Petition of Ephraim Ellis to the Massachusetts General Court

To the Honorable Senate, and the Honorable House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court Assembled, January 1783


The petition of Ephraim Ellis, missionary to the Indians at Herring Pond in Plymouth, humbly sheweth that your petitioner has many years been employed by the honorable Commissioners in Boston from the Company in London for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians in New England to preach to the Herring Pond Indians; to support him in which service said Commissioners voted him thirty pounds lawful money by the year, which they paid till the beginning of the present war; and afterwards with their consent, he drew bills upon the Company in London, which were paid till the year 1779 when on the 18th of May at a General Court of the New England Company, they resolved to accept no more bills drawn on them from the Commissioners in Boston.  Since which time, 1 (before he was acquainted with said Resolve) he drew a bill upon them, which was protested; and he having sold the bill for considerable less than the real value, a demand is made upon him for the real value of said bill, and interest and ten percent damages, and for costs; and he having continued preaching to said Indians to this time without any salary has been obliged to run in debt for his necessary support.


The said Herring Pond Indians, sensible of his distresses and disposed to relieve him, at a meeting called for this purpose unanimously agreed to desire him to petition this Honorable Court that liberty might be granted to sell such a part of their lands as would be least prejudicial to them, and be sufficient to discharge his debts, being about one hundred pounds.


Your petitioner, therefore, begs this Honorable Court to take into consideration his difficult situation, being a poor, old man, who has devoted himself and spent all his time in the service of the Indians, by which he is now reduced to the lowest circumstances, and not able to pay his just debts, without this assistance freely offered by the Indians. Therefore, if Your Honors in your wisdom and goodness will please to give liberty for the sale of said Indian’s lands to the value of about one hundred pounds agreeable to said Indians’ vote, it will relieve him from very great straits, enable him to do justice to his creditors, and still continue his ministry to the Indians.


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


Ephraim Ellis


Legislative Action:

Resolve on the petition of Ephraim Ellis, missionary to the Herring Pond Indians, empowering Seth Freeman, Esq., to sell so much of the lands as will fetch one hundred pounds for the purpose as mentioned.  June 4, 1783.   Endorsed     


Recorded, Vol. 5, p. 29


Mr. Ellis’s Petition / Mr. Goodman and Mr. Freeman




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