Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Old Grants Examined

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At a public town meeting, held March 6, 1652, an order was made, that the "seven men," that is, the selectmen, together with the elders, or ministers of the town, should examine all the old grants, and confirm such of them as they might think proper; and they appear to have been authorized to increase the 147 shares of the Cow Common to 157, and to dispose of the ten shares added, according to their best judgment. They were also empowered to enlarge the number of shares in the Great Ox-Common, and to dispose of the new shares at their discretion.

The committee performed the duties assigned them, but seem to have thought it inexpedient to create any new shares in either common. Their report, without date, signed by all the committee except Richard Swaine, one of the "seven men," is as follows:

"Wee whose names are hear under written haue made good and confermed all ye old grantts and Apoynted them in ther perticuler plases acording to ye poure giuen us by ye townes order bearing datte ye 6th first mo. 1651.

                         Timothie Dalton                 Jefferie Mingy
                         John Whelewright              Abraham Perkins
                         Christopher Hussey            John Sambourne
                         William ffuller                    Thomas Word."
At the same meeting at which the foregoing committee was appointed, the town gave permission to William Swaine, to take from the public land so much timber as he could manufacture into oars with his own hand, in one year; but none of the timber was to be cut within a mile and a half of the meeting house.

In making regulations about the wood and timber on the common lands, the town appears to have had as much regard to the convenience of the inhabitants severally as was consistent with the public good. To have allowed the cutting of trees indiscriminately to all, and in unlimited quantities, would have been productive of great waste, and public domain would soon have been stripped of its most valuable timber. Hence some restrictions became necessary. These were altered from time to time, to meet existing circumstances.

Late in the autumn of 1652, this subject was brought before the town for consideration, and certain regulations made. Liberty was granted to all the inhabitants, to make pipe and hogshead staves upon the commons, till the last of March following--a space of a little more than four months. But during this time, no inhabitant was to be allowed to employ any person not belonging to the town, to work up any timber taken from the commons, under penalty of 10s. for each tree thus wrought into staves; and all the timber that had been felled, and at the expiration of this time had not been fully wrought into staves, was to be at the town disposal, whether found in trees or in bolts.

This regulation was defective, inasmuch as, while it declared the timber cut on the commons to be forfeited in certain cases to the town, it still made no provision for taking the forfeiture. After one year's trial, it having been found that the law would not execute itself, the selectmen appointed John Sanborn and William Fifield, to seize all the timber found to be forfeited by virtue of this order. Four days later, January 20, 1654, the town voted that the regulation should be continued, and the forfeit taken.

At the same meeting, the town forbade the felling of either white oaks or red, for bolts, staves or heading, upon any part of the commons within two miles of any dwelling house in the town, under penalty of 10s. for each tree felled in violation of the order.

"Itt was then ordered by vote that Every Inhabitant shall have liberty to make pittes or sett trappes for the taking of woulues pruided that they make them so conuenient as they can & free from damage as they can."

"Itt was likewise ordered yt If any prsons or prson shall kill any wolues within the spase of one yeare next they shall haue 40s for every wolfe within the time exprest."

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