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From The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 7 [July, 1853], pages 276-278.

A FEW FACTS IN THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF MARSHFIELD.*

[Page 276]

   During the first few years of the settlement of the Plymouth Colony it was the policy of our fathers to concentrate all matters of government, whether parochial, municipal, or colonial, in the place where they first settled, and therefore Plymouth was for many years the only incorporated town in the Colony. Consequently, although many of the most important men dwelt at a considerable distance from this settlement, they were all obliged to perform political duties and attend religious services in this town, to their no small hinderance and trouble.

   About the year 1632, the inconvenience of going to Plymouth for everything being very great, a few precincts were formed, which were subsequently incorporated into towns. To prevent as much as possible a removal of the better sort of persons from Plymouth, it was thought advisable to apportion some of the remotely situated land to such special persons as would promise not to remove, but who would cultivate it by servants in their employ, as farms. Allotments were therefore made of land at a place called Green's Harbor, where no grants had ever been made. This constituted the beginning of the town of Marshfield; which, although it contained a very fair proportion of the intelligent members of the colony, was not incorporated until sometime afterwards. It was known to the aborigines as Missaucatucket, and was first called by the Plymouth people Rexame. On the second of March, 1640-1 , Josias Winslow was "sworne to execute the office of Constable there" [Rexame] "untill June come twelue months." The name Marshfield first appears in the Records, on the first of March, 1641-2. It was first represented in the colonial government in the year 1642, by Thomas Bourne and Kenelm Winslow as Deputies, Edward Winslow and William Thomas, inhabitants of the same town, being at the same time Assistants.

   Our excellent fathers watched diligently over the religious interests of new towns, and took special care that a good ministry should he sustained, and that those who had the charge of dispensing the divine word should be particularly provided for in the bestowment of land. In furtherance of this, and for the benefit of the future minister of the territorial district which afterward was incorporated at Marshfield, the following Court Order was passed on the third of March, 1639-40, at a time when there was a controversy between this precinct and the town of Duxbury, concerning their boundary line:—"Whereas there is a controversy betwixt Greens harbour and Duxborrow about the lands betweene the fresh of Greens Harbour riuer and the South Riuer It is ordered and graunted by the Court of freemen to Mr Edward Winslowe & the rest of the Neighbourhood of Greens Harbour a competent prcon of vplands and meddowe betwixt the said Riuers for a farme for a minister and one other competent porcon of land nere vnto the said lot for the minister either for Nehemiah Smyth or some other as the said Inhabitants of Greens harbour shall place in."

   In regard to religious instruction, the people of Marshfield were singularly fortunate in possessing for their early teachers, men of excellence, learning and ability.

   The first pastor of the Church at Marshfield was Rev. Richard Blinman, a Welchman, who came to New England through the influence of

   *Extracted from a private tract printed in 1850, by Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, M. D.
   About 12 miles.—Ed.

 

[Page 277]

Governor Winslow. He was admitted to the freedom of the Massachusetts Colony on the seventh of October, 1641, having been previously propounded at Plymouth on the second of March, 1640-1, and soon after moved to Marshfield, where he remained only a very short time. He afterwards was at Gloucester, New London and New Haven, and finally returned to England, and preached in Bristol, where he died at an advanced age. That he was ever settled over the Church, so as to entitle him to be considered its pastor, is doubtful; but the offices which he performed may, through courtesy and with propriety, give him the title, which he perhaps did not have by a regular settlement according to the Custom and manner of the time, over the Marshfield Church.

   Rev. Edward Bulkeley, the oldest son of Rev. Peter Bulkeley of Concord, was the second pastor of the Church of Marshfield. He was settled about the year 1642, and left, in 1658, for Concord, where he was afterwards settled, as the successor to his father, in 1660. He was admitted to the fellowship of the First Church in Boston on the twenty-second of March, 1634-5, as a "singleman;" and was dismissed from the same Church on the fifteenth of August, 1641, in the following words:—"Our brother Mr Edward Buckley was by Churches silence consented to he dismissed to ye Church at Concord vpon his & their desire." He was admitted to the freedom of the Plymouth Colony on the fifth of June, 1644. He died, in a good old age, on the second of January, 1695-6, at Chelmsford, and was interred at Concord.

   Rev. Samuel Arnold, the third pastor, was settled over the church in 1658. He was admitted to be a freeman of the Colony of New Plymouth on the seventh of June, 1653, having been propounded for freedom on the third of June of the previous year. He was, probably, an early inhabitant of Sandwich, where, in 1643, there was a person of the same name of suitable age to be enrolled among those who were able to perform military duty, he being at that time the only individual in the Colony known to bear that name. Subsequently a Samuel Arnold, undoubtedly the same, was at Yarmouth, where he had a son Samuel born on the ninth day of May, in 1649. He continued with the Marshfield Church until his decease, which occurred on the first of September, 1693. He was succeeded in the ministry by Rev. Edward Tompson in 1696.

   The town of Marshfield numbered among its inhabitants some of the most respectable families and useful individuals in the Colony. Among them, and not mentioned in these pages or only slightly alluded to, were those bearing the names of Winslow, Sprague, Bourne, Waterman, Bradford, Howland, Adams, Snow, Eames, Holmes, Weston, Dingley, Russell, Sherman, Williamson, Barker, Beesbeech, Bisbee, Beare, White, Ford, Truant, Chillingsworth, Carver, and Rouse. These are the names of the principal inhabitants previous to the year 1666. Some of them were in the town only a short time, and finally settled elsewhere; while others remained there for several generations.

   In August, 1643, forty-nine of the inhabitants of Marshfield were enrolled as being able to do military duty, they being between the ages of sixteen and sixty years.

   On the earliest list of freemen, probably taken during, or about, the year 1644, there were only eleven names of persons who belonged to the town of Marshfield. These were, in the orthography of the record, as follow:

Mr Edward Winslow       Kanelme Winslow
Mr. Wm Thomas   Mr Thomas Burne
Josias Winslow   Mr Edw Buckley

 

[Page 278]

Robte Waterman   John Russell
John Dingley   Mr Nathaniell Thomas
Thom Shillingsworth    

   The number of "The names of such as have taken the Oath of Fidelity of the Toune of Marshfield in the yeare 1657," was twenty-seven.

   A list, which appears to be of Freemen, without date, but evidently prepared in 1658, contains twenty six names.

   The Freemen in 1664 were thirty two in number. Among them was William Shurtleff.

   In May, 1670, there were twenty nine Freemen.

   In March, 1683-4, the number amounted to sixty three, and contained many names not mentioned in these pages; such as, Foster, Crooker, Little, Dogget, Branch, Hewet, Sylvester, Walker, King, Macall, Wood, Read, Staniford, Childs, Baker, Sayer, Tayler, Rogers and Stevens.

   NOTE BY THE EDITOR.—In the preceding "Few Facts" on Marshfield, mention is but barely made of THE REV. EDWARD TOMPSON, a distinguished minister of that ancient town; to the time of this gentleman's death there had not been, probably, so eminent a minister in the town. The inscription on his tombstone is given in the Regr., iv. 316; by which it appears he died 10 March, 1705, aged about 40 years. Mr. Farmer gives the date of his death 16 March, 1705, and says he was probably a son of Benjamin Tompson of Braintree, the distinguished scholar, poet, &e. But in this conjecture Mr. Farmer was wrong, as will hereafter be shown.

   Whether Mr. Tompson published anything, is unknown to the writer. He, however, left certain manuscripts which were held in high estimation by the good and learned men of that day, which they published about seven years after his death. A copy of that publication, with an imperfect title page, is in the Editor's library. "[Heaven the best country.] Some of the pious meditations and discourses of that faithful servant of Jesus Christ, MR. EDWARD TOMSON, late pastor of the Church in Marshfield. Who heing dead yet speaketh." Boston, printed 1712.

   To this volume there is a Preface signed by "NEH. HOBERT, ZECH. WHITMAN, PETER THACHER, JOHN NORTON, JOHN DANFORTH, and NATH. EELLS."—They commence their Introduction, "Behold a most lively and lovely map of the heavenly country, by the kind Providence of our Lord Jesus Christ, is here presented, drawn by the hand and heart of a faithful and skilful man of God, while he was on the top of the Mount, in the clear view of, and just entering into that gracious and holy land of Promise." No minister could wish to leave behind him a more excellent character than is testified of Mr. Tompson's, by those who knew him best. "In conversation, being holy, humble, meek, patient, sober, temperate, blameless, diligent, useful, and going about doing of good: so, living desired, and dying lamented. Behold we here, a signal instance, wherein the Lord hath dispensed his rich grace in an hereditary way! For this author's grandfather was renowned in England, Virginia and New England, for a worthy confessor of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a seraphical minister and pastor of the Church of Braintrey, of which church afterwards our author's father was for many years a deacon, of excellent virtue, and exemplary holiness," &c.

   Thus much it was thought advisable to append to the "Few Facts," that the historian of Marshfield might have, possibly, an additional ray of light to direct him in his labors.

 

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