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* In the reference to Hon. Charles Doe, in this Note, it should read,
THE WHEELWRIGHT DEED.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
On pages 56-60, Vol. I. Prov. Papers, the “WHEELWRIGHT DEED,” as it is called, is printed in full. In a Note on that Deed, p. 56, the Editor says, “That in the course of the following records particular facts will be noted, that may enable readers to form an opinion respecting the validity of the Deed.” In this Volume, the Editor deems it proper to state, in brief, the conclusion which he has himself reached on that matter;-reserving his argument, in full, for publication in some other form.
The conclusion which the Editor has reached from all the facts which have come before him, is, that the said Deed is a FORGERY.
This Deed bears date, May 17, 1629, and purports to be a conveyance by four Indian Sagamores, of a tract of land equal to about forty miles square-between the Piscataqua and Merrimack rivers—to John Wheelwright, “ late of England, of the Massachusetts Bay, and a minister of the Gospel,” with four associate grantees, “all of the Massachusetts Bay."
The following are among the proofs that said deed is a forgery:
I. Aside from this pretended Deed, we have no evidence that the Rev. John Wheelwright was ever seen or heard of in this country till his arrival, May 26, 1636; not one of the associate grantees was here before that time; and one of them, William Wentworth, was a boy only fifteen years
age at Alford, in England.
II. The settlement of “the Massachusetts Bay” proper was not begun till more than a year after May, 1629, i. e., not till June, 1630.
III. The deed purports to be signed and sealed in the presence of two English witnesses, one of whom was certainly in England on the uth of May,-six days previous—and the other was on shipboard on the Atlantic Ocean, and did not arrive in this country till June 29, 1629.
IV. Of the seven witnesses to the delivery of the deed, it is certain that only one, Edward Hilton, was in this country at that time; and if he signed the deed, he signed away all his right and title to the plantation on which he lived.
V. The above seven witnesses are said to be governors or stewards of plantations, called Laconia, Sawco and Squamscott or Hilton's Point; but not one of the said plantations was granted till six or nine months after May, 1629.
VI. The deed purports to have been made by the Indians " with a desire to have the English inhabit amongst them.” But
Passaconaway, the chief Sagamore, explicitly denies this, and declares "he did all he could to prevent their settlement, and fought against them."
VII. The date of the deed, May 17, 1629, proves to be the Sabbath, and therefore false to the principles and character of Rev. John Wheelwright.
VIII. On April 3, 1638, John Wheelwright and his associates made an actual bona fide purchase, of Indians, at Squamscott-now Exeter-paid for the same and began a settlement; -which is inconsistent with the pretence that he bought in 1629, paying twice for the same land.
IÝ. The deed of 1629 occupies three and a half octavo pages, or one hundred and forty-two lines, while all the real Indian deeds of that early period are no more than sixteen or twenty-four lines; and therefore it betrays itself as belonging to a later period.
X. One condition or proviso in the deed is that the settlement, when begun, should be under “the government, laws and order of the Massachusetts Bay.” But John Wheelwright came to Exeter, in 1638, as an exile, banished out of the territory and jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay, and immediately set up an independent government.
XI. The pretended deed of 1629 antedates the grant of New Hampshire to Captain John Mason, which is dated Nov. 7, 1629; and the evident intent and object of the deed was to head off a claim made by Thomas Allen, of title and possession, founded on said grant to Mason; the trial of which was before the Superior Court of New Hampshire, August 12, 1707. Then, for the first time, was the pretended deed brought to light-seventy-eight years after the date of it; and even then, only a "copy" of the pretended original was brought into court. This “copy,” now on the files of the Superior Court, at Exeter, is the only evidence that Dr. Belknap quotes for the validity of the deed.* [See Prov. Papers of N. H., Vol. II., pp. 522–528.]
The first discovery and exposure of this forgery was made by the late Hon. James Savage, of Boston, President of the Massachusetts Historical Society, about 1820; his views were re-affirmed, with additional evidence, by the late John Farmer, Esq., Corresponding Secretary of the New Hampshire Historical Society, in 1831. The opinion above expressed by the Editor is the result of an original investigation of the facts that relate to the case. It is but just, however, to add, that the late Samuel G. Drake, Esq., of Boston, maintained an opposite opinion, as does also the Hon. Charles H. Bell, of Exeter (See Winthrop's History of New England, 1853, Vol. I., App. H, pp. 486 514; Farm. Belknap's History of New Hampshire, Vol. I., pp. 6-13; Drake's History of Boston, 1856, pp. 56-60, notes.] Ed.