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(Scituate, 1628-1677)

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Excerpts from "Damon Memorial", Page 73-75: SCITUATE FAMILY JOHN DAMON (1628-1677) The name was spelled with an a, Daman. He came with his sister, Hannah, to the Colony of Plymouth probably as early as 1628. Their uncle, William Gilson, was their guardian. This man is referred to as "a man of education and talents," and held offices of trust and responsibility in the Colony. He was an "assistant in the Government" from 1633 to 1638, except 1635. William Gilson associating with himself, Anthony Annable, Thomas Bird and others, settled in Scituate, 1633. They were called "Men of Kent," having come from that county in England. They laid out the village of Scituate, according to Dean, the historian of that town, with great regularity, "allowing to no one more than four acres for a house lot." This was done for "mutual defense." The principal street was called "Kent Street." The first lot was assigned to Edward Foster, and the second to Mr. Gilson. He also owned land in other parts of the township. In 1636 he erected a windmill, supposed to be the first one erected in that plantation, if not in the Colony of Plymouth, or in America. By an Act of the Colonial Government, he was allowed to take "not above one twelfth part of the toul of the grindings of corne." He was also engaged in public works and became a contractor for cutting a passage between Green's Harbor and the Bay. He died young, and from his will, dated 1639, the following legacies are copied: "to my wife Frances," various gifts, and to his "nephew John Damon my lot on the third cliff, after the next crop is taken off," "to niece Hannah Damon, L20 in money." "To my pastor, John Lathrop, L5 in money." As he left no children, after the decease of his wife in 1649, "John and Hannah Damon, were made his sole heirs." JOHN DAMON'S FAMILY In 1649, by the Court of Plymouth, he with his sister were recognized as the lawful heirs of William Gilson. Their mother was his sister. He succeeded to his uncle's residence, in Kent Street. In 1644 he married Katherine, daughter of Henry Merritt, and by this marriage, there were 6 children, viz.: 1. Deborah, b. 1645. 2. John, b. 1649 3. Zachary, b. 1649, d. young. 4. Mary, b. 1651 5. Daniel, b. 1652 6. Zachary 2nd, b. 1654. By a second marriage with Martha Howland, of Plymouth, 1659, there were 6 children, viz.: 7. Experience b. 1662 8. Silence b. 1663 9. Ebenezer b 1665. 10. Ichabod b. 1668 11. Margaret b. 1670 12. Hannah b. 1672 John Damon died 1677 and his widow Martha, was Executrix. She subsequently married Peter Bacon, of Taunton. In the Colonial Records, it appears that John Damon, a son of the original founder of the family, served as soldier in King Philip's War, and received a grant of land for his services in 1676.

Zachary also served as a soldier in the same war, and was promoted to become a Lieutenant. He married Martha Woodward, in 1679 and left a numerous family, and d. in 1730, aged 76 years. Zachary, a son of the above mentioned by that name, m. Mehitable Chittenden, 1711 (snip)... Excerpts from "The Early Planters of Scituate" by Harvey Hunter Pratt, published by The Scituate Historical Society 1929, Pages 337-341. THE DAMONS John Damon, the forefather of all the Damons hereabouts, came to Plymouth with his sister Hannah in the company and under the care of their mother's brother William Gilson, before 1633. Their uncle was a man fairly well-to-do for the times, a good churchman and of very excellent abilities. Not long after Gilson's arrival he was made an Assistant to the Colony Court - Counselors they were called in those days - and in 1634 he is found at Scituate a member of Mr. Lothrop's congregation. His house was next to Edward Foster's, just south of Satuit Brook. He had land on the north side of the Second Cliff and in 1637, erected the first wind-mill in the colony; on the Third Cliff. Beside the nephew and niece Gilson and Goodwife Frances had for a time as an inmate of their household Priscilla, the daughter of Peter Brown of Plymouth, who had left his widow with a large family of children. Both Gilson and his wife were devoted to their young kinspeople. That he might "leave them something after his dayes was ended" the former applied for and received from the Court an allotment of more land than he personally could conveniently cultivate because "although he had no children of his owne, yet that he had two of his sisters children, which he looked upon as his own (Plymouth Colony Records Vol. II Page 143)." When he died in 1649 John and Hannah were awarded all of his possessions save one small legacy to another nephew and another five pounds "to my Pastor Mr. John Lothrop." Young Damon lived in the house on Kent Street which his uncle had left him and tilled the eighty acres which had been awarded to Gilson on his own (Damon's) and his sister's account. He was warm-hearted, generous and ever ready to be of such measure of assistance as he was able, to a friend or neighbor who stood in need. This characteristic brought him collaterally into a pretty romance in which Governor Prence, his daughter Elizabeth and Damon's friend Arthur Howland, Jr., of Duxbury were involved. This was in 1666. At that time this provision concerning courtship was the law of the colony: "Whereas divers persons unfitt for marriage both in regard to their yeoung years as also in regard of their weake estate, some practiseing the enveigleing of men's daughters and maids under guardians (contrary to their parents and guardians liking), and of mayde servants without leave and liking of their masters. It is therefore enacted by the Court that if any shall make any motion of marriage to any man's daughter or maydbe servant not having first obtained leave and consent of the parents or master so to doe, shalbe punished either by fine or corporall punishment or both, at the discretion of the bench and according to the nature of the offense." Young Howland and Mistress Prence were enamored of each other. They were not "unfitt for marriage" within the meaning of this statute, both being of age and the former possessed of fifty acres of land in Duxbury which had been granted him by the colony court.

There was however one grave and insuperable objection. Howland was a Quaker. His father, at first a sympathizer, had been frequently prosecuted before Prence, who was then Governor, for the entertainment of Quakers and assisting in the promulgation of their faith, and had finally embraced it. The Governor was rabid in his opposition to the sect and the marriage of his daughter to one of them was intolerable. The young woman was the third child of his second marriage. Her mother was a sister of William Collier, as prominent and persistent in his persecution of the Quakers as was the Governor himself. Both parents forbade the courtship which in spite of their joint efforts continued. No other means availing, recourse was finally had to a criminal prosecution against Howland under the law which has been above quoted. On March 5, 1666-7 Howland was brought before the Bench on which his accuser sat as the presiding magistrate and charged with: "inveigling Mistris Elizabeth Prence and makeing motion of marriage to her, and prosecuting the same contrary to her parents liking, and without theire consent, and directly contrary to their mind and will." He was sentenced to pay a fine of five pounds, to find sureties for his good behavior: "and in special that he desist from the use of any meanes to obtaine or retaine her affections as aforesaid." (Plymouth Colony Records Vol. III Page 140, 141) Here John Damon came to the assistance of his friend. He became surety for that good behavior which the Court required. he also apparently counseled the action which was taken four months later when Howland "did solemnly and seriously engage before this Court, (Governor Prence still presiding) that hee will wholly desist and never apply himself for the future, as formerly hee hath done, to Mistris Elizabeth Prence, in reference unto marriage." However solemn this agreement may have been, it was not serious on the part of young Howland; nor did Mistress Prence agree that the action either of the Court or her lover was final. The courtship continued and was consummated in a marriage later. The daughter was never forgiven. The bitterness which Prence showed toward General Cudworth for the latter's leniency toward the Quakers was greatly increased in the case of his daughter because of her successful rebellion to his stubborn will. Although he disinherited her, he lived to see her surrounded by a contented brood and the Scituate planter who had become the surety for the good behavior of the parent the Godfather of his children. John Damon's unselfishness and genuine interest in the welfare of others is also shown in his advocacy of the cause of Elder William Hatch who claimed a share in the town's common land. It has been told elsewhere in these pages that the Colony Court had permitted the freemen of Scituate to make division of these lands among the freeholders. In doing this there had been trouble. Two factions had sprung up, and the town had delegated the privilege to a committee. While the magistrates did not approve of this, they sanctioned it for a time and then re-established the bench in the performance of the duty by appointing a committee of its own choice from the townsmen made up however of the leaders of each faction (Plymouth Colony Laws Vol. V Pages 69 and 70). These men were Capt. James Cudworth, Cornet Stetson, Isaac Chittenden and Lieut. Buck, and one side, and John Damon, John Turner, Senior, John Turner, Junior, and John Bryant, Senior, on the other. It is readily seen that they easily deadlocked. This was true upon the application of Elder Hatch for his allotment. In the argument which ensued Damon being deserted by John Bryant, won over Buck and Chittenden from the opposition and reported a layout for Hatch to the Court. It was not the fault of this majority of the committee that the magistrates acted unfavorably upon this report. It served Elder Hatch to no purpose but to make Damon himself the target for retribution at the hands of his opponents on the committee. when his turn came for a layout of fifty acres a majority of his fellows refused his request, weakly alleging "that hee had land on that account before (Plymouth Colony Laws Vol. V Pages 69 and 70). He appealed to the Court which returned this advice - "therefore wee request and think hee ought to be considered, and desire you would soe doe." He was thereupon "accommodated." He was a deputy to the Colony Court, one of the Council of war, a Selectman and performed his full part in those other public services to which he was from time to time assigned. He was twice married, his second wife being Martha Howland, a relative of his friend Arthur. He was the father of twelve children evenly divided as to the sexes. Of those which survived adolescence John and Zachary each did exemplary services in Phillip's War. Another son Experience was the pioneer at Pincin Hill and the daughters Silence, Martha, Hannah and Margaret through marriages with Scituate neighbors have established the Damon strain in the families of Chittenden, Merritt, Stetson, Eells, Woodworth and others.

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