport that a college might be set up at New Haven."