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History of Weymouth 1635-1653

   (All material from History of Weymouth (Weymouth, 4 Volumes)

  Weymouth, called Wessagussett, until the village was incorporated in 1635, is considered the second oldest village in the Massachusetts area. This review is meant to briefly summarize some elements of the history, and is particularly focussed on events surrounding John Thompson, and where possible, his residence in this town, and reasons for this settlement.

  The records of land divisions are not all certainly dated, but the one of 1636 is well known. This is very shortly after Weymouth was established as a town. The next (the'1643') list, is said to have been compiled by Rev. Samuel Newman between the dates of Oct 26 1642, and May 21, 1644. Rev. Newman moved with a considerable number of his parishioners from Weymouth to Rehoboth in 1643. The spread in the dates is primarily due to recorded events that are known to fall on the earliest and the latest dates in this period. The list was compiled around the time of these dates, and it was not itself dated. Rev. Newman was an outstanding man, and the list appears to have been made prior to the departure of himself and a number of his parishioners, in 1643.

  'History' states (as outlined above) that in 1643 a record of the owners was made that has been preserved. The 'History' goes on to say that after 1646, new rules for residency were adopted, and a vote was required before any new resident could be accepted into the town. On the list of 1643, some tracts had been partially subdivided. About seventy families are on this list, but upon it some were already partially subdivided by sales, gifts, etc., that had occurred prior to 1643, for a total of 138 landowners who were named.

  John Thomson was on this 1643 list, and because of the residence requirements of 1646, we can with some assurance believe that John Thompson, freeman of 1653 in Weymouth, had been considered a resident for over 10 years (1643-1653, page 182-History). We do not know when he established this residency, only that it was prior to the compilation of the list in 1643. It was not necessary for him to be voted into the village, as he already was a resident, when he moved back to Weymouth in late 1651 or 1652. This would have been the case, if he had not established his residency before 1646 (History of Weymouth). He obviously took a more active part when he lived all of the time in the village, rather that spending much of his time at sea, or attempting to maintain a precarious existence as a ship's captain. He soon became a freeman (1653), and according to the History, received additional parcels of land in later distributions, and became a town official. In order for this to happen, John had to convert from the Episcopal beliefs of his parents to the rigid teachings of the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His step-father, Samuel Maverick (and presumably his mother, Amias Maverick) never changed, and instead, moved from Noodles Island to Maine, where Episcopal settlers were more welcome. John had a wife in 1641, a child in 1642, and the other two may have been born by 1646.

  By 1635, Weymouth was being flooded by the large numbers of settlers coming to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They attempted to establish an identity by incorporating the settlement of Wessagussett, renaming it Weymouth. Several early settlers, sent by the Gorges expeditions, had been called 'squatters' (one example-Rev William Blackstone-original settler of Boston) and had been by-passed by the Bay Colony, which was also exercising great pressure on these early settlers, because they were Episcopalian. Both the Bay Colony and Plymouth were pressing these early settlers. One author speaks to the fact that the Rev. Samuel Newman had an Episcopal education and ancestry, and may have seized the opportunity to get into a less restrictive environment, by moving to Seekonk (renamed Rehoboth), which was really initially settled by Blackstone, who fled the Bay Colony religious persecution in Boston. The people of Weymouth were feeling the pressure from both sides-the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the Separatists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth. These people were clearly trying to combine the Church and the State. Winthrop really became the State, as time progressed. There are many examples of this intolerant attitude.  Roger Williams (soon to be founder of the Baptist Church in America) was banished, and fled to Rhode Island, which he founded as an example of perfect freedom in religious worship. In the Bay Colony, prayer books were not tolerated, but in Rhode Island, after the initial beginning, freedom of choice was universal. Ann Hutchinson, was also banned, and started a colony in Rhode Island, only to be cruelly slain by indians. Blackstone was a friend of Williams, fleeing from Massachusetts, to settle in Rhode Island, and he frequently preached for Williams. The two colonies were later combined under a charter which Williams obtained from the Crown.

  There is a wonderful story about Roger Williams, who founded the city of Providence, and was a friend of the Narragansett Indians. The Pequot Indians rose up, and were threatening to kill all white persons in settlements. They attempted to enlist the Narragansetts, who could muster thousands of warriors. Williams heard of this effort, and immediately took a canoe and hurried along the coast to the place where the Narragansett chief was living. There, he found the messengers from the Pequots, trying to unify the tribes in their assault. Williams could speak the language, and spoke to his old friend, even through his great fear. This continued for four days, despite the danger, until the Narragansett chief agreed not to join the Pequots. Williams sent a message to Governor Bradford all that had happened, giving suggestions for fighting the Pequots, which were very helpful. This struggle between the Pequot and the Puritans continued, but the overwhelming might of the Narragansetts remained neutral. The Bay Colony responded to the wonderful work that Williams had done for them, at such personal risk, by continuing the ban against him! Later, when he made a trip to England, he was not even permitted to cross the corner of Massachusetts, to get to his home in Providence. The ban continued for the rest of Williams life, possibly nearly forty years later!

   In 1642, an Indian Deed was completed as the original deed to the land of Weymouth. This deed was signed by four indians and four settlers, and witnessed by three settlers. One of these was Thomas Holbrooke, who was an immediate neighbor of John Thompson in Weymouth. At least two provisions to the Indian Deed were added some years later, and one of these was also witnessed by Holbrooke.

  John Thompson had only three children, one boy and two girls. By the time that the family moved to the new village of Mendon from Weymouth, at the end of 1663, John's son, (also John) was grown. He had not married, however, but it was not long before he married Thankful Woodland, the daughter of John Woodland, another one of the original settlers of Mendon. Their first child was one of the earlier births recorded in Mendon.

contributed by Thomson researcher James Thompson: