CHAPTER II.

THE great Plymouth company wished to make grants of their lands as fast as they could find purchasers; and conformity was so pressed, and the times grew so difficult in England, that men of quality, as well as others, were anxious to provide, for them-selves and their friends, a retreat in America. Another patent, therefore, containing a large tract of country in New-England, soon succeeded that of Massachusetts.

On the 19th of March, 1631, Robert, earl of Warwick, president of the council of Plymouth, under his hand and seal, did grant and confirm unto the honourable William Viscount Say and Seal, Robert Lord Brooks, Robert Lord Rich, Charles Fiennes, Esq. Sir Nathaniel Rich, Sir Richard Saltonstall, and others, to the number of eleven, and to their heirs, assigns, and associates, for ever, "All that part of New-England, in America, which lies and extends itself from a river there, called Narraganset river, the

1 Magnalia B. III. The Life of Hooker.


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space of forty leagues upon a straight line near the sea shore, towards the south-west, west and by south, or west as the coast lieth towards Virginia, accounting three English miles to the league, and ail and singular the lands and hereditaments what-soever, lying and being within the bounds aforesaid, north and south in latitude and breadth, and in length and longitude of, and within all the breadth aforesaid, throughout all the main lands there, from the western ocean to the south seas; and all lands, grounds, soil, wood and wood lands, ground, havens, ports, creeks and rivers, waters, fishings and hereditaments whatsoever, lying within the said space, and every part and parcel thereof; and also, all islands lying in America aforesaid, in the said seas, or either of them, on the western or eastern coasts, or parts of the said tracts of land, by these presents to be given or granted."1 The council of Plymouth, the preceding year, 1630, granted this whole tract to the earl of Warwick, and it had been confirmed to him by a patent from king Charles the first.

This is the original patent of Connecticut.2 The settlers of the two colonies of Connecticut and New-Haven were the patentees of Viscount Say and Seal, lord Brook, and their associates, to whom the patent was originally given.

President Clap describes the extent of the tract, conveyed by this patent, in the words following: "All that part of New-Eng-land which lies west from Narraganset river, a hundred and twenty miles on the sea coast; and from thence, in latitude and breadth aforesaid, to the south sea. This grant extends from Point Judith, to New-York; and from thence, in a west line to the south sea: and if we take Narraganset river in its whole length, this tract will extend as far north as Worcester: it com-prehends the whole of the colony of Connecticut, and much more."3 Neal, Douglass, Hutchinson,4 and all ancient historians and writers, have represented all the New-England grants as ex-tending west from the Atlantic ocean to the south sea. Indeed the words of the patent are most express, declaring its extent to be south west or west, towards Virginia, to be in length and longi-tude throughout all the main lands to the south sea.

The colony of the Massachusetts, and the commissioners of the

1See this patent in the Appendix, No. 1.

2The foundation of the earl of Warwick's claim to this territory is as Johnston remarks, "mythical." The grant to Lord Say and Seal and others shows no title on the part of the grantor, and is merely a quit-claim. The same terrirory was granted by the Plymouth Company in 1635 to the Marquis of Hamilton, whose claim was set up in opposition to the charter in 1662, but was barred by prescrip-tion. The fact that the agreement with Fenwick in 1644 provides that he shall arrange that this same territory shall "fall in under the jurisdiction of Connecticut, if it come into his power," indicates that the court of the colony was by no means sure of its jurisdiction.-J. T.

3Manuscripts of president Clap.

4Neal's history N. E. vol. 1. p. 148. Douglass, vol. ii. p. 90 and 160; and Hutchinson vol. i. p. 64 and vol. ii. p. 203.


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united colonies of New-England, understood the patents in this light, and hence extended their claims to the westward of the Dutch settlements. The Massachusetts, in the year 1659, made a grant of lands, opposite to fort Aurania, upon Hudson's river, to a number of principal merchants, in the colony, who were plan-ning to make settlements in those parts.1 The same year, the commissioners of the united colonies asserted their claim of all the western lands to the south sea. In a letter to the Dutch gov-ernor, September 1st, 1659, they write, "We presume you have heard from your people of the fort of Aurania, that some of our people, the English, have been lately in those parts, upon dis-covery of some meet places for plantations, within the bounds of the patent of the Massachusetts colony; which from the lati-tude of 42 degrees and a half, or 42 degrees and 33 and a half minutes, and so northerly, extends itself from east to west, in longitude through the main land of America, from the Atlantic ocean to the south or west sea."

The patents to Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, have ever been understood to have the same westerly extension. In the same light have they always been viewed, by the British kings, and have been pleaded and acted upon, in treaties, between the court of Great-Britain, and the French and Spanish monarchs. By virtue of this construction of patents and charters of the Amer-ican colonies, it was, that all the western territories, as far as Mississippi, were, in the late peace with Great-Britain, ceded to the states of America. From the same construction of the patents, congress have taken a formal surrender of the unappropriated western lands from particular states, and from Connecticut no less than from others.

The situation of the settled part of Connecticut is chiefly from 41 to 42 degrees of north latitude, and from 72 to 73 degrees and 45 minutes west longitude. It is bounded south by the sea shore about 90 miles, from Byram river, in the latitude of 40 degrees and 58 minutes, and longitude 72 degrees and 25 minutes, to Paw-catuck river, in latitude 41 degrees and 17 minutes, and in longi-tude 72 degrees and 25 minutes; east on the colony of Rhode-Island 45 miles; north on Massachusetts 72 miles, the line run-ning nearly in the latitude of 42 degrees; and west on New-York about 73 miles. It contains 4,730 square miles, and 3,020,000 acres. One twentieth part of the colony is water and highways.2 Exclusive of these there are 2,869,000 acres. Of this about 2,640,000 are estimated improvable. The land is excellently watered, and liberal to the husbandman. Though, in some places,

1Hutchinson, vol. 1. p. 159.

2To find the quantity of water and highways, an accurate computation was made of the proportion of water and highways in a particular town, which was supposed to contain an average with the towns in general.


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it is mountainous and broken, yet the greatest part of this is profit-able either for wood or grazing. There are some thin lands, but these are profitable with proper manuring and cultivation,

The present population is more than fifty souls to every square mile, including land and water. It is about one person to every ten or twelve acres of land.

The first discoveries made of this part of New-England were of its principal river and the fine meadows lying upon its bank. Whether the Dutch at New-Netherlands, or the people of New-Plymouth, were the first discoverers of the river is not certain. Both the English and Dutch claimed to be the first discoverers, and both purchased and made a settlement of the lands upon it. nearly at the same time.

In 1631, Wahquimacut, a sachem upon the river Connecticut, made a journey to Plymouth and Boston, earnestly soliciting the governors of each of the colonies to send men to make settlements upon the river. He represented the exceeding fruitfulness of the country, and promised that he would supply the English, if they would make a settlement there, with corn annually, and give them eighty beaver skins. He urged that two men might be sent to view the country. Had this invitation been accepted it might have prevented the Dutch claim to any part of the lands upon the river, and opened an extensive trade, in hemp, furs, and deer skins, with all the Indians upon it, and far into Canada.

The governor of Massachusetts treated the sachem and his company with generosity, but paid no further attention to his proposal. Mr. Winslow, the governor of Plymouth, judged it worthy of more attention. It seems, that soon after he went to Connecticut, and discovered the river and the adjacent parts. The commissioners of the united colonies, in their declaration against the Dutch, in 1653, say, "Mr. Winslow, one of the commissioners for Plymouth, discovered the fresh river when the Dutch had neither trading house nor any pretence to a foot of land there."1

It very soon appeared that the earnestness, with which the Indian sachem solicited the English to make settlements on the river, originated in the distressed state of the river Indians. Pekoath, at that time, the great sachem of the Pequims, or Pequots, was conquering them, and driving their sachems from that part of the country. The Indian king imagined that, if he could persuade the English to make settlements there, they would defend him from his too powerful enemies.2

The next year, the people of New-Plymouth made more par-ticular discoveries, upon the river, and found a place near the mouth of the little river, in Windsor, at which they judged a trad-ing house might be erected, which would be advantageous to the colony.

1Records of the United Colonies.

2Winthrop's Journal, p. 25


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The Indians represented that the river Connecticut extended so far north, and so near the great lake, that they passed their canoes from the lake into it; and that from the great swamps about the lake came most of the beaver in which they traded.

One of the branches of Onion river, in Vermont, is within ten miles of Connecticut river. This was anciently called the French river. The French and Indians from Canada came by this river, and from this into Connecticut, when they made their attacks on the northern frontiers of New-England and Connecticut.

Connecticut river has its source in that grand ridge of moun-tains which divides the waters of New-England and Canada, and extends north-easterly to the gulf of St. Lawrence. The source of its highest branch is in about 45 degrees and a half, or 46 de-grees of north latitude. Where it enters New-England, in 45 de-grees of north latitude, it is ten rods in breadth, and in running sixty miles further, it becomes twenty-four rods wide. It forms the boundary line btween New-Hampshire and Vermont about two hundred miles. Thence running through the states of Massa-chusetts and Connecticut, it disembogues its waters into Long-Island sound, between Saybrook and Lyme. It runs with a gentle flow, as its course is, between three and four hundred miles. Its breadth through Connecticut, as a medium, is between a hundred rods and half a mile. In the high spring floods it overflows its banks, and in some places is nearly two miles in breadth. As its banks are generally low, it forms and fertilizes a vast tract of the finest meadow; feasible, fertile, and in which a stone is scarcely to be found. The general course of this beautiful river, above, and between the states of New-Hampshire and Vermont, is nearly south west; thence it turns and runs but a few degrees west of south to its mouth. At a small distance from its mouth is a bar of sand, apparently formed by the conflux of the river and tide. Upon this there is but ten feet of water at full tide. The bar is at such a distance from the mouth of the river, that the greatest floods do not increase the depth of the water. This is some ob-struction to navigation, but any vessel, which can pass the bar, may proceed without obstruction as far as Middletown, thirty miles from the sound; and vessels of eighty, and a hundred tons, go up to Hartford, fifty miles from the river's mouth. By means of locks and cuts, at the falls, it is now navigable, for boats, more than three hundred miles.

In Connecticut, there is one exception to the lowness of the river's banks. About three miles below Middletown the river makes its way through two mountains, by which its breadth is contracted to about forty rods. This occasions the waters, some-times, in the spring floods, to rise, even at Hartford, twenty feet above the common surface of the river. This, for the length of its course, its gentle flow, its excellent waters, the rich and ex-


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tensive meadows which it forms, and the immense quantities of fish, with which it abounds, is one of the finest rivers in New-England.

None of the ancient adventurers, who discovered the great con-tinent of North-America, or New-England, made any discovery of this river. It does not appear that it was known to any civilized nation, until some years after the settlement of the English and Dutch, at Plymouth and New-Netherlands.

From this fine river, which the Indians called Quonehtacut, or Connecticut, (in English, the long river,) the colony, originally took its name. Indeed this is one principal source of its wealth and convenience.

The Housatonick and the little or Farmington river, westward of it, and Pequot river, now called the Thames, on the east, are also considerable sources of its opulence and prosperity. The Housatonick, now commonly called Stratford river, has two prin-cipal branches. One rises in Lanesborough, and the other in Windsor, in the county of Berkshire, in Massachusetts. Where it enters Connecticut, between Salisbury and Canaan, it is about fifty rods wide, and running through the whole length of the colony, it empties into the sound between Milford and Stratford. It is navigable twelve miles to Derby. Between Milford and Stratford it is about eighty rods wide, and there is about four fathoms of water. Were it not obstructed, by a bar of shells, at the mouth, it would admit large ships. Between Salisbury and Canaan is a cataract where the water of the whole river falls per-pendicularly sixty feet. The fall produces a perfectly white sheet of water, and a mist in which various floating rainbows are ex-hibited, forming a scene exquisitely grand and beautiful.

The Naugatuck, or Waterbury river, is another considerable branch of the Housatonick. Its source is in Torrington, and run-ning through Harwinton, Plymouth and Waterbury, it empties itself into said river at Derby.

The little, or Farmington river, rises in Becket, in Massachu-setts, crosses the boundary line between the colonies at Hartland, and passing through Barkhempsted and New-Hartford, runs south considerably below the centre of Farmington first society; then, making a remarkable turn, it runs back nearly a north course, twelve or fourteen miles into Simsbury; where it turns easterly, and running into Windsor, discharges its waters into Connecticut river,1 nearly in the centre of the town. This formerly was replenished with all kinds of fish in as great a profusion as Connecticut. The numerous dams, which more lately have been erected upon it, have very greatly obstructed their passage.

Pequot river, or the Thames, empties into the sound at New-

1The Connecticut river was doubtless explored by Adrian Block in 1614, who, ac-cording to De Laet sailed as far as the present site of Hartford.-J. T.


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London. It is navigable fourteen miles, to Norwich landing. Here it loses its name, and branches into Shetucket on the east, and Norwich or little river on the west.

About a mile from the mouth of the little river, is a remarkable romantic cataract. A perpendicular rock, about twelve feet high, extends itself across the whole channel: over this the river pitches, in one entire sheet, on to a bed of rocks: here it is compressed by a very narrow and crooked passage, between two craggy cliffs, and for fifteen or twenty rods, forces its way over numerous pointed rocks, with the most violent agitation; thence it flows into a large basin, which spreads itself for its reception. The long and constant falling of the waters, have excavated the rocks, even to admiration. In some, cavities are made, of a circular form, not less than five or six feet deep. The smooth and gentle flow of the river above the fall, the regularity and beauty of its descent, the roughness and foam of the waters below, and the rugged, tow-ering cliff impending the whole, presents the spectator with a scene majestic and pleasing beyond description.

The Shetucket, which name it bears as far only as the southern boundary of Windham, is formed by the Willamantick and Queni-baug rivers. The Willamantick has its source in Massachusetts, enters Connecticut at Stafford, and is the boundary line between Tollancl and Willington, Coventry and Mansfield, and passing by Windham, loses itself in the Shetucket. Quenibaug rises in Brim-field, in Massachusetts, and passing through Sturbridge and Dudley, crosses the line between that state and Connecticut, at Thompson; and dividing Pomfret from Killingly, Canterbury from Plainfield, and Lisbon from Preston, flows into the She-tucket.

The colony is watered and fertilized by numerous other rivers, of less extent and utility.

As the people at Plymouth had explored Connecticut river, and fixed upon a place convenient for building and commerce, and found the original proprietors of the soil desirous of their making settlements among them, they judged it an affair worthy of pub-lic, and immediate attention.

In July, 1633, Mr. Winslow and Mr. Bradford therefore made a journey to Boston, to confer with governor Winthrop and his council, on the subject. Governor Winslow and Mr. Bradford proposed it to them, to join with Plymouth, in a trade to Connecti-cut, for hemp and beaver, and to erect a house for the purposes of commerce. It was represented as necessary, to prevent the Dutch from taking possession of that fine country, who, it was reported, were about to build upon the river: but governor Win-throp declined the motion: he objected that it was not proper to make a plantation there, because there were three or four thou-sand warlike Indians upon the river; and because the bar at the


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mouth of it was such, that small pinnaces only could enter it at high water; and because that, seven months in the year, no ves-sels could go into it, by reason of the ice, and the violence of the stream.

The Plymouth people therefore determined to undertake the enterprise at their own risk. Preparations were made for erecting a trading house, and establishing a small company upon the river. In the mean time, the master of a vessel from Massachusetts, who was trading at New-Netherlands, shewed to Walter Van Twiller, the Dutch governor, the commission which the English had to trade and settle in New-England; and that his majesty, the king of England, had granted all these parts to his own subjects. He therefore desired that the Dutch would not build at Connecticut. This appears to have been done at the direction of governor Win-throp; for, in consequence of it, the Dutch governor wrote a very complaisant letter to him, in which he represented, that the lords, the States General, had granted the same country to the West-India company. He requested therefore, that the English would made no settlements at Connecticut, until the affair should be determined between the court of England, and the States General.1 This appears to have been a piece of policy in the Dutch governor, to keep the English still, until the Dutch had got a firm footing upon the river.

Several vessels, this year, went into Connecticut river to trade. John Oldham, from Dorchester,2 and three men with him, also travelled through the wilderness to Connecticut, to view the coun-try, and trade with the Indians. The sachem upon the river made him most welcome, and gave him a present in beaver. He found that the Indian hemp grew spontaneously in the meadows, in great abundance: he purchased a quantity of it; and, upon trial, it appeared much to exceed the hemp which grew in England.

William Holmes, of Plymouth, with his company, having pre-pared the frame of a house, with boards and materials for covering it immediately, put them on board a vessel, and sailed for Con-necticut. Holmes had a commission from the governor of Ply-mouth, and a chosen company to accomplish his design. When he came into the river, he found that the Dutch had got in before him, made a light fort, and planted two pieces of cannon: this was erected at the place since called Hartford. The Dutch forbid Holmes' going up the river, stood by their cannon, ordered him to strike his colours, or they would fire upon him: but he was a man of spirit, assured them that he had a commission from the governor of Plymouth to go up the river, and that he must obey

1Winthrop's Journal, p. 55.

2In the Colony Records, Oldham is mentioned as a member of the assembly of May 8, 1632, "for Watertown." From this Savage draws the inference that he could not have been from Dorchester at this time, September, 1633.-J- T.


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his orders: they poured out their threats, but he proceeded, and landing on the west side of the river, erected his house a little below the mouth of the little river, in Windsor.1 The house was covered with the utmost dispatch, and fortified with palisadoes. The sachems, who were the original owners of the soil, had been driven from this part of the country, by the Pequots; and were now carried home on board Holmes' vessel. Of them the Ply-mouth people purchased the land, on which they erected their house.2 This, governor Wolcott says, was the first house erected in Connecticut.3 The Dutch, about the same time, erected a trad-ing house at Hartford, which they called the Hirse of good hope.4

It was with great difficulty that Holmes and his company erected and fortified their house, and kept it afterwards. The Indians were offended at their bringing home the original proprietors, and lords of the country, and the Dutch that they had settled there, and were about to rival them in trade, and in the possession of those excellent lands upon the river: they were obliged therefore to combat both, and to keep a constant watch upon them.

The Dutch, before the Plymouth people took possession of the river, had invited them, in an amicable manner, to trade at Con-necticut; but when they were apprised that they were making preparations for a settlement there, they repented of the invita-tion, and spared no exertions to prevent them.

On the 8th of June, the Dutch had sent Jacob Van Curter, to purchase lands upon the Connecticut. He made a purchase of about twenty acres at Hartford, of Nepuquash, a Pequot captain. Of this the Dutch took possession in October, and on the 25th of the month, Curter protested against William Holmes, the builder of the Plymouth house. Some time afterwards, the Dutch gov-ernor, Walter Van Twiller, of fort Amsterdam, dispatched a re-inforcement to Connecticut, designing to drive Holmes and his company from the river. A band of seventy men, under arms, with banners displayed, assaulted the Plymouth house, but they found it so well fortified, and the men who kept it so vigilant and determined, that it could not be taken without bloodshed: they therefore came to a parley, and finally returned in peace.

The Dutch were always mere intruders.5 They had no right to any part of this country. The English ever denied their right, and when the Dutch placed a governor at New-Netherlands, and

1Manuscripts of governor Wolcott.

2Prince's Chron. part ii. sec. 2, p. 94, 95, 96.

3In his manuscripts.

4Smith represents this house as built ten years before it was. Hist. of New-York, p. 2.

5This is disputed by Savage, who accuses Trumbull of partisan feeling, and re-fers to the N. A. Review, 8 : 85, for a fair statement of the claims of the Dutch. The fact that Trumbull erroneously supposed Hudson to be under control of the English at the time of the discovery of the Hudson river, probably had much to do with Trumbull's entire view of the claims of the Dutch.-J. T.


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the court of England made complaint of it to the States General, they disowned the affair, and said it was only a private under-taking of an Amsterdam West-India company. King James the first commissioned Edward Langdon to be governor, at New-Netherlands, and named the country New-Albion, The Dutch submitted to the English government, until the troubles in Eng-land, under the administrations of king Charles the first and the long parliament.1 Taking the advantage of the distraction of those times, they again usurped and established their government, until they were reduced by king Charles the second, in 1664. They gave great trouble to both the colonies of Connecticut and New-Haven.

The people of New-Plymouth had carried on a trade upon Con-necticut river for nearly two years before they erected a trading house. They found the country to be excellent and the trade profitable; but that, were there a house and company to receive the commodities which were brought down from the inland coun-try, the profits would be much greater. The country abounded with beaver. The Dutch purchased not less than ten thousand skins annually. Plymouth and Massachusetts people sometimes sent, in a single ship, for England, a thousand pounds sterling worth of otter and beaver skins. The extent of Connecticut river, the numerous Indians upon it, and the easy communication which they had with the lakes, and natives of Canada, gave an extensive opening for a trade in furs, skins, corn, hemp and all kinds of commodities which the country afforded.

This was a year of great sickness at Plymouth. They lost twenty of their people. Some of them were their principal and most useful inhabitants.

It was a dreadful year to the Indians in the Massachusetts. Two sachems with a great part of their Indians died. The small pox, which spread among them, was the occasion of the mortality. The people of Massachusetts shewed them great kindness in their distress. Several towns received their children to prevent their taking the infection, and to nurse and save them if they had taken it; but the most of them died, notwithstanding all the care and pains which could be exercised towards them. When their own people forsook them, the English, who lived near them, went to their wigwams and ministered to them. Some families spent al-most their whole time with them. One Englishman buried thirty of their dead in one day.2

1Doug. vol. ii. p. 222.

2Winthrop's Journal, p. 59.