Letter from John Mason to the Commissioners of the United Colonies

Right Worshipful, 

I thought good being desired by Uncas to present something to your consideration shortly after he was wounded by Cuttaquine.  I, being at Mohegan, sent for the men that sailed in the bark wherein he was hurt and did then examine Cuttaquine before them.  William Lord also being, he then confessed that he had wounded Uncas with a sword and that he had been hired to do it two years since by Webetomauge, Ninigret, Pessicus and Meeksaw, and was to have for his pains 1000 fathom of wampum of which he had already received two hundred.  He also said that he was frequently urged by them to do the thing, especially seven days before the fact.  I also asked, by one Valentine who is a good Indian interpreter, how he durst attempt such a thing so near Mohegan.  Said he was necessitated for either he must kill Uncas or be killed himself.  He also then confessed that he had received two hundred fathom of wampum already and that he had played away ten fathomed at one time and the aforesaid sachems paid it for him.  He also confessed the same voluntary at Hartford before me, William Ruscoe being present, viz., that he was hired by the aforesaid sachems to kill Uncas, etc.  Uncas still complains of his being deprived of his men who lived [at] Nameag ten or twelve of them being harbored at Fisher’s Island, the rest are with Ninigret and that several of his men being lately at Mr. Winthrop’s were threatened in his presence by his servant, John Austin, that if any of the Mohegans came to Fisher’s Island he would kill them.  And also that he would come to Mohegan and shoot them there.  He is much troubled that those that should be helpful to him are now held and maintained to be his greatest professed enemies.  May it please your worships, at your last sitting at Plymouth I acquainted you that Wequashcook declined the Narragansett and protested against their plotting and that he desired the favor of the English provided he were innocent.  He hath hitherto kept at a distance with them having combined with Uncas.  He desireth that you would please to take his case into consideration.  He sayeth, and indeed I have been informed several times, that he is a Sachem as great as any at Narragansett but they have usurped and tyrannized over him merely because he did somewhat favor Uncas, forcing him to fight with Uncas against his will.  Telling him if he would not go with them to fight they would cut off him and his and that the sachems of Niantic have forcibly deprived him of his proper rights, driving him out of his native country, taking from him not only the ground but with all the privileges that did properly belong to his father and himself.  Having no other place, he is constrained to live in a part of Pequot Country near adjoining.  Notwithstanding, he heareth that the Narragansetts would put him to pay two hundred of wampum as part of the two thousand due by covenant.  He doth earnestly desire that his condition may be weighed by your worships.  He also sayeth that Robin, servant to Mr. Winthrop, threaten him that his Mr. shall there build and keep cows and so force him from thence also.  Uncas doth also complain that the English of Nameag hath forbid and will at no time permit him to fish in Pequot River, and he hath had two canoes, about ten weeks since, being seized, the one halfway to Mohegan taken from him by Robert Bradley and forcibly kept.  The other seized about three miles from Nameag taken by a short man as he describes him of Nameag and is also detained to this present.  I shall also adventure to acquaint your worships concerning some other passages.  Shortly after the Narragansetts strange attempt and plotting the last year, Mr. Winthrop wrote to me for approbation that Ninigret might hunt in Pequot Country.  I utterly disallowed of such a course and protested against it as far as it any way concerned me and with all acquainted Mr. Winthrop that I thought would be very displeasing to the English considering their late insolvencies’ and the present condition in which they were, under breach of covenant with the commissioners.  Shortly after, he wrote to Mr. Haynes, who was then at Saybrook, to that purpose and received the like answer.  Not long after, I was informed that Mr. Winthrop’s servant as he is called,1 possessed and gave out that by his master’s allowance the Narragansetts had liberty to hunt Pequot Country often, being informed that they were resolved also to doe accordingly.  Whereupon Mr. Haynes, with myself, acquainted the court at Hartford, who being somewhat affected with it, that it should be so acted by those Narragansetts, considering the present state of things.  I had then liberty to endeavor to prevent their intended purpose and so myself, for I must confess I was much troubled about it, went to Mohegan to that end hearing the Narragansetts were suddenly to hunt, etc.  I wrote from thence to acquaint Mr. Winthrop what was my business, who sent me a protest against proceeding.  If I went in right of Connecticut, I thought with myself, it were much to suffer standing, in their condition, a people to hunt in any English ground but was not all. I thought, moreover, that Pequot did properly belong to Connecticut by patent and I conceive under correction that if there should be war upon a people in the Massachusetts patent, wherein Connecticut might have a hand to conquer and so force put the Indians to flight, I suppose I say it will not be granted that they have conquered the right of the patent but I shall leave that to your worships.   What I say is in my own defense supposing the thing may be questioned only showing the ground on which I went.  I humbly desire the Lord to direct you as I doubt not but he will, your occasions very weighty, as I conceive.  I shall cease to trouble further but leave all to your wisdoms and you to the Lord, hoping that peace with righteousness may still flourish amongst us.

Concerning the late business at Nameag, I refer my case wholly to Mr. Hopkins if it be questioned who is well acquainted with the state of the things.                               

Your worships faithfully to serve whiles

John Mason

Saybrook, June 30, 16492

Address:          To the Right Worshipful the Commissioners of the United Colonies at Massachusetts with trust present           

Notation:         John Mason [ illegible ] / the ult. Junij 1648     E.H.

Cataloguing:  14, 14a

  • 1. This is referring to Robin Cassasinamon.
  • 2. This suggests that the actual date of this document is June 30, 1649.