The Winthrop Society: Descendants of the Great Migration

Home Page Join Winthrop Contact the Society! Membership and Members-Only Access Officers Transcriptions of Original Texts Portraits of Prominent Settlers Links to other sites

Letter from Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley
to Lady Bridget, Countess of Lincoln,
March , 1631

Redacted to modern English by John Beardsley.


Thomas Dudley (1574-1653), who came to Massachusetts as Deputy Governor in 1630, had been steward to Theophilus, Earl of Lincoln, a nobleman sympathetic to Puritanism. Dudley later served as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay in 1634, 1640, 1645, and 1650.

This letter has been redacted to modern English by the Winthrop Society from the text published in 1846 by Alexander Young in his "Foundations…" Young cited the New Hampshire Historical Society’s "Collections…" of 1834. In our redaction, we have only altered the spelling to make the letter accessible to the modern reader, and we have added a very few remarks and additions in italicized parentheses for clarification.

Thomas Dudley
To the Right Honorable, my very good Lady,
the Lady BRIDGET, Countess of Lincoln.


Your letters (which are not common nor cheap) following me hither into New England, and bringing with them renewed testimonies of the accustomed favors you honored me with in the old, have drawn from me this narrative retribution, which (in respect of your proper interest in some persons of great note amongst us) was the thankfullest present I had to send over the seas. Therefore I humbly entreat your Honor this be accepted as payment from him, who neither hath, nor is any more, than

Your Honor's Old
Thankful Servant,

Boston in New England, March 12th 1630 (1630/31 Julian calendar).

For the satisfaction of your Honor, and some friends, and for the use of such as shall hereafter intend to increase our plantation in New England, I have in the throng of domestic, and not altogether free from public business, thought fit to commit to memory our present condition, and what hath befallen us since our arrival here; which I will do shortly, after my usual manner, and must do rudely, having yet no table, nor other room to write in, than by the fireside upon my knee, in this sharp winter; to which my family must have leave to resort, though they break good manners, and make me sometimes forget what I would say, and say what I would not.

(At this point a part of the manuscript is missing. It apparently contained an account of the Bays and Rivers, and then a brief notice of the Indian tribes living on them.)

... the Sagamore I saw the last summer. Upon the river of Naponset near to the Mattachusetts fields dwells Chicka Talbott, who hath between 50 and 60 subjects. This man least favors the English of any Sagamore (for so are the kings with us called, as they are called Sachims southwards) we are acquainted with, by reason of the old quarrel between him and those of Plymouth, wherein he lost seven of his best men, yet he lodged one night the last winter at my house in friendly manner. About 70 or 80 miles westward from this, are seated the Nipnett men, whose Sagamore we know not, but we hear their numbers exceed any but the Pecoates and the Narragansets, and they are the only people wee yet hear of in the inland Country. Upon the river of Mistick is seated Sagamore John, and upon the river Sawgus, Sagamore James his brother, both so named by the English. The elder brother John is a handsome young

(one line missing)

...conversant with us, affecting English apparel and houses and speaking well of our God. His brother James is of a far worse disposition, yet repairs often to us. Both these brothers command not above 30 or 40 men for aught I can learn. Near to Salem dwells two or three families, subject to the Sagamore of Agawam, whose name he told me, but I have forgotten it. This Sagamore hath but few subjects and them and himself tributary to Sagamore James, having been before the last year (in James’ minority) tributary to Chicka Talbott. Upon the river Merimack is seated Sagamore Passaconaway, having under his command four or five hundred men, being esteemed by his countrymen a false fellow, and by us a witch. For any more northerly I know not, but leave it to after relations. Having thus briefly and disorderly, especially in my description of the Bays and Rivers, set down what is come to hand touching the…

(one line is missing)

Now concerning the English that are planted here, I find that about the year 1620, certain English set out from Leyden, in Holland, intending their course for Hudson's river; the mouth whereof lies south of the river of the Pecoates (the Thames River in Connecticut), but arises as I am informed, northwards in about 43 degrees, and so a good part of it within the compass of our patent. These being much weather-beaten and wearied with seeking the river after a most tedious voyage, arrived at length in a small bay, lying northeast (sic — certainly southwest) from Cape Cod, where, landing about the month of December, by the favor of a calm winter, such as was never seen here since, began to build their dwellings in that place, which now is called New Plymouth, where, after much sickness, famine, poverty and great mortality, (through all which God by an unwonted Providence carried them) they are now grown up to a people, healthful, wealthy, politic and religious: such things doth the Lord for those that wait for his mercies. They of Plymouth came with Patents from King James, and have since obtained others from our Sovereign King Charles, having a Governor and Council of their own. There was about the same time one Mr. Wesen (Thomas Weston), an English merchant, who sent diverse men to plant and trade who sat down by the river Wesaguscus, but this not coming to such good ends as those of Plymouth, sped not so well, for the most of them dying and languishing away, they who survived were rescued by those of Plymouth out of the hands of Chicka Talbott and his Indians, who oppressed these weak English, and intended to have destroyed them and the Plymotheans also, as is set down in a tract written by Mr. (Edward) Winslow of Plymouth. Also since, one Capt. (Richard) Wollaston with some 30 with him, came near to the same place, and built on a hill, which he named Mount Wollaston; but being not supplied with renewed provisions, they vanished away as the former did. Also, diverse merchants of Bristol and some other places have yearly for these eight years or thereabouts sent ships hither at the fishing times to trade for beaver where their factors dishonestly for their gains, have furnished the Indians with guns, swords, powder and shot.

Touching the plantation which we here have begun, it fell out thus… About the year 1627, some friends being together in Lincolnshire, fell into some discourse about New England, and the planting of the Gospel there; and after some deliberation we imparted our reasons by letters and messages to some in London and the West Country (the Dorchester Company), where it was likewise deliberately thought upon, and at length with often negotiation so ripened that in the year 1628, we procured a patent from his Majesty for our planting between the Matachusets Bay and Charles River on the south and the river of Merimack on the North; and three miles on either side of those rivers and bay; as also for the government of those who did or should inhabit within that compass. And the same year, we sent Mr. John Endicott and some with him to begin a plantation; and to strengthen such as he should find there, which we sent hither from Dorchester and some places adjoining; from whom the same year receiving hopeful news, the next year, 1629, we sent diverse ships over with about 300 people, and some cows, goats and horses, many of which arrived safely. These, by their too large commendations of the Country and the commodities thereof, invited us so strongly to go on that Mr. (John) Winthrop of Suffolk (who was well known in his own country and well approved here for his piety, liberality, wisdom and gravity) coming in to us, we came to such resolution that in April, 1630, we set sail from old England with four good ships. And in May following, eight more followed; two having gone before in February and March, and two more following in June and August, besides another set out by a private merchant. These 17 ships arrived all safe in New England for the increase of the plantation here this year 1630, but made a long, troublesome and costly voyage, being all wind-bound long in England, and hindered with contrary winds, after they set sail and so scattered with mists and tempests that few of them arrived together. Our four ships which set out in April arrived here in June and July, where we found the Colony in a sad and unexpected condition, above 80 of them being dead the winter before, and many of those alive were weak and sick.

All the corn and bread amongst them all, hardly sufficient to feed upon a fortnight, insomuch that the remainder of 180 servants we had the two years before sent over, coming to us for victuals to sustain them, we found ourselves wholly unable to feed them by reason that the provisions shipped for them were taken out of the ship they were put in, and they who were trusted to ship them in another, failed us, and left them behind; whereupon necessity enforced us to our extreme loss to give them all liberty (to our provisions, to them) who had cost us about £16 or £20 a person furnishing and sending over. But bearing these things as we might, we began to consult of the place of our sitting down; for Salem, where we landed, pleased us not. And to that purpose, some were sent to the Bay to search up the rivers for a convenient place; who upon their return, reported to have found a good place upon Mistick; but some other of us seconding them to approve or dislike of their judgment, we found a place (that we liked) better, three leagues up Charles River; and thereupon unshipped our goods into other vessels and with much cost and labor, brought them in July to Charlestown: but there receiving advertisements (warnings) by some of the late arrived ships from London and Amsterdam, of some French preparations against us (many of our people brought with us being sick of fevers and the scurvy, and we thereby unable to carry up our ordinance and baggage so far) we were forced to change counsel and for our present shelter to plant dispersedly, some at Charlestown which stands on the North side of the mouth of Charles river; some on the south side thereof, which place we named Boston; (as we intended to have done the place we first resolved on) some of us upon Mistick, which we named Meadford; some of us westwards on Charles River, four miles from Charlestown, which place we named Watertown; others of us two miles from Boston, in a place we named Rocksbury; others upon the river of Sawgus between Salem and Charlestown; and the western men (of the Mary & John) four miles South from Boston, at a place we named Dorchester. This dispersion troubled some of us, but help it we could not; wanting ability to remove to any place fit to build a town upon, and the time too short to deliberate any longer, least the winter should surprise us before we had built our houses. The best counsel we could find out was, to build a fort to retire to, in some convenient place, if an enemy pressed thereunto, after we should have fortified ourselves against the injuries of wet and cold. So ceasing to consult further for that time, they who had health to labor fell to building, wherein many were interrupted with sickness and many died weekly, yea almost daily. Amongst whom were Mrs. (Anne Andrew) Pynchon, Mrs. (Mary —) Coddington, Mrs. (— Sargent) Philips, and Mrs. (Anne Hooker) Alcock, a sister of Mr. (Thomas) Hooker (the famous minister, author, and later founder of Connecticut).

Insomuch that the ships being now upon their return, some for England, some for Ireland, there was, as I take it not much less than a hundred (some think many more) partly out of dislike of our government which restrained and punished their excesses, and partly through fear of famine, not seeing other means than by their labor to feed themselves, which returned back again. And glad were we so to be rid of them. Others also afterwards hearing of men of their own disposition, which were planted at Pascataway, went from us to them, whereby though our numbers were lessened, yet we accounted ourselves nothing weakened by their removal.

Before the departure of the ships, we contracted with Mr. (William) Pierce, master of the Lyon of Bristol, to return to us with all speed with fresh supplies of victuals, and gave him directions accordingly. With this ship returned Mr. (John) Revell, one of the five undertakers here for the joint stock of the company; and Mr. (William) Vassall, one of the assistants, and his family; and also Mr. (Francis) Bright, a minister, sent hither the year before. The ships being gone, victuals wasting, and mortality increasing, we held diverse fasts in our several congregations, but the Lord would not yet be depricated; for about the beginning of September, died Mr. (William) Gager, a right godly man, a skilful surgeon, and one of the deacons of our congregation; and Mr. (Francis) Higginson, one of the ministers of Salem, a zealous and a profitable preacher; this of a consumption, that of a fever, and on the 30th of September, died Mr. (Isaac) Johnson another of the five undertakers (promoters) (the Lady Arbella, his wife, being dead a month before.) This gentleman was a prime man amongst us, having the best estate of any, zealous for religion and greatest furtherer of this plantation. He made a most godly end, dying willingly, professing his life better spent in promoting this plantation than it would have been any other way. He left to us a loss greater than the most conceived. Within a month after, died Mr. (Edward) Rossiter, another of our assistants, a godly man, and of a good estate, which still weakened us more; so that there now were left of the five undertakers but the Governor (John Winthrop), Sir Richard Saltonstall and myself, and seven other of the Assistants. And of the people who came over with us, from the time of their setting sail from England in April, 1630, until December following, there died by estimation about 200 at the least — so low hath the Lord brought us! Well, yet they who survived were not discouraged, but bearing God's corrections with humility and trusting in his mercies, and considering how after a greater ebb he had raised up our neighbors at Plymouth, we began again in December to consult about a fit place to build a town upon, leaving all thoughts of a fort, because upon any invasion we were necessarily to loose our houses when we should retire thereunto; so after diverse meetings at Boston, Roxbury and Waterton on the 28th day of December, we grew to this resolution to bind all the Assistants (Mr. (John) Endicott and Mr. (Samuel) Sharpe excepted, which latter proposed to return by the next ship to England) to build houses at a place (the New Towne, later called Cambridge), a mile East from Waterton, near Charles River, the next spring, and to winter there the next year, that so by our examples and by removing the ordinance and munition thither, all who were able, might be drawn thither, and such as shall come to us hereafter to their advantage be compelled so to do, and so if God would, a fortified town might there grow up, the place fitting reasonably well thereto.

I should before have mentioned how both the English and Indian corn being at ten shillings (For 1000 years, until recent times, there were 12 pennies or pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to a Pound Sterling, the monetary denomination of the time. A Pound Sterling, £1, meaning then about a pound of silver, was worth about the equivalent purchasing power of the modern US$1000. One might be confused in this lecture because the pound was and remains today the common commercial measure of goods by weight, as in this instance for the weight of the beaver pelts.) a strike, and beaver being valued at 6 shillings a pound, made laws to restrain the selling of corn to the Indians, and to leave the price of beaver at liberty, which was presently sold for 10 and 20 shillings a pound. I should also have remembered how the half of our cows, and almost all our mares and goats, sent us out of England died at sea in their passage hither, and that those intended to be sent us out of Ireland were not sent at all; all which together with the loss of our six months building, occasioned by our intended removal to a town to be fortified, weakened our estates, especially the estates of the undertakers, who were £3000 or £4000 engaged in the joint stock, which was now not (valued in London) above many hundreds; yet many of us labored to bear it as comfortably as we could, remembering the end of our coming hither and knowing the power of God who can support and raise us again, and useth to bring his servants love that the meek may be made glorious by deliverance. Psalms 112.

In the end of this December, departed from us the ship Handmaid of London, by which we sent away one Thomas Morton, a proud insolent man who has lived here diverse years, and bad been an Attorney in the West Country while he lived in England. Multitude of complaints were received against him for injuries done by him both to the English and Indians, and amongst others for shooting ball shot at a troop of Indians, for not bringing a canoe unto him to cross a river withall, whereby be hurt one, and shot through the garments of another; for the satisfaction of the Indians wherein, and that it might appear to them and to the English that we meant to do justice impartially, we caused his hands to be bound behind him and set his feet in the bill bows, and burned his house to the ground, all in the sight of the Indians, and so kept him prisoner till we sent him for England, whither we sent him, for that my Lord Chief Justice there so required that he might punish him capitally for fouler misdemeanors there perpetrated as we were informed.

I have no leisure to review and insert things forgotten, but out of due time and order must set them down as they come to memory. About the end of October this year, 1630, I joined with the Governor and Mr. (John) Maverecke in sending out our pinnace to the Narragansetts to trade for corn to supply our wants, but after the pinnace badly doubled Cape Cod, she put into the next harbor she found, and there meeting with Indians, who showed their willingness to truck (trade), she made her voyage there, and brought us 100 bushels of corn, at about 4 shillings a bushel, which helped us somewhat. From the coast where they traded, they saw a very large island (Martha’s Vinyard), four leagues to the east, which the Indians commended as a fruitful place, full of good vines, and free from sharp frosts, having one only entrance into it, by a navigable river, inhabited by a few Indians, which for a trifle would leave the island, if the English would set them upon the main (mainland); but the pinnace having no direction for discovery, returned without sailing to it, which in two hours they might have done. Upon this coast, they found store of vines full of grapes dead ripe, the season past. Whether we purpose to send the next year sooner, to make some small quantity of wine, if God enable us, the vines growing thin with us and we not having yet any leisure to plant vineyards.

But now having some leisure to discourse of the motives for other men's coming to this place, or their abstaining from it, after my brief manner I say this: That if any come hither to plant for worldly ends that can live well at home, he commits an error, of which he will soon repent him. But if for spiritual, and that no particular obstacle hinder his removal, he may find here what may well content him, viz: materials to build, fuel to burn, ground to plant, seas and rivers to fish in, a pure air to breathe in, good water to drink, till wine or beer can be made; which, together with the cows, hogs and goats brought hither already, may suffice for food; for as for fowl and venison, they are dainties here as well as in England. For clothes and bedding, they must bring them with them, till time and industry produce them here. In a word, we yet enjoy little to be envied, but endure much to be pitied in the sickness and mortality of our people. And I do the more willingly use this open and plain dealing, lest other men should fall short of their expectations when they come hither, as we to our great prejudice did, by means of letters sent us from hence into England, wherein honest men out of a desire to draw over others to them, wrote somewhat hyperbolically of many things here. If any godly men, out of religious ends, will come over to help us in the good work we are about, I think they cannot dispose of themselves nor of their estates more to God's glory, and the furtherance of their own reckoning; but they must not be of the poorer sort yet, for diverse years; for we have found by experience that they have hindered, not furthered the work. And for profane and debauched persons, their oversight in coming hither is wondered at, where they shall find nothing to content them. If there be any endowed with grace and furnished with means to feed themselves and theirs for 18 months, and to build and plant, let them come over into our Macedonia and help us, and not spend themselves and their estates in a less profitable employment; for others I conceive they are not yet fitted for this business.

Touching the discouragements which the sickness and mortality which every first year hath seized upon us, and those of Plymouth as appeared before, may give to such who have cast any thoughts this way (of which mortality it may be said of us almost as of the Egyptians, that there is not an house where there is not one dead, and in some houses many) the natural causes seem to be in the want of warm lodging, and good diet, to which Englishmen are habituated at home; and in the sudden increase of heat which they endure that are landed here in summer, the salted meat at sea having prepared their bodies thereto, for those only 2 last year died of fevers who landed in June and July; as those of Plymouth who landed in the winter died of the scurvy, as did our poorer sort, whose houses and bedding kept them not sufficiently warm, nor their diet sufficiently in heart. Other causes God may have, as our faithful minister Mr. (John) Wilson (lately handling that point) showed unto us, which I forbear to mention, leaving this matter to the further dispute of physicians and divines. Wherefore to return, upon the third of January died the daughter of Mr. (Thomas) Sharpe, a godly virgin, making a comfortable end, after a long sickness. The plantation here received not the like loss of any woman since we came hither, and therefore she well deserves to be remembered in this place; and to add to our sorrows, upon the 5th day, came letters to us from Plymouth, advertising us of this sad accident following: about a fortnight before, there went from us in a shallop to Plymouth six men and a girl, who in an hour or two before night, on the same day they went forth, came near to the mouth of Plymouth Bay, but the wind then coming strongly from the shore, kept them from entering and drove them to seawards, and they having no better means to help themselves, let down their killick (sea anchor), that so they might drive the more slowly, and be nearer land when the storm should cease. But the stone slipping out of the killick, and thereby they driving faster than they thought all the night, in the morning, when they looked out, they found themselves out of sight of land, which so astonished them, the frost being extreme and their hands so benumbed with cold, that they could not handle their oars, neither had any compass to steer by, that they gave themselves for lost, and lay down to die quietly. Only one man who had more natural heat and courage remaining than the rest, continued so long looking for land, that the morning waxing clearer, he discovered land, and with difficulty hoisted the sail, and so the wind a little turning, two days after they were driven from Plymouth Bay, they arrived at a shore unknown unto them. The stronger helped the weaker out of the boat and taking their sail on shore, made a shelter thereof, and made a fire; but the frost had so pierced their bodies that one of them died about three days after their landing, and most of the others grew worse, both in body and courage, no hope of relief being within their view. Well, yet the Lord pitying them and two of them who only could use their legs going abroad, rather to seek than to hope to find help, they met first with two Indian women, who sent unto them an Indian man, who informed them that Plymouth was within 50 miles, and offered together to procure relief for them, which they gladly accepting, he performed. He brought them three men from Plymouth (the Governor and Council of Plymouth liberally rewarding the Indian who took care for the safety of our people) who brought them all alive in their boat thither, save one man, who with a guide chose rather to go over land, but quickly fell lame by the way, and getting harbor at a trucking house the Plymoutheans had in those parts, there he yet abides. At the others landing at Plymouth, one of them died as he was taken out of the boat; another (and he the worst in the company) rotted from the feet upwards where the frost had gotten most hold, and so died within in a few days. The other three, after God had blessed the Surgeon's skill used towards them, returned safe to us. I set down this the more largely, partly because the first man that died was a godly man of our congregation; one Richard Garrad, who, at the time of his death, more feared he should dishonor God than cared for his own life. As also because diverse boats have been in manifest peril this year, yet the Lord preserved them all, this one excepted.

Amongst those who died about the end of this January, there was a girl of 11 years old, the daughter of one John Ruggles of whose family and kindred died so many, that for some reason it was matter of observation amongst us; who in the time of her sickness expressed to the minister and to those about her, so much faith and assurance of salvation, as is rarely found in any of that age, which I thought not unworthy here to commit to memory; and if any tax me for wasting paper with recording these small matters, such may consider that little mothers bring forth little children, small commonwealths; matters of small moment, the reading whereof yet is not to be despised by the judicious, because small things in the beginning of natural or politic bodies are as remarkable as greater things in bodies full grown.

Upon the 5th of February, arrived here Master (William) Pierce with the ship Lyon of Bristol with supplies of victuals from England, who had set fourth from Bristol the first of December before. He had a stormy passage hither, and lost one of his sailors not far from our shore, who in a tempest having helped to take in the sprit sail, lost his hold as he was coming down and fell into the sea; where after long swimming he was drowned, to the great dolour (grief) of those in the ship, who beheld so lamentable a spectacle, without being able to minister help to him; the sea was so high and the ship drove so fast before the wind, though her sails were taken down. By this ship we understood of the fight of three of our ships and two English men of war coming out of the straits (the English Channel) with 14 Dunkirkes (enemy Spanish vessels from the Flemish coast) upon the coast of England as they returned from us in the end of the last summer, who through God's goodness with the loss of some 13 or 14 men out of our three ships; and I know not how many out of the two men of war got at length clear of them. The Charles, one of our three, a stout ship of 300 tons, being so torn, that she had not much of her left whole above water.

By this ship we also understood the death of many of those who went from us the last year to Old England, as likewise of the mortality there, whereby we see are graves in other places as well as with us. Also to increase the heap of our sorrows, we received advertisement by letters from our friends in England, and by the reports of those who came hither in this ship to abide with us, (who were about 26) that they who went discontentedly from us the last year, out of their evil affections towards us, have raised many false and scandalous reports against us, affirming us to be Brownists in religion, and ill affected to our state at home, and that these vile reports have won credit with some who formerly wished us well. But we do desire, and cannot but hope, that wise and impartial men will at length consider that such malcontents have ever pressed this manner of casting dirt to make others seem as foul as themselves, and that our godly friends, to whom we have been known, will not easily believe that we are not so soon turned from the profession we so long have made in our native country. And for our further clearing, I truely affirm, that I know not one person who came over with us the last year to be altered in judgment and affection, either in ecclesiastical or civil respects since our coming hither; but we do continue to pray daily for our Sovereign lord the King, the Queen, the Prince, the royal blood, the council and whole state, as duty binds us to do, and reason persuades others to believe. For how ungodly and unthankful should we be if we should not thus do, who came hither by virtue of his Majesty’s letters patent, and under his gracious protection, under which shelter we hope to live safely, and from whose kingdom and subjects, we now have received and hereafter expect relief! Let our friends therefore give no credit to such malicious aspersions, but be more ready to answer for us, then we hear they have been: we are not like those which have dispensations to lie; but as we were free enough in Old England, to turn our insides outwards, sometimes to our disadvantage, very unlike is it that now (being procul a fulmine) we should be so unlike ourselves: let therefore this be sufficient for us to say, and others to hear in this matter.

Amongst others who died about this time was Mr. Robert Welden, whom in the time of his sickness, we had chosen to be Captain of 100 foot (soldiers), but before he took possession of his place, he died the 16 of this February, and was buried as a soldier with 3 volleys of shot. Upon the 22nd day of February, we held a general day of Thanksgiving throughout the whole Colony for the safe arrival of the ship which came last with our provisions.

About this time, we apprehended one Robert Wright, who had been sometimes a linen draper in Newgate market, and after that a brewer on the Banke side and on Thames Street. This man we lately understood had made an escape in London from those who came to his house to apprehend him for clipping the King’s coin…

(one or two words wanting)

…had stolen after us. Upon his examination, he confessed the fact and his escape, but affirmed he had the King’s pardon for it, under the broad seal, which he yet not being able to prove, and one to whom he was known charging him with untruth in some of his answers, we therefore committed him to prison, to be sent by the next ship into England.

Likewise, we were lately informed that one Mr. Gardiner, who arrived here a month before us (and who had passed here for a knight by the name of "Sir Christopher Gardiner" all this while) was no knight, but instead thereof, had two wives now living in a house at London, one of which came about September last from Paris in France (where her husband had left her years before) to London, where she had heard her husband had married a second wife, and whom by inquiry she found out, and they both condoling each others estate, wrote both their letters to the Governor (by Mr. Pierce who had conference with both the women in the presence of Mr. (Isaac) Allerton of Plymouth;) his first wife desiring his return and conversion; his second, his destruction for his foul abuse, and for robbing her of her estate, of a part whereof she sent an inventory hither, comprising therein many rich jewels, much plate and costly linen. This man had in his family (and yet hath) a gentlewoman whom he called his kinswoman, and whom one of his wives in her letter, names Mary Grove, affirming her to be a known harlot, whose sending back into Old England she also desired, together with her husband. Shortly after this intelligence, we sent to the house of the said Gardiner (which was 7 miles from us) to apprehend him and his woman, with a purpose to send them both to London to his wives there; but the man, who having heard some rumor from some who came in the ship, that letters were come to the Governor, requiring justice against him, was readily prepared for flight, so soon as he should see any crossing the river, or likely to apprehend him, which he accordingly performed; for he dwelling alone, easily discerned such who were sent to take him, half a mile before they approached his house, and with his piece (musket) on his neck, went his way, as most men think northwards, hoping to find some English there like to himself; but likely enough it is, which way so ever he went, he will loose himself in the woods and be stopped with some rivers in his passing, notwithstanding his compass in his pocket, and so with hunger and cold, will perish before he find the place he seeks. His woman was brought unto us and confessed her name, and that her mother dwells eight miles from Beirdly in Shropshire, and that Gardiner's father dwells in or near Gloucester, and was (as she said) brother to Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and did disinherit his son for his 26 years absence in his travels in France, Italy, Germany and Turkey; that he had (as he told her) married a wife in his travels, from whom he was divorced, and the woman long since dead; that both herself and Gardiner were both Catholics till of late, but were now Protestants; that she takes him to be a knight, but never heard when he was knighted. The woman was impenitent and close (secretive), confessing no more then was wrested from her by her own contradictions, so we have taken order to send her to the two wives in Old England to search her further.

Upon the 8th of March, from after it was fair day light until about 8 of the clock in the forenoon, there flew over all the towns in our plantations so many flocks of doves (passenger pigeons, a species now extinct), each flock containing many thousands, and some so many that they obscured the light, that passeth credit, if but the truth should be written. And the thing was the more strange, because I scarce remember to have seen ten doves since I came into this country. They were all turtle doves, as appeared by diverse of them we killed flying, somewhat bigger than those of Europe, and they flew from the north east to the south west; but what it portends I know not.

The ship now waits but for wind, which when it blows, there are ready to go aboard therein for England Sir Richard Saltonstall, Mr. (Thomas) Sharpe, Mr. (William) Coddington, and many others, the most whereof purpose to return to us again, if God will. In the mean time, we are left a people poor and contemptible, yet such as trust in God and are contented with our condition, being well assured that he will not fail us nor forsake us.

I had almost forgotten to add this, that the wheat we received by this last ship stands us in 13 or 14 shillings a strike, and the peas about 11 shillings a strike, besides the adventure (cost), which is worth 3 or 4 shillings a strike, which is a higher price than I ever tasted bread of before.

Thus, MADAM, I have as I can, told your Honor all our matters, knowing your wisdom can make good use thereof. If I live not to perform the like office of my duty hereafter, likely it is some other will do it better.

Before the departure of the ship (which yet was wind bound) there came unto us Sagamore John and one of his subjects requiring satisfaction for the burning of two wigwams by some of the English, which wigwams were not inhabited, but stood in a place convenient for their shelter, when upon occasion they should travel that ways. By examination, we found that some English fowlers, having retired into that which belonged to the subject and leaving a fire therein, carelessly which they had kindled to warm them, were the cause of burning thereof; for that which was the Sagamores, we could find no certain proof how it was fired, yet least he should think us not sedulous enough to find it out, and so should depart discontentedly from us, we gave both him and his subject satisfaction for them both.

The like accident of fire befell Mr. (Thomas) Sharpe and Mr. (William) Colborne upon the 17 of this March, both whose houses, which were as good, and as well furnished as the most in the plantation, were in two hours space burned to the ground, together with much of their household stuff, apparel and other things, as also some goods of others who sojourned with them in their houses; God so pleasing to exercise us with corrections of this kind, as he hath done with others: for the prevention whereof in our New Town, intended this summer to be built, we have ordered that no man there shall build his chimney with wood, nor cover his house with thatch, which was readily assented unto, for that diverse other houses have been burned since our arrival (the fire always beginning in the wooden chimneys) and some English wigwams, which have taken fire in the roofs covered with thatch or boughs.

And that this ship might return into Old England with heavy news, upon the 18 day of March, came one from Salem and told us, that upon the 15 thereof, there died Mrs. (Susanna Travis) Skelton, the wife of the other minister there, who, about 18 or 20 days before, handling cold things in a sharp morning, put herself into a most violent fit of the wind colic and vomiting, which continuing, she at length fell into a fever and so died as before. She was a godly and a helpful woman, and indeed the main pillar of her family, having left behind her a husband and four children, weak and helpless, who can scarce tell how to live without her. She lived desired and died lamented, and well deserves to be honorably remembered.

Upon the 25th of this March, one of Watertown having lost a calf, at about 10 of the clock at night, hearing the howling of some wolves not far off, raised many of his neighbors out of their beds, that by discharging their muskets near about the place where he heard the wolves, he might so put the wolves to flight, and save his calf. The wind serving fit to carry the report of the muskets to Rocksbury, three miles off at such a time; the inhabitants there took an alarm beat up their drum, armed themselves, and sent in post to us in Boston to raise us also. So in the morning the calf being found safe, the wolves affrighted, and our danger past, we went merrily to breakfast.

I thought to have ended before, but the stay of the ship and my desire to inform your honor of all I can, hath caused this addition, and every one having warning to prepare for the ship’s departure tomorrow, I am now this 28th of March, 1631, sealing my letters.

Return to the Texts index

Return to Top

Home |  Join  |  Contact  |  Members  |   Officers  |   Texts  |  Portraits  |  Links

This Web site is hosted by
All content is copyright ©2015, The Winthrop Society