Extract from
History of Hingham Plymouth County Massachusetts

by Solomon Lincoln junior published Hingham Caleb Gill jnr, Farmer & Brown 1827

İTranscribed by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington January 2010

Tombstone of John Winthrop (1588-1649) King's Chapel Burying Ground
Boston, Massachusetts

Page 55:
I am aware, however, that there is justice in the remark of the learned editor of Winthrop, when speaking of Governor Winthrop's account of these affairs, he says, " an unusual fairness for a party whose feelings had been so much engaged in the controversy is here shown by our author." These difficulties originated among the members of the military company, gradually enlisted the feelings of the whole town, arrested the attention of the church, were taken cognizance of by the neighbouring churches, and at last required the interposition of the government. A sketch of the rise, progress and termination of these difficulties may not be uninteresting ; illustrating, as it will, the principles of our fathers, and giving some indication of the spirit and asperity of controversies, when the prejudices of religion and of politics were unfortunately blended together.

Winthrop, in his journal, vol. ii. p. 221, introduces the subject as follows :-
" 1645. This court fell out a troublesome business which took up much time. The town of Hingham, having one Emes (i.e. EAMES) their lieutenant seven or eight years, had lately chosen him to be their captain, and had presented him to the standing council for allowance ; but before it was accomplished the greater part of the town took some light occasion of offence against him, and chose one Allen to be their captain, and presented him to the magistrates (in the time of the last general court) to be allowed. But the magistrates, considering the injury that would hereby accrue to Emes, (who had been their chief commander so many years, and had deserved well in his place, and that Allen had no other skill, but what he learned from Emes,) refused to allow of Allen, but willed both sides to return home, and every officer to keep his place, until the court should take further order.

Upon their return home, the messsengers, who came for Allen, called a private meeting of those of their own party, and told them truly what answer they received from the magistrates, and soon after they appointed a training day, (without their lieutenant's knowledge,) and being ..assembled, the lieutenant hearing of it came to them, and would have exercised them as he was wont to do, but those of the other party refused to follow him, except he would show them some order for it. He told them of the magistrates' order about it : the others replied that authority had advised him to go home and lay down his place honourably. Another asked, what the magistrates had to do with them ? Another, that it was but three or four of the magistrates, and if they had been all there, it had been nothing, for Mr. Allen had brought more for them from the deputies, than the lieutenant had from the magistrates. Another of them professeth he will die at the sword's point, if he might not have the choice of his own officers. Another (viz. the clerk of the band) stands up above the people, and requires them to vote, whether they would bear them out in what was past and what was to come. This being assented unto, and the tumult continuing, one of the officers (he who had told them that authority had advised the lieutenant to go home and lay down his place) required Allen to take the captain's place ; but he not then accepting it, they put it to vote, whether he should be their captain. The vote passing for it, he then told the company, it was now past question, and thereupon Allen accepted it, and exercised the company two or three days, only about a third part of them followed the lieutenant. He, having denied in the open field, that authority had advised him to lay down his place, and putting (in some sort) the lie upon those who had so reported, was the next Lord's day called to answer it before the church, and he standing to maintain what he had said, five witnesses were produced to convince him. Some of them affirmed the words, the others explained their meaning to be, that one magistrate had so advised him. He denied both. Whereupon the pastor, one Mr. Hubbert, (brother to three of the principal in this sedition,) was very forward to have excommunicated the lieutenant presently, but, upon some opposition, it was put off" to the next day.

Thereupon the lieutenant and some three or four more of the chief men of the town informed four of the next magistrates of these proceedings, who forthwith met at Boston about it, (viz. the deputy governour, the serjeant major general, the secretary, and Mr. Hibbins.) These, considering the case, sent warrant to the constable to attach some of the principal offenders (viz. three of the Hubbards and two more) to appear before them at Boston, to find sureties for their appearance at the next court (Sic). Upon the day they came to Boston, but their said brother the minister came before them, and fell to expostulate with the said magistrates about the said cause, complaining against the complainants, as talebearers &c. taking it very disdainfully that his brethren should be sent for by a constable, with other high speeches, which were so provoking, as some of the magistrates told him, that, were it not for respect to his ministry, they would commit him.

When his brethren and the rest were come in, the matters of the information were laid to their charge, which they denied for the most part. So they were bound over (each for other) to the next court of assistants. After this five others were sent for by summons (these were only for speaking untruths of the magistrates in the church.) They came before the deputy governour, when he was alone, and demanded the cause of their sending for, and to know their accusers. The deputy told them so much of the cause as he could remember, and referred them to the secretary for a copy, and for their accusers he told them they knew both the men and the matter, neither was a judge bound to let a criminal offender know his accusers before the day of trial, but only in his own discretion, least the accuser might be taken off" or perverted &c. Being required to give bond for their appearance &c. they refused. The deputy laboured to let them see their errour, and gave them time to consider of it. About fourteen days after, seeing two of them in the court, (which was kept by those four magistrates for smaller causes,) the deputy required them again to enter bond for their appearance &c. and upon their second refusal committed them in that open court.

" The general court falling out before the court of assistants, the Hubberts and the two which were committed, and others of Hingham, about ninety, (whereof Mr. Hubbert their minister was the first,) presented a petition to the general court, to this effect, that whereas some of them had been bound over, and others committed by some of the magistrates for words spoken concerning the power of the general court, and their liberties, and the liberties of the church (Sic). they craved that the court would hear the cause &c. This was first presented to the deputies, who sent it to the magistrates desiring their concurrence with them, that the cause might be heard &c. The magistrates, marvelling that they would grant such a petition, without desiring conference first with themselves, whom it so much concerned, returned answer, that they were willing the cause should be heard, so as the petitioners would name the magistrates whom they intended, and the matters they would lay to their charge &c. Upon this the deputies demanded of the petitioners' agents (who were then deputies of the court) to have satisfaction in those points, whereupon they singled out the deputy governor, and two of the petitioners undertook the prosecution. Then the petition was returned again to the magistrates for their consent &c. who being desirous that the deputies might take notice, how prejudicial to authority and the honour of the court it would be to call a magistrate to answer criminally in a cause, wherein nothing of that nature could be laid to his charge, and that without any private examination preceding, did intimate so much to the deputies, (though not directly, yet plainly enough,) showing them that nothing criminal &c. was laid to his charge, and that the things objected were the act of the court &c. yet if they would needs have a hearing, they would join in it. And indeed it was the desire of the deputy, (knowing well how much himself and the other magistrates did suffer in the cause, through the slanderous reports wherewith the deputies and the country about had been possessed,) that the cause might receive a public hearing.

" The day appointed being come, the court assembled in the meeting house at Boston. Diverse of the elders were present, and a great assembly of people. The deputy governour, coming in with the rest of the magistrates, placed himself beneath within the bar, and so sate uncovered. Some question was in court about his being in that place (for many both of the court and the assembly were grieved at it.) But the deputy telling them, that, being criminally accused, he might not sit as a judge in that cause, and if he were upon the bench, it would be a great disadvantage to him, for he could not take that liberty to plead the cause, which he ought to be allowed at the bar, upon this the court was satisfied.

" The petitioners having declared their grievances &c. the deputy craved leave to make answer, which was to this effect, viz. that he accounted it no disgrace, but rather an honour put upon him, to be singled out from his brethren in the defence of one so just (as he hoped to make that appear) and of so public concernment. And although he might have pleaded to the petition, and so have demurred in law, upon three points, (1) in that there is nothing laid to his charge, that is either criminal or unjust ; (2) if he had been mistaken either in the law or in the state of the case, yet whether it were such as a judge is to be called in question for as a delinquent, where it doth not appear to be wickedness or wilfulness ; for in England many erroneous judgments are reversed, and errours in proceedings rectified, and yet the judges not called in question about them ;(3) in that being thus singled out from three other magistrates, and to answer by himself for some things, which were the act of a court, he is deprived of the just means of his defence, for many things may be justified as done by four, which are not warrantable if done by one alone, and the records of a court are a full justification of any act, while such record stands in force. But he was willing to waive this plea, and to make answer to the particular charges, to the end that the truth of the case, and of all proceedings thereupon might appear to all men.

" Hereupon the court proceeded to examine the whole cause. The deputy justified all the particulars laid to his charge, as that upon credible information of such a mutinous practice, and open disturbance of the peace, and slighting of authority, the offenders were sent for, the principal by warrant to the constable to bring them, and others by summons, and that some were bound over to the next court of assistants, and others that refused to be bound were committed ; and all this according to the equity of laws here established, and the custom and laws of England, and our constant practice here these fifteen years. And for some speeches he was charged with as spoken to the delinquents, when they came before him at his house, when none were present with him but themselves, first, he appealed to the judgment of the court, whether delinquents may be received as competent witnesses against a magistrate in such a case ; then, for the words themselves, some he justified, some he explained so as no advantage could be taken of them, as that he should say, that the magistrates could try some criminal causes without a jury, that he knew no law of God or man which required a judge to make known to the party his accusers (or rather witnesses) before the cause came to hearing. But two of them charged him to have said, that it was against the law of God and man so to do, which had been absurd, for the deputy professed he knew no law against it, only a judge may sometimes, in discretion, conceal their names &c. least they should be tampered with, or conveyed out of the way &c.

" Two of the magistrates and many of the deputies were of opinion that the magistrates exercised too much power, and that the people's liberty was thereby in danger ; and other of the deputies (being about half) and all the rest of the magistrates were of a different judgment, and that authority was overmuch slighted, which, if not timely remedied would endanger the commonwealth, and bring us to a mere democracy. By occasion of this difference, there was not so orderly carriage at the hearing, as was meet, each side striving unseasonably to enforce the evidence, and declaring their judgments thereupon, which should have been reserved to a more private debate, (as after it was,) so as the best part of two days was spent in this public agitation and examination of witnesses &c. This being ended, a committee was chosen of magistrates and deputies, who stated the case, as it appeared upon the whole pleading and evidence, though it cost much time and with great difficulty did the committee come to accord upon it.

" The case being stated and agreed, the magistrates and deputies considered it apart, first the deputies having spent a whole day, and not attaining to any issue, sent up to the magistrates to have their thoughts about it, who taking it into consideration, (the deputy always withdrawing when that matter came into debate,) agreed upon these four points chiefly ; (1) that the petition was false and scandalous, (2) that those who were bound over &c. and others that were parties to the disturbance at Hingham, were all offenders, though in different degrees, (3). that they and the petitioners were to be censured, (4). that the deputy governour ought to be acquit and righted &c.

This being sent down to the deputies, they spent divers days about it, and made two or three returns to the magistrates, and though they found the petition false and scandalous, and so voted it, yet they would not agree to any censure. The magistrates, on the other side, were resolved for censure, and for the deputy's full acquittal. The deputies being thus hard held to it, and growing weary of the court, for it began [3] 14, and brake not up (save one week) till [5] 5, were content they should pay the charges of the court.

After, they were drawn to consent to some small fines, but in this they would have drawn in lieutenant Emes to have been fined deeply, he being neither plaintiff nor defendant, but an informer only, and had made good all the points of his information, and no offence found in him, other than that which was after adjudged worthy of admonition only ; and they would have imposed the charges of the court upon the whole trained band at Hingham, when it was apparent, that divers were innocent, and had no hand in any of these proceedings. The magistrates not consenting to so manifest injustice, they sent to the deputies to desire them to join with them in calling in the help of the elders, (for they were now assembled at Cambridge from all parts of the United Colonies, and diverse of them were present when the cause was publickly heard, and declared themselves much grieved to see that the deputy governour should be called forth to answer as a delinquent in such a case as this was, and one of them in the name of the rest, had written to him to that effect, fearing least he should apprehend over deeply of the injury &.c. but the deputies would by no means consent thereto, for they knew that many of the elders understood the cause, and were more careful to uphold the honour and power of the magistrates than themselves were liked of, and many of them (at the request of the elder and others of the church of Hingham during this court) had been at Hingham, to see if they could settle peace in the church there, and found the elder and others the petitioners in great fault &c. After this (upon motion of the deputies) it was agreed to refer the cause to arbitrators, according to an order of court, when the magistrates and deputies cannot agree &c. The magistrates named six of the elders of the next towns, and left it to them to choose any three or four of them, and required them to name six others. The deputies finding themselves now at the wall, and not daring to trust the elders with the cause, they sent to desire that six of themselves might come and confer with the magistrates, which being granted, they came, and at last came to this agreement, viz. the chief petitioners and the rest of the offenders were severally fined, (all their fines not amounting to 50 pounds,) the rest of the petitioners to bear equal share to 50 pounds more towards the charges of the court, (two of the principal offenders were the deputies of the town, Joshua Hubbert and Bozone Allen, the first was fined 20 pounds, and the other 5 pounds, Lieutenant Ermes to be under admonition, the deputy governour to be legally and publickly acquit of all that was laid to his charge.

"According to this agreement, [5] 3, presently after the lecture the magistrates and deputies took their places in the meeting house, and 'the people being come together, and the deputy governour placing himself within the bar, as at the time of hearing &c. the governour read the sentence of the court, without speaking any more, for the deputies had (by importunity) obtained a promise of silence from the magistrates. Then was the deputy governour desired by the court to go up and take his place again upon the bench, which he did accordingly, and the court being about to arise, he desired leave for a little speech, which was to this effect. :-

Winthrop's Speech

" I suppose something may be expected from me, upon this charge that is befallen me, which moves me to speak now to you ; yet I intend not to intermeddle in the proceedings of the court, or with any of the persons concerned therein. Only I bless God, that I see an issue of this troublesome business. I also acknowledge the justice of the court, and, for mine own part, I am well satisfied, I was publickly charged, and I am publickly and legally acquitted, which is all I did expect or desire. And though this be sufficient for my justification before men, yet not so before the God, who hath seen so much amiss in my dispensations (and even in this affair) as calls me to be humble. For to be publickly and criminally charged in this court, is matter of humiliation, (and I desire to make a right use of it,) notwithstanding I be thus acquitted. If her father had spit in her face, (saith the Lord concerning Miriam,) should she not have been ashamed seven days ? Shame had lien upon her, whatever the occasion had been. I am unwilling to stay you from your urgent affairs, yet give me leave (upon this special occasion) to speak a little more to this assembly. It may be of some good use, to inform and rectify the judgments of some of the people, and may, prevent such distempers as have arisen amongst us.

The great questions that have troubled the country, are about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people. It is yourselves who have called us to this office, and being called by you, we have our authority from God, in way of an ordinance, such as hath the image of God eminently stamped upon it, the contempt and violation whereof hath been vindicated with examples of divine vengeance. I entreat you to consider, that when you choose magistrates, you take them from among yourselves, men subject to like passions as you are. Therefore when you see infirmities in us, you should reflect upon your own, and that would make you bear the more with us, and not be severe censurers of the failings of your magistrates, when you have continual experience of the like infirmities in yourselves and others. We account him a good servant, who breaks not his covenant. The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose, that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God's laws and our own, according to our best skill. When you agree with a workman to build you a ship or house &c. he undertakes as well for his skill as for his faithfulness, for it is his profession, and you pay him for both. But when you call one to be a magistrate, he doth not profess nor undertake to have sufficient skill for that office, nor can you furnish him with gifts &c. therefore you must run the hazard of his skill and ability. But if he fail in faithfulness, which by his oath he is bound unto, that he must answer for. If it fall out that the case be clear to common apprehension, and the rule clear also, if he transgress here, the errour is not in the skill, but in the evil of the will : it must be required of him. But if the cause be doubtful, or the rule doubtful, to men of such understanding and parts as your magistrates are, if your magistrates should err here, yourselves must bear it.

" For the other point concerning liberty, I observe a great mistake in the country about that. There is a two fold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with beasts and other creatures. By this, man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists ; it is a liberty to evil as well as to good. This liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority, and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this liberty makes men grow more evil, and in time to be worse than brute beasts : omnes sumus licentia deteriores. This is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beast which all the ordinances of God are bent against, to restrain and subdue it.

The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal, it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions, amongst men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist without it ; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority, but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority ; it is of the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The woman's own choice makes such a man her husband ; yet being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage ; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honour and freedom, and would not think her condition safe and free, but in her subjection to her husband's authority. Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband ; his yoke is so easy and sweet to her as a bride's ornaments ; and if through forwardness or wantonness &c. she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit, until she take it up again ; and whether her lord smiles upon her, and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her. On the other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, let us break their bands &c. we will not have this man to rule over us. Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you stand for your natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be always striving to shake off that yoke ; but if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your good. Wherein, if we fail at any time, we hope we shall be willing (by God's assistance) to hearken to good advice from any of you, or in any other way of God ; so shall your liberties be preserved, in upholding the honour and power of authority amongst you."

The following notes of the proceedings of the deputies and magistrates in relation to this affair, were collected by Mr. Savage, and published in his edition of Winthrop.

" The first order of the magistrates is, as follows : Fined the persons after named at such sums as hereafter are expressed, having been as moderate and gone as low as they any ways could with the holding up of authority in any measure, and the maintenance of justice, desiring the concurrence of the deputies herein, that at length an end may be put to this long and tedious business.

Joshua Hubbard is fined - £20,00,00d
Edmond Hubbard, is fined - £5,00,00d
Thomas Hubbard, is fined - £2,00,00d
Edmond Gold, is fined - £1,00,00d
John Faulshame, is fined - £20,00,00d
John Towers, is fined - £5,00,00d
Daniel Cushin, is fined - £2,10,00d
William Hersey, is fined - £10,00,00d
Mr. Bozon Allen, is fined - £10,00,00d
Mr. Peter Hubbard, that first subscribed the petition is fined - £2,00,00d

All the rest of the petitioners, being 81, out of which number are excepted three, viz. Mr. Peter Hubbard, John Foulshame and John Towres, the rest making 78, are fined 20 shillings a piece, the sum of which is £155,10,00.

" We have also voted, that according to the order of the general court, for so long time as their cause hath been in handling, the petitioners shall bear the charge of the general court, the sum of which costs is to be, cast up and agreed by the court, when the cause is finished.

" The house of deputies having issued the Hingham business before the judgment of our honoured magistrates upon the case came down, they have hereunder expressed their determinate censures upon such as they find delinquent in the case, viz.

Joshua Hubbard is fined - £20,00,00d
Anthony Eames, is fined - £5,00,00d'
Thomas Hubbard, is fined - £4,00,00d
Edmond Hubbard, is fined - £10,00,00d
Daniel Cushan, is fined - £4,00,00d
William Hersey, is fined - £4,00,00d
Mr. Allen, beside his proportion with the train band, is fined - £1,00,00d
Edmond Gold, is fined - £2,00,00d
Total, £50,00,00d

" The rest of the train band of Hingham, that have an equal vote allowed them by law for the choice of their military officers, are fined 55 pounds to be paid by equal proportion, the which said sums of 50 and 55 pounds are laid upon the said delinquents for the satisfying of the charge of the court occasioned by the hearing of the cause, in case the said charge shall arise to the sum of 105 pounds. The deputies desire the consent of the magistrates herein.
" Several discordant votes passed each branch before the business was brought to its close."

After giving an account of the proceedings of the court, Winthrop remarks as follows :
" I should have mentioned in the Hingham case, what care and pains many of the elders had taken to reconcile the differences'which were grown in that church. Mr.Hubbert , the pastor there, being of a Presbyterial spirit, did manage all affairs without the church's advice, which divers of the congregation not liking of, they were divided in two parts. Lieutenant Ermes &c. having complained to the magistrates, as is before expressed, Mr. Hubbert, &c. would have cast him out of the church, pretending that he had told a lie, whereupon they procured the elders to write to the church, and so did some of the magistrates also, whereupon they stayed proceeding against the lieutenant for a day or two.

But he and some twelve more of them, perceiving he was resolved to proceed, and finding no way of reconciliation, they withdrew from the church, and openly declared it in the congregation. This course the elders did not approve of. But being present in the court, •when their petition against the deputy governour was heard, Mr Hubbert, perceiving the cause was like to go against him and his party, desired the elders to go to Hingham to mediate a reconciliation (which he would never hearken to before, being earnestly sought by the other party, and offered by the elders) in the interim of the court's adjournment for one week. They readily accepted the motion, and went to Hingham, and spent two or three days there, and found the pastor and his party in great fault, but could not bring him to any acknowledgment. In their return by water, they were kept twenty four hours in the boat and were in great danger by occasion of a tempest which arose in the night ; but the Lord preserved them."

But the difficulties did not terminate here. The authority of government was resisted when the marshal attempted to levy the fines imposed on the petitioners. The following is Winthrop's account of the matter :

" 1646. 26. (1.)] The governour and council met at Boston to take order about a rescue which they were informed of to have been committed at Hingham upon the marshal, when he went to levy the fines imposed upon Mr. Hubberd their pastor and many others who joined with him in the petition against the magistrates &c. and having taken the information of the marshal and others, they sent out summons for their appearance at another day, at which time Mr. Hubberd came not, nor sent any excuses, though it was proved that he was at home, and that the summons was left at his house. Whereupon he was sent for by attachment directed to the constable, who brought him at the day of the return. And being then charged with joining in the said rescue by animating the offenders, and discouraging the officer, questioning the authority of his warrant because it was not in the king's name, and standing upon his allegiance to the crown of England, and exemption from such laws as were not agreeable to the laws of England, saying to the marshal that he could never know wherefore he was fined, except it were for petitioning, and if they were so waspish that they might not be petitioned, he knew not what to say to it &c. All the answer he would give was, that if he had broken any wholesome law not repugnant to the laws of England, he was ready to submit to censure. So he was bound over to the next court of assistants.

" The court being at Boston, Mr. Hubberd appeared, and the marshal's information and other concurrent testimony being read to him, and his answer demanded, he desired to know in what state he stood, and what offence he should be charged with, or what wholesome law of the land, not repugnant to the law of England, he had broken. The court told him, that the matters he was charged with amounted to a seditious practice and derogation and contempt of authority. He still pressed to know what law &c. He was told that the oath which he had taken was a law to him ; and beside the law of God which we were to judge by in case of a defect of an express law. He said that the law of God admitted various interpretations &c. Then he desired to see his accusers. Upon that the marshal was called, who justified his information. Then he desired to be tried by a jury, and to have the witnesses produced viva voce. The secretary told him that two were present, and the third was sworn to his examination, (but in that he was mistaken, for he had not been sworn,) but to satisfy him, he was sent for and sworn in court. The matters testified against him were his speeches to the marshal before thirty persons, against our authority and government &c.(1) That we were but as a corporation in England ; (2). That by our patent (as he understood it) we could not put any man to death, nor do divers other things which we did ; (3) That he knew not wherefore the general court had fined them, except it were for petitioning, and if they were so waspish (or captious) as they might not be petitioned &c. and other speeches tending to disparage our authority and proceedings. Accordingly a bill was drawn up &c. and the jury found that he seemed to be ill affected to this government, and that his speeches tended to sedition and contempt of authority. Whereupon the whole court (except Mr. Bellingham, who judged him to deserve no censure, and desired in open court to have his dissent recorded) adjudged him to pay 20 pounds fine, and to be bound to his good behaviour, till the next court of assistants, and then farther if the court should see cause. At this sentence his spirit rose, and he would know what the good behaviour was, and desired the names of the jury, and a copy of all the proceedings, which was granted him, and so he was dismissed at present."

In 1646, the celebrated petition of Dr. Child and six others, for the abolition of " the distinctions which were maintained here, both in civil and church estate," and that the people of this country might be wholly governed by the laws of England, was presented to the house of deputies. Six of the petitioners were cited before the court and charged with great offences contained in this petition : they appealed to the parliament of England, and offered security to abide by their sentence ; but the court thought proper to sentence the offenders to fine and imprisonment. The petitioners then resolved to lay their case before parliament, and Dr. Child, Mr. Vassall, and Mr. Fowle went to England for that purpose,* but it appears that they met with very ill success in their exertions. Their papers were published at London, by Major John Child, brother of Dr. Robert Child, in a tract, entitled 'New England's Jonas cast up at London', in allusion, probably, to the remark of Mr. Cotton, in one of his sermons, " that if any shall carry any writings or complaints against the people of God, in this country to England, it would be as Jonas in the ship." This tract was answered by Mr. Winslow, who was then in England, in another tract, entitled the 'Salamander', "wherein (says Winthrop) he cleared the justice of the proceedings" of the government here.

I introduced this notice of the petition of Dr. Child and others, for the purpose of correcting an error into which Hutchinson and Neal have fallen, in confounding this controversy with that of our military dispute, which created so much excitement in the country. It is proper to mention, however, that Mr. Hobart was suspected of " having a hand in it," and consequently was obliged to suffer another of the mortifications to which the relentless spirit of persecution had subjected him. I give, however, Winthrop's account of his treatment in his own words.

* An amusing account of the superstitious terror of some of the passengers in the vessel in which the petitioners went to England, and of the ill success of their petition, may be found in Neal's History of New England.

"In 1646. (9.) 4.] This court the business of Gorton &c. and of the petitioners, Dr. Child Sic. were taken into consideration, and it was thought needful to send some able man into England, with commission and instructions, to satisfy the commissioners for plantations about those complaints ; and because it was a matter of so great and general concernment, such of the elders as could be had were sent for, to have their advice in the matter. Mr. Hubbard of Hingham came with the rest, but the court being informed that he had an hand in a petition, which Mr. Vassall carried into England against the country in general, the governour propounded, that if any elder present had any such hand &c. he would withdraw himself. Mr. Hubbard sitting still a good space, and no man speaking, one of the deputies informed the court, that Mr. Hubbard was the man suspected, whereupon he arose, and said, that he knew nothing of any such petition. The governour replied, that seeing he was now named, he must needs deliver his mind about him, which was, that although they had no proof present about the matter of the petition, and therefore his denial was a sufficient clearing &.c. yet in regard he had so much opposed authority, and offered such contempt to it, as for which he had been lately bound to his good behaviour, he thought he would (in discretion) withdraw himself &c. whereupon he went out. Then the governour put the court in mind of a great miscarriage, in that our secretest counsels were presently known abroad, which could not be but by some among ourselves, and desired them to look at it as a matter of great unfaithfulness, and that our present consultations might be kept in the breast of the court, and not be divulged abroad, as others had been."

Winthrop then remarks upon a special providence of God, (as he terms it,) in which he takes it for granted, that Mr. Hobart, the people of Hingham and Dr. Child entertained similar views, if they did not openly combine their efforts to promote them.

" I must here observe a special providence of God, pointing out his displeasure against some profane persons, who took part with Dr. Child &c. against the government and churches here. The court had appointed a general fast, to seek God (as for some other occcasions, so) in the trouble which threatened us by the petitioners &c. The pastor of Hingham and others of his church (being of their party) made light of it, and some said they would not fast against Dr. Child and against themselves ; and there were two of them (one Pitt and Johnson) who, having a great raft of masts and planks (worth forty or fifty pounds) to tow to Boston, would needs set forth about noon the day before (it being impossible they could get to Boston before the fast ;) but when they came at Castle Island, there arose such a tempest, as carried away their raft, and forced them to cut their masts to save their lives. Some of their masts and plank they recovered after, where it had been cast on shore ; but when they came with it to the Castle, they were forced back again, and were so oft put back with contrary winds &c. as it was above a month before they could bring all the remainder to Boston."

The editor of Winthrop in noticing these remarks very justly observes " that unless we be careful always to consider the cause of any special providence, we may fail in our views of the displeasure of God ;" and notices the fact that the clergy when they came to this town, to reduce the church members to sobriety " were kept twenty four hours in the boat, and were in great danger by occasion of a tempest."

The last time at which Mr. Hobart was made to feel the displeasure of the government, was in 1647. Winthrop mentions it in the following manner :
"4. (6). There was a great marriage to be solemnized at Boston. The bridegroom being of Hingham, Mr. Hubbard's church, he was procured to preach, and came to Boston to that end. But the magistrates, hearing of it, sent to him to forbear. The reasons were, (1). for that his spirit had been discovered to be averse to our ecclesiastical and civil government, and he was a bold man, and would speak his mind, (2). we were not willing to bring in the English custom of ministers performing the solemnity of marriage, which sermons at such times might induce, but if any minister were present, and would bestow a word of exhortation &c. it was permitted."

I have thus gleaned from Winthrop, all the facts which his valuable journal contains, relating in any manner to the military difficulties in this town, and to the conduct of the most prominent individuals concerned in them.

The dispassionate reader, while he will give to Winthrop all the credit to which his impartiality entitles him, cannot fail to discover some circumstances which tend to extenuate the criminality of the conduct of a large and respectable portion of the inhabitants of this town. The convictions which the deputy governor entertained, of the disorderly and seditious course of Mr. Hobart and his friends, were deep and strong ; and in some instances his conduct indicated any thing but a charitable spirit towards those whose principal error (if any) consisted in their attachment to more liberal views of government, than those generally entertained at that time.

Winthrop acknowledges, that " the great questions that troubled the country, were about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people." "Two of the magistrates and many of the deputies" esteemed for piety, prudence and justice, " were of opinion that the magistrates exercised too much power, and that the people's liberty was thereby in danger," and the tendency of their principles and conduct was, (in the opinion of the deputy governour,) to have brought the commonwealth " to a mere democracy."

Thus we learn that one of the military company here, professed " he would die at the sword's point, if he might not have the choice of his own officers." Some of the principles and privileges for which our fathers contended, were undoubtedly too liberal and republican for the spirit of the age in which they lived. They were, perhaps, injudicious and indiscreet in their endeavours to promote their views ; and probably in some instances might not have expressed that respect for the constituted authorities, to which their character entitled them. The most superficial reader, however, may discover in the conduct of the deputy governour something of the spirit of bigotry which was, unfortunately, too often allowed to affect the judgments of the wisest and best of men at that time, and which operated very much to the injury of those who entertained more liberal opinions in politics and religion. The deputies, although conscious of the disorder which the prevalence of such principles might cause in the community, did not feel so strong a disregard of the motives of the people of Hingham, which impelled them to the course which they pursued, as to induce them to consent to impose on them heavy fines, without great reluctance.

The deputy governour appears to have been very sensitive on the subject of innovations upon the authority of government, and strongly bent, not only upon punishing, but desirous of publicly disgracing the " profane" people of Hingham. He seems to have " engulphed Bible, Testament and all, into the common law," as authority for the severe measures which were taken to mortify their feelings and to check the spread of principles so democratic in their tendency, and so dangerous to the interests of the commonwealth. Accordingly, we find that the magistrates sent to Mr. Hobart to forbear delivering a discourse on the occasion of the marriage of one of his church, at Boston, among other reasons, " because he was a bold man, and would speak his mind."
The effect of this controversy does not appear to have been ultimately injurious to the most conspicuous individuals engaged in it. Mr. Hobart, the pastor of Hingham, enjoyed the esteem of his people, and as has been before remarked, was relieved from the severe penalties which he incurred, by the liberality of the people of the town. His brother Joshua was afterwards frequently a deputy, and in 1674, he was honoured by an election to the office of Speaker to the House of Deputies.
It is to be admitted that the excitement necessarily caused by the agitation of this business, served to retard the growth and prosperity of the town ; and while the effects of the displeasure of the government were operating to its injury, many of the inhabitants removed to other places.

Fordington Page      OPC Page

Search billions of records on Ancestry.com