b.c. 1682 Ulster?
m. MARY PHINNEY (d. 3 Aug. 1771 Brunswick, ME, bur. First Parish Cemetery)
d. 16 Jan. 1763 Brunswick, ME, bur. First Parish Cemetery
It is impossible that Robert Spear of Brunswick could have been a son of George and Elizabeth (Gent) Spear since Elizabeth was too old. Robert was in all probability an Ulsterman as were many of his contemporaries in the Kennebec region.(1)
Robert was one of the early settlers at Brunswick and lived a little to the west of where the old meeting house stood. His house was a garrison protected by timber fortifications. In 1727 Robert was a soldier in William Woodside's company for 18 weeks and 6 days and was paid 30/.(20) His garrison was often described as the best that could be fashioned, his strong thoughts and home saved the lives of many people in a time when many early settlers left their homes for fear of the Indians.
He was one of the leaders in the building of the first church at Brunswick and his name is on the petition to have the town of Brunswick incorporated in 1735:
"The Petition of us the Subscribers Inhabitants of the Town of Brunswick... your Petitioners being arrived to a competent number to transact Town affairs & in Expectation of having others very soon added to us, having now a commodious Meeting-House chiefly erected at the charge of the Proprietors, and having also obtained a pious & orthodox Minister to settle with us, we now find it necessary to be vested with Power to lay a Tax or assesment in order to raise money for his maintenance- Therefore your petitioners Humbly pray your Excelency and Honours that you will pleas to Erect us into a Township & vest us with the Power & authorities belonging to other Towns excepting only the Power of Granting & Disposing of Land, which we acknowledge to be in the Proprietors who placed us here... Robert Spear sr., Robert Spear Jr., William Spear".(13)
"Memo. of all deeds on records made by Benjamin Larabee Esq as attorney to the proprs. of Brunswick and Topsham... Robert Spear... 200 acres... March 29th 1738... £26 0 0 ".(14) Robert held lots 16, 17, 20, 21, & 22 as well as lots 15 and 17 in Topsham.(19)Robert served as a fence viewer in 1739 and a selectman in 1741.
On 29 Oct. 1740 the Prejepscot Proprietors voted "That a tract of Land be granted to such a person as shall be approved of by the Committee of the proprietors, he giving security for the faithfull and seasonable performance thereof" to establish a tavern. Robert seems to have filled this position in the community and ran "a house for the entertainment of travellers" between the years 1744 and about 1760 out of his garrison. In addition to being a garrison and tavern it was used for town meetings during cold weather and after church on Sunday folks would gather for dinner.(17)"May 1741. The Petition of us the subscribers selectment of the town of Brunswick in the county of York.
That the Great and Generall Court were pleased to lay a tax of Thirty pounds (New tenner) upon the town of Brunswick which they are very unable to pay, and the Constables of Sd Town has Collected but a very small part by reason of their great poverty, for the Greater part of the Settlers have not been able, (as yet) to pay for their lots of land of one Hundred Acres Each which they have taken of the Proprietors tho at a Reasonable price, for the best lots do not exceed five shillings per acre, [that's about $1.25!] & other lots not above half so much, & tho some have lived upon Sd lots, more than ten years, & some near twenty, yet by Reason of our Great Poverty & being often allarmed with the Rumour of Warr, & being often disturbed by the Insulting Indians, and many times are oblidged to Garrison our houses, wich is very expensive, and always obliged to be well provided with arms & aminition, or Retire to other places of Safety with our familys & Cattle, & so oblidged to neglect our Husbandry whereby our familys have greatly sufered & have been Impoverished, and many families not being able to raize their own Provisions, are beholden to other parts of the Provcine for them, & in these times of rumour of Warr do the duty of Souldiers, in Defending ourselves & neighbours, we being a frontier town, & so of service to the Province, the fort being Remote from the greatest part of the Inhabitants which Cant be avoided, for the benefit of Husbandry, which Fort is a Great terror to the Indians and keeps them in some aw, yet they oftentimes Insults us in our private houses & when they are in any want of victuals, they kill our Cattle, which keeps us under fears & Discouragements, therefore your Petitioners Humbly pray that this Honourable Court would take the premisses into your wise Consideration and abate the tax laid upon the town of Brunswick for the year 1740, and Excuse Sd Town from paying Province taxes, for some time to come which will greatly incourage the Inhabitants to settle the remote parts of the Province where they can at present, (but with Great Difficulty) get a living, & Defend themselves & neighbours in these Exposed parts, tho the Greater part of the Inhabitants are not able to pay for the lots of land they are settled upon. The Honourable Courts compassion will greatly Incourage the Eastern Settlements, & by the smiles of Heaven, in a few years, may become a usefull part of the Province and by their Industry enabled cheerfully to pay such rates & taxes as shall be laid upon them for the future, and as to Duty bound your Petitioners shall ever pray.Samll Hinckley
It seems as though the town remained poor for quite some time as the inventory of taxable property from 1762 shows that the wealthiest citizen was Samuel Stanwood with property assessed at £151. Robert was one of the wealthiest in the west end with property valued at over £50.(18)
"Know all men by these presents that we Capt. William Woodside gentleman, Livt James Dunieng Gentleman, Samuel Clarke Husbandman, David Dunieng Yeoman, Robert Spear Inholder, Robert ffinney Weaver, all of Brunswick... haveing for Sundry good Causes... appoint and in our Stead and place, put our trusty and well Beloved friend David Given of the same Brunswick... Husbandman our true and Lawfull Attorney... this Eight Day of Aprill... 1743"(4)
"The Desposition of Robert Speer of Brunswick in the County of York of Lawfull Age declares & saith That he was chosen Constable for sd Town of Brunswick in ye year 1742 and that all the time the Declarant was in sd Office he never did warn any Selectmen or Assessors to be Sworn : nor was he ever Order'd so to doe at any time during his sd Constableship & further saith notRobert Speer"(5)
"The Deposition of Robert Spear Constable for the Year 1742 for the town of Brunswick in the County of York being of Lawfull age testifieth & saith-
that having a warrant sent to him by the select men of sd town, for the aforsd year for an Annuall Meeting to be held the 29th of March following, he suposeing that ther might be Divine Worship kept at the Meeting House put the warrant on the Inside of the Meeting house door but having no Divine Worship there for the time to the best of his knowledge the warrant lay Conceald the whole time prefixed & farther saith notRobert Speer"(6)
"To His Excellency William Shirley Esqr Captain General and Governour in Chief the Honourable the Council and the Honourable House of Representatives of his Majestys Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in General Court Assembled May 25th 1743
The Answer of Benjamin Larrabee Wymond Bradbury and Samuel Hinkley all of Brunswick... late Select men of the said Town to the Petition of David Given of Brunswick... in Behalf of himself and William Woodside James Dunning David Dunning Robert Spear and Robert Finney and many others Inhabitants of the Town of Brunswick... wherein they Complained of Irregular proceedings at the Town Meeting held at Brunswick on the 29th day of March last-
In which Petition the Complainant Set forth That in Stead of the Constables warning the Inhabitants of said Town as Usual he posted up said Notification on the Inner Side the Meeting house door So that there being no Divine Worship or other Publick Meeting at said Meeting house from the time of puting up sd Notification of said Town Meeting very few of the Inhabitants of said Town had any Notice thereof-
To this we the respondents Say that it has been our Practice ever Since we have been a Town to warn Town Meetings by posting up Warrants... on the Meeting house door And as we have had Preaching every third Sabbath at the South east part of Town ever since we have been a Town when we had a Minister we posted up another Warrant of the same tenor and date of that at the Meeting house upon the door of that house where the people use to Meet in Order that the whole Town Might be fully Apprized of the said Annual Meeting...
It's Also Complain'd of in said Petition that on the 29th of March the said Select men being Also Assessors but not Under Oath as aforesaid Met at said Meeting house and before Choosing a Moderator took upon them to purge Said Town Meeting of Such persons as they pretended had no Right to Vote therein tho' as it can be made plainly to Appear... that most of the persons whose votes they refused were well Qualified by Law to Vote in said Town Meeting and at the same time they Received and took the Votes of several persons no ways Intitled at said town Meeting upon which Your Petitioner and his Constituents entred their Protest against the Proceedings-
To this we Answer that said Town Meeting was purged by the List of said Town Lodged with the Town Clerk for that purpose for the Year 1742... it be Suggested in said Petition... that Upon purging the Meeting they entred their Protest Against the proceedings of said Meeting, it's a Mistake for the Meeting went on peaceably till the Moderator Town Clerk the two of the Select Men were chose and no body Objected Against the Legality of the Meeting till then.
We further observe that it is set forth in said Petition that Wymond Bradbury was Treasurer for said Town for the Year 1742 and has Considerable of the Town's Money in his hands and not Yet made up his accompts with said Town... and the Tax Money being in his hands for the Support of the Ministry... and he evadeing Accompting for the Same...
To this we Answer that... cannot be true for that the said Treasurer laid his Accompts Before the Select men Capt John Minot and Mr David Duning... It appeared that he had Recieved of the Constables but £ 106-9-4 and that he had paid of the Towns Debts £ 111-13-6 so that instead of his having Considerable of the Towns money in his hands he is in Advance for the Town £5-4-2... We further Observe in the Petition it's said the Town Meeting... your Petitioner humbly prays... that by the Orders of this Great and General Court the Town men of said Town of Brunswick may be Enabled to Call another Town Meeting for Electing Officers...
To this we Answer there Could be no Contrivance in Warning that Meeting Unless it be in one of the Petitioners Constituants Robert Spear who being the Constable that posted up Said Notification on the inner side the Meeting house door without any Order... And... the Assessors for the Year 1742 in Making the Assessment for that Year have Acted Uprightly... in making the Taxes lay'd on the Inhabitants... Altho they did not take the Assessors Oath for that Year two of them having been Sworn heretofore... the Complaint made by the said David Given and his abettors is in the Greatest part thereof A misrepresentation-
Therefore the Respondents Subscribers hereunto Humbly pray Your Excellency and Honours the said petition or Complaint may be dismissed as Troublesome and Vexatious..."(7)"Boston 30th May 1743
David Duning Gentn and Robert Spear Innholder both of Brunswick...Say That They were Sworn Assessors for sd Town of Brunswick for the Year 1741 and That Mr David Given and sevll others were rated after the rate of Twenty pounds ratable Estate besides their pole And the Assessors for the last Year did not rate said David Given and others so Much as they were rated in said Year 1741 Whereby the said David Given and sevll others Were deprived of Voteing for Town Officers for said Town at the Annuall Meeting in March last and after said Meeting was over They increased the rate of said David Given, And The said Assessors rated severall and perticularly Wymond Bradbury who has not land in sd Town and but One Cow so high as to qualleyfie Them for Voters.David Duning
"Capt William Woodside mr James Duning mr Robert ffinny mr Robert Spear mr David Duning mr David Giveen & mr Samll Clarke have entered their Protest against the annual Town meeting held at Brunswick upon the 29th Day of March 1743..."(9)Ah... such are small town politics... some things never change!
In March 1746 David Dunning was elected a commissioner to appear at the General Court in Boston to present a petition on behalf of the town. He was to receive instructions from a committee made up of Robert Spear, David Giveen, and Robert Finney. The nature of the petition is not know, however, the following year the town voted to send David Dunning to Boston with a petition asking for protection against the Indians.(16)
Hannah Fayrweather of Boston, widow of Thomas Fayrweather of Boston sold to Robert Speer of Brunswick, yeoman lot No.19 on the west side of the road from Fort George to Maquoit for £100 old tenor notes 14 Oct. 1749. Robert then bought lot No.18 from Belcher Noyes of Boston, physician for £150 old tenor notes.(2)Map of Brunswick Lots
"Brunswick May 20th 1756
May it Please your Excel-
I am Desired by the Selectmen & Others Prinsipall men in this Town) to begg the favour of your Excel. that 3 or 4 men or as many as your Excel. sees meet be placed at Mr Spears Garrison out of Some of those marching Companyes his Garrison is halfe wayes betwene ffort George & Maquoit, no house within a mile & a halfe of it, he an old man upwards of 80 years & but One son with him who uppon the late murders Committed by the Indians ) if they cannot have some men allow'd are going to leave it We ask this favour for this Garrison only I know of none in the County so necessary to be kept it being a Common passage for Travellers and soldiers in their march from Kennibeck river to this Bay-I am Yor Excel most Obedt humb servt
"The Petition of the Select Men of the Town of Brunswick
That the said Town for many years past has been exposed to the Incursions of the Indian Enemy and many of said Indians killed and captivated : and that very lately they Surprized three of the Inhabitants in their return from the place of Publick Worship one of whom was taken and carried away the other very narrowly escaped : At the same time near the Borders of said Town Another Family was surprized, One Man Killed & his child at the Breast of its Mother who was dangerously wounded this necessarily Alarmed the Inhabitants, obliged them to Neglect their Husbandry and to retire into Garrison where they are at present confined by reason of the Enemy. Therefore your Petitioners humbly represent their distressed Circumstances at this day and earnestly pray the Compassionate Regard of this Honble Court so far as to Allow a few Men to be posted at a Garrison situate in the Centre of said Town near to the Meeting house, on the Main Road from Maquoit to Fort George so necessary and convenient for Travellers & others, which has hitherto been Maintained at the expence of the Owner Mr Robert Spear, but he is now greatly Advanced in Years, Lame and without any help except one Son and he must necessarily quitt the Place unless some Relief be afforded-
Your Petitioners humbly hope that your Honours would be pleased to take this into your Consideration and afford them this necessary Relief at this so Critical Juncture And Your Petitioners as in duty bound shall every pray &cThos Skolfield
In the House of Representatives May 28. 1758-
Read and Voted That his Honr the Lieut Governor be desired to give Orders that fourteen Men belonging to the Scouting Company under the Command of Capt Samuel Gooding Continually Scout on the back of the Inhabitants from Fort George to Macquoit, untill the further Order of this Court..."(11)Wheeler in his "History" describes the Spear Garrison:
"Nearly opposite the old meeting-house which stood on the Maquoit road, about a mile from the colleges, was once a garrison built by William and Robert Spear, and occupied by the latter. The wall was sixty or seventy feet in circumference, and ten feet high. Inside there was a one-story, gambrel-roofed house, which faced the east, and the back of which formed a part of the timber wall. This garrison was once attacked by the Indians. Mr. Spear had placed some loose boards across one corner of the wall. An Indian climbed up on this corner in order to get inside and unbar the gates, but the boards extending outside of the wall, his weight caused them to tip up, and he fell back into an old sleigh, the noise, of course, arrousing Mr. Spear.
According to another account, the Indian fell back into a hog-pen, and it was the unusual grunting of its disturbed porcine occupant that awoke Mr. Spear."(12)
John Dunlap, son of Rev. Robert Dunlap the first minister in Brunswick, wrote a narrative about his experiences in 18th century Brunswick with Robert Jr.:
"The most eventful tour I ever took was with one Robert Spear. We left this town together, determined on a cruise to the Penobscot, and to its rise. It was in the month of March, and the ground was covered with deep snow. We took with us each a gun, ammunition, four ounces of salt, and of bread what was equal to a dozen biscuit, and each a pair of snow-shoes. We commenced travel, and made the best of our way to the Kennebeck and Penobscot. We passed some rivers and many small streams which were frozen over. On our arrival at the Penobscot, we divided. Mr. Spear took the north side of the river, and I took the south. We were to proceed up the river to its source, and there wait seven days for each other. I traversed the woods, and frequently met with small streams which had been flowed by the beaver, and generally met with good success. After ten or fifteen days I arrived at the source of the river, and there I spent seven long anxious days, listening continually to hear the foot-steps of my companion. My nights were long and dreary in the extreme. The day I spent in wandering about, killing what I could find that was profitable. At the expiration of the seven long days, seeing nothing of Spear, I resolved to return home, and had travelled one or two days, when the thought occurred to me about what account I should give Mr. Spear's family on my return. As I was a single man, I concluded to return, and if possible, find him. I travelled along down on the north side of the river, looking for some vestiges of human beings. What had become of Spear I could not imagine. Whether he had fallen into the hands of the Indians, or had been devoured by wild beasts, I had no means of ascertaining. My mind was the whole time vacillating between hope and fear. After I had been travelling a number of days, and had been looking and listening, a pole stuck up in the middle of the river in the snow arrested my attention. I at once concluded it must be placed there by some human being, and thought I would go and see if there were any tracks. I repaired immediately to it, and on it found a piece of birch bark with writing upon it, to inform me that Spear was sick close by on the bank of the river. It is impossible to describe my feelings, -how long it had been there, whether he was dead or alive,- a thousand conjectures passed over my mind. I concluded to search, and immediately fired my gun, which was in about a minute answered. I followed the direction of the report, and in a few minutes found poor Spear lying under a log with some bark laid upon it, which afforded him but a scanty shelter. He was suffering from an acute rheumatic fever. He seemed overjoyed at my appearance. What to do for him I was at a stand. For this complaint, and indeed for any, I had nothing to administer; I built a camp, built him a good fire, and stayed by him, doing everything for him I could. Necessity, the mother of invention, suggested one application after another. His pains were extreme, and his spirits almost exhausted. I at length concluded to dig away some snow, get some good turf, green as I could find it, heated by the fire, and apply it to the part of the body most affected with pain. This proved a lucky expedient, he grew better, and after a while he was able to start for Fort Halifax, where, after a tedious travel, we arrived. I left him and came home. Spear followed in about a month."(3)Issue-
(1) The Ancestry of Annis Spear 1775-1858-Walter Goodwin Davis
(2) York Deeds- Vol.28, p.259
(3) Pejepscot Papers- quoted in Wheeler's "History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell" - pp. 210-1 at: http://www2.curtislibrary.com/history/wheeler/ww_pt2_ch5.html
(4) Documentary History of the State of Maine- The Baxter Manuscripts- James Phinney Baxter, Maine Hist. Soc., 1908- Second Series, Vol. XI, pp. 271-2
(5) Ibid- p. 275
(6) Ibid- p. 276
(7) Ibid- pp. 277-80
(8) Ibid- p. 282
(9) Ibid- p. 296
(10) Ibid- Vol. XIII, p. 25
(11) Ibid- pp. 29-30
(12) History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell, Maine- George Augustus Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Boston, 1878- p. 653
(13) Ibid- pp. 105-6
(14) Ibid- p. 38
(15) Ibid- pp. 110-1
(16) Ibid- pp. 113-4
(17) Ibid- p. 290
(18) Ibid- p. 600
(19) Ibid- p. 868, 871
(20) Ibid- p. 876
Spear Families in Maine Towns- Rev. Charles N. Sinnett
Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine- George Little, Lewis Historical Pub. Co., NY, 1909- section on the Spear family at: http://dunhamwilcox.net/me/me_bio_spear.htm
The Speare Family from 1642- Charles Leon Speare, Tuttle Pub. Co., Rutland, 1938
History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell, Maine- George Augustus Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Boston, 1878