Hampton Granted Charter 316 Years Ago This Month

The Hampton Union, June 16, 1955

It was 316 years ago this month that Hampton became incorporated as a town, according to the age-stained town report of 1638 filed in the town offices.

The settlement, originally known by its Indian name, Winnacunnet, was allowed a town charter June 7, 1639, about one year after the band of colonists, headed by Stephen Bachiler, received a grant for a plantation, disclosed the town records.

The Winnacunnet plantation grant came October 7, 1638 following a petition to the General Court in Boston, Mass., and an approval by the Bay State Colony Governor, John Winthrop, the pages read.

General Court Grants Petition

The ancient report, written in longhand, was deciphered as follows:
"Winnacunnet Plantation Granted, Oct. 7, 1638.
Memoranda, gt. At the General Court holden at Boston, the seventh day of the eight month (called October) anno 1638 (Mr. John Winthrop sew being then governor) - it was granted unto Mr. Stephen Bachiler and his company (who were some of them united together by church government) that, (according to their petition then exhibited) they should have a plantation at Winnacunnet & accordingly they are shortly after to enter upon, & begin the same: only the power of mannageing the affaires thereof as then not yeelded to them but committed by the Cort to Mr. ( ), Mr. John Winthrop and Mr. Rawson, so as nothing might be done without allowance of them or two of them.

"Privileged to be a town, &c, June 7, 1639.
"Afterwards to writ on the 7th day of the 4th month, 1639, Winnacunnet (the plantation being then in some forwardness) was allowed to be a Towne & had power to choose a constable & other officers and make orders for the well-ordering of the Towne, & likewise to send a deputie to the court (at wch tyme also Mr. Christopher Hussey & two other of the freemen there were appointed to end all business under 20 sh.), & respecting the laying out of land, it was left to the three gentlemen expressed in the former order.

"The freemen authorized to dispose of the lands &c-
"Morover, on the ( ) day of the ( ) month on motion of the then deputies, the power of disposing of lands & of mannageing all other the Affairs of (the Towne was) committed to the freemen there; (& the names of such) as were then inhabiting here follow, vs; (Mr. Stephen Bachiler) (Pastor,) Mr. Timothy Dalton, (teacher) ( ) John Crosse, John Moulton, Willm Palmer, Philomon (Dalton), Willm Wakefield, Wm Estow, Thos Moulton, Richard (Swaine) Robert Tucke, Robt Saunderson, Thomas Jones.

"Named Hampton
And further, about the same tyme, the said Plantation (upon Mr. Bachiler's request made knowne to the court) was named Hampton."

Editor's note: no attempt was made to correct any inaccuracies or spelling of names, some of which have been proven to be in error in checking with the "History of Hampton, N.H." written by J. Dow.

Also it is pointed out to the reader that the American colonies had observed March 25 as New Years Day until adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, thus explaining the confusion that may have arisen in the numbering of the months in the above-transcribed old town report.

We find the ensuing excerpts from "The History of Hampton," by J. Dow.

In the autumn of 1638, Winnacunnet remaining still unsettled, and the time allowed to the inhabitants of Newbury (Mass. - ed. note) for the removal hither having nearly expired, a petition, signed by Stephen Bachiler and others, was presented to the General Court, asking leave to settle here. Their prayer was granted. The record stands thus:

"The Court grants that the petitioners, Mr. Steven Bachiler, Christo: Hussey, Mary Hussey, vidua, Thom: Cromwell, Samuell Skullard, John Osgood, John Crosse, Samu: Greenfield, John Molton, Tho: Molton, Willi: Estow, Willi: Palmer, Willi: Sergant, Richard Swayne, Willi: Sanders, Robert Tucke, with diverse others, shall have liberty to begin a plantation at Winnacunnet and Mr. Bradstreete, Mr. Winthrope, Junior and Mr. Rawson, or some two of them, are to assist in setting out the place of the towne, and apportioning the severall quantity of land to each man, so as nothing shalbee done therein without leave from them, or two of them."

Pursuing Dow's text still further we find:

"In the spring following the grant for the plantation, the General Court enacted, as follows, dated May 22, 1639.

"Winnacunnet is alowed to bee a towne, & hath power to choose a cunstable & other officers, & make orders for the well ordering of their towne, & to send a deputy to the court; & Christo: Hussey, Willi: Palmer, & Richard Swaine to end all businesses under 20 sh[illings] for this yeare; the laying out of land to bee by those expressed in the former order."

"This may be considered as the incorporation of the town. The date of this act, according to town records, was the 7th of June, the date given above being the time when the session of the court began. The plantation was then in some degree of forwardness;-- a settlement; and tending to show the correctness of the view that has been taken."