Anno Dom: 1628 (Excerpt)

Anno Dom: 1628

William Bradford

Anno Dom: 1628.

…[T]her came over one Captaine Wolastone, (a man of pretie parts,) and with him 3. or 4. more of some eminencie, who brought with them a great many servants, with provissions & other implments for to begine a plantation; and pitched them selves in a place within the Massachusets, which they called, after their Captains [284]name, Mount-Wollaston. Amongst whom was one Mr. Morton, who, it should seeme, had some small adventure (of his owne or other mens) amongst them; but had litle respecte [159] amongst them, and was sleghted by ye meanest servants. Haveing continued ther some time, and not finding things to answer their expectations, nor profite to arise as they looked for, Captaine Wollaston takes a great part of ye sarvants, and transports them to Virginia, wher he puts them of at good rates, selling their time to other men; and writs back to one Mr. Rassdall, one of his cheefe partners, and accounted their marchant, to bring another parte of them to Verginia likewise, intending to put them of ther as he had done ye rest. And he, wth ye consente of ye said Rasdall, appoynted one Fitcher to be his Livetenante, and governe ye remaines of ye plantation, till he or Rasdall returned to take further order theraboute. But this Morton abovesaid, haveing more craft then honestie, (who had been a kind of petie-fogger, of Furnefells Inne,) in ye others absence, watches an oppertunitie, (commons being but hard amongst them,) and gott some strong drinck & other junkats, & made them a feast; and after they were merie, he begane to tell them, he would give them good counsell. You see (saith he) that many of your fellows are carried to Virginia; and if you stay till this Rasdall returne, you will also be carried away and sould for slaves with ye rest. Therfore I would [285]advise you to thruste out this Levetenant Fitcher; and I, having a parte in the plantation, will receive you as my partners and consociats; so may you be free from service, and we will converse, trad, plante, & live togeather as equalls, & supporte & protecte one another, or to like effecte. This counsell was easily received; so they tooke oppertunitie, and thrust Levetenante Fitcher out a dores, and would suffer him to come no more amongst them, but forct him to seeke bread to eate, and other releefe from his neigbours, till he could gett passages for England. After this they fell to great licenciousnes, and led a dissolute life, powering out them selves into all profanenes. And Morton became lord of misrule, and maintained (as it were) a schoole of Athisme. And after they had gott some good into their hands, and gott much by trading with ye Indeans, they spent it as vainly, in quaffing & drinking both wine & strong waters in great exsess, and, as some reported, 10li. worth in a morning. They allso set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing aboute it many days togeather, inviting the Indean women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking togither, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practises. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of ye Roman Goddes Flora, or ye beasly practieses of ye madd Bacchinalians. Morton likwise (to shew his poetrie) composed sundry rimes & verses, some tending to lasciviousnes, and [286]others to ye detraction & scandall of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idoll May-polle. They chainged allso the name of their place, and in stead of calling it Mounte Wollaston, they call it Merie-mounte, [160] as if this joylity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, (as follows to be declared,) shortly after came over that worthy gentlman, Mr. John Indecott, who brought over a patent under ye broad seall, for ye govermente of ye Massachusets, who visiting those parts caused yt May-polle to be cutt downe, and rebuked them for their profannes, and admonished them to looke ther should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed ye name of their place againe, and called it Mounte-Dagon.

Now to maintaine this riotous prodigallitie and profuse excess, Morton, thinking him selfe lawless, and hearing what gaine ye French & fisher-men made by trading of peeces, powder, & shotte to ye Indeans, he, as ye head of this consortship, begane ye practise of ye same in these parts; and first he taught them how to use them, to charge, & discharg, and what proportion of powder to give ye peece, according to ye sise or bignes of ye same; and what shotte to use for foule, and what for deare. And having thus instructed them, he imployed some of them to hunte & fowle for him, so as they became farr more active in that imploymente then any of ye English, by reason of ther [287]swiftnes of foote, & nimblnes of body, being also quick-sighted, and by continuall exercise well knowing ye hants of all sorts of game. So as when they saw ye execution that a peece would doe, and ye benefite that might come by ye same, they became madd, as it were, after them, and would not stick to give any prise they could attaine too for them; accounting their bowes & arrowes but bables in comparison of them.

And here I may take occasion to bewaile ye mischefe that this wicked man began in these parts, and which since base covetousnes prevailing in men that should know better, has now at length gott ye upper hand, and made this thing com̅one, notwithstanding any laws to ye contrary; so as ye Indeans are full of peeces all over, both fouling peeces, muskets, pistols, &c. They have also their moulds to make shotte, of all sorts, as muskett bulletts, pistoll bullets, swane & gose shote, & of smaler sorts; yea, some have seen them have their scruplats to make scrupins them selves, when they wante them, with sundery other implements, wherwith they are ordinarily better fited & furnished then ye English them selves. Yea, it is well knowne that they will have powder & shot, when the English want it, nor cannot gett it; and yt in a time of warr or danger, as experience hath manifested, that when lead hath been scarce, and men for their owne defence would gladly have given a groat a l which is dear enoughe, [288]yet hath it bene bought up & sent to other places, and sould to shuch as trade it with ye Indeans, at 12. pence ye li.; and it is like they give 3. or 4.s ye pound, for they will have it at any rate. And these things have been done in ye same times, when some of their neigbours & freinds are daly killed by ye Indeans, or are in deanger therof, and live but at ye Indeans mercie. [161] Yea, some (as they have aquainted them with all other things) have tould them how gunpowder is made, and all ye materialls in it, and that they are to be had in their owne land; and I am confidente, could they attaine to make saltpeter, they would teach them to make powder. O the horiblnes of this vilanie! how many both Dutch & English have been latly slaine by those Indeans, thus furnished; and no remedie provided, nay, ye evill more increased, and ye blood of their brethren sould for gaine, as is to be feared; and in what danger all these colonies are in is too well known. Oh! that princes & parlements would take some timly order to prevente this mischeefe, and at length to suppress it, by some exemplerie punishmente upon some of these gaine thirstie murderers, (for they deserve no better title,) before their collonies in these parts be over throwne by these barbarous savages, thus armed with their owne weapons, by these evill instruments, and traytors to their neigbors and cuntrie. But I have forgott my selfe, and have been to longe in this digression; but now to returne. This Morton having [289]thus taught them ye use of peeces, he sould them all he could spare; and he and his consorts detirmined to send for many out of England, and had by some of ye ships sente for above a score. The which being knowne, and his neigbours meeting ye Indeans in ye woods armed with guns in this sorte, it was a terrour unto them, who lived straglingly, and were of no strenght in any place. And other places (though more remote) saw this mischeefe would quietly spread over all, if not prevented. Besides, they saw they should keep no servants, for Morton would entertaine any, how vile soever, and all ye scume of ye countrie, or any discontents, would flock to him from all places, if this nest was not broken; and they should stand in more fear of their lives & goods (in short time) from this wicked & deboste crue, then from ye salvages them selves.

So sundrie of ye cheefe of ye stragling plantations, meeting togither, agreed by mutuall consente to sollissite those of Plimoth (who were then of more strength then them all) to joyne with them, to prevente ye further grouth of this mischeefe, and suppress Morton & his consortes before yey grewe to further head and strength. Those that joyned in this acction (and after contributed to the charge of sending him for England) were from Pascataway, Namkeake, Winisimett, Weesagascusett, Natasco, and other places wher any English were seated. Those of Plimoth being thus sought too by their messengers & [290]letters, and waying both their reasons, and the com̅one danger, were willing to afford them their help; though them selves had least cause of fear or hurte. So, to be short, they first resolved joyntly to write to him, and in a freindly & neigborly way to admonish him to forbear these courses, & sent a messenger with their letters to bring his answer. But he was so highe as he scorned all advise, and asked who had to doe with him; he had and would trade peeces with ye Indeans in dispite of all, with many other scurillous termes full of disdaine. They sente to him a second time, and bad him be better advised, and more temperate in his termes, for ye countrie could not beare ye injure he did; it was against their comone saftie, and against ye king’s proclamation. He answerd in high terms as before, and that ye kings proclamation was no law; demanding what penaltie was upon it. It was answered, more then he could [162] bear, his majesties displeasure. But insolently he persisted, and said ye king was dead and his displeasure with him, & many ye like things; and threatened withall that if any came to molest him, let them looke to them selves, for he would prepare for them. Upon which they saw ther was no way but to take him by force; and having so farr proceeded, now to give over would make him farr more hautie & insolente. So they mutually resolved to proceed, and obtained of ye Govr of Plimoth to send [291]Captaine Standish, & some other aide with him, to take Morton by force. The which accordingly was done; but they found him to stand stifly in his defence, having made fast his dors, armed his consorts, set diverse dishes of powder & bullets ready on ye table; and if they had not been over armed with drinke, more hurt might have been done. They som̅aned him to yeeld, but he kept his house, and they could gett nothing but scofes & scorns from him; but at length, fearing they would doe some violence to ye house, he and some of his crue came out, but not to yeeld, but to shoote; but they were so steeld with drinke as their peeces were to heavie for them; him selfe with a carbine (over charged & allmost halfe fild with powder & shote, as was after found) had thought to have shot Captaine Standish; but he stept to him, & put by his peece, & tooke him. Neither was ther any hurte done to any of either side, save yt one was so drunke yt he rane his owne nose upon ye pointe of a sword yt one held before him as he entred ye house; but he lost but a litle of his hott blood. Morton they brought away to Plimoth, wher he was kepte, till a ship went from ye Ile of Shols for England, with which he was sente to ye Counsell of New-England; and letters writen to give them information of his course & cariage; and also one was sent at their com̅one charge to informe their Hors more perticulerly, & to prosecute against him. But he foold of ye messenger, after he was gone [292]from hence, and though he wente for England, yet nothing was done to him, not so much as rebukte, for ought was heard; but returned ye nexte year. Some of ye worst of ye company were disperst, and some of ye more modest kepte ye house till he should be heard from. But I have been too long aboute so un-worthy a person, and bad a cause…