Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: "TROUBLOUS TIMES" -- TOWN RECORDS SECRETED --

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While Cranfield and Andros were at the head of the government, that is, from the fall of 1682 to the spring of 1689, there were "troublous times." The policy of these governors would not allow the people to assemble often in town meeting, nor was it considered safe for the clerk to make a record of all the transactions of the town, when met. Under such restrictions, but few entries were made on our records, during these administrations. It has indeed been handed down by tradition, that records were kept during this time, but were either lost or embezzled. It had also been stated that, near the beginning of 1683, there was "a town meeting at Hampton, when a new clerk was chosen and their records secured." This statement appears notto be entirely correct. At the meeting referred to, January 24, it was voted that the trustees -- another name for selectmen -- should have the keeping of the Town Records for the ensuing year; and Henry Dow, the town clerk, at the same meeting "delivered the records to the town, and the town delivered them to the Trustees." This statement is found in the records, in the handwriting of John Tuck, one of the trustees. But records of births, marriages and deaths, the only records made for several years, were still in the handwriting of Henry Dow, who continued to be town clerk till his death, in 1797.


The town meeting above mentioned was held under peculiar circumstances, very unfavorable to cool deliberation. It was only about four days after the dissolution of the General Assembly, by Governor Cranfield. The representatives had just returned home under great excitement, to rehearse to the people the unprecedented act, and one of them, to raise the standard of rebellion. It was the proceedings of this meeting, that Edward Gove published, as he went from town to town, to arouse the people to active opposition to the governor. Just what these proceedings were, will probably never be known, as it would have been perilous to record them. But with regard to securing the records, the probability is, that, lest they be seized by the governor, Henry Dow "delivered [them] to the town, and the town. . . . to the Trustees; and that, by their connivance, they were secreted in a manner and by a person at the time unknown to them. Judge Bell, of Manchester (deceased), said:

"The Hampton Records, there is no doubt, were taken and carried by Mr. Weare to Boston, before he went to England,for fear of their falling into the hands of Mason and Cranfield; and soon after his return from England, if not earlier, warrants were issued for his arrest, to answer the charge of embezzling the Records of Hampton; and he was subjected to a fine of fifty pounds."

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