Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: HAMPTON FALLS -- 1709-1760 (Part I)

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HAMPTON FALLS, 1709-1760 (Part I)

The separation of Hampton Falls, as a distinct town, was a gradual process, and the records of the several acts regarding it are so complicated, it is difficult to arrive at the exact truth with certainty. The year 1718 is generally regarded as the time of its incorporation; but that a partial separation, for church and school purposes, was made long before, is matter of record, while the act of 1718 did not wholly sunder the relations of the two parishes.

We shall, therefore, quote largely from the proceedings of the General Court, as recorded in the Provincial Papers:

At the Council and General Assembly in Portsmouth, December 3, 1709 [Vol. 111: 408-10] "The following of the inhabitants of the South part of Hampton was read at this Board, viz.:

To his Excellency Joseph Dudley, Esq. Governour and Comander in Chiefe in and over her Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, and the Honourable the members of the Council and Representatives, convened together in General Assembly, now sitting:

The humble address and petition of her Majesty's loyal and dutiful subjects belonging to the south part of Hampton, in said Province of New Hampshire, commonly called Hampton falls, Most humbly sheweth,--

That your petitioners being at that distance from the publick place of the worship of God at the Town, and soe many difficulties in going, and many times no passing over the Causeway by any means that it hath caused your petitioners to be at the charge of building a Meeting House upon our side of the Town, and have had a minister for some time, and doing all by free contributions ourselves; and the other part of the Town being the Major part of the Town, Rates us in the full proportion according to our estates, to the repairing the Meeting House and parsonage, and to the minister there, which is burdensome to us, and we are not able to settle a minister with us for want of some better settlement in the matter.

Wee therefore pray that in your wisdom you will grant us some relief in the matter, either that the Town and we on our side may maintain two by raising our Rates in general together, or that we may be freed from the paying to the Town, and have power given us to make a Rate or tax for the subsistance of one with us."

[Then follow the names of fifty-six citizens.]

"Upon a full hearing of both parties in Council upon this petition, the 3dof December, 1709, voted that the contract and agreement of the Town of Hampton for the maintenance of Mr.John Cotton, their present minister, be and is hereby ratified and confirmed; And the town directed to proceed for the raising and payment of the same as in all time heretofore; That the petitioners and such others as are joined with them on the westward of Tailor's River, have power at a meeting once a year for that end, to choose among themselves three persons to be Assessors for raising the sum of -- for the maintenance of such learned and orthodox minister to officiate in the New Church at Hampton, as they shall agree to call to the service there, with the advice of Mr.Cotton, their present minister; that the affairs may proceed with such peace and friendship as becomes religion and good order; and that the assessment upon the said petitioners and inhabitants on the said Western side of Tailor's River, being signed by the said Assessors, shall be Collected by the Constables at all times and paid into the minister for his support, as in all other Towns and precincts in this Province.

Past by the Council.

Cha: Story, Secretary."

After the passage of this act, the new parish lost no time in procuring a minister, the one who had hitherto preached to them being probably the school-master residing with them. They now engaged the Rev. Theophilus Cotton, a graduate of Harvard College in 1701, youngest son of Rev. John Cotton, of Plymouth, who was a brother of Rev. Seaborn Cotton, of Hampton.

The death of the Hampton minister occurring soon after, the people of Hampton Falls preferred the following petition, addressed as before:

"To His Excellency" [Vol. III: 428] etc. . . . . . most humbly sheweth, --

That your petitioners having formerly laid before yrExcellency and Council the great want of having one settled among us on our side of the Town in the work of the ministry, and now by God's good Providence have obtained the Reverend Mr. Theophilus Cotton among us in that work, and God by his awful stroke of Providence having removed by death, the worthy and Reverend Mr. John Cotton, to our great lamentation, we do therefore pray, That we may be set off from the town from being at any charge as to procuring and maintaining a minister there; and that we may have power given us to make a tax or Rate, from time to time, as shall be for the support of our minister with us, and that each part of the town maintain their own minister; That as we have been at equal part of the Town maintain their own minister; That as we have been at equal charge according to our estates as purchasing and holding the parsonage at the Town, that now we may have some land appointed and laid out for a parsonage, as convenient as it may be had for the Falls side, according to the worth of our part of the town; That the Bounds may be settled between each part of the town, Tailor River being so crooked that it parts the inhabitants belonging to our meeting-house,we pray that the River may be the bounds up to the place called Garland's Mill, and from thence to a Bound tree betwixt Exeter and Hampton, at a place called Ass Brook, or that a committee of indifferent men may be appointed to come upon the place and they to settle the Bounds, as in your wisdom shall be directed, and as in duty bound we shall ever pray."

This petition, signed by Nathl Weare, Joseph Swett, Samuel Shaw, Daniel Tilton and about sixty others, was read at the council board on the 13th of May, 1710.

A hearing was appointed with the following result:

May 19, 1710. [Vol. III: 432.] "In the affair of Hampton before the Council by petition, Ordered that the whole Town pay forthwith the arrears and funeral charges of their late minister;

That there be a Committee appointed to report the Division of the parishes for the several meetings, and to consider how to settle lands for another parsonage; and a further hearing of the whole town be referred to the next General Assembly; and that the new parish in the mean time proceed in the maintenance of their minister, according to former order of this Board, saving that no person dwelling on the North side of Taylor's River shall be taxed for any land in the New Parish, until a further hearing be had thereupon; which is referred to the next session of the Assembly.

In pursuance of the above order, the Committee appointed are:

Major Vaughan, John Plaisted, Samuel Penhallow, Theadore Atkinson, or any three of them, to make report at the next General Assembly."

"In the affair of the New Parish in Hampton,[Vol. III: 451.] there appearing difficulty in making any division of the Lands or inhabitants for the support of the ministers in the two several parishes;

And whereas, the inhabitants and Auditory of the old church have agreed with their present minister [Mr. Gookin] to pay him annually eighty pounds, half in current money and the other half in provisions, &c.; And to allow him the parsonage in the said town of Hampton, long since purchased by certain inhabitants there; and fire wood as in the said vote and agreement in the record will appear:

And whereas, the inhabitants adjoining to the new parish have considered to raise sixty pounds, and firewood for their minister, and to lay out of the waste and unimproved lands in Hampton, five acres for a house lot, and twenty-five acres for pasture, &c., for the parsonage there:

Voted, that it be recommended to the select men of Hampton, to lay out the said two parcels of land indifferently, as well for the service as may be;

And that the Town of Hampton lay a tax annually for the said two sums, Amo to 140lbs, in species as above, and pay the incumbent of the old Church according to the agreement made with him, and the remainder to the incumbent of the New Church, from time to time.

23d October, 1710. Consented to.


This was read and agreed to in council and in the House of Representatives.

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