Address of Daniel Gookin and John Eliot to the Governor and Magistrates of Massachusetts

To the Honourable Simon Bradstreet, Esq., Governor, together with the Rest of the Magistrates and the Honored Deputies of this General Court [1] of this Jurisdiction Sitting in Boston the [2] [ illegible ] of [3] October 1684

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The humble address of Daniel Gookin and John Eliot on behalf of the poor Christian Indians belonging to the Colony of Massachusetts in New England humbly sheweth that whereas ourselves are and for sundry years have been (by order and authority of the General Court and the Right Honourable the Corporation in London) entrusted with the care, government, and instruction of those Indians, we account it our special duty to represent before you that which ensues (as we conceive) is a great and weighty concern, not only to the poor Indians, but for the honour, peace, and tranquility of the English throughout this whole CountryIt pleased the General Court in great prudence and wisdom above fifty years since at the first settling and planting this Colony to state the Indians' right and title to lands within this jurisdiction and made and declared several laws to secure the same, and, in special, many years since the Court granted bounded laid out and recorded, unto the Christian Indians six small plantations or townships, namely, Natick, Ponkapoag, Hassanamisco, Okommakamesit or Whip Suffrage,[4]  Nashoba,[5] and Wamesit[6] to be and remain unto the said Indians and their posterity for an inheritance for ever, making and publishing a law prohibiting any person or persons of the English within this Colony to buy, purchase, or take to lease for year any part or parcel of the Indians' land, without licence except had and obtained from the General Court.  And if any did offend therein, such land so-bought or leased should be forfeited to the Country. Yet notwithstanding this wholesome order and law, so long since made and declared. The English inhabitants or township of Marlborough, after the General Court upon their petition once and again did refuse to give them license to purchase the Indians' land or plantation called Okommakamesit or Whip Suffrage, yet have presumptuously, and, in contempt of the laws and authority of the General Court, have very lately purchased and taken deeds of sale, which are acknowledged and recorded, made by some drunken and debauched Indians of that whole plantation of Whip Suffrage to the great dissatisfaction of other more sober Indians, as much interest as any others.[7]  And have paid in hand to the Indians about [8] ten pounds in silver and are to pay at times appointed thirty pounds more, all which sum of forty pounds is of so in considerable value unto the due worth of the said land that we may truly say and can prove that it is not the twentieth part of the true value of [ hole ] better than notorious injustice and unrighteousness. Therefore, we humbly entreat the Honourable Council seriously to consider the mischief that will ensue if this sale bee not made null and void and the said land, so forfeited to the Country, taken from them which is worth two, for

(1) will not bold presumptuous and courteous men by this example, break the laws of the Country, and think to escape with impunity?

(2) All the rest of the Indian towns appropriated to them will, in all probability, be sold by some debauched Indians and bought by the English, and we know many covet to get their land and wait what the issue of this will be,

(3) will not the Indians, when they are thus cheated and outed of their land and inheritances in a clandestine and indirect way probably bee forced or necessitated to retire into the inland Country's, and mix among the barbarous nations that are enemies [ worn ] the English and so join with them [in] a new war; was not a principal cause of the late war about [Sachem] Philip's land at Mount Hope, etc.  

(4thly) will not the fidelity and justice of the English Government be greatly questioned and dishonored, when the promises made to the Indians and laws made for their Security in their inheritances shall be thus violated and that contrary unto the declared mind of Authority Generals in laws and orders

(5) may not His Sacred Majesty (Our Gracious King) together with the Right Honourable the Corporation at London appointed by his Majesty authority for propagating the Gospel in New England[9] be just offended and provoked at this matter for they have had an account long since from us of the General Court care and prudence in settling these plantations unto the Indians, which could not be alienated from them, which license from the General Court, which account of the Court they did greatly approve, but if this indirect and illegal purchase be not made void, it may justly occasion them to direct that yearly revenues sent bid by them to encourage this work and give them occasion to pass their judgment that we are perfidious men.

(6)  And lastly, is it not most evident that the people of Marlborough have no need of this land, for they have already granted and laid out to them by this Court Authority eight miles square, which is about forty-two thousand acres of land and they are not above sixty families, which is more than twice as much as they are able at present to improve.  If Marlborough men or any in their behalf do plead that [10] the Indians grant for this plantation there is this [11] reservation, that when this Indian plantation is by leisure of this General Court allowed to be sold, Marlborough men shall have the first refusal, but this allegation signifies nothing until they first shew or obtain the General Court's license to [12] buy it.  If anything be abated to what we have herein decried, we are ready to make full proof of it in due time and placeWe know that several of the Indians are needy and ready to sell their land to the English, and when they have gotten the money, they expend it in strong liquors, and we know that the principal of these Indians that have sold Marlborough men this land[13] are of this sort, but within a few weeks after their money is spent, they will rail against the English as cheaters of them.  But the most grave and sober Indians we know are otherwise-minded and desire to keep their land for an inheritance to them and their posterity.  It is not two years since by a general agreement of all the Praying Indian they made this order that no Indian or Indians should sell any land belonging to their towns without the unanimous consent of every proprietor, but this order they have broken by this act.

                                                     

The premises considered, we humbly pray the Honourable Governor and Council speedily to take such course as in Their Wisdoms they think best to redress this grievance;  so committing you to God's guidance and direction in this and all matters.

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We subscribe ourselves your humble suppliants and servants in the Lord,     

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Daniel Gookin, Sr.

John Eliot

August 20, 1684

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Cataloguing:

285, 286

                 

 

[1] Deleted Text: Being the Council

[2] Deleted Text: seventh tenth

[3] Deleted Text: September

[4] Currently the town of Marlborough, Massachusetts

[5] Currently the town of Littleton, Massachusetts

[6] The Praying Town of the Pawtuckets, presently the towns of Tewskbury and Lowell.

[7] See discussion at O'Brien, Dispossession by Degrees, 79.

[8] Deleted Text: twenty

[9] The New England Company

[10] Editorial Note: the following repetitive text-- the In -- was not deleted in the original.  For clarity purposes, Editors have removed it.

[11] In the original, the line-- Reservation, that when this Indian plantation is by leisure --was marked with the letter a.

[12] Deleted Text: sell it

[13] The following Native names appear on the Marlborough deed, drawn up on June 12, 1684: Andrew Pitimee (representing Old F. Waban), Great John, John Nasquanet, Thomas Waban, William Wononatomog, Abraham Speen, John Speen, Great James, Lawrence Nowsawane, Jacob Petowat, Jacob Ponopohquin, Jehoja Kin,

Jeremy Sosoohquoh, Peter Ephraim (representing John Awonsamug), Samuel William, John Awonsamug, Nathaniel Quankatohn, Thomas Dublet, James Speen, Benjamin B. Boho, Job Pohpono, John Wamesqut, Benjamin Tray, Sosowun Noo, James Wiser, and Simon Betogkom, John Mugus and Daniel Takawompait were witnesses.  Hudson, History of the Town of Marlborough, 91.