Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Protest From Exeter

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Allusion has already been made to the purchase of a considerable tract of land around Squamscott Falls, and to the settlement of Exeter by Mr. John Wheelwright and his company. The ground of the contention, that arose soon after between that company and the Massachusetts Government, and by which the settlers of this town were annoyed, since their grant was from that government, will be understood from a brief statement of facts. Mr. Wheelwright had previously been settled in the ministry in what was then a part of Boston, and had been banished from Massachusetts on a charge of heresy and sedition. Squamscott Falls and the whole tract of land that he had bought of the Indians, he regarded as beyond the jurisdiction of that government. Hence, when a few months after, he and his associates saw another company taking possession of, and settling upon a valuable portion of that tract, and claiming the soil under a grant from Massachusetts, they attempted to vindicate their own rights, by ordering those whom they regarded as intruders, to desist from their undertaking; and by inquiring of the government on what they founded their claim, avowing at the same time their own intention to lay out the whole of Winnacunnet in farms, unless Massachusetts could show a better title.

The General Court replied, "that they looked at this, their dealing, as against good neighborhood, religion and common honesty," since they had gone and purchased of the Indians a doubtful title, and had then sent to Massachusetts to inquire as to her right, when they well knew, at the time of their purchase, that Massachusetts claimed Winnacunnet as coming within her patent, or, at least, as vacuum domicilium, and that she had taken possession by building a house upon it two years before. The court also denied the validity of title to unimproved lands, derived from the Indians; maintaining that they had a natural right to so much land only, as they had actually improved, or were unable to improve, while all other lands lay open to the occupation and improvement of others.

However this dispute may have been settled between the parties, it is evident that, so far as the Indians were concerned, they had no reason to complain of encroachment upon their rights, as their title to the land had been fully extinguished by their deed to Mr. Wheelwright. Nor do we learn that the "Indians ever complained, or afterwards set up any title" to these lands. It is probable, too, that a satisfactory adjustment was soon made between the settlers of Exeter and of Hampton, as they ever afterwards maintained a friendly intercourse, and in their subsequent transactions, no unpleasant allusion is known to have been made to these early difficulties; while a few years later, Mr. Wheelwright was invited to Hampton and accepted the invitation under circumstances which leave no room to doubt that harmony had been fully restored. Difficulties did, indeed, arise as to the location of bounds, but not as to the right of Hampton to be.

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