City of Derby
New Haven County
Connecticut

History of the Colony of New Haven Connecticut



History of the Colony of New Haven to it's Absorption into Connecticut
by Edward Elias Atwater

Chapter 17



Introduction    Chapt. 1-2    Chapt. 3-5    Chapt. 6-8   
Chapt. 9-10    Chapt. 11-12    Chapt. 13-14    Chapt. 15-16   
Chapt. 17    Chapt. 18-19    Chapt. 20-21    Appendix 1-7

Page 385

CHAPTER XVII.
HISTORY OF THE COLONIAL GOVERNMENT TO THE RESTORATION OF THE STUARTS

WE have seen that the colony of New Haven, when it entered into combination with Connecticut, Plymouth, and Massachusetts, consisted of the plantations at New Haven, Southold, and Stamford, and that Guilford and Milford were shortly afterward received as component parts of the jurisdiction. In the spring of 1644 Totoket, or Branford, "a place fit for a small plantation, betwixt New Haven and Guilford," was sold to Mr. Swain and others of Wethersfield, upon condition that they should join in one jurisdiction with New Haven and the other plantations, upon "the fundamental agreement settled in October, 1643, which they, duly considering, readily accepted "Southampton, on Long Island, having placed itself under the jurisdiction of Connecticut, a minority of the people, with their minister, Mr. Abraham Plerson, preferring the theocratic constitution of New Haven, removed to Branford and united themselves with the company from Wethersfield. From this time to its dissolution the jurisdiction consisted of the six plantations of New Haven, Southold, Stamford,(*) Guilford, Milford, and Branford.

(* Greenwich was regarded as a part of Stamford.)

Page 386

In two important particulars New Haven differed from the other colonies. It was part of its "fundamental law," as we have already seen, that only church-members should be free-burgesses or voters. By "fundamental" was meant unchangeable. In our day it is generally allowed that a people have the right to change the constitution of their government; and most written constitutions recognize their own mutability by indicating the method in which a change may be wrought. But the fundamental law established by the planters of Quinnipiac on "the fourth day of the fourth month, called June, 1639," and afterward assented to by the other plantations constituting the jurisdiction of New Haven, was designed to be unalterable. It was understood to be a compact, or agreement, from which those who had assented to it could not recede. In the words of the colonial constitution, "it was agreed and concluded as a fundamental order not to be disputed or questioned hereafter, that none shall be admitted to be free burgesses in any of the plantations within this jurisdiction for the future, but such planters as are members of some or other of the approved churches in New England."(*)

The second particular in which New Haven differed from the other colonies was in the disuse of juries. In the plantation courts, and'in the courts of the jurisdiction, the judges determined all questions of fact, as well as of law, and of discretionary punishment. It has been thought by some that Gov. Baton's residence

(* In Massachusetts only church-members could be made freemen, till the law was changed by command of King Charles the Second. But the requirement of church-membership was not "a fundamental law.")

Page 387

in the Baltic countries suggested this departure from English law. But if suggested by any thing he had seen in other lands, it was doubtless commended to him and to others who acted with him in establishing a new government, by its conformity to the institutions of Moses.

The records give no evidence that the disuse of juries occasioned any trouble; but Hubbard thus criticises this peculiarity of New Haven: "Those who were employed in laying the foundation of New Haven colony, though famed for much wisdom, experience, and judgment, yet did they not foresee all the inconveniency that might arise from such a frame of government, so differing from the other colonies in the constitution thereof, manifest in their declining that prudent and equal temperament of all interests in their administration of justice, with them managed by the sole authority of the rulers without the concurrence of a jury, the benefit of which had been so long confirmed by the experience of some ages in our own nation; for where the whole determining, as well both matter of fact as matter of law, with the sentence and execution thereof, depends on the sole authority of the judges, what can be more done for the establishing of an arbitrary power?"

Hubbard also testifies as follows concerning the limitation of the right of suffrage: "There had been an appearance of unquietness in the minds of sundry, upon the account of enfranchisement and sundry civil privileges thence flowing, which they thought too shortly tethered up in the foundation of the government." His testimony on this subject is confirmed by that of the records, as will hereafter appear.

Page 388

The colonial government, for ten years after its establishment, experienced no greater trials than the petty injuries and insults from the Dutch already mentioned in the chapters on industrial pursuits and military affairs. But in 1653, England and Holland being at war, the Dutch at Manhattan evinced greater hostility than usual against their English neighbors. It was believed throughout the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven that they had plotted to form a general conspiracy of Indians to massacre the English. Trumbull, who lived a century later, seems to have had entire confidence in the testimony. He says, "Nine sachems, who lived in the vicinity of the Dutch, sent their united testimony to Stamford 'that the Dutch governor had solicited them, by promising them guns, powder, swords, wampum, coats, and waistcoats, to cut off the English.' The messengers who were sent declared 'that they were as the mouth of the nine sagamores, who all spake they would not lie.' One of the nine sachems afterward came to Stamford with other Indians, and testified the same. The plot was confessed by a Wampeag and a Narraganset Indian, and was confirmed by Indian testimonies from all quarters. It was expected that a Dutch fleet would arrive, and that the Dutch and Indians would unite in the destruction of the English plantations. It was rumored that the time for the massacre was fixed upon the day of the public election, when the freemen would be generally from home."

Connecticut and New Haven were naturally much alarmed, and became clamorous for war. The commissioners, after investigation, declared war by a vote of seven to one. Mr. Bradstreet of Massachusetts voted

Page 389

against the declaration, and the General Court of that jurisdiction, being then in session, certified the commissioners that "they did not understand they were called to make a present war against the Dutch." This action of the General Court expressed the general sentiment of its constituency. Less irritated against the Dutch on account of previous injuries, and less exposed to present danger, the people of Massachusetts were less ready to believe that war was imperatively necessary and unquestionably just.

Not content with the communication they had made, the General Court of Massachusetts proceeded to put on record a declaration that the commissioners had no power by the Articles of Agreement to determine the justice of an offensive or vindictive war and to engage the colonies therein. This declaration gave great offence to the other colonies, particularly to Connecticut and New Haven, where the spirit of war was" most rife:-

"At a general court held at New Haven for the jurisdiction the 29th of June, 1653, the governor acquainted the Court with what was done at the commission last at Boston, concerning the war propounded against the Dutch, and particularly with an interpretation of the General Court of the Massachusetts of the Articles of Confederation, wherein they declare that the commissioners have not power to act so far in matters of that nature as to make an offensive war. These writings were read; and the interpretation was much disliked by the Court, knowing that if it stood, the combination of the colonies must be broken, or made useless.

The governor also acquainted the Court with a late conference which himself, Capt. Astwood, and Mr. Leete have had with the magistrates and General Court of Connecticut jurisdiction, and that they have agreed to send the mind of both the General Courts

Page 390

to the Massachusetts concerning that interpretation (that from this colony the Court desired the governor to draw up, which is hereafter entered), and also again to desire aid and assistance from them in this undertaking against the Dutch, according as the commissioners had agreed, that is, five hundred men from all the colonies, with suitable provisions for such a design; but if that be not yielded, that then they would give leave that we use some means whereby volunteers may be procured out of their colony, with shipping, victuals, and ammunition, fit for that service. And the better to further and accomplish it, it is agreed that four persons shall be sent as agents or commissioners from the two general courts; that is, two from Connecticut and two from hence. Wherefore the Court did now choose and appoint Mr. William Leete, one of the magistrates of this jurisdiction, and Mr. Thomas Jordan, one of the deputies for the General Court for Guilford, for this service, who are to have commission and instructions from this Court to authorize and direct them to act and negotiate in this business, and to give the commissioners a call to sit here at New Haven the first or second Thursday in August next, which answer to the Massachusetts declaration, and the commissions and instructions are as followeth:-

"The Anwer of this General Court to the Massachusetts Declaration.

"Upon information of a question propounded by the honored General Court of the Massachusetts concerning the power of the commissioners to determine the justice of an offensive war and the answer of, the committee thereto, this Court hath considered and compared the Articles of Confederation and the interpretation together, and desire they may, without offence, express their thoughts and apprehensions in the cast.

"The confederation betwixt the colonies was no rash and sudden engagement; it had been several years under consideration. In dnno 1638 there was a meeting at Cambridge about it, but some things being then propounded inconvenient for the lesser colonies, that conference ended without fruit, and the four jurisdictions, though knit together in affections, stood, in reference one to another, loose and free from any express covenant or combina-

Page 391

tion, till, upon a new invitation and propositions from the Massachusetts, another meeting was appointed at Boston, in May, 1643; so that magistrates, deputies, and freemen, especially those of the Massachusetts, had about five years' time to consider what they were about, the compass and consequences of such a consociation, and probably did improve it, and saw cause to renew the treaty so long suspended.

"2. After a large and serious debate of the committee chosen and empowered by the several jurisdictions (the General Court for the Massachusetts, then sitting at Boston, and being acquainted, and from time to time advised with, concerning all and every article treated of), the 19th of May, 1643, a firm agreement was made and concluded, wherein the other jurisdictions, by their deputies, the Massachusetts, both by their deputies, and by the General Court, considering that we were all of one nation and religion, and all of us came into these parts ot America with one and the same end and aim, and could it have been done with conveniency, had communicated in one government and jurisdiction, thought it their bounden duty, without further delay, to enter into such a present consociation as whereby the four jurisdictions might be, and continue, one, according to the tenor and true meaning of the Articles of Agreement; and that thenceforth they all be, and be called by the name of, the United Colonies of New England.

"3. Though all the plantations which already are, or hereafter may be, duly settled within the limits of each of these four colonies, are to be, 'and forever to remain, under the government of the same, and' each colony to have peculiar jurisdiction within itself as an entire body, as expressed in the third and sixth articles, yet till now that was never understood to cross or abate the power of the commissioners in things proper to the confederation. The colonies uniting did, for themselves and their posterities, enter into a perpetual league of friendship and amity, for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor, upon all just occasions, for the joint safety and welfare, as in the second article. The charge of all just wars, whether offensive or defensive, to be borne by the four colonies in their several proportions; and the advantage of all such wars (if God give a blessing) to be accordingly divided, as in the fourth article; and for the managing and

Page 392

concluding all such affairs, by express agreement, eight commissioners are to be chosen (all in church fellowship, and all to bring full power from their several general courts), namely, two by and out of each colony, to hear and examine, weigh and determine, all affairs of war and peace, leagues, aids, charges, and numbers of me for war, division of spoils, or whatever is gotten by conquest, receiving of more confederates or plantations into combination with any of these confederates, and all things of like nature which are the proper concomitants or consequents of such a confederation for amity, offence, or defence; and if these eight commissioners, when they meet, agree not, any six of them agreeing have power to settle and determine the business in question; but if six do not agree, then such propositions, with their reasons, to be sent and referred to the four general courts, as in the sixth article. They were also to endeavor to frame and establish agreements and orders in general cases of a civil nature, wherein the plantations are interested, for preserving peace among themselves, and preventing (as much as may be) all occasions of war or differences with others, as about the speedy passage of justice in each jurisdiction to all the confederates equally as to their own, as more largely appears in the eighth article, so that certainly, and without question, these four colonies have, by a, perpetual covenant, invested the commissioners with power suiting such a confederation, and without it the combination must either break or prove useless.

"4. As questions and scruples may arise and grow about the justice of an offensive war, so conscience may be exercised in a defensive war, and concerning leagues and aids. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, sinned, and was rebuked by two prophets, Jehu and Eliezer, for joining with and helping Ahab and Ahaziah, kings of Israel. If, therefore, the General Court for the Massachusetts do now conceive and interpret that the power; given to the commissioners (men of the same nation, of the same "religion, members of approved churches, who came into these parts for the same ends and spiritual aims, and who had communicated in one and the same government and jurisdiction, had not distance of place hindered) in an offensive war is a contradiction and absurdity in policy, a scandal to religion, a violation of fundamental law, a bondage, and prostituting itself to strangers, and so forth, they may, at their

Page 393

next meeting, upon the same or like grounds conclude against leagues, aids, a defensive war, and other parts of trust and power wherewith the commissioners by the articles are invested, and the three other colonies or the general court for any one of them may do the like; but we fear in so doing we shall draw guilt upon ourselves in violating a perpetual league, so deliberately and firmly made, be covenant-breakers, and provoke God against us.

"5. It may be considered when a just war in ordinary cases may be called offensive or vindictive. When God gave the land of Canaan, their cities, vineyards, and so forth, to the children of Israel, Israel was the staff or sword in God's hand, by his appointment to punish a rebellious people, the measure of whose sins was then full; but ordinarily and in reference to men, lawful wars are to defend, recover, secure, or get satisfaction, in case of just possessions or rights injuriously invaded, seized, or endangered by others, with respect to persons, estates, or honors, when other means will not serve: such a war was David's against the children of Ammon (2 Sam. x.); and such, we conceive, was the late war of England against Scotland, and their present war against the Dutch.

"6. Such leagues and confederations have been made and continued among other people and provinces, some in a subordination, some in a consociation, upon some several articles and covenants, wherein power hath been granted, and yet customs, privileges, and parts of government reserved for the safety of the whole and conveniency of the parts, as may appear in the different agreements and settlements of the Netherland Provinces, and the confederations of the cantons of the Switzers.

"7. We know of no fundamental law of these colonies violated or impaired by the Articles of Confederation, as (till now, we conceive) they have been clearly and fully understood by the whole committee and by the General Court of the Massachusetts, whose heads and hands were in the contriving and framing of them; nor is there any such delegating of others, especially of strangers, as is intimated. The freemen of the colonies generally choose their own respective commissioners, such as in whom they may confide, and accordingly they are invested with power according to the combination covenant, and for these ten years we have found the

Page 394

blessing of God upon our uniting, and his presence and assistance upon the meetings and conclusions of the commissioners.

"8. According to the intent of the colonies and contrivers of the confederation, hath been the practice in all former times. The commissioners have met and treated with power only limited to the articles. The Indians, French, and Dutch, have had recourse to them in all matters of war, leagues, aids, and so forth, from time to time; but this most clearly appears in anno 1645, when the meeting was at Boston, and the General Court for the Massachusetts had some agitations with the commissioners about an offensive war with the Narraganset Indians, if the war now propounded against the Dutch may be called offensive. The General Court would have sent a commission after the soldiers gone from Boston, but not yet out of the jurisdiction, conceiving that if otherwise any blood should be shed, the actors might be called to account for it. It was answered that though it did belong to the authority of the several jurisdictions (after the war and number of men was agreed by the commissioners) to raise the men and provide means to carry it on, yet the proceeding of the commissioners and the commission given was as sufficient as if it had been done by the General Court; for,

First, It was a case of such urgent necessity as could not stay the calling of a court or council.

Secondly, In the Articles of Confederation, power is given to the commissioners to consult, order, and determine, all affairs of war, and the word determine comprehends all acts of authority belonging thereto.

Thirdly, The commissioners are the sole judges of the necessity of the expedition.

Fourthly, The General Court have made their commissioners their sole counsel for these affairs.

Fifthly, Their counsels could not have had their due effect, except they had power to proceed in this case as they have done; which were to make the commissioners' power and the main end of their confederation to be frustrate, and that merely for observing a ceremony.

Sixthly, The commissioners having had the sole power to manage the war for number of men, time, place, and so forth, they Only

Page 395

know their own counsels and determinations, and therefore none can grant commissioners to act according to these but themselves.

Seventhly, To send a new commission after them or any confirmation of that which they have, would cast blame upon the commissioners, and weaken their power, as if they had proceeded unwarrantably.

After much time spent in such agitations, the General Court of the Massachusetts allowed the proceedings of the commissioners for the matter, and further agreed that it did belong to the commissioners only, to appoint one to have command in chief over all the forces sent from the several colonies.

"9. In the uniting of these colonies, it was agreed and covenanted that if any of the confederates shall hereafter break any of these present articles, or' be any other way injurious to any one of the other jurisdictions, such breach of agreement or injury shall be duly considered and ordered by the commissioners for the other jurisdictions, that both peace and this present confederation may be entirely preserved without violation, as in the eleventh article. And it is a rule in law concerning legal acts, that all expressions and sentences, though of a doubtful construction, be understood for the confirming of them as far as rationally may be. Then certainly in confederations and covenants, blood may not be drawn out by forced interpretations contrary to clear words, sentences, the scope and purpose of all the articles, and to the practice of all time since, to nullify and infringe them.

"10. The premises considered, we conceive the interpretation, made by the committee and approved both by the magistrates and deputies of the General Court for the Massachusetts apparently tends to the breaking of the league of confederation betwixt the colonies; and though, by an order of June 3d, 1653, they declare they have no such intention, that satisfies no more than if a man maimed and made forever useless should be told his' life for a time should be spared. This colony conceiveth (and is accordingly affected) that it had been much better for them never to have combined. They are more exposed to enemies and dangers now than before, while that interpretation stands in force at the Massachusetts. The commissioners from thence are like to be sent with a limited commission, and no fruit can be expected from such

Page 396

a meeting; all they can do is to look up to Him to whom all the shields of the earth belong, and, in the second place, to seek advice and help elsewhere."

"The commission and instructions of Mr. William Leete, one of the magistrates for New Haven jurisdiction, and Mr. Thomas Jordan, one of the deputies for the General Court of the same jurisdiction, joined to two agents or commissioners of Connecticut, sent as a committee to treat with the honorable colony of the Massachusetts, as hereunder is more particularly expressed.

"Whereas all the confederated colonies, but especially these two smaller and more westerly jurisdictions, are in imminent danger of an invasion of war, both from the Dutch (if once they be strengthened with forces, either from the Netherlands or elsewhere) and from the Indians hired and engaged by the Dutch (as by much Indian testimony is proved) to cut off the English, not only of Hempstead, Middleborough, &c., within the Dutch limits, who are threatened and exposed to ruin for their faithfulness to the English nation and their countrymen in these parts, but the plantations within the United Colonies; you are to treat with the governor, council, commissioners, and General Court of the Massachusetts, or any of them, as you find or may procure opportunity, that, for the honor of the English nation, the peace and safety of the English in all this part of America, - by war, if no other means will serve, - the Dutch, at and about Manhatoes, who have been and still are likely to prove, injurious and dangerous neighbors, may be removed, and that (according to the commissioners' late agreement at Boston) five hundred men may be speedily raised out of the four colonies in proportion then settled, and, without delay, employed in this public service.

"But if the governor, council, commissioners, General Court, &c., as above, think fit to increase that number (the Dutch being now more strongly fortified), or upon other considerations much importing the welfare of the whole confederation in these times of exercise, these two colonies of Connecticut and New Haven do jointly desire that without offence three magistrates of this jurisdiction may give a call, according to the fifth article in the Confederation, to the commissioners, to meet at New Haven, the fourth

Page 397

or eleventh day of August next, all invested with full power from their several jurisdictions according to the Articles of Confederation, without any other limits than have hitherto been used.

"The General Court have also, as you know, perused and considered the interpretation of the Articles of Confederation, made by a committee at Boston, and approved both by magistrates and deputies of the Massachusetts General Court, and by way of answer, do now return their apprehensions enclosed in a letter to the governor, deputy-governor, and commissioners of that colony, which we herewith deliver to you, and you are to present it to the governor, &c., that if God bless our and your endeavors, the late interpretation may be recalled, and the confederation settled according to the first intendment, and the progress it hath had in the hands of the commissioners hitherto with a blessing. We commend you to Him who can prosper both your travel and occasions, and rest.

"By THE GENERAL COURT FOR NEW HAVEN COLONY, "The 29th June, 1653. "FRANCIS NEWMAN, Secretary"

"Further instructions for Mr. Leete and Mr. Jordan, if they cannot prevail in the former propositions.

"You are to propound and desire from the governor, &c., liberty to strike up a drum, or in some other way to treat for the raising of volunteers to assist these two colonies in an expedition for their safety; and, if leave be granted (for we would give no offence), you may speak with such military officers in whom you may confide, for the better furtherance of the work.

"BY THE GENERAL COURT FOR NEW HAVEN COLONY, "The 29th June, 1653. "FRANCIS NEWMAN, Secretary."

"Further instructions for Mr. William Leete and Mr. Thomas Jordan, if they cannot prevail in the former" propositions.

"1. For the number, they may be two, three, or four hundred men, provided that such agreements and conclusions may be firmly settled in writing, that these two colonies may with con-

Page 398

veniency send such a proportion of men as they may spare, that they may have at least an equal share, both in power to order and command in all affairs, and in the success and advantage of the business in all respects, if God give a blessing; but herein they that by agreement stay with the stuff, or be ordered as a reserve or an auxiliary army to guard the plantations, or to watch against any invasions or assaults of the Indians upon the plantations, to be reckoned as part of our number, and to share equally with the rest; and herein due consideration be had of shipping for the service, what great guns will be necessary, with suitable provision, with victuals, &c.; and you will warily consider the quality and disposition of the men with whom you treat, and their company they are like to bring, that they be such as with whom we may join in the same way, both of church administration and civil government; we would be loath to bring Rhode island or any of that stamp or frame nearer to us.

"2. If ships should come from England, bringing such commissions as may suit the service propounded, while you are in those parts, it is hereby left to your discretion to treat and conclude with them for the public good, according to the tenor of your instructions, though we cannot prescribe all particulars.

"3. In case the governor, &c., should send an answer to all propounded, in a letter sealed, neither treating nor acquainting you with the contents, you may, in time and place convenient, avoiding offence, open the letter, and consider what is written, that you may the better proceed in any thing to be done by you according to directions now given; and if any letters come from England, which you may rationally conceive concern public affairs, you are to send them with all speed, though you hire a messenger. The wise and good God assist you according to the weight of your work. We rest.

"BY THE GENERAl COURT FOR NEW HAVEN COLONY, "June 29, 1653.

"FRANCIS NEWMAN, Secretary"

These documents from the pen of Gov. Eaton perhaps acquaint the reader as well and as briefly as it

Page 399

were possible to do it, with the nature of the controversy which arose between New Haven and Massachusetts. The errand of Leete and Jordan and their associates from Connecticut produced no immediate fruit, the governor and council of Massachusetts claiming that they could do nothing jn the vacation of the General Court, but offering to assemble the court on the thirtieth day of August, a few days before the next meeting of the commissioners.

When the commissioners met in September, a communication was received from the General Court of Massachusetts to the intent that, having considered the letters and papers from the General Courts of Connecticut and New Haven, they thought it unjust to be placed "under a dilemma either to act without satisfaction against their light, or to be accounted covenant- breakers." After further correspondence, both parties retaining as firmly as ever their antagonistic position, the commissioners determined to adjourn sine die, and return without loss of time to their other occasions. This would have been practically a dissolution of the confederation. The General Court, learning that the commissioners were about to disperse, manifested a more conciliatory spirit, voting, "That by the Articles of Confederation, so far as the determinations of the commissioners are just, and according to God, the several colonies are bound before God and man to act accordingly, and that they sin and break covenant if they do not; but otherwise we judge we are not bound, neither before God nor men."

In view of this communication, the commissioners were so far pacified that they proceeded to business,

Page 4OO

"referring all further questions to the addresses the Massachusetts shall please to make to the other General Courts." But the very first matter presented for their consideration renewed the old dispute. It was a complaint that Ninigret had made a hostile raid upon the Indians of Long Island, tributaries and friends of the English, in which two sachems and about thirty other Indians were slain, and divers women taken captive. The commissioners immediately despatched messengers to bring Ninigret's answer to this complaint. Upon return of the messengers, bringing an insolent reply from Ninigret, and reporting that he had allowed his men to insult and threaten them, the commissioners declared war against him, and determined to raise for its prosecution an army of 250 men.

In reply to the requisition on Massachusetts for her contingent of 166 soldiers, the commissioners received the following paper:-

"In answer to a letter of the honored commissioners for raising forces to make a present war against Ninigret; the council for the Massachusetts assembled at Boston, the 24th of September, 1653, taking into their consideration the votes of the commissioners for raising 250 men to make war upon Ninigret, and having perused the grounds and reasons thereunto presented in their papers, do not see sufficient grounds either from any obligation of the English towards the Long Islanders, or from the usage the messengers received from the Indians, or from any other motive presented unto our consideration, or from all of them; and therefore dare not to exercise our authority to levy force within our jurisdiction to undertake a present war against the said Ninigret."

Upon receipt of this communication, the commissioners protested that by this overt act "the Massa-

Page 401

chusetts have actually broken their covenant." Resenting this imputation, the General Court of Massachusetts addressed letters to the General Courts of the other colonies, proposing that "a committee be chosen by each jurisdiction to treat and agree upon such explanation or reconciliation of the Articles of Confederation as shall be consistent with our true meaning, the nature of the confederacy, and the power and authority of every government."

The General Court of New Haven, upon receipt of this communication and the report which their commissioners made of "the debate they had.for ten days with the Massachusetts General Court before they could sit as commissioners, and after with what they did when the commissioners sat," declared that they saw no cause to choose any committee for the purpose mentioned.

"The Articles of Confederation in their judgment want neither alteration nor explanation, and they are fully satisfied in them as they are." "What the commissioners of this colony did the Court approved; but considering what the Massachusetts General Court land council have done, this Court all agreed, and cannot but declare that they have broken their covenant with us in acting directly contrary to the Articles of Confederation; upon which consideration this Court see themselves called to seek for help elsewhere, and can conclude of no better way than to make their addresses to the State of England."

The letter in which the Court communicated to the General Co'urt of Massachusetts the declarations thus recorded, was, in the first place, sent to Hartford, and, being approved by the General Court of Connecticut, was, by their direction, signed by the secretary of that

Page 402

colony, as well as by the secretary of New Haven. The General Court of Plymouth, some months afterward, replied to Massachusetts in a communication of similar import, but doubtless more pungent by reason of the indisputable disinterestedness of that colony. They say:-

"The unexpected and less welcome intelligence that we received upon the return of our commissioners from their last and most uncomfortable meeting hath administered just ground to us to let you understand how sadly we resent, and how deeply we are affected with, that sad breach of the confederation, on your part acted, especially at such a time as this, wherein our enemies may be occasioned not only to insult over us, but also to reproach the name of God and his ways which we profess; which, upon whose account it will be charged, we leave to consideration, and pass on to express our thoughts in answer to yours dated the 13th of September, 1653, which, after due consideration, we conceive (reserving due respects to yourselves dissenting) that the Articles of Confederation are so full and plain that they occasion not any such queries for their full explanation, or meeting of a committee for such a purpose, it seeming unto us to be obvious to any impartial eye, that, by the said articles, the commissioners are the representatives of the several cplonies, and therefore what they act and determine, according to that power given them in such matters as are expressly included in the said articles, may justly be interpreted as the sense, reason, and determination of the several jurisdictions which have substituted them thereunto, and the several colonies may and ought to acquiesce in as if themselves had done it."

When the time for the next meeting of the commissioners was near, the question was raised in the General Court at New Haven, whether commissioners should be chosen. The result of the debate is thus recorded:-

"The Court, having found such ill fruit from the Massachusetts, of the two former meetings, are discouraged to send; yet that they

Page 403

might show themselves followers of peace, and that they earnestly desire to continue their confederation upon the terms it first began, and for sundry years hath been carried on, did agree and choose the governor and Francis Newman commissioners for the year ensuing, and particularly for the next meeting at Hartford, if it hold; and Mr. Leete and Mr. Goodyear are chosen to supply, if the providence of God order it so that one or both of the others should be hindered; but with this direction from the Court, that if the mind of the Massachusetts remain as they have formerly declared, which hath made the other three colonies look upon the confederation as broken by the Massachusetts, they conceive there can be no fruit of their meeting, but only to consider the eleventh article, and require such satisfaction from the delinquent colony as they shall judge meet."

No sooner had the commissioners assembled than they "fell upon a debate of the late differences betwixt the Massachusetts and the other colonies, in reference to the government of the Massachusetts' declaration or interpretation of the articles, bearing date June the 2d, 1653, and their not acting by raising of forces against Ninigret in September last, according to the determination of the commissioners; and, after some agitations and writing about the same, the commissioners for the Massachusetts presented the ensuing writing:-"

"To the intent all former differences and offences may be issued, determined, and forgotten, betwixt the Massachusetts and the rest of the confederate colonies, we do hereby profess it to be our judgment, and do believe it to be the judgment of our General Court that the commissioners, or six of them, have power, according to the articles, to determine the justice of all wars, &c.; that our General Court hath and doth recall that interpretation of the articles which they sent to the commissioners at Boston, dated the 2d of June, 1653, as it appears by that interpretation and concession of our Court presented to the commissioners in September last, and do acknowledge themselves bound to execute the deter-

Page 404

initiations of the commissioners, according to the literal sense and true meaning of the Articles of Confederation, so far as the said determinations are in themselves just, and according to God."

Thus ended the open quarrel between Massachusetts and the other colonies. But when the commissioners, proceeding to make war upon Ninigret, gave the appointment of the commander-in-chief to Massachusetts, Major Willard, their appointee, carried out the policy of his colony almost as closely as if no army had been sent. The commissioners censured him, but he doubtless felt Assured that in his own colony his conduct was approved. News of peace between England and Holland having arrived before Massachusetts retracted her offensive interpretation of the articles, the, subject of hostilities against the Dutch was no more agitated, and gradually the United Colonies settled into tranquillity.

During this quarrel with Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Haven had been vexed with internal dissension. As these colonies had been more clamorous for war than those more remote from the Dutch, so the zeal of those plantations in these colonies which were most exposed to danger exceeded that of others. The people of Stamford and Fairfield were not only ready to engage in the fight with such forces as Connecticut and New Haven might be able to raise, but were enraged because the authorities of their respective colonies were not as rash as themselves. Trumbull says, "The town of Fairfield held a meeting on the subject, and determined to prosecute the war. They appointed Mr. Ludlow commander-in-chief. He was the centre of the evidence against the Dutch; had been one of the

Page 405

commissioners at the several meetings relative to the affair; had been zealous and active for the war; and, conceiving himself and the town in imminent danger unless the Dutch could be removed from the neighborhood, too hastily accepted the appointment." But, as Fairfield belonged to Connecticut, it is not our task to relate what took place at Fairfield, nor what happened in consequence to Mr. Ludlow. Stamford, in the New Haven colony, wrote to the colonial authorities, "stirring up to raise volunteers to go against the Dutch, and that themselves will send forth ten men well furnished for the war." The governor communicated this letter to the General Court, Nov. 22, 1653, and, at the same time a letter from Mr. Ludlow, giving information of the action taken by Fairfield; and an anonymous letter to Robert Bassett of Stamford, "which is to stir up to stand for the State of England, as they pretend, and to stand for their liberties, that they may all have their votes, and shake off the yoke of government they have beeq, under in this jurisdiction." These writings having been read:-

"The Court considered whether they are called at this time to send forth men against the Dutch, and after much debate and consultation had with most of the elders in the jurisdiction, the issue was, which the Court by vote declared, that, considering the hazards and dangers attending such a design, especially now. it being so near winter, and the want of suitable vessels, and the like, they see not themselves called to vote for a present war, but to suspend a full issue till Connecticut jurisdiction be acquainted with it, and give notice what they will do; but if they agree to carry it on now, then this Court agrees to join with them, and to meet again to consider and order, as the case may require."

Page 406

At the same court two magistrates who had been sent to Stamford "to settle a right understanding of things for the better quieting of their spirits who are in a mutinous way," reported that they found the people "for the most part full of discontent with the present government they are under, pleading that they might have their free votes in the choice of civil officers, making objection against their rates, and propounded to have their charges of watching and warding the summer past, with some works about their meeting-house for their defence, borne by the jurisdiction, and that they might have twelve men sent them at the jurisdiction charge to lie there all winter for their defence, with some other things; and after much debate with them to quiet them, which did little prevail. with them, an order from the committee of Parliament in England sent to this colony was read to them, requiring them to submit to the government they are under, which did somewhat allay their spirits for the present, and they desired further fctime to consider of things, and they would in some short time send their mind to the governor in writing."

A similar spirit of discontent prevailed at Southold, which was liable to be attacked by Ninigret, transporting his men across the Sound in canoes. John Youngs, a son of the pastor, was the leader of the disaffected at Southold, and was in communication with Robert Basset, the boldest and most active of the disaffected at Stamford. Youngs, Basset, and three other inhabitants of Stamford, were put under bonds "to attend their oath of fidelity to the jurisdiction, maintain the laws here established, and not disturb the peace of the

Page 407

colony, or of any plantation therein." Each made a separate confession.

"Concerning John Youngs, he did now acknowledge that he hath miscarried many ways, speaking rash and foolish words, and such as have tended to sedition, was unsatisfied that he had not his vote in choosing military officers, and that such he would not follow as he did not choose. He is sorry he hath given such just offence, and hopes he shall take warning, and walk to better satisfaction hereafter." "Robert Basset said, concerning that letter he received without a name subscribed, he did not do as he ought in so weighty a business, not considering of it, nor seeing that in it which he since sees; but something being in it which suited his present affection against the Dutch, and his corrupt opinion concerning the votes, whereby his eyes were then blinded, he is heartily sorry for it, and if God had not stopped him, for aught he knows, it might have wrought great disturbance; and for his disturbing the peace of the colony, and opposing the ways of government, he sees his evil in it in some measure, and hopes he shall see it more, for he is convinced that the way of government here settled is according to God, which he hath not honored as he ought, and had he honored God, he would have helped him to honor the government, which he did not, and is heartily sorry for it. Concerning the uncomfortable words in the town meetings at Stamford which have tended much to disturb the peace of that place, and much grieve the hearts of God's people, which doth now cause sorrow of heart in him, he hopes, that, as he hath been an instrument of dishonor to God in that place, so he desires to be an instrument of his honor there. Concerning the letter which he carried from Stamford, wherein he was employed by the town, at that time he apprehended it for the peace of the place, but be now sees that he did not then see the bottom of it, for it did tend to dishonor the government here, and prefer another government before it; these and other his miscarriages he said he was sorry for, and desires the Court to be merciful to him, hoping he shall be watchful hereafter; and added that he looks upon this as an aggravation of his sin, that all this was against his oath of fidelity, and from the great pride of his spirit."

Page 408

Mr. Youngs soon recovered the confidence of the magistrates and other loyal people. The next year after his submission he appeared in company with Capt. Tappan of Southampton before the commissioners, in behalf of the English on the east end of Long Island, and their Indian allies in the neighborhood, petitioning for aid against Ninigret's hostile invasions. At the suggestion of these gentlemen, seconded by letters from some of the chief men of that neighborhood, the commissioners ordered "a vessel sufficiently manned and armed, as the case may require, to attend Ninigret's motions and, as much as may be, hinder his intrusions upon the Island." Of this vessel Youngs was appointed commander, with instructions to "take in from Saybrook or New London, six, ten, or twelve men, well armed and fitted for the service, as any of the magistrates of Connecticut shall direct; with which force you shall improve your best endeavors to disturb his passage to, and prevent his landing upon, Long Island, by taking, sinking, and destroying so many of his canoes employed in that service as shall come within your power." In later years Youngs became a freeman, and appears on the records as Capt. John Youngs. It is doubtful, however, whether he was ever in his true inwardness reconciled to the fundamental law of New Haven; for, after the arrival of the Connecticut charter, he took the earliest opportunity of transferring to Connecticut. the allegiance of himself and of Southold. After the absorption of New Haven into Connecticut, he "became the most prominent man of the town" of Southold, and was honored with important trusts under the colonial government.

Page 409

The vexed question of war with the Dutch brought to open expression a dissatisfaction in the New Haven colony, which, though latent at other times, was real and wide-spread. Those who were not voters felt that suffrage was too much restricted by the fundamental law. The dissatisfaction was deepest in regard to the choice of military officers. It often happened that there was in the train-band a man plainly more fit to be its commander than any of those who were church-members. But however great a man's military genius might be, he could neither be an officer, nor have any voice in determining who should give the word of command, unless he was a member of some approved church. This was the grievance of John Youngs, in whose plantation there seems to have been a remarkable scarcity of military capacity among the church-members. The records disclose, however, similar cases of dissatisfaction in other plantations. In 1655 the General Court so far yielded to the influence of public opinion as to record:-

"It is agreed, that if in any plantation in this jurisdiction there be none among the freemen fit for a chief military officer, it shall be in the power of the General Court to choose some other man, as they shall judge fit, in whom they may confide."

One instance of manifested dissatisfaction should be specially mentioned in order to exhibit also the protest of the General Court against it. In 1661, at the first court held under the administration of Gov. Leete, John Benham acknowledged that he had circulated an offensive writing, and desired forgiveness.

Page 41O

"The Court was willing to accept his acknowledgment, provided that they heard not further against him. Upon this the Court saw cause to declare as followeth; viz., That whereas we have been occasioned (upon some reports of grievance from sundry non-freemen, that just privileges and liberties are denied them, which they apprehend are allowed them by our first fundamental law) to take the matter into consideration, and upon a serious review of things of this nature, and of our law, we do see cause to declare unto all godly and peaceable inhabitants of this colony that we are grieved to hear of some uncomfortable manner of acting by such unsatisfied persons in a seeming factious, if not seditious manner, which we wish all (who would not be looked upon as disturbers of our peace and troublers of our Israel) to be warned from after appearings in such wise; and we hope they shall have no cause to complain of any injury by our withholding of just rights, privileges, or liberties, from any to whom they belong, so 'as to hurt the promotion of our chief ends and interests, professed and pretended by all at our coming, combining, and settling in New England, as by the Articles of Confederation and otherwise may be made to appear, which must engage us to seek, secure, and advance the same by law, and from which we cannot be persuaded to divert, so as to commit our more weighty civil or military trusts into the hands of either a crafty Ahithophel or a bloody Joab. (as some abusive meddlers do seem to hint unto us, in a paper we met withal), 'though such should seem to be better accomplished with either natural or acquired abilities above those that are as well lawful as intitled freemen; whose earnest desire is that all planters would make it their serious endeavor to come in by the door to enjoy all privileges and bear all burdens equal with themselves, according to our foundation settlements and universally professed ends, and that there may be no disorderly or uncomely attempts to climb up another way, or to discourage the hearts or weaken the hands of such as yet bear the burden of the day in public trusts, which will be afflicting and hurtful to the ends aforesaid."

Although this last manifestation of discontent occurred twelve months later than the end of the period

Page 411

to be covered by this chapter, it seems appropriate to connect it with earlier manifestations, so as to complete what should be said of that "unquietness in the minds of sundry upon the account of enfranchisement, and sundry civil privileges thence flowing, which they thought too shortly tethered up in the foundation of the government."

The restoration of peace with the Dutch brought internal quiet to New Haven; the discontent with restricted suffrage subsiding into its usual latent condition. The reconciliation with Massachusetts, begun in the autumn of 1654, after her commissioners in her name had retracted her offensive interpretation of the Articles, was completed in the spring of 1655, when Gov. Eaton informed the General Court of New Haven "that he hath received from the General Court of the Massachusetts an order, whereby they confirm what their commissioners did last year at Hartford, in recalling their interpretation of the Articles of Confederation, so offensive to the other colonies, which order is by this Court accepted and appointed to be entered next after the conclusions of the commissioners at that meeting."

In 1655 Gov. Eaton presented to the General Court a digest of the laws of the colony, which he had been requested to prepare. The Court approved of what he had done, but desired him " to send for one of the new books of laws in the Massachusetts colony, and to view over a small book of laws newly come from England, which is said to be Mr. Cotton's, and to add to what is already done as he shall think fit, and then the Court will meet again to confirm them, but in the mean time (when they are finished) they desire the elders of the

Page 412

jurisdiction may have the sight of them for their approbation also." A few months later, "the laws which at the Court's desire have been drawn up by the governor, viewed and considered by the elders of the jurisdiction, were now read and seriously weighed by this Court, and by vote concluded and ordered to be sent to England to be printed, with such oaths, forms, and precedents as the governor may think meet to put in; and the governor is desired to write to Mr. Hopkins, and Mr. Newman to his brother, to do the best they can to get five hundred of them printed." Ten months after this order for printing was made:-

"The governor informed the court that there is sent over now in Mr. Garret's ship'five hundred law-books, which Mr. Hopkins hath gotten printed, and six paper books for records for the jurisdiction; with a seal for the colony, which he desires them to accept as a token of his love. The law-books cost, printing and paper, 10.10; the six paper books 2.8. The law-books are now ordered to be divided as followeth: New Haven, 200; Milford, 80; Guilford, 60; Stamford, 70, a part of which for Greenwich; Southold, 50; Branford, 40. For every of which books, each plantation is to pay twelve pence in good country pay (wheat and pease were propounded) to the governor, Mr. Hopkins having ordered him to receive it here upon his own account, and therefore it must be made up in quantity, else he would be a great loser by it."

Greenwich, though nominally purchased and established as a plantation by authority of the colony of New Haven, had always been a wayward daughter. The inhabitants soon revolted, and placed themselves under the government of the New Netherlands; but the Dutch, being remonstrated with, relinquished their claim. In 1665,-

Page 413

"The deputies of Stamford propounded that they have and do still suffer great inconvenience and damage by Greenwich, who pound their cattle off the common, besides their disorderly walking among themselves, admitting of drunkenness among the English and Indians, whereby they are apt to do mischief, both to themselves and others; they receive disorderly children or servants, who fly from their parents' or masters' lawful correction; they marry persons in a disorderly way, besides other miscarriages; and therefore, if the Court see meet, they desire some course may be taken to reduce them to join with Stamford in this jurisdiction, and the rather because they pretend to shelter themselves under the commonwealth of England, who, we are confident, will not approve of such carriages. The Court considered of the several particulars, and remembered how Greenwich at first was by Mr. Robert Feak, the first purchaser of the said lands, freely put under this jurisdiction; though after Capt. Patrick did injuriously put himself and it under the Dutch, yet after, it was by agreement at Hartford with the Dutch governor, 1650, to be resigned to New Haven jurisdiction again, and since we hear that the Dutch do exercise no authority over them; all which, being considered, the Court did agree and order that a letter should be written to them from this court, and sent by the deputies of Stamford, requiring them, according to the justice of the case, to submit themselves to this jurisdiction, which, if they refuse, then the Court must consider of some other way."

After more than a year of resistance, the people of Greenwich signed the following engagement:-

"At Greenwich, the 6th of October, 1656. We, the inhabitants of Greenwich, whose names are underwritten, do from this day forward freely yield ourselves, place, and estate, to the government of New Haven, subjecting ourselves to the order and dispose of that general court, both in respect of relation and government, promising to yield due subjection unto the lawful authority and wholesome laws of the jurisdiction aforesaid, to wit, of New Haven." The Court, receiving this written engagement, ordered that "they are to fall in with Stamford, and be accepted a part

Page 414

thereof, and, from the time of their submission, they are freed from rates for one whole year."

The submission of Greenwich, signed in the next preceding October, was presented to the court May 27, 1657. This was the last general court in which Eaton presided, and only twice afterward did he hold a court of magistrates. He died suddenly in the following January. "Having worshipped God with his family after his usual manner, and upon some occasion with much solemnity charged all the family to carry it well unto their mistress who was npw confined by sickness, he supped, and then took a turn or two abroad for his meditations. After that, he came in to bid his wife good night, before he left her with her watchers; which, when he did, she said, 'Methinks you look sad.' Whereto he replied, 'The differences risen in the church of Hartford make me so.' She then added, 'Let us even go back to our native country again.' To which he answered, 'You may, but I shall die here.' This was the last word that ever she heard him speak; for, now retiring unto his lodging in another chamber, he was overheard about midnight fetching a groan; and unto one sent in presently to inquire how he did, he answered the inquiry with only saying, 'Very ill,' and, without saying any more, he fell asleep in Jesus." "This man," says Hubbard, "had in him great gifts and as many excellencies as are usually found in any one man. He had an excellent princely face and port, commanding respect from all others; he was a good scholar, a traveller, a great reader, of an exceeding steady and even spirit, not easily moved to passion, and

Page 415

standing unshaken in his principles when once fixed upon, of a profound judgment, full of majesty and authority in his judicatures so that it was a vain thing to offer to brave him out."

As Eaton had been elected to the chief magistracy annually from the institution of the colonial government, so Stephen Goodyear had been with equal regularity chosen deputy-governor. Naturally he would have succeeded to the place vacated by the death of Eaton; but his absence on a visit to England obliged the freemen to look elsewhere for a chief magistrate. At the court of election in the following May, Francis Newman, who had for some years been secretary of the jurisdiction, was chosen governor, and William Leete, deputy-governor. Mr. Davenport writes to his friend the younger Winthrop:-

"The last election day was the saddest to me that ever I saw in New Haven, by our want of him whose presence was wont to make it a day of no less contentment than solemnity. Being weary after my sermon, I was absent from the court. The first news that I heard from thence added to my sorrow, for I heard that Mr. Goodyear was wholly left out in the choice of magistrates; whereas I had been secure, thinking they purposed to choose him governor. But the day following, upon inquiry into the cause of it, I received such answer as cleared unto me that, it came to pass, not by any plot of men, but by the overruling providence of God. For the proxies generally voted for Mr. Goodyear to be governor and Mr. Leete deputy, and none of them gave their votes for Mr. Goodyear to be deputy-governor if the former failed, nor to be magistrate, but put in blanks to both, taking it for granted that he would be chosen governor. But before they proceeded to election, some of the deputies of the court propounded and urged, the necessity of great expediency, in respect of our condition at present, of having the governor present among us. Hereunto

Page 416

the freemen generally consented; and hereby the election fell upon Mr. Newman to be governor, and Mr. Leete deputy-governor, for this year. To this latter the proxies for the most part concurred, and most of the present freemen. The votes of the present freemen and some few proxies carried the election for governor to Mr. Newman by plurality of votes, which he strongly refused; but importunity of many in the court at last overcame him to accept it; and some of Mr. Goodyear's friends spake earnestly, when these two were chosen, to hinder his being chosen to magistracy, alleging such reasons as they had." Mr. Goodyear was so generally regarded as second only to Gov. Eaton in all qualifications requisite for the chief magistracy, that, if he had lived to return, he would probably have been called, as soon as an election occurred, to the high position for which his only disqualification in May, 1653, was absence from the colony. His death occurred in London, not long afterward; the melancholy tidings of it having been received before the 2Oth of October, at which date proceedings were commenced for the settlement of his estate.

Mr. Newman and Mr. Leete were re-elected in 1659 and 1660. On the 17th of October of the latter year a court of magistrates was held, at which the following record was made, the governor being absent:-

"By reason of the afflicting hand of God on New Haven by much sickness, the Court could not pitch upon a day for public thanksgiving through the colony for the mercies of the year past, and did therefore leave it to the elders of the church at New Haven, as Gad may be pleased to remove his hand from the governor and others, to give notice to the rest of the plantations what day they judge fit for that duty, that we may give thanks and rejoice before the Lord together."

Page 417

Gov. Newman died Nov. 18, 1660. Mr. Davenport, in a letter to his friend Winthrop, thus communicates the particulars of his decease:-

"We hoped he was in a good way of recovery from his former sickness, and were comforted with his presence in the assembly two Lord's days, and at one meeting of the church on a week day, without sensible inconvenience. And on the morning of the day of public thanksgiving, he found himself encouraged to come to the public assembly. But after the morning sermon he told me that he found himself exceedingly cold from head to toe; yet having dined, he was refreshed, and came to the meeting again in the afternoon, the day continuing very cold. That night he was very ill; yet he did not cqmplain of any relapse into his former disease, but of inward cold, which he and we hoped might be removed by his keeping warm and using other suitable means. I believe he did not think that the time of his departure was so near or that he should die of this distemper, though he was always prepared for his great change. The last day of the week he desired my son to come to him the next morning to write a bill for him to be prayed for, according to his direction. My son went to him after the beating of the first drum; but finding himself not fit to speak much, he prayed him to write for him what he thought fit. When the second drum beat, I was sent for to him. But before I came, though I made haste, his precious immortal soul was departed from its house of clay unto the souls of just men made perfect. We were not worthy of him, a true Nathanael, an Israelite indeed, who served God in Christ in sincerity and truth. He honored God in his personal conversation, and in his administration of chief magistracy in this colony; and God hath given him honor in the hearts of his people.

On the 27th of July, 1660, about four months previous to the death of Gov. Newman, the ship Prudent Mary, commanded by Capt. Pierce, a noted shipmaster in the trade between New England and the mother

Page 4l8

country, arrived at Boston, bringing intelligence that the Stuarts had been restored to the throne in the person of Charles II. In the vessel which brought these tidings came Edward Whalley and William Goffe, both members of the High Court which had condemned to death the father of the reigning monarch.



History of the Colony of New Haven - End of Chapter 17

Introduction    Chapt. 1-2    Chapt. 3-5    Chapt. 6-8   
Chapt. 9-10    Chapt. 11-12    Chapt. 13-14    Chapt. 15-16   
Chapt. 17    Chapt. 18-19    Chapt. 20-21    Appendix 1-7


USGenWeb City of Derby CT Home Page & Search



Search billions of records on Ancestry.com