« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
further assigns the same as it shall be inhabited to be liable to all common charges and rates for the town of Preston, alias Wells, and to this, as in the same, or like case required, we the witnesses have hereunto subscribed our names,” etc.
Some other sanctions to this transfer give the same utterances of a very cautious civil policy, or of a still more extensive regard to the claims of life's various relationships. The Sagamore's sister signifies her approbation of the act; and the parties and witnesses also affirm that Ceasar gave his consent. Who Ceasar was, the record does not show. Neither can I ascertain who this John Wadleigh was. He must have been familiar with the natives, and the necessities of an effectual Indian conveyance, to have had all these provisions ingrafted in his deed. His son was with him and witnessed the instrument. He
have had a dwelling-place here, and been an inhabitant for years. He was conusant of a fact, that the town was also called Preston, which is not elsewhere mentioned.
It is possible, that from this deed to Wadleigh, the town acquired, or assumed, the right of making grants. As there was at that time no existing corporation capable of taking a deed, it may have been obtained purposely for the benefit of the plantation. By the terms of the record of possession, the land is assigned to be liable to all charges and rates for the town of Preston, alias Wells. The town assumed, soon after, to dispose of the lands at their pleasure, claiming, in a memorial to King Charles, that they honestly purchased them of the natives. In subsequent years, they were not very particular or cautious as to their mode of action, but obviated all difficulties in a very summary manner. Thus in the year 1716, being assembled together, they voted" that this be a legal meeting to do town business," and afterward, that all the lands within the limits of the town should be the exclusive property of those who were then inhabitants ; and formed themselves into a proprietary, shutting out all who might thereafter come to reside with them. It may have been by some brief procedure of this kind, that they converted to their own use the title of Wadleigh.
Gorges authorized Wheelwright and others to allot and grant to settlers all the lands between Kennebunk and Ozunquit
rivers, extending from the sea, up into the country, eight miles. Here is something definite. But the Ogunquit river is not the boundary of Wells, and never has been, since its incorporation.
As the charters of these ancient towns are not readily accessible to the public, I here insert that of the town of Wells, as granted by commissioners appointed by the General Court of Massachusetts, on the fourth of July, 1653 :
" Whereas the town of Wells have acknowledged themselves subject to the Government of the Massachusetts, in New England, as by their subscriptions may appear, we, the Commonwealth of the General Court of the Massachusetts, for the settling of government amongst them, and the rest, within the bounds of their charter, northerly to the full and just extent of their line, have thought meete and doe actually graunt
That Wells shall be a townshipp of it selfe, and alwayes shall be a pt of Yorkshire, and shall enjoy ptection, aequal acts of favour and justice with the rest of the people inhabitinge on the south side of the river of Piscatag, within the limits of our jurisdiction, and enjoy the privileges of a town; as others of the juris'diction do have and doe enjoy, with all other libties and priviledges to other inhabitants in o' jurisdiction.
2. That every inhabitant shall have and enjoy all their just properties, titles and intrests in the howses and land they doo possess, whether by graunt of the towne, possession, or of the former Generall Courts. 3d. That all the present inhabitants of Wells shall be ffreemen of the county, and having taken the oath of ffreemen, shall have libtie to give their votes for Gova, Assistants, and other general officers of the country.
4. That the said town of Wells shall have three men, approved by the County Court from year to year, to end small causes, as other of the townshipps in the jurisdiction hath, where no magistrate is, according to law; and for this present year, Mr. Henry Boade, Mr. Thomas Wheelwright, and Mr. Ezekiel Knight are appointed and authorized comissio' to end all small causes under forty shillings, according to law; and further, these commission", or any two of them, are, and shall be empouered and invested wh full power and authoritie as a magistrate, to keep the peace, and in all civil cases to graunt atatchment and execu
tions, if neede require. Any of the said Comission“ have power to examine offendo", to committ to prison, unles bayle be given, according to law, and when these or any of these shall judge needful, they shall have power to bind offendo" to the peace or good behavio"; also any of these have power to administer oathes according to law; also marriage shall be solem. nized by any of these according to law."
" It is further ordered and granted that for this present year, Mr. Henry Boade, Mr. Thomas Wheelwright, Mr. Ezekiel Knight, John Wadley and John Gooch shall be the Selectmen to order the prudential affairs of the town of Wells.
Lastly, it is graunted that the inhabitants of Wells shall be, from time to time, exempted from all public rates, and that they shall always bear their own charges of the Courts, etc., arising from amongst themselves."
Mr. Joseph Bolls was appointed Clerk of the Writs. The General Court appointed, in 1658, Nicholas Shapley, Brian Pendleton, and Nicholas Frost, to "pitch and lay out the dividing line between York and Wells ;” and they establisheď it, as they thought proper. Afterward, Kittery appointed a committee, which was joined by Wells, to fix and settle the line between them. How the north-western boundary was settled does not appear by any record. On the north-east, Wells claimed that Kennebunk river was the boundary. But Cape Porpoise insisted that that town extended to Cape Porpoise river. By what arguments these several claims were sustained, I do not know. Gorges had made the Kennebunk river the boundary of the territory granted to Wheelwright and others for allotment. But the name, Cape Porpoise, would seem to imply that that town bordered on the river of that name. To adjust this controversy, in 1660, commissioners were appointed by each of the towns, viz., Edmund Littlefield and William Harmon by Wells, and William Scadlock and Morgan Howell by Cape Porpoise. They met at Harding's, at the mouth of Kennebunk river. But in consequence of a violent storm, lasting several days, they were detained there, at some considerable expense. When the storm was over, the Cape Porpoise commissioners proposed to those of Wells, that if they would pay the tavern bill, they would agree
on Kennebunk river as the dividing line. This proposition was accepted, and the boundary thus established. The disputed territory embraced nearly all the present town of Kennebunk. My own impression is, that it honestly belonged to Cape Porpoise, now called Kennebunkport.
Sullivan's History of the District of Maine has become a scarce book,—and the fact that the names of the first settlers of Wells are there given, is not a sufficient reason for omitting them in this article. Their names are as follows: Henry Boade, John Wadley, Edmund Littlefield, John Sanders, John White, John Bush, Robert Wadleigh, Francis Littlefield, Sen., William Wardall, Samuel Austin, William Harman, John Wakefield, Thomas Littlefield, Thomas Mills, Anthony Littlefield, John Barrett, Jr., Francis Littlefield, Jun., Nicholas Cole, William Cole, Joseph Emerson, Ezekiel Knight, John Gooch, Joseph Boles, Jonathan Thing, John Barret, Sen. These all took the oath of freemen. Thomas Wheelwright, being appointed a commissioner “to end small causes," must also have been an inhabitant.
Of these persons, the names of nearly all have disappeared from among those of the present population of Wells. The Wheelwrights, Littlefields, Harmons, Gooches, Coles, and Wakefields, remain.
IV. EXTRACTS FROM RECORDS
COUNTY OF YORK.
“The early records of the Province of Maine were made upon unbound pamphlets or books of one or more quires of paper stitched together, and generally without any covering of parchment or strong cartridge paper, to secure them from injury; and prior to 1774 had no particular marks to distinguish them. When upon examining them from mere curiosity, they were by D. 8. marked with the letters A, B, C, and so on as far as G.
They are a mixture of legislative and judicial orders and decisions of a criminal and civil nature, interspersed with inventories of estates of intestates, wills, accounts of administrators, and the like, made by the clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, who was usually the recorder of deeds.
These papers, before the American revolution, were in the office of the clerk of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, in an old chest, with some other papers belonging to that office, and are now in the office of the clerk of the Judicial Courts in the county of York, at Alfred.
The extracts hereunto annexed were made in the year 1774. Some few of which were communicated to the Historical Society of Massachusetts, and have been published in the first series of collections."
The foregoing remarks, together with the extracts which follow, are taken from a manuscript presented to the Society in 1822, by the Hon. David Sewall, late of York, deceased.