Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: REUNITED TO MASSACHUSETTS, 1690

Back to previous section -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents


The necessity for a more efficient government still continuing, and there being but a faint prospect that any plan which might be devised, would be cordially received in all the towns, a petition was drawn up at Portsmouth, addressed to the governor and council of Massachusetts, "to take this province into their care and protection and government, as formerly."

This petition was signed by nearly four hundred persons in the several towns, of whom about forty belonged to Hampton. It was brought hither for signatures, on Wednesday, the 26th of February, 1690, at which time the soldiers had been ordered to meet, but for other purposes than signing this petition, "so that," as was afterward said, "several children and servants made up the number of names, when their parents and masters knew nothing of the matter." The petition was immediately forwarded to Boston, and readily granted by the governor and council, who gave orders that the towns should meet at a time designated, to choose selectmen, constables, and other town officers, according to former usage and custom. This order was given to Henry Green, Esq., for this town, and was dated March 4, 1690.

The inhabitants of Hampton had always been strongly attached to Massachusetts and had never desired to be separated from it. Gladly would they now have been reannexed, if it could have been done on fair and honorable terms. But the petition to that government, and the manner in which it had been managed, caused great dissatisfaction among them; so that, at the town meeting called, agreeably to the orders to Justice Green, it was proposed, and by some even urged, to have the town determine by vote, whether, or not, to acquiesce in, and comply with the petition and return. A vote on the question was not indeed taken, for one of the magistrates of Massachusetts told the people, that it would be of no avail, or, as it was then expressed, "all would be knocked on the head at one blow."

The grounds of this dissatisfaction may be briefly stated. The four towns in New Hampshire, since the seizure of Andros, and the consequent dissolution of the government, were so far independent of each other, that no one of them felt bound by any act of the others, and the circumstances of the several towns were so different, that, though the petition that had been prepared, might be proper for the people of Portsmouth, yet it was unsuited to those of Hampton; that while there were in this town about two hundred male inhabitants over twenty-one years of age, this petition was signed by less than fifty persons, some of them minors, and that it was not even shown to some of the principal inhabitants, who would have readily assented to a union with Massachusetts on favorable terms; that formerly the people of Hampton had been allowed to choose their own magistrates and public officers, and they could not understand how the assistants or magistrates of Portsmouth could now excercise any authority in Hampton, when the latter town had never authorized them so to do; and lastly, that it was not competent for Massachusetts to exercise any power, or appoint any governors over this people, till authority should be given by the crown, or a request made by the town, or a majority of the legal voters thereof, neither of which had been done. From all these considerations, it was inferred, that "to be subjected to a government in the province and principally at Portsmouth, which had been so much spoken against by many in Hampton, would be very tedious." In a word, to have a government so imposed, it was feared that there would follow "distractions, heart-burnings, disobedience to the suposed commanders, public declarations, remonstrances set forth, that might reach as far as England, and so make way for a person to be deputed by the crown, that might under color of a commission, exercise his own will." So wrote Nathaniel Weare.

Though such opinions and feelings were prevalent here, yet as a matter of prudence, it was thought best to acquiesce in what had been done, so that "all might be healed as quietly and as silently" as possible, and that this people might have peace and unity with those of Massachusetts. The New Hampshire towns were allowed to be represented in the General Court, as they had been during their former connection with that government, though it does not appear that the people of Hampton availed themselves of this privilege.

Back to previous section -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents