Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Breeding of Salt Peeter

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In the manufacture of gun-powder for the colony, a supply of salt-peter was needed. The General Court passed an act, September 27, making a provision for procuring such a supply. It reads thus:

"The townesmen [selectmen] in every towne shall take order that evry house, or some two or more houses do ioyne [join] together for the breeding of salt-peeter in some outhouse used for poultry, or the like, and give them direction about the same; and every towne wch shall neglect the execution of this order before the last of the first month next, [March 31, 1643,] shall forfeit 20s ; evry family so appointed, that shall faile therein, shall forfeit for evr y month so failing 12d; and [they are] to let them know that such peeter as shalbee raised by this meanes shalbee to the publique use; but the owners shall have a due price for the same."

William Eastow was appointed "to have the charge of looking to this order" in Hampton.

Hampton was fined 20s for failing to comply with the provisions of this law, though the fine was afterwards remitted on condition that the town should provide "peeter-houses," for the future.

A rate of £800 was ordered to be raised in the colony, payable in November. The proportion for Hampton was £5. By an order of the court, payment might be made in beaver, money or wampum; or in any of the following articles, at the prices specified, viz., wheat and barley at 4s per bushel; rye and pease at 3s 4d, and Indian corn at 2s 6d.

William Palmer was chosen woodreeve, May 4, 1644, in place of William Wakefield who removed from the town about this time. The term, woodreeve, is here used as synonymous with woodward, an officer whose duties have already been mentioned.

At another meeting there were granted to John Wedgwood two acres of meadow "all next the hether side of the Great Pond neere that which was sometimes Will : Wakefield's meadow -- if it be there to be had -- all wayes reserveing ways to the fowling pond." From this reservation - and it is not the only one of the kind - it may be inferred that the practice of fowling, or gunning, for which Hampton is somewhat noted, was commenced at a very early date. There are certain localities in the town, which were favorite resorts for different kinds of fowl, and which continued so for many years, till the frequent visits of the fowler, in the pursuit of game, rendered these haunts entirely unsafe. As to the profit or loss to those who have been in the habit of gunning here at any time during the present century, there is but one opinion among those whose judgment has not been warped by the excitement and fascination of the employment. That it was less unprofitable many years ago, is very probable.

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