Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Mr. Ward Cotton, Colleague - Part II

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Mr. Ward Cotton, Colleague, Part II

He left behind him a sorrowful widow, the pious and virtuous daughter of our former pastor, and nine children, six sons and three daughters, many of which are in their tender infancy, whose circumstances passionately bespeak the generous charity of such as abound, and are able to minister to their support.

He was this day honorably interred, with great respect and deep lamentation, after a funeral sermon preached by Rev. Mr. Fitch, from Acts 13: 36; and his generous and affectionate people were at the charge of his funeral & unanimously voted one hundred pound [£100] for that end; and as their liberality has abounded to their venerable pastor, both living and dying, so it is hoped that they will continue their kindness to the sorrowful widow and orphans.

During his confinement, with his free consent the Reverend Mr. Ward Cotton was introduced, and settled as his Colleague in the pastoral office, who now survives as his successor, for whom what can we desire better than that the mantle of the departed Elijah may fall and rest upon Elisha?"

Six years, or more, before his death, this worthy minister remarked, that in case he should be taken away from his family, his great comfort, next to his hope in the most merciful providence of God, was that line should leave them with a kind ~nd loving people. His confidence in his people was not misplaced. Indeed, he then acknowledged "the repeated instances of kindness," which they had shown him, and in particular, a "late signal expression of their love." For several years previous, the town had from year to year voted him £20 in addition to his stated salary; but their late signal expression of love, here referred to, was probably an offer on the part of his people, to assist in the education of his eldest son, as related by Mr. Gookin himself in the following letter:

    "Hampton, in New Hampshire, June 12th, 1731.
DEAR BROTHER: I think I shall not be with you at the Commencement. I hope you and my other Friends will direct my Son in any thing wherein he wants: He is now to take his Degree, and I take the Occasion of it to let you know the remarkable Kindness of my Neighbors to me. Since he has been at the College, they have by free Contributions given me One Hundred and Fifteen Pounds, to assist me in Maintaining him there; and they did it with all the Freedom that can be imagined I having never asked them to do it, nor indeed, did I so much as think of such a thing till of their own accord they offered it. You may inform who you please of this, for, indeed, one end of my Writing it is, that other Congregations may be stirred up by this good Example, to do the like for their Ministers: I boast of my Parishioners, hoping that their Zeal in this matter will provoke many others to go and do likewise.
  I am, dear Sir, your affectionate Brother.

The town having made provision for paying the expenses of the funeral of Mr. Gookin, soon after provided for his bereaved family. At a meeting of the freeholders, September 16, 1734, it was voted that the rate that had been recently made for Mr. Gookin's support, and committed to the constable, should be collected and given to Mrs. Gookin. It was also voted:

"To give Mrs. Gookin liberty to keep three or four of her own cows and a horse from year to year in ye home pastor [pasture] & liberty to cut may a noff [enough] upon the marsh to keep them in ye winter," and to give her "fifteen cord of wood from year to year during her present widowhood in this town."

About three months afterward, further provision was made for her support. It was voted to give £40 in money and £40 in provision "at the present currency" yearly after the expiration of the year for which provision had already been made.

The parsonage-house, or so much of it as she needed, was occupied by her, till the town provided her with another house, though this appears not to have been granted by any formal vote.

At another meeting of the freeholders, it was voted with but one dissenting vote, to build a house for Mrs. Gookin to live in during her present widowhood. The house was accordingly built "between Mr. Rand's house and Capt. Jabez Smith's land on the most convenient spot near the lane" -- land now owned by Christopher G. Toppan, on "Rand's hill." It was 26 feet in length, 28 in width, and 15 feet post "between the sills and ye top of ye plate," with a cellar under it 16 feet square.

Morris Hobbs, Jun., and Philip Towle agreed to build this house, finding the materials and doing the work "for £200 money, in bills of credit," and to complete it by the last of October, 1735. Some of the timber, however, was cut on the parsonage by the contractors, for which the town charged them nothing.

At the annual meeting in March, 1735, it was voted to give Madam Gookin five cords of wood for that year, in addition to the fifteen cords formerly granted. Whereupon twenty loads of wood were immediately subscribed, in lieu of the five cords voted. It was also voted that she should have the improvement, for that year, of the garden at the west end of the parsonage house. One year later the town voted to build a yard about Madam Gookin's new house. She was at that time occupying the house. Again, on the 19th of April, the town voted to build a barn for her use, 25 feet square and 12 feet post, to be well finished; for building which the town agreed to give John Marston £30, and this sum was afterward increased to £35.

When, several years after this, a new parish was formed in the north part of the town, and again at a still later date, when that parish was incorporated, and made entirely distinct from the old town (except in making the Province tax and in choosing a representative), it was expressly provided that the new parish, or town, should pay a just proportion of the sum appropriated for the support of Madam Gookin.

The foregoing provisions for her support, so cheerfully made, were never regarded as burdensome. It was, however, well understood from the first, that the obligations thus voluntarily assumed, would be terminated -- except the annual payment of £40 in money and £40 in provision -- by her remarriage, or in case she should remove from the town, be suspended during her absence. In January, 1740, her eldest daughter was married to Rev. Peter Coffin, of East Kingston, and then, or subsequently, Madam Gookin went to live with this daughter, and remained with her through life.

At a church meeting, May 15, 1748, it was voted almost unanimously to have a contribution the next Sabbath for the relief of Madam Gookin, who had been "for more than ten weeks lying under God's chastening hand at Kingston" (East Kingston). The contribution was taken according to this vote on the next Sabbath, May 22nd, and amounted to £46 old tenor. But this was too late for the relief of Madam Gookin, who had died two days before.

The town afterward appropriated £70 old tenor, towards paying the funeral charges.

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