STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.
LANDS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
INCLUDED IN THE
ISSUED SUBSEQUENT TO 1746 BY THE MASONIAN PROPRIETARY.
ARRANGED AND PRESENTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER AND COMPRISING ALL FROM N TO W INCLUSIVE, WITH PLANS, BIBLIOGRAPHICAL CITATIONS, AND COMPLETE INDEXES.
TOWN CHARTERS, VOLUME V
MASONIAN PAPERS, VOLUME II.
ALBERT STILLMAN BATCHELLOR,
EDITOR OF STATE PAPERS.
EDWARD N. PEARSON, PUBLIC PRINTER.
JOINT RESOLUTION relating to the preservation and publication of portions of the early state and provincial records, and other state papers of New Hampshire.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
That His Excellency the Governor be hereby authorized and empowered, with the advice and consent of the Council, to employ some suitable person — and fix his compensation, to be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated — to collect, arrange, transcribe, and superintend the publication of such portions of the early state and provincial records and other state papers of New Hampshire as the Governor may deem proper; and that eight hundred copies of each volume of the same be printed by the state printer, and distributed as follows: namely, one copy to each city and town in the state, one copy to such of the public libraries in the state as the Governor may designate, fifty copies to the New Hampshire Historical Society, and the remainder placed in the custody of the state librarian, who is hereby authorized to exchange the same for similar publications by other states.
Approved August 4, 1881.
This volume completes the presentation of the text of the original township charters emanating from New Hampshire province authority, from grants by Massachusetts, and from the Masonian proprietary. The New Hampshire grants of townships west of the Connecticut River occupy, with the notes relating to them, a separate volume. The charter series consists of five volumes, viz., 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28. This arrangement brings this class of documents into consecutive volumes and into the most serviceable classification that is practicable. It necessitates the postponement of the presentation and treatment of the Masonian papers of a more general nature to a subsequent volume. The slight change of the logical order, wherein these papers might have preceded the subsidiary Masonian charters, will doubtless be considered of little moment when considered with reference to the desirability of bringing the Masonian township grants into immediate sequence with the province grants of a similar character.
The methods of administration which prevailed in the business of the Masonian proprietary in the period in which they were actively engaged in disposing of the lands which had been conceded to be subject to the Masonian title after more than a hundred years of controversy, are deserving of special consideration. It was suggested in our preface to VoI. 27 that this would receive attention in this connection. The observations which follow, therefore, should be read in reference to the editor's preliminary note to the preceding volume.
The lands included within the Masonian Patent were conveyed to the twelve original associates by deed of Robert Tufton Mason, January 30, 1746. The consideration paid was fifteen hundred pounds, and the purchase was held in fifteen shares. Theodore Atkinson held three, Mark Hunking Wentworth two, and the ten others one share each.
At the first meeting of the members of this proprietary the original purchasers were the only persons in interest, but, previous to the disposal of any of the lands within their purchase, a further distribution or allotment was made, so that no associate owned more than one share, and four of these fifteenth parts were subdivided. Mark Hunking Wentworth sold one of his two shares to John Rindge June 2, 1750; Theodore Atkinson, two of his three to John Tufton Mason,
August 1, 1746; and Mason, one of his two in equal interest to Samuel Solly and Clement March, May 26, 1748; he also sold one half of his remaining share to John Thomlinson, June 9, 1749. On various dates Nathaniel Meserve sold fractional interests in his share. Col. Samuel Moore having died, his share was held by his widow, Mary Moore, and her brother, Daniel Peirce. Although in several instances, the original purchaser died before the dissolution of the association, the shares appear in the records accredited to the several owners as follows:
1. Theodore Atkinson.
2. Mark Hunking Wentworth.
3. Richard Wibird.
4. John Wentworth.
5. George Jaffrey.
6. Nathaniel Meserve and others [Joseph Blanchard, Joseph Green, and Paul March] .
7. Thomas Packer.
8. Thomas Wallingford.
9. Jotham Odiorne.
10. Joshua Peirce.
11. Daniel Peirce and Mary Moore,
12. John Moffatt.
13. John Rindge.
14. John Tufton Mason and John Thomlinson.
15. Samuel Solly and Clement March.
The deed of Mason to the associates conveyed the towns, as well as the ungranted lands, within the patent. The conveyance, says Belknap, “raised a great ferment among the people." As an act of justice, as well as a measure of prudence, and to quiet the people, the associates immediately quitclaimed all the lands and improvements within the organized towns of the province. Having satisfied and placated the residents within the towns, they encountered a serious problem in another direction, and frequent contentions arose in their dealings with the grantees of several towns granted by Massachusetts, and which, on account of their isolation and weakness, were not included in the general deed of quitclaim.
Many of the persons claiming under the Massachusetts charters were admitted among the grantees in the Masonian grant of the same town, or were given equivalent privileges in some other township. A few of the settlers who had made improvements under the Massachusetts title resisted all overtures. Several lawsuits ensued, but these always ended in verdicts for the purchasers from Mason. Several settlers in Rindge, New Ipswich, and other towns of this class certainly suffered serious losses and possibly injustice. As a rule, however, the Masonians were ever ready to hear complaints and to grant redress; and they generally succeeded in allaying the contentions that were incident to the existing conditions.
Nothing in the nature of quit-rents, which were characteristic of the province charters, were reserved in these Masonian grants. A prudential stipulation was incorporated to the effect that none of the lands reserved to the fifteen proprietors' shares should be taxed until improved by the owners or some person holding title under them.
In the administration of the business of the association, their methods and plans were simple, and probably more in harmony with the usages of that time than of the present. If the proprietors had existed a century later they would have formed a corporation. Following the custom of the day they were an association, governed only by the dictates of a common interest. For many years the association did not have a common treasury. In the grant of a township a certain quantity of land was reserved to each shareholder, and the division was made as nearly as practicable in equal shares. In the distribution which accompanied the partition of a township or grant, each grantee and each of the fifteen shares was accorded an original title to one of these sections, all of which were supposed to be equal, generally about three hundred acres. The association paid the common charges in equal shares, and each associate sold the land thus acquired on his own account. The measure of profit or loss of a shareholder in any particular case depended upon the result of the sales made by individual members of the association.
Upon the division of a township, one of the equal shares or lots was reserved for schools, one for the ministry and one for the first settled minister.
Anticipating expenses of a legal nature in maintaining and defending suits at law, the association reserved two additional shares in a majority of the towns and styled them "law lots." These were granted to Matthew Livermore and William Parker, the attorneys of the association by vote of July 25, 1750. Whenever the names of these two appear in the lists of grantees, it is on account of their legal services. They were not, as sometimes inferred, members of the association.
The tract of land known for many years as Society Land, the towns of Alton and Allenstown, several small tracts or gores, and the islands in Winnipesaukee Lake were not granted as townships according to the general rule, but were divided into fifteen equal parts and one part drawn to each share. The subsequent sale of the individual interests thus acquired and the creation of titles in severalty opened the way to settlements. In a few instances before the division of a tract of land with a view to the customary distribution among the proprietors, a lot might be set aside to compensate a surveyor or some other person who had charge against them; and, in general, so far as it was possible, the Masonian proprietors paid the expenses of the association with land.
In a very few cases, in the disposal of small gores that did not admit of easy division and partition, a sale was made. The money received was not suffered to lie in a treasury but was immediately divided. Whenever there was a necessity for
money to be used for the association it was raised by an assessment on the several shares.
The political status of the townships granted under Masonian authority was not necessarily like that which marked the province grants. The grantees under the latter were sometimes vested with political privileges by the terms of the charter, similar to those contemplated by the ordinary act of incorporation. This was not the invariable rule and possibly not the general custom in the granting of townships by the provincial government (see preface to Vol. 24). The Masonian proprietary could not invest the grantees of their towns with political or municipal privileges or powers. For this investure recourse was had to the assembly in the ordinary course of events. Not infrequently, however, the inhabitants assumed the functions of municipal government and procedure, and regarded themselves as invested with the ordinary municipal prerogatives without invoking the aid of legislation. Long exercise of corporate powers by a town without objection has been recognized by our courts as evidence on which an act of incorporation would be presumed. (Bow vs. Allenstown, 34, N. H. Reports, 351.)
In added reference to the tracts afterwards known as Alton and Allenstown, and that formerly designated as Society Land, it may be stated that the demarkation of town boundaries and the adoption of town names were occurrences subsequent to the conversion of the lands to ownership in severalty and actual settlement, and the result of after-consideration by the inhabitants. In these particular incidents, a variation from the custom of the proprietary is observable. It will be found that it was their usual method to designate town boundaries at the outset, and settlement was a subsequent affair.
The substantial character and commanding influence of the persons associated in the Masonian purchase is sustained by the annals of the state. The ties of kinship that held them in close relations are worthy of mention.
Mark Hunking Wentworth and John Wentworth were brothers. They were sons of Lieut. Governor John Wentworth, and brothers of Governor Benning Wentworth. Mark Hunking Wentworth was the father of Governor John Wentworth, and was a member of the governor's council from 1759 to 1775.
Theodore Atkinson married a sister of Mark Hunking and John Wentworth. Jotham Odiorne was an uncle, and Jotham Jr., was a cousin of the wife of Mark Hunking Wentworth. Ann Odiorne, a sister of Jotham, senior, was the mother of John Rindge, and after the death of Mr. Rindge, her husband, became the wife of Nathaniel Meserve.
George Jaffrey was a son of a sister of Mark Hunking and John Wentworth; and Samuel Solly married Jaffrey's sister.
Richard Wibird's sister married a brother of the two Wentworths.
Thomas Packer married a sister of the two Wentworths. His second wife was the mother of John Rindge and a sister of Jotham Odiorne, senior.
John Rindge was the brother of the wife of Mark Hunking Wentworth.
Joshua and Daniel Peirce were brothers. Daniel married Ann Rindge, sister to John Rindge.
Samuel Moore was the colonel of the New Hampshire regiment at Louisburg. He married a sister of Joshua and Daniel Peirce.
Clement March was a relative of the Peirce family.
John Moffatt and Thomas Wallingford, so far as known, were not connected by blood or marriage to each other or to the other proprietors.
The interest in the propriety acquired later by John Tufton Mason and John Thomlinson was the natural sequence of their early connection with the patent.
The Masonian proprietors, closely allied among themselves, were also firmly identified with, and were an important factor of the provincial government of New Hampshire. Mark Hunking Wentworth, Theodore Atkinson, Richard Wibird, Samuel Solly, George Jaffrey, Daniel Peirce, and Jotham Odiorne were members of the council.
The editor acknowledges himself specially indebted to Hon. Ezra S. Stearns, Secretary of State, for the statement of facts which he has incorporated in this chapter. No living student of the Masonian element in New Hampshire history has a more accurate or extensive knowledge of the subject and its literature than Mr. Stearns. His good offices in aid of the work have contributed materially to its value. It is a privilege to renew the expressions of an obligation of which we have not been unmindful in the past.
The continued interest of His Excellency, Charles A. Busiel, and the Honorable Council, and their efficient coöperation will enable the editor at an early date to complete the publication of the series of Masonian papers, and to place a most important part of the archives of our state before the public in a form for general use and special examination.
Mr. Otis G. Hammond continues as our office assistant, and is deserving of commendation for the painstaking industry and special fitness which he brings to the performance of his duties.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
New Boston 52
New Durham 95
New Hampton 120
New Ipswich 112
New London 127
Society Land 256
x TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Unlocated Lands 485