Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Conduct of Town Meetings

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At a town meeting about mid-summer, some measures of considerable importance were introduced and to some extent discussed, but final action postponed to another meeting. At the close, John Crosse was chosen moderator to preside at the next meeting. Three weeks afterward, July 28, that meeting was holden and measures were adopted, by which future town meetings were to be regulated.

These measures were substantially as follows:

1. A moderator was to be chosen at the close of each meeting for the next succeeding one.
2. The moderator, if the elders were not present, was to open the meeting with prayer.
3. The clerk or register was to call the freeman and note those who were absent.
4. The moderator was to state some proposition to be considered, or to call upon some other one to do it.
5. When any person addressed the moderator, he was to stand up or put off his hat, and while any one was speaking in an orderly manner, no other person was to speak without leave.
6. No person was to speak oftener than twice or thrice to one business, without leave.
7. After any business had been introduced, no person was to propound any other business, till the former was for the time determined.
8. No person, when a matter was in agitation, was to talk of any other thing within the room in which the meeting was holden.
9. The meeting was to be closed with prayer.

The penalty for violating these regulations is stated as follows: "If any man, whether free or no, doe contrary to any of these pr ticulers, he shall forfeit for eury tyme 6d wch being demanded by ye moderator and satisfaction not made within sixe dayes after, the moderator and constable shall distrayne for it, or see it payed, or ready to be payed, before the next meeting; and the money shall be imployed about mending highwayes, or other necessary town-business."

June 14, 1642. William Howard was appointed by the General Court, "to grant summons attachmts & replevies in Hampton, in the place of Willi: Wakefield." William Howard, John Crosse and James Davis were appointed for the trial of actions under twenty shillings. The authority of Capt. Thomas Wiggin, one of the assistants of the Court of Piscataqua, was extended to this town, the settlements on the Piscataqua having been the year before received under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.

At the same session, the General Court made a regulation concerning the registration of births and deaths, the faithful observance of which would have been of inestimable value to the genealogist of later years. It was conceived in a right spirit, and in its operation was intended to be retrospective as well as prospective. As a regulation for the future, it ordered that the clerks of the writs should take especial care to record all births and deaths of persons in their towns; and to remedy any defect in the past, it provided that the clerks should use their utmost endeavors to find out, in their several towns, who had been born, and who had died since the first founding of those towns, and to make a record of the same.

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