Warwick — Early Settlement

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

      In the year 1735, in answer to the petitions of Samuel Newall, Thomas Tileston, Samuel Gallop, and Abraham Tilton, the General Court voted as follows:

      "That four several tracts of land for townships, each of the contents of six miles square, be laid out in suitable places in the western part of this province, and that the whole of each town he laid out into sixty-three equal shares, one share of which to be for the first settled minister, one for the use of the ministry, and one for schools, and that on the other sixty shares in each town there be sixty settlers admitted, and in admission thereof preference to be given to the petitioners, and such as are the descendants of the officers and soldiers who served in the expedition to Canada, in the year 1690 (viz., one of said townships to each of the aforesaid persons, with such others as joined with them in the petitions, and in case there be not a sufficient number named in the said four petitions as were either officers or soldiers in said expedition, or the descendants of such as were lost, or are since deceased, so as to make sixty settlers for each town, that then such others as were in the expedition, or their descendants, be admitted settlers there, until sixty persons in each township be admitted; and inasmuch as the officers and soldiers in that expedition were great sufferers and underwent uncommon hardships, Voted, That this Province be at the sole charge of laying out the said four townships, and of admitting settlers. That the settlers or grantees be, and hereby are, obliged to bring forward the settlements of the said four townships in as regular and defencible manner as the situation and circumstances will admit of, and that in the following manner, viz.: that they be on the granted premises respectively, and have each of them an house eighteen feet square, and seven feet stud at the least; that each right or grant have six acres of land ploughed and brought to English grass, and fitted for mowing; that they respectively settle in each plantation or township a learned orthodox minister, and build a convenient meeting-house for the worship of God in each township."

      These conditions were to be fulfilled within five years after the confirmation of the surveys, and from each settler the province exacted a bond of £20 as security for the faithful performance of the obligations named, a further penalty in case of failure being the utter forfeiture of title.
      One of the aforesaid four grants was issued to Samuel Newall and associates, and was the tract now called Warwick. Samuel Newall, it is said, was the only survivor of 39 men of Roxbury, Mass., who engaged under Capt. Andrew Gardner in the Canada expedition of 1690, the rest having perished in the expedition. The petitioners associated with Mr. Newall were descendants of those who took part in the expedition. There is, however, as opposed to the statement that the 38 men from Roxbury perished in the expedition, an early record upon the proprietors' books which furnishes a list of 33 names, and calls them the names of "the petitioners of Roxbury and Brookline who were in the Canada expedition of 1690." These names are as follows: Samuel Griffen, John Bowen, Thomas Hammond, Thomas Mayo, Benjamin Wilson, John Wilson, Robert Pierpont, Thomas Aspinwall, Ebenezer Gore, William Marean, Jr., Joseph Stevens, Isaac Stedman, Thomas Marean, Joseph Wilson, Edmond Weld, Jr., William Sharpe, Robert Case, Samuel Newall, Thomas Gardner, Nathaniel Craft, James Frizzell, Shubael Seaver, Robert Harris, Thomas Bugbee, Timothy Whiting, Nathaniel Stearns, John Searle, Benjamin White, Benjamin Smith, Samuel Perry, Eleazer Hammond, Robert Harpe, William Heath.
      Instead of having been in the expedition, those named above were possibly descendants of the members of the expedition and associates with Mr. Newall in the petition. The grant made to these petitioners was known from the outset as "Roxbury Canada" and "Gardner's Canada," and was thus known until the incorporation of the tract as the town of Warwick.
      The first meeting of the proprietors was held in Roxbury, September, 1736, at the house of James Jarvis, at which meeting Capt. Robert Sharp was chosen moderator, and William Dudley proprietors' clerk. A committee was chosen to lay out the "home-lots," each lot to contain not less than 50 nor more than 60 acres, and each proprietor to be taxed 23s. for necessary charges.
      In October, 1737, the proprietors drew for their lots, their names being as follows: Samuel Stevens, Benjamin Smith, Gresham Davis, William Dudley, Joseph Weld, Joseph Gardner, Eleazer Hammond, Josiah Cheney, Peter Aspinwall, John Wilson, William Sharp, Ebenezer Smith, Samuel Griffin, Ebenezer Case, Samuel Newall, Edward White, Samuel Fisher, Ebenezer Crafts, Samuel Peacock, John Parker, Joseph Heath, Samuel Wight, Isaac Steadman, Samuel Davis, Samuel Clark, John Shepard, Thomas Hartshorn, John Gay, Edward Morris, Ebenezer Mande, James Frizzell, Thomas Mayo, John Seaver, Israel Hearsay, Benjamin White, Robert Harris, John Masecroft, Benjamin Bugbee, Joseph Daniels, John Chandler, Timothy Mosman, Samuel Perry, Timothy Whitney, Robert Sharp, John Allen, Shubael Seaver, Thomas Taft, Andrew Gardner, Robert Daniel, Andrew Seaver, John Ruggles.
      The boundaries of the original tract were Northfield and Erving's Grant on the west, what are now Royalston and Athol on the east, New Hampshire on the north, and Erving's Grant on the south, and in the tract were contained 23,000 acres, exclusive of a tract of 1600 acres previously granted to one Johnson and his military company, for certain services. In the same autumn (of 1737) a second division of lots was effected, and these lots, containing from 100 to 200 acres each, according to the quality of land, were called farms.
      Although lots were laid out, as noted, as early as 1737, they remained unsettled until shortly previous to 1744, but the precise date of the first settlements cannot be ascertained, since the proprietors' records fail to show the history of the tract from 1740 to 1749. Among those who first settled were Joseph Goodell, Samuel Bennet, Deacon James Ball, Amos Marsh, Solomon Eager, Thomas Rich, Moses Leonard, Col. Samuel Williams, Deacon Silas Towne, Col. Joseph Mayo, Caleb Mayo, Capt. John Goldsbury, Mark Moore, Jonathan Moore. The proprietors exerted themselves in a vigorous manner to induce settlements, and in 1738, besides appointing a committee to find out the nearest route from Roxbury to the new tract, it was agreed that each of the 60 proprietors should be taxed £6 apiece, as a bounty to encourage the first 10 proprietors who should settle and comply with existing conditions.
      In 1740, Deacon Davis was empowered to mark out a way from Pequeage (now Athol), through Gardner's Canada, to Northfield, and, settlements having meanwhile progressed very slowly, the proprietors offered in 1749 a bounty of £20 to each person who should settle, £10 to be paid in advance, £5 in one year, and £5 in two years after settlement. Even these inducements failed to push the settlement as was hoped, and in 1751 the bounty was increased to £30, old tenor. After this settlers began to multiply, and in 1753 the proprietors raised £50 to build a saw-mill, chose a committee to build a meeting-house, and another committee to lay out and clear a road to Pequeage.
      The saw-mill committee contracted with Ebenezer Locke to build the structure, but he was frightened out of the undertaking by reports of Indian depredations near where he proposed to build the mill, and abandoned the work. The proprietors decided to prosecute him for his failure, but, upon learning of the obstacles he had met with, especially the Indian encroachments in his vicinity, they relieved him of the obligation.
      A second attempt to build the mill was, however, successful, and according to the records it was "got a-going" in 1759. Previous to this, in 1757, the proprietors appropriated £8 "to fortify Samuel Scott's house by making a good picketed fort, encompassing the same four rods square, for the safety of the inhabitants." This fort was the only one ever built in Warwick, and was located on what is now the Samuel Reed place. In 1759, £26 13s. 4d. were appropriated by the proprietors to build a grist-mill. In 1761 the proprietors, having previously transacted their business in Roxbury, held their meetings in the meeting-house at Gardner's Canada, and continued to hold them there afterward.
      There were at that time 37 settled families on the first division of lots, among them being Joseph Perry, George Robbins, Ebenezer Davis, Edward Allen, Thos. Rich, Barnabas Russell, Moses Leonard, David Ayres, and David Ayres, Jr. The grist-mill, projected in 1759, was finished in 1761, and located on Black Brook, where also the first saw-mill was placed. Prior to the erection of the grist-mill, the inhabitants were compelled to go to Northfield and Athol with their grain, and not only to go on foot, but to carry home on their backs their grain, and even hay, which they were obliged to buy for their cattle. The last vote on record, concerning transactions of the original proprietors, was under date of 1769, and related to the slips originally opened for roads.

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
14 Jul 2005