THE CHARTER OF HAMPTON -- Part I
On the same day with the passage of the above Act, another Act was passed, providing that all grants of lands made by citizens, selectmen or committees of towns, should be held good and valid to the grantees.[Provincial Papers III:228.]
Again, December 3, of the same year,[Provincial Papers II:360] the Council appointed, to run the town lines in the province, a committee of three from each of the four original towns, those of Hampton being Nath'l Weare, Esq., Capt. Henry Dow, Ephraim Marston. They made return, May 29, 1702:
"And we measured from Hampton Casway according to order five miles along shore And piched a stake by the Edg of the meadow ground and Layd stons about sayd stake. And we run the line from Hampton Bound tree five mile north of there meeting-house upon a East South East point one quarter southerly and marked the trees to sayd stake by the Beach five mile from Hampton Casway. And we run the line from Sampson's Point according to New Castle Charter and marked the trees to the line between Portsmouth and Hampton to a Bound tree". . . . . which said tree "is the bounds between Portsmouth, Hampton & New Castle. Then we run an East line to the sea or beach to a stake by the side of a Pond between Raggie Neck and Sandy Beach" &c.
"Ordered in Council: that the persons who run the said lines be paid for their care and Deligence out of ye Publick Treasury each person 3s per diem."
And still the border troubles continued. In July, 1702, the petition of several inhabitants of Hampton was sent to the council board, Governor Dudley being present, "relating to their paying Rates to this Governt and the Massachusetts, praying relief therein;" and attested copy of which was ordered sent to Boston, for the governor's consideration on his return. Meanwhile, the constables of Hampton were to be instructed "to make no distress upon said inhabitants," the governor promising to give the same order at Salisbury. That no permanent good resulted, is seen by complaints stretching over many years:
Ephraim Eaton of Salisbury testified "yt on ye 28th day of April, 1720, Mr. Nathan Longfellow, Constable of Hampton, demanded a Province rate" of him, and on his refusal to pay it, carried him a prisoner to Portsmouth.
John Webster stated that, May 10, Longfellow demanded a rate from him, and took his horse, which he redeemed.
Andrew Greeley, Jr., said that, about June 1, Longfellow took his horse, and never gave him any account of what he did with him.
In the midst of these contentions, the border territory on the New Hampshire side was severed from Hampton and incorporated as Hampton Falls; but, the separation being only partial for a long series of years, the old town was not out of the contest; and the interconnections of the several towns then and afterwards existing along the disputed lines were no intimate, it is essential to trace yet further the course of the controversy.
In September, 1731, a committee from each of the provinces met at Newbury, to discuss, and if possible adjust the whole matter; but nothing effectual was done.[Provincial Papers IV:611] Failing, therefore, to make any satisfactory arrangement with the other province, the New Hampshire assembly determined to lay the whole matter before the king, and petition him to end the controversy.[Provincial Papers IV:612] Mr. John Rindge, a merchant of Portsmouth, was appointed as agent, to carry this plan into effect.[Succeeded by John Thomlinson, of London] His petition, presented agreeably to the vote of the assembly, was referred to the Board of Trade, and a copy given to the agent of Massacusetts.[Provincial Papers IV:849] The question was raised, and the opinions of the attorney-general and the solicitor-general requested, from what part of the Merrimac river the line should begin. They reported, "that according to the charter of William and Mary, the dividing line ought to be taken from three miles north of the mouth of the Merrimac River where it runs into the Atlantic Ocean." Having furnished each party with a copy of this opinion, the Lords of Trade reported, June 5, 1734, that the king should appoint commissioners from the neighboring provinces, to mark out the dividing line.[Provincial Papers IV:850] This report being approved, it was decided that the commissioners, twenty in number, should be appointed from the councilors of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Nova Scotia, and that five should be a quorum.[Provincial Papers IV.705, 854] They were to meet at Hampton on the first of August, 1737, and to proceed ex parteif either province failed to present its claims.[Provincial Papers IV.860; V:921-2.] The course of proceeding was fully marked out and the parties notified.
(Part II continued in next section)