Report relating to Rights of Niantic Indians
Report relating to right of herbage in the lands of Niantic Indians, October 1743
To the Honorable General Assembly to be convened at New Haven, October the second Thursday 1743
Whereas your Honors at your sessions in May last (upon the petition of the Niantic Indians) appointed us, the subscribers, a committee to repair to said Niantic and enquire and report what right the English proprietors have to the herbage of the Indian fields, and how they ought to be improved, and whether the said claimers trespass on said Indian rights. Having first notified said claimers, we repaired to said Niantic and enquired into the affair and take leave to report,
First, that some of the claimers produced a deed from Messrs. Joseph and Jonathan Bull, by which deed, among other things, was conveyed to Mr. Nehemiah Smith the herbage of one hundred acres of land at Black Point Said to be purchased of the Niantic Indians, as appears of record, but no record of said purchase appeared to us. They likewise produced an agreement between the English and Indians, proprietors of Black Point, wherein the Indians agree that the English proprietors should have the pasturage of their land, from the time of gathering their corn at Michaelmas till May Day following and that after the expiration of three years, they would not sell the grass that should be cut on their land to any other person but the English proprietors of said neck. Said agreement was dated December 19, 1681. Signed, the mark of Wagowhe, Sachem; the mark of Wampaquas, Captain; Tawmeeshkhoug, his mark; Poquiantup, his mark; Joseph Sill; Richard Christophers; Thomas Lee; Jonathan Prentice; John Lay; Thomas Dunk; Matthew Griswold, Junior.
Second, the Indians that were present unanimously agreed that the English proprietors had always beyond their memory enjoyed the whole of the herbage of the upper and lower hundred acres, and the pasturage of the middle hundred acres, but the benefit of planting and mowing said middle hundred, the Indians enjoyed.
Third, it appeared to us that a considerable part of the lower hundred acres was enclosed in a field with the land of Messrs. Jonathan and John Prentice’s and well-secured for the improvement of the Indians by planting. The remainder of said lower hundred acres lies in common with land of said Prentices and is improved for pasturing the cattle of said Prentices, and the Indians’ hogs, except some spots that are enclosed by the Indians for planting.
Fourth, as to the improvement of said lands for the future, we judge it best that the English claimers do not pasture it till the tenth of October nor after the first of May annually, to which season the English claimers and the Indians present seemed well to agree.
Fifth, as to the claimers’ trespassing on said rights, it appeared to us by the accounts of both parties that in the summer past little or no damage had been done by the claimers in the Indian improvements, all which is humbly submitted by Your Honors’ most humble and obedient servants,
Niantic in Lyme, October 7, 1743
Legislative Action: In the Lower House the above report read and approved and ordered to be
kept on file. Test, John Fowler, Clerk
Cataloguing: 254a, 254b, 254c, 325, 326