Petition of Matthew Rice to the Massachusetts General Court

To the Honoured General Court Assembled 1684 at Boston  


The humble petition of Matthew Rice, dwelling a little without the southern bounds of Sudbury, humbly sheweth that whereas the Indian inhabitants of the Town of Natick have lately tendered to sell to your petitioner three hundred acres (more or less) of their land that lies within the bounds of Natick and borders upon your petitioner's dwelling place, and have also marked the same out unto him if Your Honored General Court's license and confirmation may be obtained: which tract of land lies bounded on the west by your petitioner's land that he possesseth, on the north by the lands of Ensign John Grout containing about fifty acres that he lately bought1 and lies marked out to him by Old John Awassamug, Andrew Pittimee, Thomas Tray, and other Indians of Natick, and is bounded on the east by Watertown bounds, on the south by the bounds of Dedham, on the lands of the Town of Natick.  His prayer, therefore, is that This Honored Court will please to grant your petitioner leave to purchase the said tract of about three hundred acres of land of the Indian proprietors of the Town of Natick, and that he might have the same confirmed unto him by the favour and authority of this Court according to law.  


And your petitioner shall ever pray, etc.,


Matthew Rice, his mark


Legislative Action:

The Magistrates have passed this, granting the petitioner's request therein and the Indians request thereabouts [ illegible ].  The Deputies hereto consenting. Edward Rawson, Secretary. October 24, 1684

The Deputies consent not hereunto but do judge meet that a committee of this Court be appointed to examine the claims of Ensign John Grout and the land petitioned for, and to state the lines between Dedham and Natick and make report of what they find to the next sessions of this Court before any presiding in this matter. October 15, 1684

The Committee appointed for this work, one Lieutenant Sterns, one John Haines, and one 2 Simon Stone, and that some of Natick Indians who the Committee appoint shall attend to shew the bounds claimed by them. The charge to be borne equally by the petitioners. Passed by the Deputies, Our Honored Magistrates hereto [do assent?] [ illegible ] Joseph Cooke, per order,  October 28, 1684.

The Magistrates consent and have appointed the Deputy Governor Major General Gookin, and Mr. Samuel Nowell to join with the persons mentioned.  Samuel Sewall per order, October 30, 1684.


Rice and Indians' petition, consented with the Magistrates, October 15, 1684. Not Agreed



  • 1. This land that Grout bought from two Indians around 1680 did not have the town's consent.  Moreover, at a later time, Grout altered the wording of the deed to read five hundred acres instead of fifty.  The town successfully sued but only recovered four hundred acres.  Mandell, Behind the Frontier, 41.
  • 2. Deleted Text: John Stone