The inscription on the Hampton Bolder Monument reads: A LITTLE BAND OF PIONEERS UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF REV. STEPHEN BACHILER OF SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND SEEKING A LARGER LIBERTY IN OCTOBER 1638 SETTLED IN THE WILDERNESS NEAR THIS SPOT TO PLANT A FREE CHURCH IN A FREE TOWN THEY WERE JOINED BY OTHER AND IN THAT YEAR THE TOWN WAS INCORPORATED TO DO HONOR TO THE FOUNDERS AND FATHERS OF HAMPTON TO EXALT THE IDEALS FOR WHICH THEY STOOD AND AS AN INSPIRATION TO POSTERITY THIS MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED OCTOBER 14, 1925
Much of the information in this chapter is contained in Starbuck's History of Nantucket and has been included in several Swain family histories by past historians.
Introduction Richard Swayne and family came to America is 1635 and originally settled in Rowley, located in the northeast corner of Massachusetts. The Swain family historians reported very little about their life in Rowley. One historian reported that Richard was given "liberty to plant, and settle small claims". Four years later, in 1639, Richard left Rowley and moved his family to New Hampshire, where he helped found the town of Hampton. In 1661 Richard and most of his family moved to Nantucket.
Since both Rowley and Hampton were located within the territory granted to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Swayne family spent the first 26 years of their lives (1635-1661) in America living in the historic Massachusetts Bay Colony. This chapter describes some of the unusual life and times of the settlers of this colony during this period.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony Trading Companies The English government used two agencies to promote the establishment of settlements overseas: the chartered trading company, and the proprietorship. Proprietary charter normally granted huge tracts of land to an individual or group of persons on terms reminiscent of feudal tenure. The chartered trading company were joint-stock companies, operating under royal charters, composed of stockholders who shared, pro rata, the profits and losses of the colonial venture. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was a chartered trading company. (Jamestown, Virginia, by the London Company, was also a charted trading company.)
Political control of the colony was at first vested in the directors of the company, who were usually more interested in profits than in settlers. Most charters provided that colonists should have all the rights and privileges of Englishmen and that their governing bodies should pass no law contrary to the laws of England. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was unique for a trading company. Most of its stockholders migrated to America, thus making the colony corporate or self-governing. So it remained until the Crown annulled the charter in 1691 and appointed a royal governor.
Founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony In 1628 an aggressive Puritan-dominated trading company, The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, obtained a grant of territory extending from a point three miles south of the Charles River to a point three miles north of the Merrimac River. The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay was more commonly called the "Massachusetts Bay Colony." The same year, 1628, this Company organized an expedition of about 100 people, commanded by the Puritan, John Endicott, that sailed from England and landed at Salem, Massachusetts. Soon after Endicott's expedition arrived in Salem, the Company obtained a royal patent and the colony was officially constituted with a political government. The following year, 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Company of London appointed John Winthrop as Governor. Also in 1629 the government and patent of the company were transferred from London to New England. John Winthrop, with about 1800 puritan settlers, sailed from England in March 1630, and arrived in Salem on June 12, 1630. He settled in the Shawmut Peninsula community which later became Boston. Until Winthrop's arrival, Endicott served as Governor.
Large scale colonization then began. Between 1630 to 1640 an estimated 20,000 colonists settled in the Massachusetts Bay area, founding Boston and many other nearby communities. All the leaders were Puritans and all settlers had to follow that religion. Richard Swayne and his family were among these settlers. Although the colony was self governing, democracy did not exist, and freedom of worship was forbidden. In Boston, Roger Williams opposed this doctrine and was banished. He walked eighty miles in mid-winter to Rhode Island, in 1636, and began a new colony in Providence, where anyone could worship as he pleased. Providence was the first English colony to practice religious toleration.
Ownership of Land: During the 17th century the New England legislatures tried to establish many small towns of freeholders, who were either church members or regular church attendants. To accomplish this, they granted tracts of land to "proprietors," who were responsible for laying out the town. Each settler belonging to the dominant religious group received a home lot and additional arable land for a farm. He became an outright owner of his home and farm and a joint owner with his fellow townsmen of the common meadow and wooded land belonging to the whole town. As a result, small farms owned as freeholds, rather than great estates, became typical of New England. This is the procedure followed when the town of Hampton was founded by Richard Swayne and others in 1639.
Farming: Characteristics of the region northeast of the Hudson Valley was the diversified farming of small freeholds. Despite the handicaps of a short growing season and rocky soil, many crops were grown successfully. Among the chief products were corn, oats, rye, barley and fruit. Cattle, sheep, horses and poultry were also raised.
The colonial farmers, merchants, and manufacturers were generally in search of laborers, for the ease with which newcomers in English America acquired land meant that industrious colonists could soon become landlords in their own right. Indentured servants and enslaved Negroes and Indians constituted the most important labor force.
Education: Education was very important to the early settlers of New England. In 1647 the Massachusetts School Law was passed which required every town of fifty house holders to maintain a grammar school. These schools were often established and run by religious organizations. The colonies also moved quickly to establish colleges in their area. At first, colleges were established primarily for the training of ministers. The curriculum, which emphasized theology and the classics, following that of the English liberal arts colleges. Harvard, for example, founded in 1636, had its inception in a desire of the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to perpetuate, in their new home, the classical and theological learning acquired by many of them at the University of Cambridge, and to educate the "English and Indian youth in knowledge and godliness." Before the revolution, nine colleges had been founded in America: Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, The "Academy" in Philadelphia, which developed into the University of Pennsylvania, the College of New Jersey, now Princeton, Brown, Rutgers, and Dartmouth. Theocracy: Calvinistic Puritanism was influential in all parts of English America, but nowhere did it become so powerful as in Massachusetts, and later Connecticut, through the establishment of the Congregational Church. The Puritan Congregationalists believed that their members had been divinely "elected" for salvation, and they imposed rigid controls to insure "godly" living. In the early years of Massachusetts, only church members could vote, and to become a church member one had to have his spiritual worth approved by the minister and the congregation. The clergy dominated the political magistrates, and the government of the colony could best be described as a Theocracy.
Religious Intolerance: Unlike the Plymouth Colony, that prospered peacefully and without record of religious narrowness, Massachusetts Bay Colony was in turmoil from the first. Although the Puritans emigrants from England, who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony, came to America to escape religious persecution in England, they did not practice religious tolerance in their new home. The leaders of church and government of Massachusetts Bay wanted to establish a Puritan state and to exclude all others from it.
Early in the history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, religious persecution began. A series of acts was perpetrated in the name of the law, that in our present age seems incredible. It is ironic that those who left England to seek religious freedom found conditions worse in their newly chosen land. Many of these Puritans, or Separatists, joined the Society of Friends in America, but even before the first Quaker arrived in Massachusetts, the General Court had appointed a Fast Day, "to seek the face of God in behalf of our native country, in reference to the abounding errors, especially those of Ranter and Quakers." Men and women were scourged from one town to another, imprisoned, banished from the Colony, hurt, mutilated and humiliated.
This spirit had in 1658 and 1659, reached an extreme point. Quakers were banished from the Colony under pain of death if they returned, or, if they were found within its jurisdiction after a limited time, the penalty was the same as return after banishment. Citizens were prohibited from harboring them, mingling with them, or advocating or encouraging their religion. Richard Swayne was one of several colonist fined and punished for violating this law. Incredibly, a law was enacted forbidding the Indians to worship in their own manner on English ground. Blasphemy was punished by death. Open renunciation of the church or its order was punishable by a fine of 50 shillings per month for each month of heresy. Disobedience of parents or denying the Scriptures to be the word of God was punishable with death. A man must be orthodox to hold office or vote. Noncompliance with the rules of the home government brought local whipping and banishment.
During the 17th century, New England legislatures tried to establish many small towns of freeholders, who were either church members or regular church attendants. To accomplish this, they granted tracts of land to "proprietors," who were responsible for laying out the town. The New Hampshire area between Massachusetts and Maine was mostly outside the boundaries of the land granted to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Nevertheless, the aggressive Massachusetts Bay company moved rapidly to settle the area with puritan colonies. Also, this New Hampshire area was a haven for colonist trying to escape the persecution of Massachusetts Bay. The Rev. John Wheelwright and his followers founded the town of Exeter, New Hampshire following their expulsion for Massachusetts in 1638. When the famous and historic Anne Hutchinson, sister-in-law of John Wheelwright, was banished from Massachusetts, also in 1638, many of her friends moved to New Hampshire and founded several towns there. On May 22, 1639, the "General Court of Massachusetts" issued an order that led to the founding of the town of Hampton on the site of an Indian village named Winnicunnett. The village of Winnicunnett was located in New Hampshire, about 5 or 6 miles from Exeter. The court order read:
Winnicunnett is allowed to be a town and hath power to chose a constable and other officers and make orders for the well ordering of their town and to send a deputy to the court, and Christopher Hussey, William Palmer and Richard Swayne to end all businesses under twenty shillings for this year; the laying out of land to be by those expressed in the formal order."
Richard Swayne's family moved to Hampton soon thereafter and helped plan and layout the town. In October 1639, the proprietors had their first Town Meeting, and issued the following order:
Christopher Hussey, Richard Swayne and William Wakefield shall measure, lay forth and bound all such lots as shall be granted by the freemen, to hold their offices for one year and to receive compensation for their services - twelve shillings for laying out house lots and one penny an acre for surveying.
In the general allotments of land, the ministers received the largest portions, three hundred acres each. Richard Swayne's grant was one hundred acres, and the location of his home is given as follows:
Richard Swayne's house lot of ten acres lay next to Rev.Timothy Dalton's, and was bounded on the north by the road leading to the falls.
The map of Hampton, NH is shown on the next page. The map is a computer modified version of the map contained in, History of Hampton, published by Peter Randall. Below the map is a couple of items of interest.
(Note1) Lots were granted to Richard Swayne (Swaine) and to his sons, Francis and William. Francis also owned property in Exeter. John Swain, who was only six year old, grew up in Hampton and later married Mary Weare while living there.
(Note 2) A lot was granted to the Rev. John Wheelwright, who founded the town of Exeter, five or six miles away, after his expulsion from Massachusetts. When the New Hampshire settlements became a part of Massachusetts in 1643, John Wheelwright withdrew to Maine rather than submit to the authority of Massachusetts.
Richard Swayne was Commissioner of Small Causes, and a Selectmen at Hampton, (NH). In 1652 he was chosen on a committee to examine old grants and "confirm each of them as they think proper" and in 1654 to consider and determine some method of estimating the values of land for taxation that would make taxes more equal and satisfactory for the future than they had been in former years.
One of the Swain family historians concluded Richard Swayne, "appears to be a man of considerable property." Richard was Commissioner of Small Causes, but entered little into political activities, however he was always ready to do his duty when called upon for the up building of the community, but quietly and honorably, and then returned to the "even tenor of his way." In 1652 he was chosen on a committee "to examine old grants and confirm them", and in 1654 to consider some method of estimating the values of land for taxation that would make taxes more equal and satisfactory than in the past.
If the settlers of Hampton and Exeter were hoping for freedom from Massachusetts Bay authority, such hopes were short lived. The Massachusetts Bay authorities looked with disfavor on any possible independence of the New Hampshire settlements. By 1643, all of the settlements became part of Massachusetts. John Wheelwright withdrew to Maine rather than submit to the authority of Massachusetts, but the Swains stayed in Hampton and continued a peaceful and prosperous life for the next sixteen years.
When the pilgrims and Puritans started settling New England in the first half of the 1600's, and for a long time afterward, witchcraft was prevalent in England and Scotland, and in most of the coun-tries of Continental Europe. The people of New England brought with them the supersti-tions of the old world. Few New Englanders doubted the truth of the marvelous deeds ascribed to the power of witchcraft and many sympathized with them. Strange, wonderful or tragic occur-rences that could not be explained, or that people were unable to account for, were almost univer-sally attributed to witchcraft. The belief in witchcraft was not confined to the unlettered and ignorant; but it pervaded all ranks and all parts of society from the lowest upward to the highest. History records that 17th century witchcraft was associated with tragedy and grief in the lives of the fam-ily of Richard Swayne, the first generation of our family who came to New England in 1635, and settled first in Massachusetts and then in Hampton, New Hampshire. Richard Swayne's first asso-ciation with witchcraft occurred in 1656. Again, in 1680, the evils of witchcraft touched to life of one of Richard Swayne's daughters, Grace.
The story of the witches of Hampton starts with the story of Goody Cole. For more than a quarter of a century, Goody Cole, real name Eunice Cole, was feared, hated and persecuted as the Witch of Hampton. She was the goodwife of William Cole and their house bordered the north side of the Meeting House Green. Their nearest neighbors were Robert Drake on one side and Philemon Dal-ton on the other side. Strange stories were told of wonderful feats said to have been performed by her. She was said to have been ill-natured and ugly, artful and aggravating, malicious and revenge-ful. It was widely believed that she had "made a league with the devil."
In 1656, Goody Cole was arraigned before the County Court of Norfolk, charged with the crime of witchcraft. Testimony of a considerable number of witnesses was offered in support of the charge, and a verdict was rendered against her. Thomas Philbrick testified that Goody Cole had told him that if his calves should eat any of her grass she wished the grass might poison them or choke them. He further testified that he never saw one of his calves again and the other calf came home and died about a week later. Sobriety, wife of Henry Moulton, and Sleeper, the wife of Thomas Moulton, testified that once when talking about Goody Cole they suddenly "heard something scrape against the boards of the window." After investigating and finding nothing, they returned to the house. When they resumed their conversation, the scraping sound was repeated, and "was so loud that if a dog or cat had done it they should have seen the marks in the boards." But no marks were to be found. Abraham Drake testified that after an argument with Goody Cole, he lost two cattle and at the latter end of summer, "I lost one cow more."
John Greenleaf Whittier, in his poem, "The Wreck of Rivermouth," weaves the witchcraft of Goody Cole into the sinking the vessel that cost the life of William Swain, oldest son of Richard Swayne. In the autumn of 1657, a vessel sailed from the Hampton river, bound for Boston, having on board four men, two women and two children, a total of eight persons, and all of them from Hampton. For some reason, never explained, the vessel capsized soon after leaving the harbor and all on board perished. William Swain was one of these people. Also on board was John Philbrick, his wife Ann, and their daughter Sarah. Since Goody Cole was a witch who had reason to hate both the Swain and the Philbrick families, it was natural that the cause of this mysterious sea disaster was attributed to her witchcraft.
Thomas Philbrick, who had testified against Goody Cole, had moved to Hampton only after the Swains had sold him some of their property. John Philbrick and his family were closely related Thomas Philbrick. Whittier describes the event in "The Wreck of Rivermouth:"
A boat sail down through the winding ways Of Hampton River to that low shore, Full of a goodly company Sailing out on the summer sea, Vering to catch the land-breeze light, With the Boar to the left and the Rocks to right.
Whittier tells what took place as the boat rounded the point near where Goody Cole lived.
"Fie on the witch!" cried a merry girl, As they rounded the point where Goody Cole Sat by her door with her wheel atwril, A bent and blear-eyed poor old soul. Oho! she muttered, "yer're brave today! But I hear the little waves laugh and say, 'the broth will be cold that waits at home; For it's one to go, but another to come!"
Were these words of Goody Cole intended as a curse and did they play a role in the disaster at Rivermouth? The fact that the ship wreck took place in 1657 and Goody Cole was thrown into prison in 1656, shows Whittier was taking poets license with the facts. For Goody Cole to extend her witchcraft from her prison cell to Rivermouth would have been no more miracu-lous than the many other wonderful feats she was known to have performed.
Goody Cole was judged guilty of witchcraft and given double punishment. She was sentenced to be whipped and then imprisoned for the rest of her natural life, or until released by the court. She was not released from prison until she was a very old woman. She returned to her run down home in Hampton and lived there alone and unattended until her death. When her death was discovered, she was hastily buried in the ground nearby, and a stake was driven through her body, to exorcise the evil spirit.
More than 300 years later, in May 1995, E.O. Swain, 11th generation following Richard Swayne, and Lisa Springer, 13th generation, visited the site of early Hampton with their spouses, walked across the Meeting-House Green, had their pictures taken at the Stone Monu-ment, and strolled the area where the original houses were built. Maybe they walked across, or stood on the very spot where Goody Cole was buried with the stake driven through her body. If so, it is good that the evil spirits had been exorcised.
In 1680 the Swain family had another encounter with Hampton witchcraft. By then Richard and John Swain had moved to Nantucket and Goody Cole had finally been released from prison and had returned to pass her final days in Hampton. In July of 1680, a little child of John Godfrey died, and the old cry of witchcraft was raised again. An inquest was held, with twelve solid men of Hampton for jurors, and a verdict rendered: "We find grounds of suspicion that the said child was murdered by witchcraft." Rachel Fuller was the accused. Godfrey's wife and daughter charged that Rachel Fuller came into the Godfrey house with her face daubed with molasses, and sat down by Goody Fuller, who had the sick child in her lap. Goody Fuller then reached out and took the baby's hand. When the mother, in fear, drew the childs hand away and wrapped it in her apron, Rachel Fuller "turned her about and smote the back of her hands together sundry times and spat in the fire." She then strewed herbs on the hearth and sat down again and said: "Woman, the child will be well;" and then went out, beat herself thrice with her arms, picked something off the ground, and went home.
When taking depositions against Rachel, one lady, Elizabeth Denham, stated that Rachel Fuller had told her there were eight women and two men in the town, who were witches and wizards. The men's names were not given, but the women Goody Fuller reckoned were witches included: Eunice (Goody) Cole, Benjamin Evans' wife and two daughters, Mary (Boulter) Prescott, Isabella (Austin) Towle, "and one that is now dead." The eighth woman Rachel Fuller accused of being a witch was Grace (Swain) Boulter, daughter of Richard Swain and sister of John and William Swain. (See Chapter on Richard Swayne.) Although Grace was never charged with witchcraft, Goody Towle was, in fact, arraigned on a different charge about the same time Rachel Fuller was arraigned. Both were committed to prison till the sitting of Hampton Court in September. Then, "The Court having heard ye case of Rachel ffuller and Isabel Towle being apprehended and com-mitted upon suspition of witchcraft doe ordr yt they still continue in prison till bond be given for their good behaviour and L 100 a piece during the Courts pleasure."
John Fuller became bondsman for his wife: and Isaac Marston and John Redman, for Goody Towle. Goody Fuller and Goody Towle were discharged from prison the next year. There is no record of any specific charges or depositions ever having been brought against Grace, Richard Swayne's daughter.
More than 300 years later, in May 1995, E.O. Swain, 11th generation following Richard Swayne, and Lisa Springer, 13th generation, visited the site of early Hampton with their spouses, Nonie Swain and Dale Springer. They had their pictures taken at the Hampton Boulder Monument. A picture of this boulder and the inscription on it is shown at the beginning of this chapter.
Trouble started for Richard Swayne in 1656 when the doctrines of The Society of Friends, better know as the Quakers, reached the shores of Massachusetts. The doctrines held by the Friends, plus their refusal to take any oath, to pay tithes, or to obey laws deemed by them iniquitous, put the fear of God into the Puritan authority. When the first Quakers arrive in Boston in 1656, they were imprisoned, brutally treated, and expelled.
In 1655, a law was passed that "no Quaker be entertained by any person or persons within this government, under penalty of 5 LBS for every such default, or be whipped." This law was amended in October 1657, making the fine forty shillings per hour for each offense. Under the provisions of this law, several Quakers were arrested and imprisoned. On the 18th of October 1659, Richard Swayne, along with several others were indicted by a Massachusetts court as follows:
Court understanding that seuerall (several) inhabitants of this jurisdiction have lodged Quakers now in prison, doe (do) order that the secretary issue out a warrant to the seuerall persons & send the same by a messenger of purpose to bring them W'th (with) speed to this court, to ans'r for theire offense therein."
These persons were James Rawlins, Anthony Emery, Thomas Spencer, Richard Nason, Richard Swayne, Zaccheus Gould and Thomas Macy. Edwin P. Hoyt, in his book, "Nantucket - The Life On An Island," describes Thomas Macy's crime. The crime of Richard and the others were no doubt similar. Hoyt gives this description:
"One rainy day in the summer of 1659, four men came up to the Macy house seeking shelter from the storm. Macy looked at them. From their dress and speech, he knew well they were Quakers. He should, by law, throw them off the property. But Macy also looked at the sky...and told the four men they could stay (until the storm over)."
The record of the General Court on the resolution of this case is:
"Nov. 12, 1659. The Court, hauing considered of the seuerall offinces of those persons yt entertayned to the Quakers, with the answers given in by them respectively, doe ordr, that James Rawlings, being more innocent and ingenuous than the rest, be only admonished by the honnored Gouerno'r wch was donne.
2. That Anthony Emery pay a fine to ye county tenn pounds and tenn shillings for making a lye in ye face of the Court, & be disfranchised.
3. That Thomas Spencer pay as a fine to ye county for his entertayning the Quakers the some of fiue pounds & be disfranchised.
4. That Richard Nason, for the like offence, pay fiue pounds, also, & be disfranchised.
5. That Richard Swayne, for his entertayning the Quakers. shall pay a fine the some of three pounds, & be disfranchised.
6. That Zaccheus Gold pay as a fine for his entertayning the Quakers the some of three pounds.
7. That Thomas Macy pay as a fine the some of thirty shillings, and be admonished by the Gouerno'r.
That Edward Warton, who accompanied the Quakers, and pilatted them from one place to another, for his bold attempts, shall haue corporall punishment, i.e. whipt with twenty stripes, and comitted to prison, there to remaine till he gring suertyes for his good behaviour."
The above was from Starbuck's History of Nantucket, and State Archives, Vol 4, pp430-431.
Although the punishment of Richard and his associates by the General Court seems severe, the punishment of the Quakers was deadly. Heavy fines and banishment did not satisfy the powers of Massachusetts desire to rid themselves of the Quakers. In 1658 a law was passed imposing the death penalty for Quakers who returned to Massachusetts in defiance to their expulsion. Public execution of Quakers began the following year.
About a month after the General Court passed sentence on Richard and friends, two of the Quakers imprisoned, William Robinson, a merchant of London, and Marmadude Stephenson, of Yorkshire, England, were hanged in Boston of the 27th of December, 1659 for their heretical opinion.
The above record and his release from church at Hampton seems to be the only involvement Richard Swayne had with the Society of Friends, but later a good many of his descendants on Nantucket embrace the Quaker faith. That the Swain's were sympathetic with the Quakers seems reasonable since those in Richard's family who moved to Nantucket with him embraced the Quaker faith after they moved to Nantucket.
Between 1659 and 1661, four returning Quakers, three men and one woman, were executed, by hanging, on the Boston Common. The woman was Mary Dyer, one time follower of Anne Hutchinson. It was clearly time for the Macys and Swains, and all others believing in religious tolerance, to leave Massachusetts. They had already started looking into the possibility of finding a better place to rear their families. During the summer of 1658, Tristram Coffin made a visit to some of the offshore islands, and when he visited Martha's Vineyard, he learned that Thomas Mayhew was willing to dispose of Nantucket. He went there, liked what he saw, found out that the Indians would agree to satisfactory terms, made a report to his friends and neighbors, and as a result purchase of the Island was made, and preparations for the move to Nantucket were underway.
After being fined and disenfranchised from his church, it was time for Richard to leave Hampton, probably never to return. His roots in Hampton were so deep he could not have left without great sadness. Richard had helped found the town. His daughter Elizabeth and his son John, small children when he moved there, grew up in Hampton and were married there. His sons, William and Francis, were original land owners there. Hampton was home to many of his grandchildren. His first wife, Elizabeth, and two of their sons, William and Nicholas, died there. Richard married his second wife, Jane Bunker, in Hampton and their only child, Richard Jr., was born there. Richard's son, John and his family moved to Nantucket with Richard, but all the rest of his family stayed on the Mainland. These must have been sad times for Richard.
Richard's oldest daughter, Grace, who was born in England in 1627, married Nathaniel Boulter in 1647. Nathaniel Boulter received property and power of attorney from Richard Swain in September 1660, when Richard Swain was moving to Nantucket. Nathaniel and Grace lived on Rand's Hill and Nathaniel had some difficulty with the town of Hampton that resulted in several lawsuits with the municipality. (It was reported Grace, along with other women, was accused of witchcraft, but there does not appear to be a record of such accusations.)