Petition of Samuel Wells and other Freeholders in the District of Natick to the Massachusetts General Court

To His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esquire, Captain General and Governor in Chief and The Honorable, His Majesty's Council and House of Representatives in General Court Assembled, on the 5th Day of March 1774


Samuel Welles and others, freeholders and inhabitants of the district of Natick, in the County of Middlesex, beg leave to respond and make answer to Isaac Underwood and nine others, inhabitants of the west part of the town of Needham in the County of Suffolk in manner following, viz., that the said Isaac Underwood and others petitioned to this Court for the same favour and nearly in the same words about seven years ago, and after a full hearing their said petition, was dismissed, and with that propriety, the said Isaac and only nine others have now applied to this Court and projected a line of partitions, including about twenty-nine families, besides themselves, that have not even signified their consent to be annexed to Natick, is not easily to be accounted for on rational principles, for the twenty nine that are silent have no doubt as great an aversion, to their being taxed at Needham (or anywhere else) as the said Isaac and nine others. But to answer their petitions, your respondents would observe to this Honorable Court that the said petitioners import that they are remote from the center of their town, to which we reply that they are no further from their center than they were when they purchased their lands where they now dwell at a very low rate, because remote; they also mean to intimate that their being annexed to Natick would bring Natick into a more uniform state. To this your respondents would say that if the lands of the petitioners do not discommode the form of Natick. But their being annexed would be productive of the most fatal consequences to Natick, having heretofore been greatly afflicted and perplexed, by those discontented, uneasy and unhappy neighbours, who were connected with us from 1743 to June 19, 1761, at which time they were in mercy to themselves and us, set back to Needham in consequence of a report of a committee of both Houses of Assembly, who came to Natick and heard the parties, which report we beg leave of this honorable Court to rehearse:


"That A.D. 1748, a number of the respondents, then living in Needham in the county of Suffolk, were set off from Needham to Natick in the County of Middlesex, Needham then being against parting with them and Natick against receiving them, that the pretense of the respondents in desiring to be set off was, their being much nearer to the meeting house in Natick and their desire to attend the public worship of God there, but they soon discovered another sentiment, namely, that of removing the meeting house very far from the Indians and nearer to themselves, which early introduced an unhappy contention in said parish and which has continued ever since and we have the melancholy prospect of its being continued so long as they remain a part of said Natick. The committee would further observe that the respondents do not attend the public worship of God at Natick and, therefore, frustrate the very design of the General Court in their being set off to Natick and the committee are unanimously of opinion that the peace of Natick make it necessary that they return to Needham again and therefore report that the several inhabitants of Natick with their estates, which by the order of the General Court in 1743[1] was set from Needham to Natick, be returned to Needham in the county of Suffolk there to do duty and receive privilege, anything in the order aforesaid notwithstanding."


And your respondents would further observe to this honorable Court, that when the Inhabitants of the west of Needham were of Natick, they retarded and greatly hindered and   discouraged the stated public worship of God in Natick and from that time to this day not of necessity but of choice the most of them uphold, encourage and countenance a separate meeting, constantly on Lord's days and employ a layman one child of Watertown to exhibit to them in Needham, at a greater distance for the said Isaac and the other nine then it is to Natick meeting house, which is an undeniable evidence of the state of their minds, that by far the greatest part of the inhabitants of the west of Needham, included in the proposed Line, are the number of those that have lay teachers to admiration, and some of them have already taken the benefit of the law relating to Baptists.


Your respondents further beg leave to observe that by granting the prayer of the said Isaac and the county line would be altered, which more properly concerns the honor of the several branches of this Court, then of your respondents.


And with respect to the petition of sundry from Natick, desiring that the prayer of Isaac Underwood and others may be granted, your respondents would observe, that a very considerable part of those Natick petitioners are of the same stamp with these described in the west of Needham, upon the whole, as the meeting house in Natick as it now stands, was mostly built by the charitable assistance of the Commissioners of the Corporation for Propagating the Gospel, etc. and the corporation of Harvard College with the subscription of a considerable number of well-disposed persons in and near to Natick, on the place where the public worship of God has been upheld more than 120 years past, when it could not be built by district vote there nor anywhere else, by reason of the opposition of these petitioners or their predecessors.                             


Your respondents, therefore, humbly pray that as this honorable Court would not be willing eventually to lay a foundation for the ruin of the district of Natick and of your respondents in particular, that the prayer of the said Isaac Underwood and others may be dismissed out of your great goodness and wisdom, and that they may continue to belong to Needham where they can be controlled.


And your humble remonstrants as in duty bound shall ever pray, etc.,


Samuel Welles

Nathaniel Battle

Jonathan Carr

Thomas Sawin

Daniel Morse

Abijah Stratton

Samuel Perry   

Richard Kimble                 

William Rider

John Sawin

Jesse Hill

John Reed

Hezekiah Broad

Oliver Whitney

Joel Sawin

John Winn                             

Abiel Smith                          

Josiah Parker    

Ephraim Whitney            

Nathaniel Smith                

Thomas Sawin, Sr.

William Hill

Joseph Morse

William Bacon

Ebenezer Warren

Joseph Fisher

Daniel Stratton

Eleazar Perry                     

Thomas Emes   

Pelatiah Morse

Ephraim Dana  

Richard Bacon 

Elijah Esty                            

Jeremiah Fisher                

Ezekiel Sawin   


798 - 801


[1] Order on Notice on the Petn of John Goodenow, &c to be Annexed to Natick, Chap. 219, Massachusetts Resolves (1743-44), p. 219, passed April 18, 1743.  Order Annexing Sundry Inhabitants of Needham to Natick, Chap. 244, Massachusetts Resolves (1743-44), 332, passed February 25, 1744.