The Pre-Bachilor Days of the White Men at Hampton

From the column "Some Account of the History of Earlier Hampton and its Daughter and Neighbor Towns"

by Rev. Roland D. Sawyer,
Hampton Union, August 31, 1950

My researches have given me some knowledge of those days, knowledge of a period not touched by Dow or Belknap or Stackpole or other of the historians.

This knowledge is based upon two surviving traditions, of which those from whom I received them did not record their sources; but records and probability lead me to accept them as authentic.

Rev. Mr. Morey, a Methodist pastor in Hampton, around 1880, got a tradition from some old record (he was much interested in Hampton's early days) that in March of 1635, Richard Dummer and John Spencer of Byfield section in Newbury, came round in their shallop, came ashore at the landing, were much impressed by the location, known by the Indians as Winnicunnet.

Mr. Dummer, who was a member of the General Court, got that body to lay its claim to the section and plan a plantation here.

The act of the Massachusetts General Court is recorded in its record of March 3, 1636.

And the order reads that Mr. Dummer and Mr. Spencer be given power to "To presse men to build there a Bound house." Thus did the General Court establish that Hampton was within its Three mile territory north of the mouth of the Merrimac River.

Now it seems true that Hampton had not been duly observed by any of the explorers who had come to Northern Virginia since 1585 when Elizabeth had given her initial patent to various of her followers to come here and settle.

More than a dozen men had come here as explorers and they had landed in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Maine, the Piscataqua, and southern Cape Ann, Boston harbor, Cape Cod, etc., on the Isles of Shoals, but no mention of the small Hampton River.

Before Dummer and Spencer came, settlements had been made at Plymouth, Cape Ann, Boston and north at Portsmouth and Dover. Thus Dummer and Spencer were the pioneers among the white men to find and note the beauties of the spot.

Now my second tradition. Around 1848-1850 Asa Warren Brown of Kensington was interested in early Hampton History and the life of his ancestor John Brown of Hampton. He studied the records, came here for information, and in 1851 published in the EXETER NEWS-LETTER in October, The Brown Genealogy. This he also published in the N.E. Genealogical Register.

In that record he accepted a prevailing view that the wife of John Brown was one Sarah Walker.

Later Mr. Brown found that John Brown's wife was Sarah Dummer, of the Dummer family, and that perhaps John Brown was selected by Dummer and Spencer to help build the Bound House.

Prof. E.S. Sanborn in his 1875 HISTORY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, at page 45, briefly treats of the events of 1636-1638, and accepts an old tradition that Nicholas Easton built the Bound House.

This may be so, but records of his son, preserved in Rhode Island, show that Easton did not attempt to settle here till late 1637 or early 1638. But there is evidence to show that John Brown was living here prior to that.

So I think John Brown was Hampton's first white settler, that he lived here in the Bound House, down some 200 yards beyond the Perkins house as we go down to the site of the old Tide Mill.

I hope those interested in the origin of Hampton will cut and paste this in their Hampton History.