Here to return to
earliest and, in many ways, the best account of
Boston life in the winter immediately following the naming of
the town was
that sent by Thomas Dudley in a letter to the Countess of Lincoln,
Lady Arbella Johnson. The explanation of this letter's origin is found
note which Dudley sent with it "to the righte honourable, my very good
Lady, the Lady Bryget, Countesse of Lincoln" in the care of Mr. Wilson,
pastor of the First Church, who sailed from Salem, April l, 1631.
"Madam," he wrote, "your ltt'res (which are not common or
cheape) following me hether into New England, and bringing
with them renewed
testimonies of the accustomed favours you honoured mee with in
the Old, have
drawne from me this Narrative retribucon, (which in respect of your
interest in some persons of great note amongst us) was the thankfullest
I had to send over the seas. Therefore I humbly intreat your Honour,
accepted as payment from him, who neither hath nor is any more than
honour's old thankful servant,
Chronologically, the narrative trips in places for it was written, as Dudley himself says, by the fireside on his knee, in the midst of his family, who "break good manners, and make me many times forget what I would say and say what I would not," at a time when he had "no leisure to review and insert things forgotten, but out of due time and order must set them down as they come to memory." None the less the plain unvarnished descriptions in this letter make it a very telling one and when we put along with it Winthrop's brave notes to his son we have a vivid picture of the hardships of that first winter. "I shall expect your mother and you and the rest of my company here next spring, if God will..." wrote the governor. "Bring some good oil, pitch and tar and a good piece of an old cable to make oakum; for that which was sent is much lost. Some more cows should be brought, especially two new milch, which must be well mealed and milked by the way, and some goats, especially sheep, if they can be had. Bring some store of garlick and onions and conserve of red roses, alum and aloes, oiled skins, both calf and sheep and some worsted ribbing of several sizes."
The middle of August, 1631, found Margaret Winthrop under sail for the new world and early in November the married lovers were reunited after their sad season of parting. In honour of the joyful occasion Governor Bradford of Plymouth came up to visit the head of the Massachusetts Colony and "divers of the assistants and most of the people of the near plantations" came also to bid the lady Margaret welcome, bringing with them "great store of provisions, as fat hogs, kids, venison, poultry, geese partridges etc so as the like joy and manifestation of love had never been seen in New England. It was a great marvel that so much people and such store of provisions could be gathered together at so few hours' warning," recorded the happy husband.
The resources of the settlement, as the last sentence of this entry clearly shows, were still very meagre. And the governor was no more prosperous than a. number of his associates. In fact, he was poorer than they, if anything, for he had no assured income from his office and he was under the constant necessity of spending money for the common good. In the fall of 1634 Winthrop presented a detailed account of his pecuniary relations to the Massachusetts colony for "the four years and near an half " in which he had held the office of chief magistrate and this document is so interesting that it is here given entire from the Records of the Colony. It speaks more eloquently than we could in many pages of the severe simplicity of those early days in Boston.
"Whereas, by order of the last general court, commissioners were appointed, viz., Roger Ludlow, Esq. the deputy governour, and Mr. Israel Stoughton, gent to receive my accompt of such things as I have received and disbursed for public use in the time of my government; in all due observance and submission to the order of the said court, I do make this declaratory accompt ensuing:
"First, I affirm, that I never received any moneys or other goods committed to me in trust for the commonwealth, otherwise than is hereafter expressed.
"Item, I acknowledge I have in my custody certain barrels of common powder, and some match and drumheads, with some things belonging to the ordnance; which powder, being landed at Charlestown, and exposed to the injury of the weather, I took and bestowed first in a tent which I made of mine own broadcloth, (being then worth eight shillings the yard but in that service much spoiled). After I removed it to my storehouse at Boston, where it still remains, save, that some of it hath been spent in public service, and five barrels I sold to some ships that needed them, which I will allow powder or money for. The rest I am ready to deliver up to such as shall be appointed to receive them.
"I received also some meal and peas, from Mr. White of Dorchester in England, and from Mr. Roe of London, which was bestowed upon such as bad need thereof in the several towns; as also £10 given by Mr. Thomson. I received also from Mr. Humfrey, some rugs, frieze suits, shoes, and hose, (the certain value whereof I must know from himself,) with letters of direction to make use of the greatest part thereof, as given to help bear out my charge for the public. I paid for the freight of these goods and disposed of the greatest part. of them to others; but how I cannot set down. I made use, also, of two pair of carriage wheels, which I will allow for I had not meddled with them but that they lay useless for want of the carriages which lay in England. For my disbursements, I have formerly delivered to the now deputy a bill of part of them, amounting to near £300, which I disbursed for public services divers years since, for which I have received in corn at six shillings the bushel, (and which will not yeild me above four shillings) about £180, or near so much. I disbursed also for the transportation of Mr. Phillips his family which was to be borne by the government till he should be chosen to some particular congregation.
"Now, for my other charges, by occasion of my place of government, it is well known I have expended much, and somewhat I have received towards it, which I should have rested satisfied with, but that, being called to accompt, I must mention my disbursements with my receipts and, in both, shall refer myself to the pleasure of the court.
"I was first chosen to be governour without my seeking or expectation (there being then divers other gent. who for their abilities every way, were far more fit.) Being chosen I furnished myself with servants and provisions accordingly, in a far great proportion than I would have done had I come as a private man,
or as an assistant only. In this office I continued four years and near an half, although I earnestly desired in every election to have been freed. In this time I have spent above £500 per annum, of which £200 per annum would have maintained my family in a private condition. So, as I may truly say, I have spent by occasion of my late office, above £1,200. Towards this I have received by way of benevolence, from some towns about £50 and by the last year's allowance £150 and by some provisions sent by Mr. Humfrey, as is beforementioned, about £50, or, it may be, somewhat more.
"I also disbursed, at our coming away, in England, for powder and great shot, £21.6, which I did not put into my bill of charges formerly delivered to the now deputy, because I did expect to have paid myself out of that part of Mr. Johnson's estate, which he gave to the public; but, finding that it will fall far short, I must put it to this accompt.
"The last thing, which I offer to the consideration of the court, is, that my long continuance in the said office hath put me into such a way of unavoidable charge, as will be still as chargeable to me as the place of governour will be to some others. In all these things, I refer myself to the wisdom and justice of the court, with this protestation, that it repenteth me not of my cost or labour bestowed in the service of this commonwealth; but do heartily bless the Lord our God, that he hath pleased to honour me so far as to call for anything he hath bestowed upon me for the service of his church and people here, the prosperity whereof and his gracious acceptance, shall be an abundant recompense to me. I conclude with this one request, (which in justice may not be denied me) that, as it stands upon record that, upon the discharge of my office, I was called to accompt, so this my declaration may be recorded also; lest, hereafter, when I shall be forgotten, some blemish may lie upon my posterity, when there shall be nothing to clear it.
The person who had unconsciously precipitated all this calling to account was none other than Winthrop's old friend, Rev. John Cotton, who, almost immediately after landing in Boston, preached a sermon in which he maintained that a magistrate ought not to be turned into a private man without just cause. This was a view of civil government not at all palatable to the Massachusetts worthies of that day and, as if to assert, once for all that they wished to be entirely free in their choice of a supreme officer they chose for the highest office in their gift, not Winthrop who had so far served them continuously, but Thomas Dudley, his former deputy. Winthrop entirely acquiesced in this result and after entertaining the new governor handsomely in his own house rendered the above account of his stewardship, which had been demanded of him. Three years later he was again chosen chief magistrate. During twelve of the nineteen years of his life in Boston, indeed, he served his fellow colonists in this capacity.
No doubt the Rev. John
Cotton was sorely perplexed and not a little chagrined at the change in
government which his first effort in his new pulpit had brought about.
had been an exciting life and he was fairly well used to changes. Born
a son of Rowland Cotton, a lawyer of Derby, England, he had entered
College, Cambridge, when only twelve years of age and soon became noted
acquirements. At nineteen he was admitted to the degree of Master of
afterwards he received the appointment of head lecturer, dean and
Emmanuel College. Here he came to be greatly loved by his students for
sweet and gentle disposition and prodigiously admired by the
divines of the time for his grasp upon the doctrines of Calvin. His
bent being what it was it is difficult to understand how he
should have been
called to St. Botolph's until one learns that this came about through a
on the part of the Mayor who voted for him when he intended to vote
him. And so great was the tact of the new clergyman that he was able to
for many years a place gained in this extraordinary way! In
his marriage as in
many other things Cotton was fortunate, for Elizabeth Horrocks, with
lived eighteen years, brought him on his wedding day the
his spiritual redemption; hence it was a day of double marriage to
After her death he married "one Mrs. Sarah Story, a vertuous widow,
dear to his former wife."
Eventually the news of Cotton's non-conformity got to the ears of those on the lookout for heresy, and complaint being entered at the High Commissioned Court that "the Magistrates did not kneel at the Sacrament" and that some other ceremonies were also unobserved " letters missive were dispatched incontinently to convene Mr. Cotton" before that "infamous" Court. Some time previously the Earl of Dorset had promised to do what he could for Cotton should he be persecuted as others before him had been, but now, when appealed to, he replied "that if Mr. Cotton had been guilty of drunkenness, of uncleanness, or any such lesser fault, he could have obtained his pardon; but inasmuch as he had been guilty of Nonconformity and Puritanism, the crime was unpardonable and therefore he must fly for his safety!"
Accordingly, Mr. Cotton travelled in disguise to London and while hesitating between Holland, Barbadoes and New England decided to set sail for the last-named place. To this decision he was no doubt much influenced by the pressing invitations of friends and by "letters procured from the Church of Boston by Mr. Winthrop, the Governor of the Colony." Boston in New England was certainly very glad to welcome him. It was a figurative saying there for many years that the lamp in the lantern of St. Botolph's ceased to burn when Cotton left that church to become a shining light in the wilderness of New England.
His ascendency seems to have been a purely personal one, however. Though Hutchinson says that he was more instrumental in the settlement of the civil as well as the ecclesiastical polity of New England than any other person one finds little in his writing to explain his power. And the "insinuating and melting way" which Hubband attributed to him is conspicuous chiefly by its absence from the published sermons which have come down to us. He became the progenitor of many of the best and most useful citizens Boston has had, and these good people are ever zealous to link the Old Boston to the new. This very winter of 1908, for instance, they have been approached by the mayor of the old-world city to help repair a portion of St. Botolph's church as a sign of love for its "shining light."
The request this functionary made seems rather odd until one has heard what our Boston gladly did in this respect more than fifty years ago. The story is told briefly in a sounding Latin inscription written by the Honourable Edward Everett and engraved upon a memorial plate in the southwest chapel of St. Botolph's, now called Cotton Chapel, in honour of him who was once minister of the church. Put into English it reads:
"In perpetual remembrance of John Cotton who, during the reigns of James and Charles was, for many years, a grave, skilful and laborious vicar of this church. Afterward, on account of the miserable commotion amongst sacred affairs in his own country, he sought a new settlement in a new world, and remained even to the end of his life a pastor and teacher of the greatest reputation and of the greatest authority in the first church of Boston in New England, which city received this venerable name in honour of Cotton. Two hundred and twenty-five years having passed away since his migration, his descendants and the American citizens of Boston were invited to this pious work by their English brethren in order that the name of an illustrious man, the love and honour of both worlds, might not any longer be banished from that noble temple in which he diligently, learnedly and sacredly expounded the divine oracles for so many years; and they have willingly and gratuitously caused this shrine to be restored, and this tablet to be erected, in the year of our recovered salvation, 1855."
Those who then subscribed to
the chapel have, almost all of them, descendants hearing the same names
to-day living in and about Boston. These people it is, no doubt, who
gladly respond to the request of the English mayor. For the original
contributors were, in the majority of cases, either
descendants of John
Cotton, or husbands of wives so descended. To the former class belonged
Eliot Thayer, who gave $250; Edward, Gorham, Sidney and Peter C.
gave $100 each, and John Chipman Gray, who gave $50. Among the husbands
Cotton's women descendants who contributed were Charles Francis Adams,
Everett and Langdon Frothingham, each of whom gave $l00. Other
on the list of donors are Nathan and William Appleton, George Bancroft,
Brimmer, Abbott Lawrence, John Amory Lowell, Jonathan Phillips, Jared
Frederic Tudor and John Collins Warren.
The good feeling between the two Bostons, which was cemented by these generous gifts toward the Cotton Chapel, seems to date from the reopening of the church, two years earlier, for which occasion several gentlemen from our Boston were invited to England, at least four of whom were able to be present.
In our public, library may be found a curious little sheet which gives an account of the exercises. In print so poor and so small as to nearly ruin the eyes are there recorded the
speeches of the day. One of
these, made by Col. T. B. Lawrence of this city, expresses regret that
"the domestic institutions of the states of the South" were being
warmly debated in the English drawing-rooms of that time.
Boston descendants did not all think alike on this important