Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: FIRST WEST DIVISION LAID OUT

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In November, 1699, the selectmen were instructed to determine upon some method for laying out land, so that persons who wished to improve any portions of it, might be permitted to do it; and to lay their plan before the town at some future meeting, so that, if approved, it might be ratified; or, if considered defective, that it might be altered and put into such a form as might be thought conducive to the welfare of the town.

At a meeting of the freeholders, on the first Monday of December, the selectmen presented their Report:

"Whereas we, whose names are under written, were appointed to consider of some method for dividing of lands to the several inhabitants of this town, we have seriously considered and weighed the circumstances of the several parts of the town, and we are of the mind that when the North Division if laid out, and the lands that are already granted, taken in, there is not more on the town's side, so called, that can be spared out of the common. If there be not a convenient quantity of common reserved and kept for feeding of cattle and the like, the successors of the ancient inhabitants that bore the brunt and hardship in settling this plantation, will be ruined and forced to remove. The Falls side is in the like necessity of a suitable common, that many extend to the west end of the hill, called Horse-hill, and so over Hogpen meadow to Exeter line, and what lands belong to the town abovethat line may be divided according to rules agreed on by the free-holders.

Dated ye 4th of December, 1699.

  Nathaniel Weare
  Henry Dow
  John Stanyan
  John Redman
  Josiah Moulton
  Selectmen of Hampton."

This report was adopted by the freeholders, but not unanimously.

Nothing further appears to have been done at that time, in relation to the land which the selectmen though might be divided and disposed of. At another freeholders' meeting, holden November 18, 1700, it was voted to lay out a tract nearly corresponding to this, to persons afterward to be agreed upon. The tract is described as "beginning towards Exeter line, joining to Abraham Cole's lot--the first lot in the North Division--and so from thence to Salisbury line, to come a mile from Exeter line and Kingston line towards Hampton." At the same time, it was agreed that "all other lands from that to the town, and from Salisbury line to the sea, should lie in common for the benefit of the town.

It was ordered, that this tract should be laid out forthwith; and Lieut. Joseph Cass, Ens, John Gove, Samuel Down, Ephraim Marston and John Moulton--sone of Lieutenant Moulton--were chosen a committee to lay it out, and give to the town clerk and account of the number of acres.

As this land was a part of the common,each commoner would have a just claim to some portion of it, when divided. The plan agreed upon, for apportioning it among the proprietors, was this: Persons owning two shares or more in the common, were to have two shares in the land to be laid out; and those owning but one share in the common, were to have one share in this tract. There were also belonging to the town many men who were not commoners. These were remembered in this division. "All male persons who had been born and brought up in the town, and had arrived at the age of twenty-one years and were still living in Hampton" were allowed to have half a share each, except such as claimed a right in Kingston, by virtue of any grant from the lieutenant-governor and council.

At another meeting, June 9, 1701, it was voted that the lots in the portion next to Kingston line should run northerly and southerly and be half a mile in length, a space of four rods in width being left between the several divisions, for a highway. For convenience in the distribution of the land, it was voted that after the number of claimants should be ascertained, the whole tract should be laid out in half-shares, and that each person who would be entitled to several half-shares should have them together, so as to form but one lot.

On this occasion, Thomas Crosby, "the present-school-master," was not forgotten. It was voted, that he should have two half-shares in this tract.

The committee, in their Return, Dec.26,1702, state that they had laid out the land in twelve divisions, containing in all three hundred fifty-one half shares, of about ten acres and a half each. The first seven of the divisions bordered on Kingston, and in each of them were thirty-one half-shares. The seventh division also adjoined Exeter, and so did all the remaining ones, except the eleventh, which was separated from the Exeter line by a few lots of the twelfth division. In the ninth division, the committee found some old grants, which they left undisturbed; and between the tenth and eleventh were several farms containing in the aggregate about four hundred acres.

The committee's Return was approved by the freeholders.

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