The Nathaniel Weares
By F. B. Sanborn of Concord, Mass.
Reprinted from The Granite Monthly, 1909, pp.157-166
The Weare family of New Hampshire originated at Wear-Gifford in Devonshire, England, and for a few generations in this country continued to seal with the arms of that landed family. The paper herewith given in fac-simile, signed by the second Nathaniel Weare, of Hampton Falls, bears his seal-at-arms, distinctly legible on the wax after more than two centuries. He was the most distinguished and important of all the New England Weares, until his grandson, President Meshech Weare, also of Hampton Falls, but in another location, appeared on the scene and spent more than forty years of his life in public offices, to his great credit and the singular benefit of his people.
Councilor Nathaniel Weare, as we may term him for distinction, was of English birth, being the son of an undistinguished Nathaniel Weare, who came over to New England about 1637, with his brother, Peter Weare, and settled in Newbury, Mass. His name, variously spelled, but always pronounced as if "Wire," appears on the Newbury records from 1638 to 1659, when he migrated to Nantucket, and there died March 1, 1681. His brother Peter, who had settled in York County, Maine, was an Indian trader, apparently, from 1640 onward, and was engaged in some of the controversies over the ownership and government of Maine, sometimes imprisoned himself, and sometimes imprisoning others, but died quietly on his property in Maine about 1690. He is not to be confounded with his nephew, Peter Weare of Newbury, son of the first Nathaniel, who died in Newbury, a youth, October 12, 1653; nor with Peter, the son of Councilor Nathaniel, who lived in Hampton Falls; nor with a third Peter, brother of President Weare, who also settled in Maine (at North Yarmouth) and died there in 1743, leaving a widow, Sarah (Felt) Weare. The first American Peter was born in England in 1618, and lived to be about eighty. His brother, Nathaniel, was older, had married in England, probably about 1628, and there Councilor Nathaniel was born in 1631. As a child he accompanied his father, Nathaniel, to Newbury, and there married Elizabeth Swayne, December 3, 1656. She was the daughter of Richard Swayne, one of the original proprietors of Hampton, N. H., and it was upon land of Swayne that Councilor Nathaniel settled in Old Hampton (now Seabrook) in 1662. Four of his wife's brothers were already landowners in Hampton, but two of these, with their father, Richard, removed to Nantucket soon after 1660. One of them, John Swayne, married Mary Weare, a sister of Councilor Nathaniel, in November, 1660. An older sister, Hester Weare, had married, in 1647, Capt. Benjamin Swett of Newbury, and removed with him to Hampton in 1663, settling in the Falls parish, afterward Hampton Falls, near Councilor Nathaniel. Captain Swett had been a lessee with his brother-in-law Weare of the Newbury farm of "the Honorable John Woodbridge, for seven years, from 1655," as Weare afterwards testified. Mrs. Swett was born in England in 1629, probably the first child of the first Nathaniel Weare. She outlived her warrior husband (who was slain fighting Indians in 1677) by more than forty years, and married, in 1678, Ensign Stephen Greenleaf of Newbury, of the same family from whom the poet Whittier was descended. It is worth noticing that her first husband, Swett, lived on the homestead at Hampton Falls where Whittier died; that Christopher Hussey's great farm lay at the foot of the Swett Hill, and that a part of that farm probably went to the third Nathaniel Weare, who married a grand-daughter of Christopher Hussey, November 16, 1692, six years after her grandfather's death at the age of eighty-nine.
Councilor Nathaniel Weare's Career
"Had I yielded to the violent course that Mason and Chamberlain urged, I should have greatly disturbed the people without promoting the King's interest. The attempt to settle the way of the Church of England here will be very grievous to the people, whatever Mr. Mason may have said. They are very diligent and devout in their own worship, very tenacious of it, and very grateful for the King's indulgence to them therein."
But the bribe accepted from Mason turned Cranfield, who came over here for money, and was not getting so much as he expected, to the side of the oppressor, and the lawsuits soon began to alarm the people, both rich and poor. Edward Gove, an ancestor of mine and a neighbor of Weare in Seabrook, had been a member of the elective Assembly under Cranfield in 1682, and had refused, with the rest of the members, to pass Cranfield's revenue bills. The Assembly had been dissolved, in consequence, thus leaving the whole legislative and judicial power in the hands of Cranfield and his creatures, for he could remove and appoint councilors at his pleasure, and had so done. This gave him the opportunity to pack juries, and the prospect was that the suits brought by Mason would be won by him, and the hateful rents be collected. Gove, therefore, who had not the steadiness and wisdom of Weare (though he could spell rather better), broke out into an armed demonstration against the governor and his council. After consulting more or less with the Puritan ministers and magistrates, but against their advice, Gove (January 27, 1683) armed himself, his son, John Gove, and his servant, William Healey (ancestor of Judge Bell's wife) and started on horseback for Exeter, eight miles northward. Passing the house of Justice Weare, at what is now called "Fogg's Corner," the prudent magistrate tried to stop him, and issued a warrant for his arrest. But Gove refused to be stopped, and in Exeter and Stratham he enlisted eight more men, three sons of Robert Wadleigh, a mill owner and leading man, Mark Baker, the ancestor, I suppose, of the celebrated Mrs. Eddy, Thomas Rawlings, John Sleeper, Edward Smith and John Young, -- together with a trumpeter, who escaped arrest, and whose name has not come down to us. All were armed and mounted, and most of them were young men. Taking the road to Old Hampton, they were met there by the foot-soldiers of the town, one of whose officers was John Sanborn, whose son had married Gove's daughter, and were arrested under Weare's warrant, making no resistance. Under this warrant he was taken to Great Island, now New Castle, where the province prison was; indicted by a grand jury hastily summoned, and tried by a special jury February 2, 1683, with Major Waldron as presiding justice. Gove and his followers were convicted of high treason under the indictment forced by Cranfield; and Gove, as the leader, was sentenced by Waldron to be hanged, drawn and quartered, "and your head and quarters disposed of at the king's pleasure."
King Charles II had pleasures of different sorts, and did sometimes behead his Puritan enemies, but he was usually good natured, and when Edward Randolph, the great opponent of Puritan government in New England, carried my ancestor over to England in June, 1683, and lodged him in the Tower, along with Russell and Sidney, the king soon signified that Gove's head and quarters might remain together; and he was pardoned two years after by James II, and took part in the government of New Hampshire along with Weare, after his return to Seabrook, where he died in his bed under William and Mary. But the rapacity of Cranfield and the weakness of Mason and Chamberlain, the secretary and prothonotary of the province, continued to alarm and exasperate the inhabitants, who, with the exception of a small minority, were against the governor and his supporters, Mason, Walter Barefoot, Henry Green (a next neighbor to Weare in Hampton Falls) and a few others. On the subsequent proceedings Judge Bell says:
The people were thoroughly roused and alarmed. Consultations were privately held, and arrangements made to send an agent to England to make complaint to the King against Cranfield and Mason for their oppressive conduct. Money was collected to defray the expense, and petitions drawn up and circulated in the four towns, which very strongly indicate the fears entertained by the people, of the oppressions of the government. They set forth in very general terms their first settlement under the encouragement of letters patent to the Council of Plymouth, by purchase or consent of the natives, and the difficulties they had met with. They say that by the unreasonable conduct of Mason "and sundry other reasons that are either effects or concomitants thereof" they are in a worse condition than any of the other plantations, and reduced to confusions and extremities. They therefore pray His Majesty "to give leave to Mr. Nathaniel Weare, one of ourselves, whom we have sent for that end, to spread before your sacred Majesty, and your most honorable Privy Council, our deplorable estate, the beholding of which we doubt not will move compassion towards, and your Majesty's propensity to justice will incline to the using of such means as to your wisdom shall seem best, that the oppressed may be relieved, the wronged ones righted, and we, your Majesty's almost undone subjects, now prostrate at your feet, may, upon the tasting of your equity and goodness be raised" etc.
This petition was signed at Exeter by 34, at Hampton by 67, at Portsmouth by 60 and at Dover by 56 of the principal inhabitants of those towns. The arrangements being completed, Mr. Weare privately withdrew to Boston, and sailed for England in February, 1684. Major Vaughan accompanied him to Boston and was appointed to procure depositions and other evidence to send after him. They evidently did not dare to apply for copies of records, or to take depositions in the Province, until their agent was beyond the reach of the government.
Mr. Weare was doubtless a very wise selection as agent, being a grave and magisterial person, who in the affairs of Gove had stood on the side of law and order, and was of that gentlemanly bearing which at that time, and indeed at all times, is so impressive to Englishmen, among whom he was born and in whose native Devonshire he probably had relatives who could vouch for him. He carried money, without which nothing could be done or attempted at the court of the Stuarts, and he doubtless gained the ear of Lord Halifax, who had rendered King Charles good service in the matter of defeating the Exclusion Bill (to shut out James II from the succession), but who was a keen opponent of tyranny. He was in 1684 president of the privy council, and before him, in July, 1684, Weare presented his petitions, complaints and evidences. These have mostly been printed. The originals of a few of the printed pages exist among the Weare papers found in Doctor Cram's possession last year, and which I quoted in the GRANITE MONTHLY for January, 1909. They probably existed in a less fragmentary form in the house of Nathaniel Weare (fifth of that name in America) at Deerfield, at the very time Judge Bell was writing his account, three years before that house was sold to Doctor Cram's father (in 1869), with all these papers lying perdue in the garret. Alluding to them, Judge Bell said: "It is to be regretted that the papers of Mr. Weare have passed beyond the reach of inquirers in the only state where such inquiries are likely to be prosecuted. They are supposed to be in the Collections of the New York Historical Society." Some of them seem to have stuck with Doctor Belknap, who used them, and others with his friend, Mr. Hazard of Philadelphia; but a few had disappeared before they came into the hands of President Weare, at the death of his father. Deacon Nathaniel, in March, 1755. Judge Bell goes on:
The Hampton records, there is no doubt, were taken and carried by Mr. Weare to Boston, before he went to England, for fear of their falling into the hands of Mason and Cranfield. Soon after his return In 1685, if not earlier, warrants were issued for his arrest, to answer the charge of embezzling the records of Hampton; and he was subjected to a fine of £50. A hearing in London was had upon Mr. Weare's complaint, on Tuesday, March 10th, 1685, before the Lords of Trade, who reported to the King on the articles of the complaints which alleged
That Cranfield had not pursued his instructions with regard to Mason's controversy, but instead thereof had caused courts to be held and titles to be decided. with exorbitant costs; and that he had exceeded his powers in regulating the value of coins.
This report was approved by King James on the 8th of April, 1685, and signified to Cranfield by command of the king. It would seem that the decision of titles in Cranfield's courts was represented by Halifax as extrajudicial, and a royal order issued to suspend further proceedings in the matter of Mason till it should be brought before the king in council. The actual rebuke to Cranfield by Halifax (April 28, 1685) was in these words:
You have not pursued your instructions in reference to the propriety of the soil which Robert Mason, Esq., claims in the Province of New Hampshire. You were instructed, in case the inhabitants should refuse to agree with the said Mason, that you should interpose and endeavor to reconcile all differences; which if you could not effect, you were then to send to His Majesty such cases, fairly and impartially stated, together with your opinion, for His Majesty's determination. Instead whereof, you have caused courts to be held in New Hampshire, and permitted titles to lands to be decided there, and unreasonable costs to be allowed.A sample of these costs appears in this certified copy of Walter Barefoot's charges in a suit against Richard Martyn, in 1683, the very year when these eases were put upon trial and decided against Waldron, Vaughan, Weare, etc. Cranfield, in the meantime, had prudently foreseen the evil day and withdrawn to Barbadoes and Jamaica, under a leave of absence, in June, 1685. In November, 1683, when informed by Halifax that Edward Gove was not to be executed, but "continued in the Tower," where he stayed at King James' cost until March, 1686, Cranfield wrote that "the news of Gove's pardon has had a very ill effect on the people"; who, when pursued by the marshals for rents and taxes, rose and repelled force with force. Eight months later Randolph, then in London, had written to a Boston friend (July 26, 1684)," Wyre hath lately put in articles against Mr. Cranfield, which render him here a very ill man, and in time will do his business.'' And it was the influence of Nathaniel Weare through Halifax and others in England, which caused the release of Gove and the retirement of Cranfield. Randolph, who had much good sense mingled with perversity and time-serving, wrote in March, 1685, that any man who went over to govern New Hampshire to make his own selfish fortune will ''disserve the King, disappoint himself and utterly ruin that country." He added:
They are a great body of people, sober and industrious, and in time of war able to drive the French out of all their American dominions. Cranfield by his arbitrary proceedings, has so harassed that poor people that, although they had cause to complain of the hard usage of the Boston governors, yet they have greater reason now to pray an alteration, and wish to be again under the Bostoners.
This was true, but when the day of decision came, in 1692, as between remaining a province or coming under Massachusetts again, Councilor Weare appears to have settled the affair, so far as Hampton was concerned, by waiting for a new charter. His language, like Sir Henry Vane's, is so perplexed that it is hard to make the meaning out, but the effect was against "trotting after the Bay horse." The provincial government was in fact continued, only one governor was to have by royal appointment the general powers of governor, both in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, from 1692 to 1741, when Benning Wentworth succeeded Belcher as governor of New Hampshire. Under this establishment it was that Mr. Weare became councilor and chief justice, and he continued in public activity till a few years before his death, at the age of eighty seven, in May, 1718.
The suits of the claimants under John Mason's grant of New Hampshire continued, however, till after Councilor Weare's death, and were never finally settled by distinct decree, either of a New Hampshire court or by act of the privy council in England. During these suits, lasting some forty years, various forged papers were put in, the most famous of which was the Indian deed to Wheelwright and others (one of them my ancestor, Thomas Leavitt) who died without knowledge of any such grant. Among the Weare papers I find a mysterious document which I suspect to be (in part at least) one of these convenient forgeries, intended in some way to counteract the Mason claims. It must have been in the hands of Councilor Nathaniel Weare, I believe, but if so, he may have had no knowledge of its real character. It runs thus, bearing dates from 1669 to 1722:
The Champernoun Deed Of Old And New Farms
This indenture, made the seven and twentieth day of March in the one and twentieth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord Charles the Second, by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith etc.
Between Capt. Francis Champernoone of Kittery in the County of York Esq. of the one part, and Nathaniel Fryer, Henry Longstaff and Philip Lewis of Portsmouth in the River of Piscataqua of the other part, witnesseth that the said Capt. Francis Champernoone, for and in consideration of the sum of Three Hundred Pounds of lawful pay of New England in hand before the ensealing and delivery of these Presents well and truly paid, the receipt whereof the said Francis Champernoone doth hereby acknowledge, and himself to be fully satisfied, contented and paid, and thereof, and every part parcell and penny thereof doth acquit, exonerate and discharge them the said Nathaniel Fryer, Henry Longstaff and Philip Lewis, their heirs, executors and administrators, and every one of them for ever, by these Presents hath given, granted bargained and sold, aliened enfeoffed. conveyed and released, assured, delivered and confirmed, and by these Presents doth give, grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, convey and release, assure. deliver and confirm unto them the said Nath'l Fryer. Henry Langstaff, and Philip Lewis, their heirs and assigns,
All that tract, piece, and parcel of land situate, lying and being at Greenland, within the Territory and precincts of the town of Portsmouth and Strawbury Bancke, and commonly called and known by the Old and New Farms, or by what other name or names soever the same is or heretofore hath been called and known; and also all houses, edifices and buildings, barns, stables and outhouses whatsoever to the said farm or farms belonging or in anywise appertaining, and now or heretofore used, occupied and enjoyed as part, parcel or member thereof, or of any part or parcel thereof; and also all ways, paths, passages, trees, woods, and underwoods, comoridths, easements, profits, commodities, advantages, emoluments, hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever, to the said farmes belonging or in any wise appertaining; and to or with the same now or heretofore used, occupied and enjoyed as a part, parcel and member thereof, or of any part, parcel or member thereof, or of any part or parcel thereof; and also all the right, title, claim, use, possession, reversion, remainder and demand whatsoever of him the said Champernoon of in and unto the said premises and of, in and unto every or any part or parcel thereof; To have and to hold the said before hereby granted and bargained premises, and every part and parcel thereof, and also uses, edifices and building, commons, easements, profits, commodities, advantages, emoluments, hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever to the said tract, piece or parcel of land and farms belonging and appertaining, unto them the said Nath'l Fryer, Henry Longstaff and Philip Lewis, their heirs and assigns forever, to the sole and only proper use and behoof of the said N. F., H. L. and P. L. their heirs and assigns forever, and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever;
In witness whereof the parties above named to these present indentures interchangeably have set their hands and seal, the day and year first above written.Francis Champernown, (Seal.)
This deed or instrument was acknowledged to be the act and deed of Capt. Champernown, before me this 30; March 1669.(Signed) Rich'd Waldron.
Sealed and delivered and quiet and peaceable possession and seazon of the lands above granted was given and delivered by the above named Francis Champernown in name of possession and seazon of all other lands and easements in the Deed above written contained; to have and to hold unto them the said Nathaniel Fryer, Henry Langstaff and Philip Lewis their heirs and assigns forever according to the sincere and true meaning of the Deed above written, in presence ofWalter Nealle
Sam'l Haines Sen'r.
James X Kidd
Province of New Hampshire.
Capt. Walter Neale personally appearing before me the subscriber, owned voluntarily and freely that his name which is underwritten for the livery of seizin above mentioned, togather with John Shurburne, Samil Haines, James Kidd and Abraham Corbett, was his the said Neal's own hand, this 15th of November, 1705, in the fourth year of hir Majesty's Reign. (Signed) Thomas Phipps, Justice of Peace.
Entered and recorded according to the Origenall, the 22;d day of Agust: 1713 (Erased) per Hunking Record'r.
'substituted) Pr. A'm Vaughan Recorder.
A trew Copy taken from the Province Records for New Hampshire, Book no. 9, peag; 63; this 27th day of December, 1722 Per H. Hunking Recorder.
This is all that properly belongs to this curious instrument. But on the untorn half of page 4 of the foolscap sheet, of which the watermark is a crown, is this further entry:
Hutchinson to Partridge (erased).
A Copica out of the Province New Hampsheir Record-Book No. 9, page 63; for Holbrook:
December 27th 1722.
Champernon to Fryor etc.
On another fold of this page,
Copy. Champernoon to Fryer & others
There are differences of ink and spelling in this document, yet the whole may be in the same hand. By Champernown himself and Waldron, the grantor's name is spelled as he spelled it; elsewhere it is spelled as pronounced, ow being then sounded like oo, -- thus ''Cowley'' was pronounced "Cooley." I see no natural relation of this paper to Councilor Nathaniel Weare.
When this agent of the New Hampshire planters went to England for the first time -- for he and his friend Vaughan went again in 1686-'87 -- he seems to have given some of his land in trust to his son Nathaniel, who in youth was called "Ensign" and in later life "Deacon." This may have been for fear of defeat and confiscation, as in the case of his neighbor, Gove, whose release from the Tower Weare must have promoted. After his second return from England, the town of Hampton, then the most populous of the four towns, though not the wealthiest, voted (June 19, 1689) "to raise £.75 in silver to pay the expense of sending Messrs. William Vaughan and Nathaniel Weare to England; and for other expenses in a course of law in defence of proprietary interests." The cost of the first and more important agency is not certainly known, but was probably £.150.
To all Christian people to whom these presents shall come:
Know ye that whereas I, Nath'll Weare Junior, of Hampton in the Province of New Hampshier, having received a deed of gift of house, barn and orchard, and several pieces of land specified in said deed which deed bears date of; 25 of October, 1706, of my honored father, Nath.ll Weare Esq.:
Now be it known to all men by these presents that I, Nath'll Weare Junior, do covenant, promise and engage to my honored father Nath'll Weare Esq., and to my mother, Elizabeth Weare that I will be careful, and faithfully endeavor for their comfort and honorable maintenance during the time of their natural lives in manner as followeth, viz.
My said father possessing and enjoying house, barn and orchard, with planting-land and pastuer, as he does usually make use of for sowing and planting and pastuer, I will find a man or suitable help to the improvement thereof for the use of my said father and mother, and for the keeping of the stock of Cattle to have half of the hay of the grass that yearly grows on the marsh and meadow specified in the deed I received of my said father, as also on the eight acres he have reserved for his son Peter, until he shall see cause to dispose of it to him: and further, if by the providence of the Almighty my said father should be so aged and weak, being incapable to look after his affairs, that he shall see cause to surrender the whole of the premises specified in the said deed, of gift into my hands: then I promise and engage to provide suitable and honorable maintenance and help the time of their natural lives. And if it should please God that my said mother should outlive my said father Weare, my mother is to have and shall enjoy one room in the dwelling house, (which room she shall please to choose), and keeping of two cows, winter and summer, and half the orchard, and 40 shillings a year and every year if she shall desire it, during her natural life. I also promise and engage that I will bring home or cause to be brought my father's hay yearly and every year, and supply them with convenient firewood during the time of their natural lives.
To the particulars and promises herein mentioned I bind myself, my heirs and administrators truly to perform; and if it should please God that I should die before my said father, and myself or my heirs and administrators should not perform the articles herein mentioned, it shall be lawful for my said father to reenter on these lands specified in the deed of gift to me from my father; myself or my successors being paid the charge that I or my successors shall be at.
In confirmation of the above said promises I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 26th of October 1706, and in the fifth year of her Majesty's reign.Nath'll Weare Junior (Seal.)
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of us,
Jabez Dow, Henry Dow.
Province of New Hampshire. Ensign Nathaniel Weare personally appeared the 26th of October, 1706 and acknowledged this above instrument to be his voluntary act and deed. Before me,Henry Dow,
Justice of Peace.
Nathaniel Weare, Ensign and Esquire (1669-1755).