Petition of Joseph Parker to the Massachusetts General Court

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court Assembled

The Petition of Joseph Parker of Natick, in the County of Middlesex, humbly sheweth that your petitioner, when little more than twenty-one years of age, having by dint of labour and the strictest frugality, acquired some personal property, and, being desirous of procuring a freehold of his own, had an opportunity of buying twenty acres of unimproved land in the westerly part of said Natick.  And on the 21st day of April 1778, received a deed of the same for the consideration of one hundred and eighty pounds lawful money, of one Ceasar Farit, who had a few days before purchased the same of one Sarah Ahaton, an Indian woman residing in Bridgewater in the County of Plymouth, which sum was the full value of the said land and was then transmitted to the said Sarah, the original owner, when the money was valuable, and was greatly wanted for her support and comfort: And as you petitioner was not brought up in Natick, nor had lived there when the said purchase was made, and being youth had never heard of any laws against Indians selling their lands without special license of the General Court, nor of any Guardians being appointed to superintend Indian affairs, nor any prohibitions relating to such sales.1  That he is not desirous of obtaining a support for himself and family by any indirect or unjustifiable means, being determined to observe a strict regard to the laws and resolutions of this commonwealth.  And to deserve the approbation of all good men, your petitioner, in the most humble manner, doth acknowledge the breach of those laws, and the insufficiency of his title to the said twenty acres of land.  And had prepared a petition similar to this near two years ago but was dissuaded from presenting the same by reason of the pressure of public business. And since the said Sarah then was and probably now is in a weak state and under the decays of age and infirmity and, being in want of money, received the same.  And as this was the first and only land he has ever purchased.  And his money all exhausted in paying for the same. And as those laws were not known to your petitioner and, therefore, the involuntary violation thereof will be considered by this Court in a favourable light.  From all which considerations, your petitioner is encouraged to pray that the said twenty acres of land may be confirmed to him.  Or that he may have his property secured to him in such other ways and means, as this Honorable Court, in their great wisdom and goodness shall devise.

And your humble petitioner as in duty bound shall ever pray,

Joseph Parker
Signed January 1, 1781

Legislative Action:

Petition of Joseph Parke. Deacon Brown, Mr. Whitney, Major Hormer / Boston Stoughton

  • 1. As early as 1658, Massachusetts law provided that "no Person whatsoever, shall henceforth buy Land of any Indian without License first had and obtained of the General Court, and if any offend herein, such Land so bought shall be forfeited to the Country." Section 2, The General Laws of the Massachusetts Colony (1658).