Deerfield — Settlement, Dedham Grant

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      To Christianize the natives, which was a prime object with the pious settlers, the apostle Eliot was employed to teach them the doctrines of the Bible. He soon found this impossible without an accompanying civilization, which involved their giving up their roving habits of life. To this end Eliot asked grants of land, on which he could gather them permanently and teach them the arts of "civility." In answer, the General Court, in 1651, authorized him to lay out a tract of two thousand acres at Natick and there found a settlement of Indians. This tract fell within the bounds of Dedham, and a long controversy in the general and civil courts followed in regard to a compensation for that town. At length, on the 2d of June, 1663, the General Court ordered that "for a finall issue of the case between Dedham and Naticke, the Court judgeth meete to graunt Dedham eight thousand acres of land in any convenient place or places, not exceeding two, where it can be found free from graunts, provided Dedham except this offer." The terms being satisfactory to Dedham, the General Court, at the session in October, 1663, appointed Ens. John Everard and Jonathan Danforth a committee to lay out the grant.
      After several months' searching for a satisfactory location, on the 9th of November, 1664, the selectmen of Dedham report that they had heard of an available tract "about twelve or fourteen miles above Hadly," and recommend that the grant be laid out there. A committee of eight men, four of whom could act, was appointed to carry out the recommendation. Some trouble arising about the matter, at a meeting March 20, 1665, it was finally arranged that Lieut. Joshua Fisher, Edward Richards, Anthony Fisher, Jr., and Timothy Dwite should lay out the grant, and should depart on that mission "the day after Election, or the second day of the week following at the fartherest." This committee came to Pocomptuck, located and surveyed the land, returning a detailed plan, giving courses and distances, to the General Court at their session in May, 1665. "The Court allows and approoves of this returne, provided they make a towne of it, to majntejne the orddnances of Christ there once within five years, and that it interfere not with Maj'r-Genll Dennison and Hadly grant."
      The unusually-accurate Hoyt, Holland, and others have constantly asserted that the date of this grant was in 1669, instead of 1663; but the records are clear, fully according with dates given above. Conveyance of land by the natives was void by law without concurrent action by the colonial authorities, and Dedham would hardly have paid "£96 10s." and been at the expense of the survey on such a venture.

These pages are © Laurel O'Donnell, 2005, all rights reserved
and cannot be reproduced in any format without permission
This page was last updated on
03 Aug 2005