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so great, that what, at first sight, may seem enormous sums, when reduced by the scale of depreciation, for the time being, dwindle into comparative insignificance. The depreciation of the money was not so great, before the year 1745, as it afterwards was. The only criterion which we possess to ascertain any thing like its standard value is, a comparison of the prices of labor and produce at different times, during our history. In 1726, four shillings per day, were allowed by the town for labor upon a “garrison” they were then building. In 1754, two shillings per day for men, and one shilling for a yoke of oxen were allowed upon the highways. In 1774, three shillings per day for men were allowed. In 1780, so rapid had the money depreciated, that six pounds per day were paid for labor on the highways. In 1775, the delegate in the Provincial Congress from this town, received five shillings per day for his services. The same sum was paid, in 1788, to representatives in the General Court, while Senators had five shillings and sixpence, and Counsellors six shillings, per day. The compensation of members of Congress from this State was fixed, that year, at four dollars per day. The next year, this town gave their representative but four shillings per day. In 1790, labor on the highways was fixed at three shillings per day, and the next year, at two. In the year 1752, one pound, lawful money, was paid for boarding a school master six weeks; and in 1779, the member of the convention that formed the Constitution, from this town, paid one hundred and eighty two dollars per week, for his board. In 1780, the ratio of depreciation of the old money was, as 40 to 1.
In 1776, a committee was appointed, agreeably to a resolve of the General Court, to fix the prices at which labor, produce, &c. then stood, and this estimation must have been made in reference to a currency then at par. The list of articles, prepared and reported by this committee, was very large, and we will only transscribe a few items from the report, for the purpose of comparing them with the same articles at the present day. Labor, per day, in the summer, was estimated at three shillings; and in the winter, at half that sum: by the year, at twenty pounds. Men's shoes, at eight shillings per pair; borse hire, at two pence per mile: shoeing a horse, five and sixpence; a good gun and bayonet at eighty four shillings; Indian corn, at three shillings; Rye, at four and sixpence; wheat, at six shillings per bushel: Butter, pine pence; Beef, three and a half pence per pound; salt pork, at eight pence, per pound : and “ Toddy and Flip" at one shilling " per mug."
The depreciation of the currency was not confined to the emissions from this state. In 1785, five dollars of the Rhode Island currency, and eight dollars of that of New Hampshire, were worth but three shillings here. But we are approaching too extensive a subject for our means or time to master, and must therefore leave it for some curious and patient antiquarian.
It would be impossible to fix the actual state of the depreciation at different times ; since it was so rapid, and withal so fluctuating, that a person was chosen by this town, in 1786, to report, as often as once a week, to the inhabitants, the value of the paper money and public securities.
The early records of the town are quite imperfect, and only a partial account of the transactions they purport to record, can be gleaned from them: we can, therefore, hardly pursue a correct chronological order in relating those circumstances which we have been able to gather respecting its history. Many of the votes passed and some of the officers chosen are not perfectly obvious in their necessity or policy. We can hardly conceive the necessity for a “clerk of the market” in a place where none bought, and few sold any thing of a marketable character, yet that office, as well as that of deer-reeve, was regularly filled for a great many years after the incorporation of the town. Another officer wbo was chosen-annually for many years, but, though a statute officer, is now discontinued, was a 46 warden." The best solution of this was offered by an elderly gentleman, of whom we enquired the use, that coming from Old England our fathers wanted to have every thing here as they had left them at home.
The inbabitants were troubled, for many years, by the proprietors of the lands, most of which then lay common, taking cattle from abroad to pasture upon these common lands; and in order to prevent this, they levied a tax of ten shillings per head, upon all cattle so taken to be fed ; and a still more singular vote was passed, that all rams running at large should be “free plunder,” and any one who should take such, might have them, for his own.
Although, as we have seen, the people of the town must have been far from wealthy, for many years after settling here, they were not burthened with taxes for the support of the poor until 1745, when provision was made for the support of a poor child that happened to be in need: not many years after, a small sum was appropriated to help a poor man to provide himself with a cow. It is impossible now to ascertain the precise amount which
has been expended for the support of the poor of the town since that time. We may safely assert, that from five to eight hundred dollars are annually expended, for this purpose, at present.
The people of the town were affected, in common with those of the whole of New England, by the early wars with the French, and furnished men, from time to time, to aid the expeditions which were carried on by the Province. The meagerness of the records leaves us in uncertainty, as to the numbers actually engaged in these wars, from this town. But when the Grand Canada expedition, as it was called, was planned by Governor Shirley, in 1746, to drive the French from their North American possessions, this town furnished men for the army then raised, and, as an additional compensation for their sacrifices, their taxes were abated by the town.
Every thing favored a prevalence of loyal feelings among the people of New England, at this period, and in Leicester, no less than in other parts of the country; some of its most leading men were patives of Great Britain, and had all the ties of kindred, besides the natural feeling of attachment to the place of their birth, to bind them to the mother country. Richard Southgate, and Daniel Denny, both of them influential men in their day, were natives of Coombs, in Suffolk county, in England.* They left Coombs in June, 1715, and arrived in Boston in September. The next year, Southgate went back to England and returned with his family, and Dr. Thomas Prince, who had been the clergyman of Coombs, and was afterwards settled in Boston, the venerable annalist of New England. They arrived in Boston, in July, 1717; in the March following, Southgate and family, and Denny and family, removed to Leicester. Mr. Depny settled upon the farm, still in possession of the family, about two miles south east from the meeting-house. He was a brother of Dr. Prince's wife, and of Major Denny, as he is called, who settled, about the year 1728, in Maine, where be became a man of wealth and influence, being, at the time of his death, first Judge of the “ court of pleas,” and president of the court of sessions in the county of Lincolo. * Richard Southgate was born in 1673, and died at the age of 88 years,
in 1758. Daniel Denny was born 1694, and died April 16, 1760, at the age of 66 years.
tRichard Southgate had two sons, Stuart and Richard : the first, the father of the Hon. Robert Southgate, of Scarborough, Maine, and of the late Capt. John Southgate, whose family still reside in Leicester. The children of Richard were more numerous, and one branch of his family only, bearing his name, remains in Leicester-the children of his son Isaac.
Daniel Denny had two sons, Thomas and Samuel. Both of them we shall
The precise number of men furnished by this town during the several French wars, as they were called, cannot pow be precisely ascertained; that it was never backward in furnishing its quotas, the facts which are recorded of those times, and their promptness in subsequent calls, most clearly prove.
One man yet survives, at the advanced age of 86, who was a soldier from 1756 to 1761, and was in the memorable affair of Fort William Henry, in 1757, when so many English and Americans were massacred by the savages of Montcalm's army. His pame is Knight Sprague, a native of Hingham, from which place he marched, in 1756. The next year, he was with Col. Bradstreet at the taking of Fort Frontinac, on Lake Ontario. His memory is yet accurate and tenacious. Fort William Henry was surrendered, according to his account, about 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning, and the English were detained till the next morning and guarded by the French. As soon however as the army had left the fort, to take up their march, according to the terms of capitulation, the Indians rushed upon them, and began to strip and kill the prisoners. Sprague escaped, after being partially stripped. His captain was stripped naked, as were many women, he passed, in his flight, towards Fort Edward. Of the half company to which he belonged, fifteen out of the fifty, were killed, that day. Muoro, the British commander, as represented by Sprague, was a dignified man of about fifty years of age. Montcalm was a fine looking man, extremely well formed, and very active and graceful, but small in stature.
The inhabitants of this town early felt, and boldly expressed, an opposition to those acts of the mother country which tended to curtail the liberties of the colonies. Al this day, it is difficult to realize, in all their forces, the feelings of the colonists from 1763 till their independence was acknowledged. History has done them justice as a nation, and eulogies upon the prominent leaders in that struggle have preserved their names and handed them down to posterity with a lustre which time cannot dim. But injustice raust, of necessity, have been done to those no less deserving men, who, in the private circles, the village meetings, and the smaller assemblies of the people, kept alive that sacred flame that burned so have occasion to mention hereafter. The son of Thomas was the late Col. Thomas, and father of the present Thomas Denny. Samuel had several sons, among whom, was the Hon. Nathaniel P. Denny. These families have ever held a highly respectable station in society, and had deserved influence in town.
brightly through the land. It is surprising to read, on the records of obscure villages and towns, resolutions and sentiments that would have done credit to the hall of Congress. We do not speak unguardedly. Resolutions are now preserved in our town records, which were prepared and acted upon in the years of the American revolution, that only want the name of a statesman as their author, to make them rapk in interest and importance with those which have been so generally and justly admired. In this town, though its population must have been small, though its inhabitants had enjoyed none but ordinary means of education, and though, as it is believed, no one, except their clergyman, of the whig party, had ever enjoyed the means of a public education, and many of the foremost men were even destitute of a good common education, its records cannot now be read, without exciting admiration at the knowledge and discrimination of political principles and of public wrongs and injuries which those records evince.
The town were in the habit of giving to their representatives instructions upon those topics upon wbich they felt the most interest. This began in 1765, when John Brown was chosen their representative in the General Court of the Province. A committee was then appointed to draft resolutions, of which, Daniel Hensbaw was chairman ; the report was presented to the people, in town meeting, and there accepted. It will be impossible to do justice to any of these papers, by the few extracts we shall be able to give, but their length renders the entire insertion impossible.
The state of the controversy, at that time, is too well known to need a recapitulation of its history here, in order to understand the sketches we shall give. The contest about taxing the colonies was high; the stamp act had been passed; and the popular excitement had extended so far, in Boston, as to lead to the destruction of Governor Hutchinson's house by the mob. The instructions to Capt. Brown, alluded to “ the then critical juncture of time and affairs," and expressed the expectation that their representative will maintain their natural rights; their rights as Englishmen, which derive to them as subjects of Great Britain, and those granted them by charter.” They charge him to be frugal of the money belonging to the government, and to be strictly careful that it be not drawn out of the treasury, but by appropriation of the General Court; as any other course would be, virtually, taxing the people contrary to the constitution, and in subversion of one of their darling rights. They speak of the levying taxes, and the “ stamp act,