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were "to inspect all licensed houses of entertainment and to inform of all disorders or misdemeanors committed in them, to present and inform of all idle and disorderly persons, profane swearers or cursers, sabbath breakers and the like offenders." They were public prosecutors and called informers and were much reverenced by the law abiding and much feared by the transgressor. Their insignia of office was "a black staff two feet long, tipt at one end with brass about three inches; as a badge of their office to be provided by the selectmen at the charge of the town." (Sheldon's Hist, of Suffield.)
On March 5, 1695, James King was elected a selectman of the town; in 1701 chosen "Surveyor of Highways." On March 16, 1702, he was chosen "by a clear vote" one of a committee of three "to take care of and to manage the whole business of erecting and finishing ye School house according to ye Town Vote." March 14, 1709, he was chosen Clerk. March 13, 1710, he was chosen "Searcher and Sealer of Weights and Measures and Guager of Casks." He was re-elected yearly thereafter to the same office which he held until the year 1715, when his wife Elizabeth died and he seems to have retired from public life.
March 25, 1697, there was granted to James King a homestead or house lot for his son. The school lot adjoined the property of James King on the north, and on March 3, 1691, he was granted "liberty to improve an acre or two" of the school lot "till the town shall have occassion to use it." In April, 1703, "it was agreed and voted to let out the schooll lot for this year to James King, ye 1st he allowing the Town five shillings rent as a compensation for the same, and at ye end of the tearm to resign it up to the town again." This lease appears to have been renewed from year to year, for from 1703 until his death in 1722 he continued to hold this school lot consisting of 40 acres at a rental of five shillings a year, and his son William thereafter continued to hold it at the same rental for ten years after the death of James.
The second wife of James King was Hannah Loomis, whom he married Feby 27, 1716. She died at Suffield in 1726 without issue. She was the widow of Sergt. Samuel Loomis, who died at Suffield Nov. 6, 1711. James King's children were all by his first wife, Elizabeth. From 1678 the records in the Clerk's office at Suffield furnish nearly a complete registry of the births, marriages and deaths of his numerous descendants, who were born and lived there—at least until their removal from the town. James King died at Suffield May 13, 1722. During his lifetime he acquired a considerable landed and personal estate, most of which he distributed among his children during his lifetime, leaving him little to dispose of by will. His will was probated at Northampton, Hampshire Co., Mass., on Aug. 30, 1722, where it still remains on file. The will is as follows:
THE WILL OF JAMES KING SENIOR
In the Name of God, Amen. The Tenth day of May Annoqe Domini one thousand and seven hundred and twenty-two: I, James King, the first, of Suffield, in the County of Hampshire within his Majesties province of the Massachusetts bay in New England: being very sick and weak of body but of perfect Mind and Memory: Thanks be given to God therefor: Calling to mind the Mortality of my body: and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to dye: do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament: That is to say: principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it: and my body I recommend to the Earth: to be buried in decent Christian burial att the Discretion of my Executors: Nothing Doubting: but att the General resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God: And as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this Life: I give Demise and Dispose of the same in the following manner and form: Imprimis: I give and bequeath to my Eldest son namely James King my ten acres of Land that lyeth on skitter-hawk plain: be it more or less: also I give my said Son all my Cooper Tools: Cooper stuff and hoops: I also give my said Son James my Cubboard and best Chest: and my great brass Kittle and my Trunk: I also give to my said Son James one of the Cows that is in my son William King's hands: and also a bar of iron of about nineteen shillings vallue: I likewise give my said son James all debts due from him to me whether by book bond note under hand or any other way: Item—I give to my son Benjamin King a yoak of oxen and a horse and five sheep out of my stock of Cattle that is in my son William King's hands: I also give my said son Benjamin all debts due from him to me both by book bond or any other way: Item I give to my son Joseph King the cow of mine that he has in keeping and also the cow of mine which Joseph Fuller has in keeping: I also give my said son Joseph all debts due to me by book or notes under hand excepting only what is by this my Last Will and Testament otherwise disposed of: I also give my said son Joseph five of the Twentytwo sheep that are in my son William King's hands: and also a fifth part of my money both Sillver and bills of Credit: Item: I give to my two daughters namely Agnis and Mary to each of them a cow and six sheep a-piece out of my stock that is in my son William King's hands: Item: I give My Daughter Agnis forenamed a fifth part of my money both silver and bills of Credit: not otherwise by this my Last Will Disposed of: I also give my said daughter Agnis all debts due to me from her husband John Austin forementioned whether by book bond or note under hand or any other way: Item: I give to my Daughter Mary forementioned a fifth part of my money both Silver and bills of Credit: not otherwise by this my Last Will and Testament bequeathed. I also give to my said daughter Mary all the debts due from her husband Victory Sikes to me whether it be by book bond note under hand or any other way: Item I give to my son William King my weaver loom and tackling: Item I give to my two sons namely James and Benjamin aforementioned the remainder of my money both Sillver and bills of Credit (excepting only what is due to me by bond) together with all other of my estate: not by this my Last Will otherwise disposed of: I give to four of my said children namely James, Benjamin, Agnis and Mary: to be equaly divided between them all moneys due me by bond: not otherwise by this my Last Will disposed of: I do also hereby will and order that all debts due from me to any person or persons together with my funeral charge be paid out of each one of my said childrens part or portion respectively: each one to have their part by a rule of proportion according to what I have hereby bequeathed to each of them: according to an indifferent apprizment. And I do likewise constitute make and ordain my well beloved sons James King and Benjamin King, forementioned to be my Executors of this my Last Will and Testament: And I do hereby utterly disalow revoke and disanull all and every other former Testaments, Wills, Legacies and bequests: and Executors by me in any ways before named willed and bequeathed: rattifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament: In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written. Signed sealed published pronounced
and declared by the said James King James King, Senr (Seal) as his Last will and testament In presence of us the subscribers Edward Smith Juner Eleazar Stoockwell Joseph Winchel
Hampshire s. s.
On the 30th day of August 1722 Edward Smith Junc Eleazer Stockwell and Joseph Winchell the subscribing witnesses to the aforegoing Will appeared before Sam1 Partridge Esqr Judge of the Probate of Wills &c, for the County aforesd and made oath that they saw James King the first, Subscribe and Seal the aforegoing Instrum1 as his Last Will and Testam1 and yl he was of sound mind and Perfect memory to the best of there understanding when he did it, which sd Will was approved and allowed of by the sd Judge
Test. John Pynchon, Reg1.
The seal after James King's name seems to have been stamped by a circular signet, but the wax is now broken and only small fragments remain, rendering it impossible to tell whether a coat of arms was once impressed thereon.
Although this will was made only three days before his death, yet it is evident that thereafter, and before he died, he actually disposed of most of the property mentioned therein, by gift to his children, since the inventory of his estate makes no mention of the cows, sheep and much of the other personal property named in his will. The inventory includes merely furniture, an old sword which perhaps had belonged to his father and some money on hand, etc., amounting in all to a little over £145.
Besides the above will there are only two other instruments now in existence, so far as known, which bear the signature of James King. These we copy below:
EEED OF JAMES KING AND ELIZABETH HIS WIFE TO JOSEPH KING.
To all People to whome these presents shall come, I James King Sehor Doe send Greeting. Know yee that I the said James King, the ist of Suffield, in the county of hampshire, within her Majesties Prouince of the Massachussetts bay in New England, Cooper, for and in consideration of that Parental love Good-will and affection which I haue and Doe bare towards my third son Joseph King of Suffield aforesaid and for other Good Causes and Considerations me thereunto moueing Have Given and granted and by these Presents Doe freely Clearly and absolutely give and Grant unto my said third son Joseph King his heirs and Assigns foreuer twelve acres of first grant land lying within the township or precinct of Suffield aforesaid: together with the priuiledges that may arise by Virtue of said Twelve acres in the Common and undivided land: the said twelve acres being a part of my forty two acre Lot which lyeth on the west side of the road that leads to Westfield and against the reer of Crooked-lane lots and the said twelve acres is sictuate at the West end of the forty two acres: taking its begening at the said West end the whole breadth of the lot and thence running East in due proportion until the number of twelve acres be compleated: The whole contain of twelve acres as before exprest by its bounds and buttments: together with the priuiledge belonging to such a number of acres in the Common and undiueded land as before mentioned: To Have and to Hold unto him the said Joseph King, his heirs and assigns foreuer to his and their sole use benefit and behoof: and the said Joseph King his heirs and successors by force and Vertue of these Presents from time to time and at all times hereafter shall lawfully quietly and peaceably Have, hold use occupy posess and injoy all the above given and granted premises with all their appurtenances free and clear and clearly acquitted and Discharged of and from all and all maner of former and other Gifts, grants, bargains sales Leases Mortgages joynters Dowerys judgments Executions entails forfetures and off and from all other title troubles charges and encumbrances whatsoeuer had made don or suffered to be done by me the said James King or by means or procurment at any time before the ensealing hereof and further I the said James King my heirs and Executors shall and will from time to time and at all times foreuer hereafter Warrant maintain and defend the above said twelve acres of first grant land together with the right and priuillidge in the Common and undiuided land with all other the above given and granted premises unto the said Joseph King his heirs and assigns foreuer against the lawfull claims and Demands of all and euery person or persons whomsoeuer: and Elizabeth King the wife of me the said James King doth by these Presents willingly giue yield up and surrender all her right of Dowery and power of thirds of in and unto the aboue