Memorial of Captain John Mason

In the jurisdiction of Connecticut, to the Honorable the Governor, Council and Representatives of His Majesty’s Colony of Connecticut in New England in America assembled in General Court at New Haven on Thursday the 10th of October A.D. 1723

The memorial of Captain John Mason of Stonington humbly sheweth,

Your memorialist begs leave humbly to set forth to this Honorable Assembly that his grandfather Major John Mason, Esq., was one of the first planters of this colony, and, while he lived, was a patriot to his country, among other affairs that happened under his management (in a very principle manner) was treating and transacting with the Natives of the land, especially with Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans, with whom, while he lived,  he cultivated a good understanding and friendship, and in the year 1659 obtained a grant of all his lands for the settling towns and plantations, reserving only a sufficiency for the use and improvement of his people forever, the bounds whereof were settled and reported to the General Assembly (1684) by Colonel Treat and Colonel Talcott, appointed for that purpose.  After the decease of my said grandfather and the said Uncas, upon application made to the General Court (1692) by Owaneco, son and successor to the said Uncas, they saw cause to appoint Samuel Mason, Esq., son to the said John Mason to take care of the said Indians, and also confirmed to Owaneco all the lands belonging anciently to his said father, ordering that no sale made by Owaneco of any of those lands should be good without the allowance and acknowledgment of the said Samuel Mason.  But for as much as the General Court did in the year1    grant a township to a number of men, now called Colchester, and also made an additional grant to the Town of Lyme, containing nine miles in length and two miles in breadth without any consideration given to the Indians, they thought themselves wronged, and thereupon made application to the Court, pursuant to the articles of confederation made with them May 18, 1681, but finally obtaining no relief, they sent an address to the late Queen Anne, setting forth their grievances, who, upon consideration thereof, directed that a commission should be made out to Joseph Dudley, Esq., and sundry others, with full powers for them to hear, examine and determine that matter, which was accordingly performed A.D. 1705.  Who, upon hearing the complaint and the things therein contained, were of opinion that the Indians had wrong done them, therefore, did award they should speedily be put into the possession of the lands granted to Colchester and Lyme, as before mentioned, and that this government should defray the charges of the said Court, which amounted to the sum of five hundred seventy three pounds, twelve shillings and eight pence, which said sum your memorialist has paid or now stands charged with (besides eighty pounds since that was not then brought in), a copy of which judgment with a letter from her Majesty relating thereto was transmitted to the General Court, October 1705.

In May following, the Assembly were pleased to appoint Messrs. Richard Christophers and Timothy Woodbridge with others a committee to confer with your memorialist (he being appointed guardian to the said Indians by the said commission court) to endeavor a compliance and good agreement in and about the premises, which accordingly was done and the same reported to the Assembly in May 1707, which not accepted but referred to a further consideration.

May it please this Honorable Assembly, it’s with the greatest respect, as well as with the utmost concern, that your memorialist takes leave to lay these things in a true light be for you these matters of fact are, to the best of my knowledge true, and rather then give any uneasiness to this government, have for a long time labored under these difficulties but, at length, am necessitated to do it, having no other way that is in any measure pleasing to me to seek for redress herein but this.

If Your Honors will suffer me humbly to propose whether the towns of Colchester and Lyme ought not to make some recompense for the lands they hold aforesaid.

Furthermore and finally, that there yet remains a parcel or tract of land called the Mohegan fields lying within the bounds of New London where the Indians dwell and plant, about which this Court made some orders and decrees for the better regulation and security thereof, which do not fully answer the ends proposed, as by

their complaint herewith exhibited will appear.  Moreover, they earnestly desire that as my ancestors heretofore had, so that I may have the care of them hereafter.

It’s humbly proposed by your memorialist that this Honorable Assembly could ordain, if they think fit, that I might have that trust reposed in me, and that that land, as butted and bounded might for the future, be put under or into my improvement and care, always provided that the Indians be quiet and secured in their

planting and other uses suitable for them.

Your memorialist can easily demonstrate that the land is capable of being made very advantageous to them and their posterity, and that it’s possible he may reap some benefit in consideration of what he has already done for them, and must still be obliged to do upon all occasions.

All which is humbly submitted to your great wisdom and justice, and, as in duty bound, your memorialist shall ever pray,

John Mason

New Haven, 1723

            Notation:                      Petition / Captain John Mason / October 1723           

            Legislative Action:        Read and ordered to be transmitted to the Lower House.  Test, Hezekiah Wyllys, Secretary.  Read and ordered to be sent to the Honorable Board. Test, Thomas Kimberly, Clerk

            Cataloguing:                122, 122b, 122c, 146, 147    

  • 1. The year was left blank in the original.