Sketch of Hampton
During the Provincial Period.
By Mrs. Nate M. Kellogg
[A paper read before Molly Stark Chapter,
Daughters of the American Revolution,
February twenty-second, eighteen hundred and ninety-seven.]
Published by the Press of The Nate Kellogg Company, Manchester, N.H., 1897.Sketch courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, NH
The ancient town of Hampton embraced a large territory lying along the coast between Portsmouth on the north, Salisbury on the south, and extending from the Atlantic west to Stratham, Exeter, Amesbury and Haverhill. The first tract of land severed from the town was Kingston, then the Parish of Hampton Falls, which included the town of that name, the town of Kensington and a large part of Seabrook; then a tract now comprising the north-eastern part of the town of Rye. After a brief period, the remaining territory was divided into two parts and the northern half was called North Hampton.
The settlement of this town was in 1638, when Rev. Stephen Bachiler and others petitioned to the General Court to settle here. In the Massachusetts Colony Records appears the following:
"1638, 6 Sept. The Court grants that Mr. Steven Bachiler, Christo. Hussey, Mary Hussey, vidua, Thom. Cromwell, Samuel Skullard, John Osgood, John Crosse, Samm. Greenfield, John Molton, Tho. Moulton, Willi: Estow, Willi: Palmer, Willi: Sergant, Rich'd Swayne, Willi: Sanders, Rob't Tucke, with divers others, shall have liberty to begin a plantation at Winnacunnet, and Mr. Bradstreete, Mr. Winthrop, junior, and Mr. Rawson, or some two of them, are to assist in setting out the place of the towne, and apportioning the severall quantity of land to each man, so as nothing shall bee done there in with out alowance from them, or two of them."
The town was called Winnnacunnet until in 1639, it was changed to Hampton at the solicitation of Rev. Stephen Bachiler
In the first history of New England published, Edward Johnson says:
"Much about this time (1638) began the town of Hampton, in the county of Norfolk, to have the foundation-stone laid, situate near the sea-coast not far from the famous river Merrimac, the great store of salt marsh did intice the people to set down their habitation there, for as yet Cowes and Cattell of their kind were not come to the great downfall in their price, of which they have about 450 head; and for the form of the towne it is like a flower-de-luce, two streets of houses wheeling off from the maine body thereof; the land is fertile, but filled with swamps and some store of rocks; the people are about 60 families, being gathered together in church covenant, they called to office the reverend, grave, and gracious Mr. Doulton, having also for some little space of time the more ancient Mr. Bachiler to preach unto them also."
The town was incorporated May 22, 1639, and the first town meeting of which any record remains was held the 31st day of October, the same year. At that meeting a vote was passed imposing "a fine of 1 shilling on each freeman, who after due notice of any town meeting, should fail to be at the place designated, within half an hour after the time appointed; and it was made the duty of the constable to collect every such fine, for the use of the town, under penalty of forfeiting double the amount."
After the first organization of the town, no persons from abroad were admitted as citizens without permission from the town, whatever might have been their character or reputation, unless they gave security to the town, under penalty of twenty shillings per week. In Provincial Papers, Vol. I., 1623-1686, it is recorded that on December 10, 1639, :Liberty is given to William Fuller of Ipswich to come and sit down here as a planter and smith, in case he bring a certificate of approbation from the Elders."
The church in Hampton is the oldest in the state, it having been organized before the settlement of the town commenced. The first meeting house, was, like the dwellings, built of logs. They were accustomed to meet there for religious worship at the ringing of the bell "on Lord's days and other days," for from the first they had a bell, which was presented to them by their pastor, Rev. Stephen Bachiler.
Mr. Bachiler's ministry was very brief, and far from satisfactory. He was orthodox in his sentiments and correct in his department until he was advanced in years. Then his reputation became tarnished, and at the age of 80 years a charge of misbehavior was preferred against him, and he was removed in 1641.
In 1640 it was voted to build a new meeting house, forty feet long, twenty-two wide, and thirteen high, between joints, with a place for a bell. The church was not completed for nearly ten years. In 1675 another meeting house was built where the other two had stood, and in 1719 the fourth house of worship was built where the other three had stood. The year previous, at the parish meeting, it was voted that the house should be "60 feet in length, 27 feet in studd between joynts, and yet a steeple or turrett be built to said house att one end there-of from ye house and that there shall be but one pewe in said meeting house, and that for ye minister's family. The house inside is to be lathed and plaistered from ye under side of ye beams and downwards to ye cells with convenient windows for every part there of and also 2 teers of galleries."
There was considerable excitement in the colonies caused by the arrival of several Quakers from England, and Hampton did not escape the fanaticism of the day. A law was passed prohibiting masters of vessels from bringing any of the sect within their jurisdiction, under heavy penalties. Should Quaker books be found in a person's house, that person was liable to a fine of five pounds for each book found. Cutting off the ears, and boring the tongue with hot irons were not uncommon as means to torture the Quakers.
As the supposed heresy spread, new tortures were devised, and in December, 1662, Captain Richard Waldron issued the following order:
"To the Constables of Dover, Hampton, Salisbury, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Windham, Linn, Boston, Roxbury, Dedham, and until these vagabond Quakers are out of this jurisdiction:
You and every one of you are required in the King's Majesty's name to take these vagabond Quakers, Anna Colman, Mary Tompkins, and Alice Ambrose, and make them fast to the cart's tail, and drawing the cart through your several towns, to whip them on their naked backs not exceeding ten stripes apiece on each of them in each town, and so convey them from Constable to Constable till they are out of this jurisdiction, as you will answer it at your peril, and this shall be your warrant."
The people of Hampton were unfaltering in their belief in the existence of witchcraft.
Eunice Cole *[Whittier has immortalized the name of Eunice Cole in "The Wreck of Rivermouth," as the witch of Hampton, who caused the drowning of the party in 1657.] was hated for her ugly and malicious disposition and greatly feared on account of her supposed alliance with the devil, who had given her power to inflict whatever punishment or injury she chose upon all who offended her. She was tried and sent to prison, where she was confined for several years. In 1659 her husband prayed to the General Court for her release, but it was not granted, and in 1662 she made a similar prayer. The Court promised her freedom if she would go out of its jurisdiction, not to return. She would not consent to that and consequently was kept in prison. A few years later she was released, and lived in Hampton until October, 1672, at which time she was again arraigned for witchcraft, "appearing under various forms -- as a woman -- a dog -- an eagle -- and a cat to entice a young girl, Ann Smith, to live with her."
She was ordered to Boston jail to await further trial. In a few months the case was finally disposed of with the following decision, signed by Jonas Clarke:
"In ye case of Unis Cole now prisoner att ye Bar not Legally guilty according to Inditement butt just ground for vehement suspissyon of her haveing famillyartty with the devill."
After her death the people dragged her body to a hole, covered it up quickly as possible, then drove a stake through it with a horse-shoe attached to prevent her troubling the people again.
Rachel Fuller also gained quite a reputation as a witch, as the following inquest on the death of a child of John Godfrey will show:
"We, whose names are underwritten, being called by authority to view a dead child of John Godfrey's, being about a year old upon the 13th of July, 1680, which was suspected to be murdered, we find grounds of suspicion that the said child was murdered by witchcraft; first, in part by what we saw by the dead corpse; second, something we perceived by the party suspected, which was then present, and was examined by authority; and third, by what was said by the witness.
The names of the jury of inquest:
This true list was given in upon oath the 13th of July, 1680, before me,
John Fuller owns himself to stand bound in the sum of one hundred pounds unto the Treasurer of the Province of New Hampshire, that Rachel, his wife, shall appear before the authority of this Province in New Hampshire, to answer to what shall be charged against her in point of witchcraft, and that she shall abide the order of the court, and not depart without license, and shall appear whenever she is called.
Owned before me, 14th July, 1680,
Christopher Lux, Samuel Dutton, of the Council.
The deposition of Mary Godfrey, the wife of John Godfrey, and of Sarah Godfrey, her daughter, aged about 16 years.
These deponents saith that about three weeks or a month ago, the same day that Mr. Buff went through the town, these deponents took care to save some of the sick child's urine, to show it to Mr. Buff; and they could not save it, for, though we put a pewter dish under the child, yet all its water ran on the floor; and Sarah Godfrey took some embers out of the fire and threw them upon the child's water; and by and by Rachel Fuller came in and looked very strangely, bending, daubed her face with molasses, as she judged it, so as that she had almost daubed up one of her eyes, and the molasses ready to drop off her face; and she sat down by Goody Godfrey, who had the sick child in her lap, and took the child by the hand; and Goodwife Godfrey, being afraid to see her come in in that manner, put her hand off from the child and wrapt the child's hand in her apron. Then the said Rachel Fuller turned her about, and smote the back of her hands together sundry times, and spat in the fire. Then she, having herbs in her hands, stood and rubbed them in her hand and strewed them about the hearth by the fire. Then she sat her down again, and said, Woman, the child will be well! and then went out of the door. Then she went behind the house; and Mehitable Godfrey told her mother that Goody Fuller was acting strangely. Then the said Mary Godfrey and Sarah, looking out, saw Rachel Fuller standing with her face towards the house, and beat herself with her arms, as men do in winter to heat their hands, and this she did three times; and stooping down and gathering something off the ground in the interim between the beating of herself, and then she went home.
Sworn the 14th of July, 1680, before me.
Owned in Court of Hampton, the 7th Sept., 1680, by the deponent.
The deposition of Elizabeth Denham and Mary Godfrey, who saith that we, being in discourse with Rachel Fuller, she told us how those that were witches did so go abroad a night, they did lay their husbands and children asleep, and she said Rachel Fuller told us of several persons that she reckoned for witches and wizzards in this town, to the number of 7 or 8. She said eight women and two men, some of whom she expressed by name, as Eunice Cole, Benjamin Evans' wife and her daughters, Goodwife Coulter and here daughter Prescott, and Goodwife Towle, and one that is now dead.
Sworn the 14th July, 1680, before me,
Mary Godfrey, the wife of John Godfrey, further saith, that the next day after that Rachel Fuller had been there with her face daubed with molasses, the children told their mother that Rachel Fuller had told them that if they did lay sweet bags under the threshold, it would keep a witch from coming in; and, said one of the girls' mother, I will try, and she laid bags under the threshold of the back door all the way and half way of the breadth of the fore door, and soon after Rachel Fuller came to the house, and she always had formerly come in at the back door, which is next her house, but now she went about to the fore door, and, though the door stood open, yet she crowded in on that side where the bags lay not, and rubbed her back against the post so as that she rubbed off her hat, and then she sat her down and made ugly faces, and nestled about, and would have looked on the child, but I not suffering her, she went out rubbing against the post of the door as she came in, and beat off her hat again, and I never saw her in the house since; and I do further testify that while she was in the house she looked under the door where the bags lay. Mehitable Godfrey, aged about 12 years, affirms to the truth hereof.
Sworn the 14th July, 1680, before me,
The deposition of Nathaniel Smith, aged about twenty years, who saith, That he, going to the house of John Fuller, as he was coming home with his herd, and the said Fuller's wife asked him what news there was in the town, and the said Smith said he knew none, and then she told him that the other night there was a great route at Goodman Roby's; this was at the first time when Doctor Reed was at this town; and the said Rachel Fuller told me that they had pulled Doctor Reed out of the bed, and with an enchanted bridle did intend to lead a jaunt, and he got her by the coat, but could not hold her, and I asked her who it was, and she turned from me, and, as I thought, did laugh.
Sworn the 14th July, 1680, before me.
The deposition of John Godfrey, aged about 48 years, and his wife, aged about 36 years, who saith that Rachel Fuller, coming into our house about 8 or 9 o'clock in the day, and sitting down by my wife, my wife having the child that was ill in her lap. The child being exceedingly ill, and the said Fuller seeing my wife much troubled and grieved, Rachel Fuller said that this would be the worse day with the child, -- to-morrow it will be well. And the said Fuller took the child by the hand, and my wife snatched the hand from her and wrapt it in her apron. Mary Godfrey, the wife of John Godfrey, further saith that, at the same time, I, seeing the said Fuller patting the child's hand, drew the child's hand from her; and then she said Rachel Fuller arose from the place where she did sit, and turned her back to my husband, and did smite the back side of her hands together, and did spit in the fire.
Sworn the 14th July, 1680, before me:
Sworn by the deponent in court at Hampton, 7th Sept., 1680.
The deposition of Elizabeth Denham, who saith that, about three weeks since, I was at John Fuller's house, and there, she and I being speaking about John Godfrey's child that was then ill, Rachel Fuller was then very inquisitive to know of me what I thought ailed the child; and after I told her what I thought, she still continued asking me what I thought was the matter with the child; and she then kept calling her own child Moses, after the name of the sick child.
Sworn the 14th July, 1680, before me,
The deponent, in court held in Hampton, 7th Sept., 1680, appeared and owned the above testimony.