Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: SHEEP LOST FROM THE FLOCK -- EAR-MARKS

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A new subject of complaint is brought to our notice about this time--the loss of several sheep from the flock, in a way that caused great dissatisfaction. The sheep could not be found, and no evidence appeared of their having been killed by wolves or other wild beasts. The suspicions of the people as to the case of these losses may be inferred, from the course taken by the town in relation to them. It was ordered, that no man should presume to take a sheep privately from any flock, nor off any common, to kill or to sell. If any owner wished to take a sheep from a flock under the care of a shepherd, he should let the shepherd see it, and it should be his duty to make a minute of its ear-mark and its color, so that it might be publicly known. If any person should take any sheep off the commons, where there was no shepherd he should, in every instance, give an account thereof to the town clerk, or to a constable; and these officers were required to keep a record of every such sheep and its earmark. If any person should kill or sell any sheep, and not proceed as here required, he would forfeit the sum of sixteen shillings for every one killed or sold contrary to this order, the fine to be recovered by an action brought by the selectmen, or their attorney, before any justice of the peace, and to be for the use of the town.

It would however, be unfair to infer that every person who took any sheep from the flocks, or from the commons, before this regulation was made, was guilty of stealing. Each owner probably had an ear- mark for his sheep, but nothing hitherto appears to have been done by the town, to prevent several persons from using the same mark. Now, it was made the duty of every man to inform the town clerk of the ear-mark used by him, for marking his sheep and cattle, and that officer was required to make and keep a record thereof. After any man's mark had been thus recorded, no other person was allowed to adopt the same mark. The town clerk's fee for recording was one penny for each mark recorded..

The ear-marks most commonly used were the following, viz.: holes, crops, half-crops, half-pennies, notches, slits and swallows-tails. By using these separately, or in different combinations, several hundred ear-marks were formed and used in the town, as appears from the record.

A few specimens of those recorded at this time are here given: "Ben: Moulton, on laft eare a Half peny on the under side and on the Right eare a Helf crop on the under side and a noch under the same."

"John Gove, a crop on the left eare and a slit on the Right eare not at the end but a littell slanting downwards."

"NathllBachilder Juner, a Swallows Tayle so cald on each eare." "Jabez Dow, a crop on the left eare and two nochis under the Right eare." "Renewed to Johnathan Philbrick, February 20th, 1810."

"Abram Green, a Swallows Tayle att the end of the left eare and a Half penny under the Right eare."

"Richard Samborne, a Slitt att the end of each care."

"Josiah Dow, a littill crop on the left eare and a littell noch a top yesame."

"Ben Shaw senior, a shole punched in the Right eare."

"Ben Shaw Juner, two Hols punched in the Right eare."

"Roger Shaw, two Hols punched in the left eare."

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