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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.

Fines for cutting Timber--the Distribution of Town Lands--Names of Inhabitants in 1657--Portion assigned to each.

ALTHOUGH in 1631 eighty emigrants came into the colony, yet twenty-six years after, the citizens of Portsmouth over twenty-one years of age, and females unmarried over eighteen, numbered scarcely a hundred.

At a town meeting held by the Selectmen January 13, 1660, a penalty of five shillings for every tree was imposed upon any inhabitant, for cutting timber or any other wood from off the town common, except for their own building, fencing or firewood.

Robert Elliot, John Lewis, Mr. Fryer and Goodman Mussell were fined L10 each for building on or appropriating portions of the town commons to their own use, without orders, license, or town grant, in general, or Selectmen in particular. Subsequently the fine of Goodman Mussell was remitted, and the lands illegally taken conveyed to him by the Selectmen.

"At a general town meeting, held February 3, 1660, those gentlemen the town had chosen to consider of the plans and proportions unto whom land ought to be given, presenting the town with what they had done therein, the which when the town had considered and debated, there were some of the old planters made a motion to have 600 acres of land distributed among them, and others of a shorter standing to have a lesser proportion of land added over and above to them, gave occasion to the following votes:

Voted, That the old planters should have six hundred acres of land distributed among them, three hundred acres whereof is rendered up by Capt. Pendleton, Mr. John and Richard Cutt, out of their proportion of three hundred acres, to make the sum aforesaid to be out of the town's land. And furthermore it was voted that the above six hundred acres should be to relieve those that stand in need, together with the old planters.

Voted, That they are to distribute the six hundred acres mentioned in the former vote, shall not exceed above fifty acres to any man. William Seavey and John Pickering were added to the committee to distribute the land among the inhabitants."

The Selectmen were prohibited from granting any more of the town's lands, until the lands are distributed and a vote of the town again renews their power of making grants, and it was voted that all owners of lands be at equal charge for defending the same, according to their proportions.

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The following is the report of the committee appointed to proportion the land among the inhabitants.

"Whereas, at a general towne meeting held by the inhabitants of Portsmouth the 22d of January, 1660, it was agreed upon for the distribution of their lands undisposed and not yet granted, that there should be a distribution thereof, be made up to such of the inhabitants as hitherto have had little or none given them in some proportion to those that have already lands granted to them. And for an equal proceeding therein did then and there choose us whose names are underwritten, for to consider the persons and proportions unto whom the said lands should be divided and distributed, which said persons then chosen have considered accordingly with reference unto both, and for a more just and equal way of proceeding, according to the premises, have drawn up and concluded upon these propositions following:

1st. That all such as were reputed inhabitants and free comyuers unto the year 1657, (when at a town meeting held the 24th of February, the town looked at and respected after-comers under another consideration,) are the persons unto whom right of land belongs in this distribution.

2d. That all sons as are of the age of 21 years and upwards have right to land in this distribution, and further that all sons that are married, although under the age of 21 years, as like right as those aforesaid.

3d. That all daughters of those mentioned in the first proposition, whether married or unmarried at the age of 18 years and upwards, are capable of and ought to have a proportion in this distribution.

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Thomas Ornyon 20
Agnus Turpin 13
William Earle 37
Robert Puddington 19 6
Antho. Brackett,jr. 13
Wm. Ham 35 35
Jno. Jackson 86
Ellinor Brackett 13
Rich. Jackson 50
Jno. Lock 16
Jno. Berry 13
Rich. Seaward, sr.13
Jno. Jones 19 31
Jos. Berry 13
Rich. Seaward jr. 13
James Cate 13
Jno. Foss 19
Rich. Martin 62
Rich. Comings 91
Fran. Rann 50 30
Robt.Mattoone 15 10
Walter Abbott 100
Antho. Brackett, sr.100
Math. Ham 25
Jno. Webster 26 14
Edward Clark 25
John Pickering 101 50
Jno. Hunkins 56
Jno. Partridge 13
Tho. Walford 68 42
Wm. Cotten 38 35
Jos. Atkeson 13
Jno. Sherburne 101
Geo. Walton 120
Rich. Sloper 78
Tho. Peverly 40 35
Robert Mussell 15 10
Christ'r Jose 13
Tho. Hincson 28
Alex. Jones 19
Elias Stileman 31
Jos. Walker 18
Capt. Pendleton 350
Hen. Sherburne 151
John Moses 42 43
James Pendleton 31
Tho. Jackson 37
Hen. Beck 17 43
Caleb Pendleton 19
Ortho Tuckerman 13
Jno. Heart 13
Wm. Lux 13
James Drew 13
Anthony Ellens 50
Robt. Taprill 13
Sarah Fernald 13
Wm. Brookin 33 7
James Leach 25 10
Sam'l Haines 101
Hen. Seavey 28
William Seavey 161
Walter Neale 39 31
Robert Davis 13
Tobey Langdon 38
Leon Weeks 34 10
Tho. Furzin 13 12
Tho. Seavey 38
Charles Allen 25 10
Roger Knight 13 37
James Johnson & Tho. Avery 13 10
Martha Walton 13
Mr. Wallis 112
Phil. Lewis 105
George Row 13
John Odiborne 43
John Cutt 350
John Pottle 13
Mr. Mason 35
Rich. Cutt 410
Caleb Becke 13
Nath. Drake 50 20
Mr. Moody 100
Mary Pickering 13
Tho. Fernald 13
Wid. Mary Walford 13
John Jackson,jr.13
Peter Abbut 13
Margaret Washington 13
Edw. Melcher 13
Francis Drake 37 13
Fran. Jones 13

The proportions abovesaid are made to every inhabitant as if noe land had been given them at all, and all such as have received above the proportions aforesaid by former town grant, such are to possess the same still, and must not expect further enlargement, as none is to be taken from them, and all those that have not yet had the abovesaid proportions such are to have the proportions aforesaid.

The 2d column contains the addition of acres given to every one against whose names they be sett, according to the discretion of those appointed for the distribution of the 600 acres of land as per the town's order.

Capt. Pendleton, Mr. John Cutt and Mr. Richard Cutt's full proportions are entered above as they were before they rendered back 100 acres apiece to be distributed, which are to be taken when the land is laid out to them."

Signed by Brian Pendleton, Richard Cutt, Nath'l Drake, Philip Lewis, Elias Stillman, Wm. Seavey, John Pickering.

The above distribution covers not quite five thousand acres. The land was in the limits of what now makes up Portsmouth, Great Island, Rye, Newington and Greenland.

Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by
Design © 1999

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