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bers of the court are styled commissioners, and the record commences as follows: “At a meeting of the commissioners in the house of Capt. Richard Bonighton, in Saco, this 21st day of March, 1636, present Capt Richard Bonighton, Capt. Wm. Gorges, Capt. Thomas Cammock, Mr. Henry Jocelyn, Gent., Mr. Thomas Purchase, Mr. Edward Godfrey,” Mr. Thomas Lewis, Gent.”
At this court, four persons were fined five shillings each for getting drunk. George Cleeves was fined five shillings for rash speeches, and “Mr. John Bonighton' for incontinency with Ann, his father's servant, is fined forty shillings, and said Ann twenty shillings, and he to keep the child.” The jurisdiction of this court seems to have been coextensive with the limits of the province, the commissioners present being from each extremity, and from the center. It does not appear that it was held by virtue of any commission, although that fact may be reasonably inferred. We have been able to find no record of this court later than 1637; but the few memoranda that have been preserved, prove to us that the early settlers, notwithstanding the smallness of their number, were influenced by the same litigious spirit and the same passions, which characterize a denser population, and a more refined state of society. ACtions of trespass and slander occur frequently on the record.
In 1636, the court passed an order, “That every planter or inhabitant shall do his best endeavor to apprehend or kill any Indian that hath been known to murder any English, kill their cattle or in any way spoil their goods, or do them violence, and
1 Cammock and Jocelyn had probably now moved to Black Point. Purchase lived in what is now Brunswick,
2 Godfrey lived at Agamenticus.
3 Lewis lived at Winter Harbor.-York Records. Of Wm. Gorges, Chalmers says, “he ruled for some years a few traders and fishers with a good sense, equal to the importance of the trust."
4 John Bonighton was the son of Richard: he was notorious for turbulence and insubordination during his life.
will not make them satisfaction.”. While they were thus endeavoring to protect their own rights from the aggression of the natives, they were not unmindful of the duties they owed that race; and the next year the same court ordered that Arthur Brown and Mr. Arthur Macworth make John Cousins' give full satisfaction to an Indian for a wrong done him.
What sort of government or civil regulation existed, previous to the establishment of this court, we have no means of determining. Probably each plantation regulated its own affairs and managed its own police without aid from or communication with the others. The usual mode in the other colonies in absence of higher authority, was by agreement among the settlers in writing, called a combination. Such was the course adopted at Plymouth, at Piscataqua, and in the western part of Maine in 1649: and it is believed from the following record, that this was done at Winter harbor: “Feb. 7, 1636. It is ordered that Mr. Thomas Lewis shall appear the next court-day at the now dwelling house of Thomas Williams, there to answer his contempt and to shew cause why he will not deliver up the combination belonging to us, and to answer such actions as are commenced against him.” In the settlement upon the Neck, and at the mouth of Presumpscot river, the number of inhabitants was so small, that connected as the persons in each were to its head, there was probably no call for the exercise of civil authority before the existence of courts here. And in regard to the plantation on Richmond's Island, we may suppose that Winter, under his general authority controlled all its affairs.
It appears by the records of the earliest court, that the forms of the trial by jury were observed, which have ever since continued, although in the early stages of our history, more power
1 Cousins was born 1596; he lived on an island near the mouth of Royall's river, in North Yarmouth, which he bought of Richard Vines 1645, and wbich still bears his name, until he was driven off in the war of 1675. He moved to York, where he died at a very advanced age after 1683.
over issues of fact was assumed and exercised by the court than is consistent with modern practice.
In the confirmation of Gorges' title by the king, in 1639, powers of government were conferred almost absolute. In this charter,* the name it now. bears was first bestowed, from a province of the same name in France, in honor of the king's wife, a daughter of the king of France. It is described as extending from the Piscataqua river to the Kennebec, and up those rivers to their furthest heads, or until one hundred and twenty miles were completed, with all the islands within five leagues of the coast. The religion of the church of England was established as the religion of the province. The charter conferred upon Gorges an unlimited power of appointment to office; to make laws with the assent of the majority of the freeholders; to establish courts from which an appeal laid to himself; to raise troops, build cities, raise a revenue from customs, establish a navy, exercise admiralty jurisdiction, erect manors, and exclude whom he chose from the province. Such powers were never before granted by any government to any individual, and he succeeded in procuring them by the most untiring efforts, all the other members of the council having failed to accomplish a similar object. His grandson Ferdinando in his account of America,says, “he no sooner had this province settled upon him, but he gave public notice that if any would undertake by himself and his associates, to transport a competent number of inhabitants to plant in any of his limits, he would assign unto him or them such a proportion of land as should in reason satisfy them, reserving only to himself a small high rent as two shillings, or two shillings six
ponce for a hundred acres per annum.'
1 Hazard, vol. i. p. 442.
* [By the charter, persons who were in possession of land under former grants, were to be protected in their possessions, on acknowledging the jurisdiction, "Jura regalia" of Gorges, the chief proprietor.
2 Page 49.
The following extract from Sir F. Gorges' narrative, will show the manner in which he regulated the administration of the province: “1st. I divided the whole into eight bailiwicks or counties, and those again into sixteen several hundreds, consequently into parishes and tythings as people did increase and the provinces were inhabited. The form of government. 1st. In my absence I assigned one for my lieutenant or deputy, to whom I adjoined a chancellor for the determination of all differences arising between party and party, for meum and tuum, only next to him, I ordained a treasurer for receipt of the public revenue, to them I added a marshal for the managing the militia, who hath for his lieutenant, a judge marshal, and other officers to the marshal court, where is to be determined all criminal and capital matters, with other misdemeanors or contentions for matters of honour and the like. To these I arpointed an admiral with his lieutenant or judge, for the ordering and determining of maritime causes.' Next I ordered a master of the ordnance, whose office is to take charge of all the public stores belonging to the militia, both for sea and land, to this I join a secretary for the public service of myself and council. These are the standing councillors to whom is added eight deputies, to be elected by the freeholders of the several counties, as councillors for the state of the country, who are authorized by virtue of their places to sit in any of the aforesaid courts, and to be assistants to the presidents thereof."!
This magnificent outline was never filled up; the materials were lamentably deficient. Gorges proceeded on the 20 Sept.
1 Narrative, p.
46 This narrative was written in 1640, and published by his grandson in 1658; he also says in it, p. 50, “I have not sped so ill, I thank my God for it, but I have a house and home there; and some necessary means of prosit, by my saw-mills and corn-mills, besides some annual receipts, sufficient to lay the foundation of greater matters, now the government is established.” The unfortunate knight did not anticipate so soon being deprived of his possessions and stripped of all his golden prospects. [These works are reprinted in the Maine Historical Collections, vol ii. p. 1.)
1639, to appoint his officers, and granted a commission' at that time to Sir Thomas Jocelyn, Richard. Vines, Esq., his steward general, Francis Champernoon,' Esq., his nephew, Henry Jocelyn, and Richard Bonighton, Esquires, Wm. Hooke, and Edward Godfrey, Gents, as counselors, for the due execution of justice in his province, and established in the same commission certain ordinances for their regulation. Sir Thomas having declined the office, another commission was issued by him on the 10th of March following, in which the name of Thomas Gorges, whom he styles his cousin, is substituted for Sir Thomas Jocelyn, but similar in other respects to the former. He gives as a reason for the new commission the uncertainty whether the other arrived, and his desire that justice might be duly executed in the province. The first commission did arrive, and a general court was held under it, at Saco, June 25, 1640,4 before Thomas Gorges reached the country. This was the first general court that ever assembled in Maine, and consisted of "Richard Vines, Richard Bonighton, and Henry Jocelyn, Esquires, and Edward Godfrey, Gent., counselors unto Sir Ferdinando Gorges, knight proprietor of this province for the due execution of justice here.” It does not appear that any deputies were present. The following officers were sworn at this court, viz: Vines, Bonighton, Jocelyn, and Godfrey, as counselors; Roger Garde, register; Robert Sanky, provost marshal; Thomas Elkins, under marshal; Nicholas Frost, constable of Piscataqua, Mr. Michael Mitton, constable of Casco, and John Wilkinson, constable of Black Point. This court had jurisdiction over all matters of a civil or criminal nature arising within the province. At the first session there were eighteen entries of civil actions and nine complaints.
1 Champernoon lived in Kittery.
2 Wm. Hooke lived in Agamenticus or Kittery. Sir Thomas Jocelyn never came to this country. I find no subsequent mention of him. Henry and John were his sons.
3 Sullivan, appendix. Popham Memorial Vol., appendix. 4 York Records, vol. i,