Thomas Stanton to Major John Mason about a Conspiracy of Indians

Honored Sir, Major Mason,

After due respects to yourself, these may inform you that we have diverse and strange informations concerning the Indians in these parts. Harman Garrett this day came to me and tells me that Ninigret’s daughter1 sent a messenger on purpose to inform him that there is speedily the greatest dance to be made by Ninigret that ever was in the Narragansett and that if he would come and join with him in it, it should be the means of his rising up, and that Ninigret had sent to Nipnet2 and Long Island and to the Pequots and to Uncas and his to invite them and from diverse other parts so that there is likely to be a great concourse of Indians at that meeting.

An English boy3 about twelve years of age well versed in the Indian tongue, which liveth at Cossaduck, was enjoined in secrecy last May and then bid tell his mother, who was present, that in pity to her, the Indian squaw did tell her that the Indians did speedily intend to cut off the English and that it was plotted at Robin’s town4 at the dance when I arrested Ninigret when Uncas was with him at the dance. The woman would (it is Goodwife Osborn would) have spoke of this long since, but her husband commanded her the contrary and told her she would be counted a tattler, but she hearing of the rumor that is abroad, she came to me to inform me of what she met with in May. Where upon I sent for an Indian whom she said was by when the squaw informed her of the above said plot. Upon examination the Indian did own that Osborn’s wife and son did tell him that the Indians had plotted to cut off the English, and that such a squaw did inform them so, but said he “I did not hear the discourse between Osborn’s wife and the squaw, they discoursing privately, myself being a pretty space from them.”

Also an Indian called Mosomp, a man of note amongst the Pequots, told this above said Osborn’s son at Cossaduck that it should cost them their blood, but they would have Cossaduck again. The truth is, they are very high of late and slight all authority of the English but as suits with their own honors. All so Ninigret’s and Uncas’ being together at the dance at Robin’s town is and was matter of wonderment to me, that they who durst not look each upon other this twenty years but at the muzzle of a gun or at the pile of an arrow should now be so great when as Ninigret a little before said Uncas was matchet5 because he had such affinity with the Mohawks. Thomas Edwards, who lives at my farm, came and informed me yesterday that Ninigret sending for all the Block Island Indians who came and those that would not or could not fight he sent them over again and would entertain none but such as would fight but would not declare whom they were that he would fight withal. This was declared to Edwards by several Narragansett Indians. Also there hath been several Long Islanders last week who brought considerable sums of wampum to Ninigret for the carrying on the war as is reported. Also two days since there came a Narragansett to my son Thomas’ to buy powder and lead. Being denied he inquired of him what store I had, and if I would sell any, but my son and daughter6 found he had store of powder and bullets about him.
 

They are exceedingly furnished of ammunition, and the report is that if they are disappointed of destroying the English, then they will flee up in the country towards the Mohawks and there live. That is their last shift.  If they do anything it will be within these few days, and if God prevent them not, our town is like to undergo the first of their cruelties. A credible Indian reports here that Daniel, Robin Cassasinamon’s partner, hath been up with the Mohawks this spring with a great sum of wampum, and since his return hath uttered discontent and that he would live no longer under the English but would go and live under or with the Mohawks. Also Ninigret hath his posts which run to and fro with great speed which are of his near attendance.  This is for a certain true, which gives us to deem that things are with them beyond their ordinary or usual course. Other circumstances I could add, but that I may not be tedious to you, I hope you will be rightly direct by the Most High to do that which may be for his glory and the safety of His poor people. Committed to your care and watch, so with hope of a line or two of advice from you, I rest and subscribe myself Sir your Servant.

Stonington, July 8, 1669

Mr. Noyes presents his services to you Mr. Fitch and his wife

Postscript:

Lieutenant Avery after all due respects and love to you and yours, these are to entreat you forthwith to send this to the honored Major Mason and fail not, and I shall rest yours to serve upon the like occasion. Thomas Minor

Major Mason,

Honored Sir, after my service presented to you, this to entreat you to send us some advice what we were best to do. The constable is gone about to warn all the town to be in arms tomorrow by eight of the clock, for we apprehend there is much danger not else as present but rest your humble servant.

Pray sir with as much speed as may be,7

Thomas Minor
 
July 8, 1669

Address:

For the worshipful Major John Mason at his house at Norwich, these delivered with care and speed8

Forwarding Address:

To the much honored Captain John Allyn, Secretary, at Hartford with trust and speed9

Endorsement:

Gentlemen, I have wrote pretty liberally to you.  How welcome it is I know not.  I yet see but little fruit certain.  It is not a time to sleep, if I am not altogether blind in Indian matters, it’s not far from as great a hazard as ever New England, whatever some of you may think, and let me tell you although you send.

Notation:

Indian Conspiracy, 1699 / Captain John Mason / Thomas Stanton and Thomas Minor

Cataloguing:

10a, 10b, 10c, 10d


 

  • 1. Ninigret had at least five daughters. One married Tausaquonawhut, the son of a Pequot sachem, another married the son of the brother of the late Pequot sachem Sassacus, a third known as the “Old Queen” Sucksquw Magnus, and Weunquesh, who succeeded Ninigret in tribal leadership. A fourth daughter, Sarah, died sometime between 1731 and 1741. It is unclear which daughter is being identified in Stanton’s letter.
  • 2. Nipnet, i.e. Nipmuck country.
  • 3. This almost certainly is Ephraim Osborne, son of John Osborne and Mary Knight Osborne.
  • 4. In May of 1666, the Connecticut General Court awarded Robin Cassasinamon and the Pequots residing with him with a grant of land. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut. The land is presently situated at the Pequot reservation at Mashantucket.
  • 5. Wood glosses the Algonquin word machet as “it is naught.” William Wood, New England Prospect (1634). More likely the word has a more sinister meaning. After watching English burn women and children at the Mystic fort fight, Uncas described the events as machet, which Mason translated as “something very evil”. John Mason, A Brief History of the Pequot War: especially of the memorable taking of their fort at Mistick in Connecticut in 1637 (Boston, 1763).
  • 6. Stanton had four daughters, Mary, Hannah, Dorothy, and Sarah.
  • 7. The postscript “Lieutenant Avery ... may be” is in the hand of Thomas Minor.
  • 8. The address “for....Speed” is in the hand of Thomas Stanton.
  • 9. While the main body and postscript of the document is written in black ink, this forwarding address and the endorsement below is in blue ink and in the handwriting of John Mason. Mason apparently forwarded Stanton’s message to John Allyn, Connecticut Colony’s secretary.