General Moulton's Letter to the Town of Hampton

General Moulton's Letter To The Town Of Hampton

"From The Curator's Desk"

By John M. Holman

Tuck Memorial Museum -- ca. 1975
HAMPTON .... Many gifts continue to be donated to the Tuck Memorial Museum on Meeting House Green. One such gift recently received is a document in the form of a letter to the Town of Hampton, written and signed by General Jonathan Moulton and dated March 21, 1775. The letter itself was found in the cellar of the old Toppan Garrison house on the site of which is now Clark Ford [Hampton Cinemas Six in 2000] on Lafayette Road, Hampton, when the Garrison house was taken down around 1902.

The original letter was given to the Tuck Museum by the Toppan Family through the courtesy of Wilma Toppan White. By coincidence, in the same week that this document was received, another donation was received from Mildred Knight Raybold in the form of 4 newspaper clippings concerning Jonathan Moulton and written by Rev. Roland D. Sawyer from his column "Views and Reviews of Old Rockingham," in Hampton Union from a number of years back.

Of particular interest was Part 4 of these articles, pertaining to "General Moulton's Letter to Hampton" wherein Rev. Sawyer says, "The Exeter News-Letter of April 18, 1902, printed a letter from Gen. Moulton to the Town of Hampton, written March 21, 1775. It was found in the cellar of the old Toppan mansion, which was taken down at that time. It is a manley letter, too long to quote, but should be looked up in the files by everyone seeking to make a candid and just assize of Moulton as a man worthy of respect."

Through the cooperation of this newspaper, the Tuck Museum would like to publish this letter in its entirety which was written almost 200 years ago. When one finishes reading it, 2 questions come to mind. (1) Was this letter actually read to the inhabitants of the Town of Hampton at their annual meeting in March 1775, and (2) if it was, whatever became of this land for a "Publick School" and a "Poor Farm"? Did they every materialize?

The staff of the Museum publicly thanks Wilma Toppan White and Mildred Knight Raybold for these valuable donations to the Museum.

The text of the Moulton letter follows:

An Interesting Gen. Moulton Letter

By Jonathan Moulton

March 21st, 1775

The Exeter News-Letter

April 18, 1902
In clearing the attic of the old Toppan mansion Christopher G. Toppan, Esq., recently found the interesting letter, which is printed below. It is in excellent preservation and the writing in its legibility is a fine type of the best in 18th century penmanship. It cannot be learned that Hampton ever took action on the letter, which is an interesting memorial of Hampton's perhaps most noted citizen. [Ed. note: No mention is made of this letter in the minutes of the 1775 or 1776 Hampton Town Meetings.]


Gentlemen -- To have a particular Regard, and Veneration for the Place of One's own Nativity & Residence, only, you are all sensible, is extremely natural: -- But when a Person can have a Review of his past Life, spent in the agreeable Intercourses of mutual Friendship, & good Neighbourhood with his Fellow-Townsmen, it must afford him a very great, & agreeable Satisfaction. Thus, Gentlemen, when I Reflect on the many Tokens of Friendship in General, that I have received in the Course of my Life, from my Neighbours, the Inhabitants of this town: not only from you who are now living, but from the Fathers of many of ;you, who have long since been no more.

When I recollect the Honor, & Respect that you have frequently conferred on me; But more particularly, when I call to mind how readily, & heartily you appeared to sympathize with me under my great & heavy Losses by Fire; & the particular Favors & Kindnesses you ;then showed me; I say, when I reflect on these Things, that while the Recollection of them affords me the greatest Satisfaction; I feel myself under the greatest Obligations to you, which I hope may never be forgotten by me or mine, And I beg leave, Gentlemen, at this Time, to return you my most sincere, & hearty Thanks for the same.

I hope, that I shall, so long as God shall continue me with you, & that my Posterity will after me, ever Retain a lively & proper Regard of these Notices of Respect, which you have showed me; And as God in his Providence, has smiled upon my Labours, & Industry, & afforded me a large Portion of this World's Goods; I feel myself disposed to make you some Return.

I Conceive it to be the Duty of Every Man, whom God has been pleased to bless with a plentiful Estate so to Conduct, & Manage it, as will probably tend to the greatest Good, from a due Sense of this; I have had an earnest Desire for some Time past of appropriating some Party of my Estate; as a decent Return to a Bountiful Providence; and as a Token of my grateful Respect & Regard for you, in such a Manner as would probably tend to the Advantage, & Benefit of you, & your children, but have been at a loss in which Way, & Manner I could do it best. As you are this Day convened in your Annual Meeting; I think it a convenient Time to mention to you my Intention; & how far I have concluded in my own Mind on a Method that appears to me, may answer my Design. You are knowing that my Estate now principally consists in New Lands, my Proposal therefore is as follows --

To set off such a Tract of Land by Metes, & Bounds in some suitable Place in some of the New Towns, in which I am Interested, as will make a Valuable Farm to be for the Use, & Benefit of the Poor of Hampton forever -- the Income on neat Profits to be received & paid yearly according to the Direction of the Town or by a Committee chosen by them for that Purpose.

Furthermore, Gentlemen, having myself experienced the great Disadvantages that always attend the Want of good School Learning: & being fully convinced that if some good Plan was properly established for encouraging of it among us, Individuals, as well as the Town in general would reap great Advantages from it -- fully impressed with a Believe of this, & of my Duty to endeavour to encourage, & promote it, I make the following Proposal, Viz. To set off another Tract of Land in some of my new Townships of such as would make another good Farm to be for the Use & Benefit of a Publick School in this Town forever & under the Direction of the Town, or a Committee by them chosen for that Purpose.

You perceive, Gentlemen, that the Proposals I make are at present in general, & only rough Sketches, but my Intention is to establish them on such a Plan as will be most satisfactory to you; & in Order to that, & that it may soon be completed, I would propose that you would this Day at your Meeting choose a Committee consisting of not less than Five, nor more than Nine suitable Persons to advise, & consult with me in Behalf of the Town on such Measures & Plans to pursue as will probably answer the best end.

This Offers from,
Your Friend, &
Very Humble Serv.
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