Petition of Stephen David to the Massachusetts General Court

Province of the Massachusetts Bay

To His Excellency the Governor and Council and Representatives of said Province in General Court Assembled at Boston, November 1740


The petition of Stephen David, Indian man of Middleborough in the County of Plymouth, shews that he was imprisoned at Newport on Rhode Island for a debt due to a doctor for payment of which he was obliged to take a voyage to sea, was gone on the voyage almost a year.  In the meantime, his wife was visited with a long and tedious fit of sickness which continued for more than half a year for which she was obliged to several English for credit to support her and all his children, but one died and, upon his return, found his wife[1] in a miserable state of health and himself then not able and for near a year afterward not able to work for his support by reason of bodily infirmities and sickness, whereby so that by the Providence of God he is much reduced and in debt. He having about five hundred acres of lands In Middleboro adjoining to the north side of Trout Brook between the Great River and the 16 Shilling Purchase line and a small interest in some plain and barren land on the south side of said brook, wherefore for payment of his just debts he humbly prays this Honorable Court to enable him to sell fifty acres of his lands on the north side of said brook adjoining them to some of it is mean land and also his interests in the plain lands on the south side of said brook to some of the English subjects of the King and enable him to pass and execute good deed or deeds of the same.


And as in duty bound shall pray,


Stephen David’s mark


Legislative Action:

In the House of Representatives, December 17, 1740. Read and ordered that Captain Edson with such at shall be joined by the Honorable Board be a Committee to consider this petition and report that they judge proper for this Court to do thereon at the next session. Sent up for concurrence, Josiah Quincy, Speaker. 

In Council, December 18, 1740.  Read and concurred and Colonel Cushing is joined in the affair. J. Willard, Secretary. December 19, 1740.  Consented to, Jonathan Belcher





[1] Stephen David’s wife, if she were the same in 1753, was Betty.  It was in that year that David was charged with murdering her.  Pulispher, Homicides of Adults in Massachusetts Database, NNRC Files.

[2] Deleted Text: In Council, April 1, 1741; read again together with the Report of the Committee thereon and Order