|Transcription of Jamestown's 1657 Land Documentxxxxxxxx
Notes on this Transcription:
The author is unknown. It is about 50+ years old and difficult to read. Nancy Logan of the JHS reviewed the document word for word with a magnifying glass and found and fixed many errors. Example: The original spelled it “collony.” The transcription spelled it “colony.” There is a Ratification document at the end of the Land Agreement which has yet to be transcribed.
Newport on Rhode Island in New England. Agreed upon March the 10th 1656
(Ratified - February 12, 1657)
An agreement of several of the free inhabitants of Rhode Island concerning the purchasing of a certain island called Quononaqutt nears adjacent to Rhode Island in New England aforesaid: which agreement is ratified and confirmed by those of us whose names are hereunto subscribed for ourselves, our heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, this said agreement being grounded upon the reasons and occasions following. Viz:First: Forasmuch as it is frequently declared that of late there have been endeavours used by some who are neither inhabitants of this Island nor members of this Collony, to get into their possession and power of disposal the abovesaid Island Quononaqutt. And
Secondly, considering how commodiously the said Island lyeth for the enlarging the accommodations of some of us, in regard to the nearness of it, to our dwellings as also considering the great straight that many of us are in, for want of commonage for cattle, as also for other occasions therefore.
And for the preventing any foreigners getting into their possession whereby inconvenience and disturbance might possibly, yea and probably arise to the Government of this Collony.
We whose names are hereto subscribed as abovesaid for ourselves, our heirs, etc. agree as followeth: Viz,
First. That for the procuring the aforesaid Island Quononaqutt for the occasions aforesaid we do hereby authorize and appoint seven of our own number (namely) William Coddington Esqr, Benedict Arnold Sen, William Brenton or in his absence William Baulston in his stead, also Richard Smith of Narragansett, also Capt. John Cranston, Caleb Carr, and John Sanford, to use the best of their endeavors to make a full and firm purchase of the aforesaid Island Quononaqutt for and to themselves & for the rest of us who are in this present writing hereafter in order mentioned and also hereunto subscribed, and to the end premised the persons aforenamed are hereby fully and absolutely impowered and authorized, and they or the major part of them after due notice given to the whole seven upon any such occasion from either of them, to meet and conform the said occasion, and the major part of the said seven meeting and agreeing upon any direction to either of themselves or others as they see cause to employ about the getting assurance from any Sachem and of the Indians, shall be lawful and authentic for or concerning said Island Quononaqutt, as also for the Island called Dutch Island, to the intent abovesaid, and further we every one engage ourselves not to do nor act anything concerning the said Islands or either of them without order expressly under the hands of the major part of the aforenamed Trustees, and then to no other end and purpose but for the use of the purchasers according to the contents of this present writing, whereupon all of us the subscribers do engage ourselves upon forfeiture of all right forever in either of the aforesaid Islands upon what accompt or pretence soever either of us may have ground of claim to any part of the premises in case of acting contrary to this present article & engagement.
Secondly: For the preventing of after differences about the dividing and sharing of the promised intended purchase, we agree and conclude that the proportion to each purchaser shall be shared as is hereafter particularly expressed. Viz:
William Coddington of Newport Esq, & Benedict Arnold Senr, shall each of them pay one twentieth part of the whole charge, and shall each of them receive one twentieth part of the premised purchase. And William Brenton, Merchant, shall pay one fortieth part, and one hundred and eleventh part of the whole charge , and shall receive one fortieth part, and one hundred and eleventh part of the premised purchase. And Richard Smith Senr., Capt John Cranston, Richard Smith, Junr, Robert Carr, Caleb Carr, Francis Brinley, James Smith, John Green, James Barker, James Rogers, John Sailes, Valentine Whitman, and John Sanford shall each of them pay
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one fortieth part of the whole charge and shall receive one fortieth part of the premised purchase. And John Clark, Richard Tew, John Roome and Joseph Clarke shall each of them pay one fifty-fourth part of the while charge, and shall each of them receive one fifty-fourth part of the premised purchase. And William Baulston, Walter Conigrave shall each of them pay one sixtieth part of the whole charge and shall each of them receive one sixtieth part of the premised purchase. And James Babcock, Richard Knight, & Thomas Brownell shall each of them pay one sixty-seventh part of the whole charge, and shall receive each of them one sixty-seventh part of the premised purchase. And Capt. Adam Mott, John Easton, Thomas Clarke, William Vaughn, William Weeden, Capt. Thomas Cooke, Edward Greenman, Daniel Wilcocks, John Porter, John Briggs, Henry Bull, having promised his son Jereth his share aforesaid John Gould, Thomas Gould and Daniel Gould shall each of them pay one hundred and eleventh part of the whole charge and shall each of them receive one hundred and eleventh part of the premised purchase. And Capt. Randall Houlden and Samuel Sanford shall each of them pay one hundred and fiftieth part of the whole charge, and shall each of them receive one hundred and fiftieth part of the premised purchase. And Emanuel Wooly, Matthew West, John Greene of Warwick Junr, Mark Lucar, Stephen Wilcocks, William Havens, Joseph Tarry, Edward Thurston, Lawrence Turner, Thomas Waterman, George Lawton, Richard Card, Toby Saunders, Jeremiah Willis, John Naham, Thomas Hart, Richard Bulgar, Anthony Low, Christopher Almy, Richard Dunn, Thomas Dunger, Thomas Valston, John Peabody, William Jeffrey, Henry Timberlake, shall each of them pay one two hundredth part of the whole charge, and shall each of them receive one two hundredth part of the premised purchase. And John Tripp, Thomas Waite, Richard Sisson, Edward Larkin, Robert Bennett, Thomas Tooley, and John Cooke shall each of them pay one two hundred and fiftieth part of the whole charge, and shall each of them receive one two hundred and fiftieth part of the premised purchase. And Thomas Newton, William Lytherland, William Earl, William Case, John Anthony, Robert Taylor, Samuel Hubbard, Robert Burdick, Robert Spink, Robert Hazard, Samuel Billing, Thomas Baker, Thomas Manchester, William Hall, Thomas Fish, William Codman, Edward Richmond, Nicholas Brown, Henry Stevens, John Fairfield, Jeremiah Clarke, and Latham Clarke shall each of them pay one three hundredth part of the whole charge, and shall each of them receive one three hundredth part of the premised purchase. And George Bliss, Marmaduke Ward, Bartholomew Hunt, Ichabod Sheffield, John West, Joseph Ladd, and Alfred Langworth shall each of them pay one four hundred and fiftieth part of the whole charge and shall each of them receive one four hundred and fiftieth part of the premised purchase. And Thomas Case, Anthony Ravenscraft, Thomas Oliver, and John Fones shall each of them pay one nine hundredth part of the whole charge, and shall each of them receive one nine hundredth part of the premised purchase.
Thirdly. We do jointly agree that sixteen persons shall be and stand a perpetual Council or Committee who shall have from hence forward the power (they or the major part of them agreeing) to nominate and appoint seven of their own number, and impower and authorize the said seven with full power to manage all matters concerning the premises from time to time as occasion shall present which sixteen persons have already nominated the said seven persons as they are mentioned in the first article of these presents, and are hereby confirmed according to the contents of these presents, until the said sixteen thereafter named shall see cause to change any of the said seven and place another of themselves in his or their rooms, which may not lawfully be done but in a meeting of the said sixteen, or the majour part of them which meeting shall not be accounted authentic, except every one of them have notice given him in season, of the time and place of meeting by some other of them selves thereto appointed, and in case any of the sixteen die or remove away, or by breach of any article unable to hold his share in the premises, or have sold or given away his proportion, or be otherwise disabled to act in the premises. Then it shall be and is in the power of the remaining fifteen (or so many as remain capable to act) or the major part of them orderly meet as aforesaid from time to time to nominate and elect one of the most able of the purchasers as may be in their judgment thought fit to be in the failing parties rooms etc. And the sixteen that are at present deputed and authorized to the intent aforesaid are William Coddington Esq., Benedict Arnold Sen., both of Newport, William Brenton of Boston, Machtt or in his absence, William Baulston for him, Richard Smith, and Richard Smith Junr., both of Narragansett, Capt. John Cranston, Richard Tew, Joseph Clarke, John Green, Richard Knight, Caleb Carr, James Barker, and Mark Lucar all of Newport, John Roome, Mr. William Bauston, and John Sanford all of Portsmouth.
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Fourthly. It is agreed that if any of these before mentioned purchasers do absolutely refuse to accept of being a purchaser , or do not come in at or before the first day of April in the year 1658 and subscribe their names unto these articles of agreement, all such persons shall forfeit and lose their premised share as above mentioned. And the aforenamed Trustees upon notice thereof received have full power to nominate and make choice of another or others in his or their room or otherwise to dispose of the said share or shares (so forfeited) to the public and proportionable behoof of the purchasers.
Fifthly. We agree that the afore mentioned Trustees are authorized and empowered to engage and disburse upon all the occasions concerning the premised purchase, and to keep accounts of all the said disbursements and to exhibit the said accounts to the rest, and demand repayment according to each man’s proportion of the premised disbursements. And each person shall bring in his proportion of all the said charges to that party of those aforenamed trustees whom the Trustees shall inform them is to receive it , and whose faileth of bringing in the said proportion shall have no deed for, nor possession of his proportion in the purchase until he hath paid as aforesaid. And if any fail of bringing in his pay or of agreeing with the Trustees, or whom they shall inform it shall be paid to, within thirty days after demand or information as aforesaid, he shall then allow and pay together with his proportion after the rate of twenty in the hundred for the forbearance thereof and so shall have the liberty of one whole year after the first demand, to pay the same. But if at the years end he also fails to pay as aforesaid, or fail of agreeing with the disbursers, then the said failing parties share shall return to be disposed of by the Trustees aforesaid, for the use and behoof of the purchasers aforesaid, provided that the trustees pay both the principal and the forbearance to the premised disbursers within thirty days or after such share so comes to their disposal as aforesaid, or also the said share shall remain forever in the said disbursers possession, or be at his disposal and for his own proper benefit to whom the mony was due to be paid.
Sixthly. That if any of those beforenamed purchasers shall not in season as is in the articles above written is specified pay their afore premised proportions, or (though paying it yet) do not, according to proportion bear and pay their proportion of the charge, that may arise by reason of controversies or suits of law about the premises or other charges that are necessary for the assurance and maintenance of all our rights together in the premised purchase, then such person or persons share or shares shall in case of such default return to the purchasers behoof or shall be ordered by the Trustees as aforesaid.
Seventhly: We agree that it shall not be lawful for the purchasers or any of them to dispose or make any sale of their or any of their proportions of the premised purchase (as mentioned in the second article) But only to a purchaser or purchasers of the premises except the aforesaid Trustees being order by mot or the major part of them approve thereof and consent to the sale thereof to any one which is not a purchaser, by a writing signed under the hands of the said Trustees or the majour part of them to signify their assent thereto. And this injunction to be of full force until the aforenamed Trustees or the majour part of them shall see cause to alter it. And in case any of the said Purchasers shall otherwise dispose of his said purchased part then as aforesaid, then the said proportion is hereby declared to be forfeit to the purchasers, and may be seized on by the Trustees for the use and behoof of the purchasers. Only in case of the decease of any of the purchasers aforesaid, his or their proportion shall remain to his or their lawful heirs, which heirs are to observe all the order and injunctions contained in this present writing.
Eighthly: We agree that any grand or fundamental agreements of the purchasers as also any grand deed or deeds had from the Indians, concerning the premises, shall be kept in the custody of Benedict Arnold of Newport Sen. aforesaid during the time of his being Trustee.
Ninthly: We agree that John Sanford aforenamed shall be Secretary or Scribe for the purchasers & Trustees until the aforesaid Trustees or the major part of them see cause to choose another. And he shall have and keep in
his custody true copies of all material writings, and (for such proportionable satisfaction as shall be appointed him by the said Trustees. ) give forth copies thereof to any of the purchasers that desire it under his hand as true
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copies. As likewise he shall make and sign to each man that desires it. The aforenamed Trustees making a form of the Deed which shall be given to those that desire it which shall be an assurance to each man for his proportion.
Tenthly: We agree that the premised Trustees beside the charge committed to them in the several respects aforesaid have also full power to cause the said Island Quononaqutt to be surveyed and calculated to the nearest proportion that conveniently it can be done that so the proportions of the several purchasers may be known as to the quantity how much each share will be and the charge of the said surveying and calculation to be paid by the purchasers according to proportion. And this to be done as it shall appear seasonable to the said Trustees or the major part of them. And in the surveying of the Island premised the said Trustees are hereby intrusted and authorized to appoint what High ways and where they shall see convenient to be left and laid out for perpetuity that so the remainder may also both be calculated as in proportion to the division of it. As also the aforenamed Trustees are empowered and authorized to lay out about sixty two acre shares in some convenient place for the situation of a Town with some common adjoining as they the said Trustees shall judge necessary and convenient, and to order the disposing the said shares according to their discretion to the behoof of the purchasers.
Eleventhly. We agree as touching fencing in of lands on the premised Island Quononaqutt. No man or person shall be compelled to fence in his land until he hath occasion and a mind so to do. And whosoever it falls out that any lyne or range does divide two parcels of land, the said single range or lyne of fence shall be equally made and maintained by the two parties, owners of the said parcels, in case they both make use of the said land. But in case any one have a mind to fence his land, he shall not compel the owner of the share that lyeth next adjoining on either side, to fence any part against him, unless that part have benefit of the middle fence between them. And then looks what benefit or commodity he receives by his neighbours fence, so much benefit and commodity, that neighbour shall receive by his the said parties fence in the said line. And further if any one have helped as aforesaid to set up and maintain any such partition lines of fence, he is engaged not to remove or demolish the same or any part of it to his neighbors damage although he throws his own land open to the highways or common, but yet having thrown open his land the other shall maintain that whole range if he use it, and not compel him (that hath so opened his own land) to be at any charge about the said fence until he doth again receive commodity by it as aforesaid. And to prevent any prejudicial manners in fencing, no man shall set his fence for such lyne or range, but in the range between the two parcels except he set it at least two rods at every part of the said line within his own land which two rods shall then lie perpetual common. And this to prevent such as to oppress the adjoining share by setting the fence a little within his own land. That so his neighbour may have no commodity by his fence which that each one may justly have as is above expressed is hereby agreed upon and confirmed.
Twelfthly. We agree concerning the Island called Dutch Island aforementioned which Island lyeth on the west side of and near adjoining to Quononaqutt that the said Island shall remain in common for the use of all the purchasers. Each of them having a proportional right in the same according to the proportion they shall enjoy of Quononoqutt. And the said Dutch Island shall be only for public uses, as to put on Calves, Rams, or other Cattle to each ones proportional commodity and shall not be appropriated to any private person, but shall remain at the discretion of the aforesaid Trustees, or major part of them to be improved for the common behoof of all as aforesaid. And therefore the seven Trustees now already chosen are not to be altered until there be quiet possession attained of the premises, to which end they are desired and authorized to spare for no lawful costs and means to procure both the said Islands peaceably from the Indians.
Memorandum. That Mr.William Baulston was interlined in the third article and the word (but) in the seventh article and the word (range) & (if) in this margin all which particulars were written before the signing hereof.
Lastly. It is agreed and ordered that Joseph Clarke shall subscribe hereto in the behalf of his Brother Mr. John Clarke in England which shall be authentic. And further we agree that this present writing shall be of full force and authority any writings or agreements formerly made notwithstanding. And this writing agreed upon March the tenth 1656/57 is now confirmed and ratified by us whose names are hereto subscribed in 12th of February 1657.
1) Some of the names were signed “his mark” that often appeared as an initial or initials.
2) Within the next few years after this agreement was signed, additional names were added and some persons’ shares were forfeited. Some of these amendments to the above agreement were written in 1657, 1658, 1659 and appear with the original Land Agreement document. They have not been transcribed.
3) We count just 99 names. Perhaps John Almy also signed for himself.
4) The dates on these documents were based on the Julian Calendar (OS = Old Style), that was in effect until 1752 when the Gregorian Calendar ( NS = New Style) was adopted by the American Colonies. New Dates: Land Agreement Created – March 20, 1657.
Land agreement Ratified - February 22, 1658