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MA I NE.
ARMS OF MAINE.
In 1607, at the time the London Company commenced a permanent colony at Jamestown, in South Virginia, a similar enterprise
was matured by the Plymouth Company, for settling another colony in North Virginia. The leaders were Lord John Popham, chief justice of England, and Sir Fernando Gorges. A hundred emigrants, beside mariners, were engaged in the enterprise, with arms, utensils and provisions necessary, ' until they might receive further supplies. Embarked on board of two ships, they sailed from Plymouth, the last day of May, and falling in with Monhegan Island, on the 11th of August, landed on a
peninsula in Phipsburg, on the "Dirigo.”—I direct.
Kennebec River, called by the natives Sagadahoc. Here they located a settlement which was afterward called the Sagadahoc Colony.
At this place a commodious house and barn were erected, a few cabins built, and a fortification erected, which they named Fort George, from the Christian name of the president of the company, and brother of Lord Popham; but it was eventually called Popham's Fort. , After making all practical preparations for winter, on December 5th the two ships sailed for England, leaving only forty-five colonists situated between a wilderness, traversed by savages, on one hand, and a waste of waters on the other. The winter was extremely severe, and the colonists suffered much from the cold in their poor habitations. Beside this, it appears that by their imprudences they had provoked a quarrel with the Indians.
The ships which arrived in 1608, with supplies for the colony, brought intelligence of the death of Sir John Popham, and of Sir John Gilbert, another prominent patron of the colony. These misfortunes, with the death of the president, Captain George Popham, in whom great confidence was placed, together with the loss of the stores the preceding winter by a fire, so dispirited the company that the colony unanimously resolved to return to England. The patrons of the
colony, offended at this unexpected result, desisted, for several years, from making any further attempts toward a settlement.
As early as 1623, a permanent settlement was commenced at Saco Gorges, fourteen years before, and afterward, had sent hither Richard Vines and others, to collect facts and select some eligible situation for planting a colony. The first winter they passed in the country, was, in all probability, A. D. 1617–18, and at the mouth of the Saco.* The place chosen was at Winter Harbor near the sea shore, an inviting situation; and six years after this, a patent was granted to the settlers, and a form of government established.
The employments of the colonists were chiefly agriculture, and fishing, and trade with the natives. Most of them combined these pursuits, and were styled husbandmen or planters. They took up tracts of one hundred acres, of which they received leases on nominal or small rents. “ Some of these,” says Mr. Tolson in his history of Saco and Biddeford, “are now on record—the estate that had been in possession of Thomas Cole, including a mansion or dwelling, was leased by Mr. Vines to John West, for the term of 1,000 years, for an annual rent of two shillings and one capon, a previous consideration having been paid by West. The lease which is partly in the Latin language, was executed in 1638.” Another deed requires the rent charge of five shillings, two days' work, and one fat goose yearly. In this manner were all the planters rendered tenants to the proprietors, none of them holding their estates in fee simple. Fishing was the most common occupation, as it was both easy and profitable to barter the products of this business, for corn from Virginia, and other stores from England. The trade with the planters of Massachusetts soon became considerable.
In 1630, the Plymouth Council granted a patent called Lygonia. The territory, though indefinitely described, was 40 miles square, and extended from Cape Porpoise to Casco. It was executed by the Earl of Warwick, the president of the council, and by Sir Fernando Gorges, claimant of the country under a former assignment to him and John Mason. To encourage emigration, a very flattering account was given of the country. A small company came over and located themselves on the south side of Sagadahoc, in Casco Bay. This company, after staying about one year, in 1631, removed to Watertown, in Massachusetts.
The next patent granted by the Plymouth Council, was on March 2, 1630, to John Beauchamp, of London, and Thomas Leverett, of Boston, England, and was called the “Muscongus Patent or Grant." Its extent was from the sea board between the Rivers Penobscot and Muscongus, to an unsurveyed line running east and west, so far north as would, without interfering with the Kennebec or any other patent, embrace a territory equal to thirty miles square. About 89 years afterward, the Waidos became extensively interested in the grant;
* Williamson's History of Maine, vol. 1, p. 227.
and from them it took the name of “the Waldo Patent." It contained no powers of government, but was procured expressly for the purpose of an exclusive trade with the natives.
The eighth and last grant of lands by the Plymouth Council, within the present state of Maine, was the “ Pemaquid Patent," granted Feb. 20, 1631, to two merchants of Bristol, Robert Aldsworth and Gyles Elbridge. “It extended from the sea between the Rivers Muscongus and Damariscotta, so far north ward as to embrace 12,000 acres, beside settlers' lots; it also was to include 100 acres for every person who should be transported hither by the proprietors within seven years, who should reside here seven years. It included the Damariscove Islands, and all others within nine leagues from the shore. This grant secured extensive charter privilege to the proprietary grantees and their associates, with the powers of establishing the civil government. They had a right to hunt, fish, fowl, and trade with the natives in any part of New England; and these were their exclusive privileges, within their own patent. The earliest settlements appear to have been made on the western banks of the Pemaquid, in 1623 or 1624. A fort was built here before the date of the patent, but rifled by pirates in 1632. Formal possession was taken in May, 1633, and the plantation had a gradual increase till the first Indian war.
The New Plymouth colonists undismayed by the attack on their trading house at Pemaquid [Penobscot], kept the station and pursued their traffic three years longer, before they were obliged to entirely abandon the place. In the spring of 1634, they established a new trading house at Machias. In 1632, King Charles, of England, resigned to the French Monarch, “all the places occupied by British subjects in New France, Acadia and Canada—especially the command of Port Royal, Fort Quebec and Cape Breton. This act of the English monarch, who performed it without consulting the nation, became one of importance to the northern colonies, especially to Maine.
The French monarch, desirous to advance the settlement of his Acadian colony, made several extensive grants, one of the first was to Razilla, which embraced the river and bay of St. Croix, and the islands in the vicinity, 12 leagues on the sea and 20 leagues into land. The next year, 1634, he made several important grants to La Tour, one of which was 100 miles eastward, upon the coast from the isle of Sables; and as many miles inland. La Tour, upon hearing of the Plymouth establishment at Machias, affected to feel much indignation, and hastened to lay it in ruins. Meeting with resistance, he killed two of the defendants, and after rifling the house of such valuable articles as he could find, he carried his booty and the survivors to Port Royal. Mr. Allerton, of New Plymouth, who afterward was sent to recover the prisoners and goods, inquired of La Tour if he had authority for his proceedings. La Tour replied, “My authority is from the King of France, who claims the coast from Cape Sable to Cape Cod—my sword is all the commission 1 shall show—take your men and begone.'
Another difficulty occurred at Kennebec, from a question of exclusive trade. New Plymouth, in the exercise of that right had, upon the river, two trading stations, at Fort Popham and at Cushnoc, and two resident magistrates, who were vested with power to try every case not capital. In May 1634, one Hoskins coming hither in a vessel of Lords Say and Brooke from Piscataqua, was expressly forbid to trade with the natives, and ordered to depart. John Alden, one of the magistrates, finding him inexorable, sent three men to cut his cables. They parted one:—“ Touch the other,” said he, swearing with an oath, and seizing a gun,“ and death is your portion." They cutand he shot one of them dead, receiving himself, at the same moment, a fatal wound. The blood of these two men abated the quarrel in this quarter. This lamentable occurrence caused much excitement, the royalists and malcontents exclaiming loudly—“When men cut throats for beaver, it is high time to have a general government.” Mr. Alden was arrested and brought to trial, but the case was finally adjudged to be one of “excusable homicide."
In 1635, the Plymouth Council surrendered their charter to the king, who appointed eleven of his privy counselors, lords commissioners of all his American plantations, and committed to them the general superintendence and direction of colonial affairs. By the application of this body, Sir Fernando Gorges received a commission of governor-general over the whole of New England. By his first patent, and by the assignment of the Plymouth Council, he obtained an absolute property," in the territory between Piscataqua and Sagadahoc, or the two divisions in conjunction called New Somersetshire. In order to organize and establish an administration of justice, he sent over his nephew, William Gorges, in the capacity of governor, who proved to be a man equal to the trust. He commenced his administration in Saco, at the dwelling house of Mr. Bonython, on the east side of the river near the shore.
He opened a court, March 28, 1636: present, Richard Bonython, Thomas Commock, Henry Joscelyn, Thomas Purchas, Edward Godfrey, and Thomas Lewis, commissioners, who arraigned, tried, and punished, or fined for divers offenses: and if Gorges was exercising a power as extensive as his jurisdiction, every wrong doer between Piscataqua and Sagadahoc, was amenable to this tribunal: it being the first organized government established within the present state of Maine. At this period, the number of inhabitants in the territory was estimated at about 1,400. The continuance of William Gorges adminis tration was, probably, less than two years, for in July, 1637, the authorities of Massachusetts were presented with the transcript of a commission from Sir Fernando, by which gentlemen therein named were appointed to take into their hands the government of the province, and the superintendence of his private affairs. This extraordinary trust was, however, declined.
In 1639, Sir Fernando Gorges obtained of King Charles I, a provincial charter, possessing uncommon powers and privileges. The
territory is described “as beginning at the mouth of the Piscataqua," and extending “north-westward one hundred and twenty miles from Piscataqua harbor; north-eastward along the sea coast to the Sagadahoc," thence through that river and the Kennebec “north-westward one hundred and twenty miles," and thence overland to the utmost northerly end of the line first mentioned; including the north half of the Isles of Shoals, and the Islands “Capawock and Nautican near Cape Cod;" also "all the islands and inlets within five leagues of the main along the coasts between the said Rivers Piscataqua and Sagadahoc.” By the charter, this territory, and the inhabitants upon it, were incorporated into a body politic, and named THE PROVINCE OR COUNTY OF MAINE. Sir Fernando and his heirs, were lords proprietors of the province, and the Church of England was made the established religion.
After the death of Sir Fernando Gorges in 1647, the settlers in Maine entertained doubts whether the powers of the charter, or at least the administration of government did not expire with the lord proprietor. They accordingly formed themselves into a “social compact” to see that the country was regulated according to their usual laws, and to make such others as were needful, but “not repugnant to the fundamental laws of our native country.” It was also ordained, that a governor and five or six counselors, magistrates, or assistants, should be annually chosen. Finding that their sovereign Charles I, was no more, and that the government of England was in the hands of the commons, they readily took direction from that body.
The government of Maine was administered in an independent form until 1652, when most of the inhabitants agreed to come under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. By the charter given to Roswell and others in 1628, Massachusetts claimed the soil and jurisdiction of Maine-as far as the middle of Casco Bay. Maine then took the name of Yorkshire; and county courts were held in the same manner they were in Massachusetts, and the towns had liberty to send their deputies or representatives to the general court at Boston.
Upon the restoration of Charles II, the heirs of Gorges complained to the crown of the Massachusetts' usurpation; and in 1665, the king's commissioners who visited New England, came to the province of Maine and appointed magistrates and other officers independently of Massachusetts. The magistrates thus created, administered according to such instructions as the king's commissioners had given them until the year 1668, when the Massachusetts general court, sent down commissioners and interrupted such as acted by the authority derived from the king's commissioners. At this time public affairs were in confusion ; some declaring for Gorges and the magistrates appointed by the king's commissioners, and others for Massachusetts. The latter however prevailed, and the courts of pleas, and criminal jurisdiction were held as in other parts of Massachusetts.
About the year 1674, the heirs of Gorges complained again to the king and council of the usurpation of Massachusetts, which province