Friday, January 10, 2020
Mary Brewster & her husband William married in 1592 & had their first son Jonathan in Scrooby a year later. She next had a daughter Patience, born about 1600 or somewhat earlier.
About 1606, the church congregation began more formally meeting at the Scrooby manor, where she & husband William resided. About this time, pressure from the English authorities was mounting, & the meetings became more & more secretive. She gave birth to another daughter at this time, which they named Fear.
The couple fled just over a year later for Holland with the other members of the congregation, & in Leiden they buried an unnamed child: presumably one that had died in infancy. In 1611, she gave birth to a son they named Love, & two or three years later gave birth to their last son, whom they named Wrestling.
William became the senior elder of the American colony. He was an advisor to Governor William Bradford. She was one of only five adult women from the Mayflower to survive the first winter in the New World, & one of only four such to survive to the "first Thanksgiving" in 1621, which she helped cook.
As such, she is included in Plimoth Plantation's reenactment of that Thanksgiving.She had six children with William - Jonathan, Patience, Fear, Love, an unnamed child who died young, & Wrestling. The two youngest journeyed with their parents on Mayflower, while the three elder children joined their family on later ships. Her son, Jonathan Brewster (1593-1659) & his wife Lucretia Oldham, had nine children. One of those children was also named Mary Brewster. Her life in England is unknown, as is her maiden name.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Colonial Charter - His Royal Highness's Grant of New Jersey to the Lords Proprietors, Sir George Carteret, 1674
His Royal Highness's Grant of New Jersey to the Lords Proprietors, Sir George Carteret, 29th July, 1674
This Indenture made the ninth and twentieth day of JULY, in the twenty and sixth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, Charles the Second, by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Anno Domini, one thousand six hundred seventy-four. Albany, Earl of Ulster, Lord High Admiral of Scotland and Ireland, of the one part, and Sir George Carteret of Saltrum in the County of Devon, Knight, Vice Chamberlain of his Majesty's household of the other part. WHEREAS his Majesty King Charles the Second, by his Letters Patent, under the Great Seal of: England, bearing date the twenty-ninth day of June, in the twenty-sixth year of his said Majesty's reign, did for the consideration therein mentioned, give and grant unto his said Royal Highness James Duke of York, his heirs and assigns, all that part of the main land of New England, beginning at a certain place called or known by the name of St. Croix next adjoining to New Scotland, in America; and from thence extending along the sea coast unto a certain place called Pemaquine or Pemaquid, and so up the river thereof to the furthest head of the same as it tendeth northward; and extending from thence to the river Kenebeque, and so upwards by the shortest course to the same commonly called by the several name or names of Mattowacks or Long Island, situate and being towards the west of Cape Codd and the Narrow Higansetts, abutting upon the main land between the two rivers there, called or known by the several names of Connecticutt, and Hudson's river; together also with the said river called Hudson's river, and all the lands from the west side of Connecticutt river to the east side of Delaware bay: And also several other islands and lands, in the said Letters Patent mentioned, together with the rivers, harbors, mines, minerals, quarries, woods, marshes, waters, fishing, hawking, hunting, and fowling, and all other royalties, proffits, commodities and hereditaments to the said several islands, lands and premises belonging or appertaining, to have and to hold the said lands, islands, hereditaments and premises, with their and every of their appurtenances, unto his said Royal Highness James Duke of York, his heirs and assigns for ever; to be holden of his said Majesty, his heirs and successors as of the manner of East Greenwich in the County of Kent, in free and common soccage, yielding and paying to his said Majesty his heirs and successors of and for the same, yearly and every year, forty beaver skins, when they shall be demanded, or within ninety days after; with divers other grants, clauses, provisoes, and agreements in the said recited Letters Patents contain'd, as by the said Letters Patents, relation being "hereunto had, it doth and may more plainly appear. Now this indenture witnesseth, that his said Royal Highness James Duke of York, for and in consideration of a competent sum of good and lawful money of England to his Royal Highness in hand paid by the said Sir George Carteret, before the ensealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof his said Royal Highness James Duke of York, doth hereby acknowledge, and thereof doth acquit and discharge the said Sir George Carteret, his heirs and assigns for ever by these presents, hath granted, bargained, sold, released and confirmed, and by these presents doth grant, bargain, sell, release and confirm unto the said Sir George Carteret, his heirs and assigns for ever, all that tract of land adjacent to New England, and lying and being to the westward of Long Island and Manhitas Island, and bounded on the east part by the main sea, and part by Hudson's river, and extends southward as far as a certain creek called Barnegatt, being about the middle, between Sandy Point and Cape May, and bounded on the west in a strait line from the said creek called Barnegat, to a certain Creek in Delaware river, next adjoining to and below a certain creek in Delaware river called Renkokus Kill, and from thence up the said Delaware river to the northermost branch thereof, which is forty-one degrees and forty minutes of latitude; and on the north, crosseth over thence in a strait line to Hudson's river, in forty-one degrees of latitude; which said tract of land is hereafter to be called by the name or names of New Caeserea or New Jersey: And also all rivers, mines, minerals, woods, fishings, hawking, hunting, and fowIing, and all royalties, profits, commodities, and hereditaments whatsoever, to the said lands, and premises belonging or appertaining; with their and every of their appurtenances, in as full and ample manner as the same is granted unto the said James Duke of York, by the before recited Letters Patents; and all the estate, right, title, interest benefit, advantage, claim and demand of the said James Duke of York of in and to the said lands and premises, or any part or parcel thereof, and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders thereof: All which said tract of land and premises were by indenture, bearing date the day before the date hereof, bargain'd and sold by the said James Duke of York, unto Sir George Carteret, for the term of one whole year to commence from the eighth and twentieth day of July next before the date hereof, under the rent of one peper corn, payable as therein is mentioned as by the said deed more plainly may appear: By force and virtue of which said indenture of bargain and sale, and of the statute made for transferring of usses into possession, the said Sir George Carteret, is in actual possession of the said tract of land and premises, and enabled to take a grant and release thereof, the said lease being made to that end and purpose, to have and to hold all and singular the said-tract of land and premises; with their, and every of their appurtenances, and every part and parcel thereof, unto the said Sir George Carteret, his heirs and assigns to the only behoof of the said Sir George Carteret his heirs and assigns for ever; yielding and paying therefore unto the said James Duke of York, his heirs and assigns, for the tract of land and premises, yearly the sum of twenty nobles of lawful money of England, if the same shall be lawfully demanded at or in the Inner Temple Hall, I,ondon, at the feast of St. Michael the Arch Angel yearly. And the said Sir George Carteret for himself, his heirs, and assigns, doth covenant and grant to and with the said James Duke of York, his heirs and assigns by these presents, that he the said Sir George Carteret, his heirs and assigns, shall and will well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto his said BoyalHiness James Duke of York, his heirs and assigns, the said yearly rent of twenty nobles at such time and place, and in such manner and formulas before in these presents is express'd and declared. Provided always and upon this condition, that the said Sir George Carteret do cause a copy of this Grant and demise to be entered with the auditor of his said Royal Highness, within one month next after the execution of this present grant and demise. IN WITNESS WHEREOF the parties to these presents have interchangeably set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written. Sign'd. JAMES.
Monday, January 6, 2020
New Jersey’s early colonial history is similar to New York’s. Like New York, the area was first colonized by Dutch settlers around 1613. The colony was called New Netherland, & included parts of modern-day New York & New Jersey. In 1660, the town of Bergen became the first established town in the New Jersey portion of New Netherland. Today, it is named Jersey City.
By 1664, the British had claimed the entire region & had driven the Dutch out. New Netherland was renamed New Jersey & New Amsterdam was renamed New York. Although King Charles originally gave the region to his brother, the Duke of York, eventually, he decided to divide the region & gave the land between the Hudson & Delaware River (New Jersey) to two of his friends, Sir George Carteret & Lord Berkeley of Stratton.
Carteret & Berkeley began attracting people to the area by offering land & guaranteeing religious freedom. In return for the land, the settlers were supposed to pay a yearly tax called a quit-rent. The quit-rents proved hard to collect, which prompted the sale of the land to the Quakers in 1673. Upon the sale, New Jersey was divided in West Jersey & East Jersey. However, by 1702, the two divisions were united as the royal colony of New Jersey.
The Charter or Fundamental Laws, of West New Jersey, Agreed Upon - 1676
THAT THESE FOLLOWING CONCESSIONS ARE THE COMMON LAW, OR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, OF THE PROVINCE OF WEST NEW JERSEY
That the common law or fundamental rights and priviledges of West New Jersey, are individually agreed upon by the Proprietors and freeholders thereof, to be the foundation of the government, which is not to be altered by the Legislative authority, or free Assembly hereafter mentioned and constituted, but that the said Legislative authority is constituted according to these fundamentals, to make such laws as agree with, and maintain the said fundamentals, and to make no laws that in the least contradict, differ or vary from the said fundamentals, under what presence or alligation soever.
But if it so happen that any person or persons of the said General Assembly, shall therein designedly, willfully, and maliciously, move or excite any to move, any matter or thing whatsoever, that contradicts or any ways subverts, any fundamentals of the said laws in the Constitution of the government of this Province, it being proved by seven honest and reputable persons, he or they shall be proceeded against as traitors to the said government.
That these Concessions, law or great charter of fundamentals, be recorded in a fair table. in the Assembly House, and that they be read at the beginning and dissolving of every general free Assembly: And it is further agreed and ordained, that the said Concessions, common law, or great charter of fundamentals, be writ in fair tables in every common hall of justice within this Province, and that they be read in solemn manner four times every year, in the presence of the people, by the chief magistrates of those places.
That no men, nor number of men upon earth, hath power or authority to rule over men's consciences in religious matters, therefore it is consented, agreed and ordained, that no person or persons whatsoever within the said Province, at any time or times hereafter, shall be any ways upon any presence whatsoever, called in question, or in the least punished or hurt, either in person, estate, or priviledge, for the sake of his opinion, judgment, faith or worship towards God in matters of religion. But that all and every such person, and persons may from time to time, and at all times, freely and fully have, and enjoy his and their judgments, and the exercises of their consciences in matters of religious worship throughout all the said Province.
That no Proprietor, freeholder or inhabitant of the said Province of West New Jersey, shall be deprived or condemned of life, limb, liberty, estate, property or any ways hurt in his or their privileges, freedoms or franchises, upon any account whatsoever, without a due tryal, and Judgment passed by twelve good and lawful men of his neighborhood first had: And that in all causes to be tryed, and in all tryals, the person or persons, arraigned may except against any of the said neghborhood, without any reason rendered, (not exceeding thirty five) and in case of any valid reason alleged, against every person nominated for that service.
And that no Proprietor, freeholder, freedenison, or inhabitant in the said Province, shall be attached, arrested, or imprisoned for or by reason of any debt, duty, or thing whatsoever (cases felonious criminal and treasonable Excepted) before he or she have personal summon or summons, left at his or her last dwelling place, if in the said Province, by some legal authorized officer, constituted and appointed for that purpose, to appear in some court of judicature for the said Province, with a full and plain account of the cause or thing in demand, as also the name or names of the person or persons at whose suit, and the court where he is to appear, and that he hath at least fourteen days time to appear and answer the said suit, if he or she live or inhabit within forty miles English of the said court, and if at a further distance, to have for every twenty miles, two days time more, for his and their appearance, and so proportionately for a larger distance of place.
That upon the recording of the summons, and non-appearance of such person and persons, a writ or attachment shall or may be issued out to arrest, or attach the person or persons of such defaulters, to cause his or their appearance in such court, returnable at a day certain to answer the penalty or penalties, in such suit or suits; and if he or they shall be condemned by legal tryal and judgment, the penalty or penalties shall be paid and satisfied out of his or their real or personal estate so condemned, or cause the person or persons so condemned, to lie in execution till satisfaction of the debt and damages be made. Provided always, if such person or persons so condemned, shall pay and deliver such estate, goods, and chattles which he or any other person hath for his or their use, and shall solemnly declare and aver, that he or they have not any further estate, goods or chattles wheresoever to satisfy the person or persons, (at whose suit, he or they are condemned) their respective judgments, and shall also bring and produce three other persons as compurgators, who are well known and of honest reputation, and approved of by the commissioners of that division, where they dwell or inhabit, which shall in such open court, likewise solemnly declare and aver, that they believe in their consciences, such person and persons so condemned, have not werewith further to pay the said condemnation or condemnations, he or they shall be thence forthwith discharged from their said imprisonment, any law or custom to the contrary thereof, heretofore in the said Province, notwithstanding. And upon such summons and default of appearance, recorded as aforesaid, and such person and persons not appearing within forty days after, it shall and may be lawful for such court of judicature to proceed to tryal, of twelve lawful men to judgment, against such defaulters, and issue forth execution against his or their estate, real and personal, to satisfy such penalty or penalties, to such debt and damages so recorded, as far as it shall or may extend.
That there shall be in every court, three justices or commissioners, who shall sit with the twelve men of the neighborhood, with them to hear all causes, and to assist the said twelve men of the neighborhood in case of law; and that they the said justices shall pronounce such judgment as they shall receive from, and be directed by the said twelve men in whom only the judgment resides, and not otherwise.
And in case of their neglect and refusal, that then one of the twelve, by consent of the rest, pronounce their own judgment as the justices should have done.
And if any judgment shall be past, in any case civil or criminal, by any other person or persons, or ally other way, then according to this agreement and appointment, it shall be held null and void, and such person or persons so presuming to give judgment, shall be severely fin'd, and upon complaint made to the General Assembly, by them be declared incapable of any office or trust within this Province.
That in all matters and causes, civil and criminal, proof is to be made by the solemn and plain averment, of at least two honest and reputable persons; arid in case that any person or persons shall bear false witness, and bring in his or their evidence, contrary to the truth of the matter as shall be made plainly to appear, that then every such person or persons, shall in civil causes, suffer the penalty which would be due to the person or persons he or they bear witness against. And in case any witness or witnesses, on the behalf of any person or persons, indicted in a criminal cause, shall be found to have borne false witness for fear, gain, malice or favour, and thereby hinder the due execution of the law, and deprive the suffering person or persons of their due satisfaction, that then and in all other cases of false evidence, such person or persons, shall be first severely fined, and next that he or they shall forever be disabled from being admitted in evidence, or into any public office, employment, or service within this Province.
That all and every person and persons whatsoever, who shall prosecute or prefer any indictment or information against others for any personal injuries, or matter criminal, or shall prosecute for any other criminal cause, (treason, murther, and felony, only excepted) shall and may be master of his own process, and 1lave full power to forgive and remit the person or persons offending against him or herself only, as well before as after judgment, and condemnation, and pardon and remit the sentence, fine and punishment of the person or persons offending, be it personal or other whatsoever.
That the tryals of all causes, civil and criminal, shall be heard and decided by the virdict or judgment of twelve honest men of the neighborhood, only to be summoned and presented by the sheriff of that division, or propriety where the fact or trespass is committed; and that no person or persons shall he compelled to fee any attorney or councillor to plead his cause, but that all persons have free liberty to plead his own cause, if he please: And that no person nor persons imprisoned upon any account whatsoever within this Province, shall be obliged to pay any fees to the officer or officers of the said prison, either when committed or discharged.
That in all publick courts of justice for tryals of causes, civil or criminal, any person or persons, inhabitants of the said Province may freely come into, and attend the said courts, and hear and be present, at all or any such tryals as shall be there had or passed, that justice may not be done in a corner nor in any covert manner, being intended and resolved, by the help of the Lord, and by these our Concessions and Fundamentals, that all and every person and persons inhabiting the said Province, shall, as far as in us lies, be free from oppression and slavery.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Letter of Francis Daniel Pastorius, founder of German Town, Pennsylvania, to his father in Germany, 1698 (excerpts)
Francis Daniel Pastorius, founder of the first German settlement in Pennsylvania (1683), wrote several accounts of the colony to persuade his countrymen to emigrate. "It is truly a matter for amazement," he exclaims, "how quickly, by the blessing of God, it advances, and from day to day grows perceptibly." In this letter, he answers five questions about German Town and Pennsylvania
submitted to him by his father.
I received in proper condition, on April 25, 1698, my honored father’s latest, of August 15, and I
was greatly rejoiced by the sight of his dear handwriting. But to answer his questions submitted, I would wish that my pen could reach down to the uttermost depth of my soul, for so should I do the same with more satisfaction than is the case now. Nevertheless I do not doubt that my honored father will supply by his keen apprehension that which is not perfectly expressed on this paper:
1. Now as to the first question, concerning the ordering of the civil government.
. . . In my German city, Germanton, there is an entirely different condition of things [i.e., different
government than that in Philadelphia]. For, by virtue of the franchise obtained from William Penn, this town has its own court, its own burgomaster and council, together with the necessary officials, and wellregulated town laws, council regulations, and a town seal. The inhabitants of this city are for the most part tradespeople, such as cloth, fustian, and linen weavers, tailors, shoemakers, locksmiths, carpenters, who however at the same time are also occupied with the cultivation of the soil and the raising of cattle. This region would be sufficient to maintain twice as many inhabitants as are now actually there. This town lies two hours’ distance from Philadelphia, and includes not only six thousand acres (morgen) by the survey, but twelve thousand morgen of land have also been assigned to us by William Penn for the establishing of some villages. As to the taxation and tribute of the subjects, in this country, it is treated as it is with the English nation, where neither the king himself nor his envoys, bailiffs, nor governors may lay any kind of burden or tax upon the subjects, unless those subjects themselves have first voluntarily resolved and consented to give a specified amount, and, according to their fundamental laws, no tax may remain in force for longer than a single year.
2. To come to my honored father’s second question. What form of government have the
so-called savages and half-naked people? Whether they become citizens and intermarry
with the Christians? Again, whether their children also associate with the Christian
children and they play with one another, etc.?
It may be stated in reply, that, so far as I have yet gone about among them, I have found them
reasonable people and capable of understanding good teaching and manners, who give evidence of an inward devotion to God, and in fact show themselves much more desirous of a knowledge of God than are many with you who teach Christianity by words from the pulpit, but belie the same through their ungodly lives, and therefore, in yonder great Day of Judgment, will be put to shame by these heathen. We Christians in Germanton and Philadelphia have no longer the opportunity to associate with them, in view of the fact that their savage kings have accepted a sum of money from William Penn, and, together with their people, have withdrawn very far away from us, into the wild forest, where, after their hereditary custom, they support themselves by the chase, shooting birds and game, and also by catching fish, and dwell only in huts made of bushes and trees drawn together. They carry on no cattle-breeding whatever, and cultivate no field or garden; accordingly they bring very little else to the Christians to market than the pelts, the skins of animals, and the birds which they have shot, and fishes, nor do they associate much with the Christians; and certainly no mutual marriage-contract between us and them has yet taken place. They exchange their elk and deer-skins, beaver, marten, and turkeys, ordinarily, for powder, lead, blankets, and brandy, together with other sweet drinks. In the business of our German Company, however, we now use in trade Spanish and English coins, as also the Dutch thalers; with this difference only, that that which is worth four shillings on the other side of the sea, passes for five here.
3. Concerning the third question: How our divine worship is regulated and constituted in this place?
The answer is that, as experience testifies that by the coercion of conscience nothing else than
hypocrites and word Christians are made, of whom almost the entire world is now full, we have therefore found it desirable to grant freedom of conscience, so that each serves God according to his best understanding, and may believe whatever he is able to believe. “we have therefore found it desirable to grant freedom of conscience, so that each serves God to his best understanding” It is certain, once for all, that there is only one single undoubted Truth. Sects however are very numerous, and each sectarian presumes to know the nearest and most direct way to Heaven, and to be able to point it out to others, though nevertheless there is surely no more than a single One Who on the basis of truth has said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. . . .
4. Concerning the fourth question: How our German Company and Brotherhood is at present constituted?
It should be stated that this same company was started by some pious and God-fearing persons, not so much for the sake of worldly gain, but rather to have a Pella or place of refuge for themselves and other upright people of their country, when the just God should pour out His cup of wrath over sinful Europe With this intention they arranged to purchase from the proprietor, through me, about thirty thousand acres of land in this country, of which the third part is now cultivated, but two-thirds still lie waste. The principal members are, by name : Doctor Jacob Schiitz, Jacobus von de Walle, Doctor Weilich, Daniel Behagel, Johann Lebrunn, Doctor Gerhard von Maastrich, the Syndic of Bremen, Doctor Johann Willhelm Peters of near Magdeburg, Balthasar Jabert of Lubeck, and Joannes kembler, a preacher at the same place. Of these partners some were to have come over here to me and helped to bring the undertaking to the desired result, but up to this time that has not happened, because they fear the solitude and tediousness, to all of which I, thank God! am now well accustomed, and shall so remain accustomed until my happy end.
However, that the merciful God has so graciously preserved my honored father together with his
dear ones in this recent devastation of the French war, gives me occasion to extol His everlasting
goodness and fervently to beseech Him to protect you still further, with gentle fatherly care, from all chances of misfortune, but especially that He will bring us ever more and more into His holy fear and obedience, so that we may feel abhorrence to offend Him, and, on the contrary, may strive to fulfill His holy will with happy hearts. . . .
5. Concerning the fifth question: Whether William Penn, the proprietor of this country, is easy of access, and if one might address some lines of compliment to him. It may be stated, that this worthy man is a good Christian, and consequently entirely averse to the idle compliments of the world. But he who wishes to exchange sensible and truthful words with him, either by mouth or by letter, will find him not only easy of access, but also prompt in reply, since he is, from his heart, sweet-natured, humble, and eager to serve all men. . . .
. . . All must have an end, and therefore this letter also, in closing which I greet my honored father a thousand times, and kiss him (through the air) with the heart of a child, perhaps for the last time, and most trustingly commend you with us, and us with you, to the beneficent protecting and guiding hand of God; and I remain My honored father’s Truly dutiful son,
Philadelphia F[rancis]. D[aniel]. P[astorius]. 30 May 1698.
Francis Daniel Pastorius, Circumstantial Geographical Description of the Lately Discovered Province of Pennsylvania, Situated in the Farthest Limits of America, in the Western World, 1700; in Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, 1630-1707, ed. Albert Cook Myers (New York, Scribner’s, 1912), pp. 360-448; in series Original Narratives of Early American History, gen. ed. J. Franklin Jameson.
Saturday, October 12, 2019
The Rev. John Cotton (1584-1652) of Boston was the leading Puritan minister in the early decades of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He is known for his initial defense of Anne Hutchinson. During his 1st 10 years in the colonies, he actually had a prominent part in the 2 controversies which rocked New England to its core, the exile of Roger Williams and the heresies of Anne Hutchinson. First, he was at the center of the antinomian controversy that swirled around Anne Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who had followed Cotton to the New World and to Boston, claimed to adhere to Cotton’s emphasis on the primary of grace and divine sovereignty in conversion, and accused all the other New England ministers (except her newly arrived brother-in-law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a covenant of works rather than the covenant of grace. Enthusiastically embracing the doctrine of immediate revelation, she asserted that assurance of faith is experienced by inner feelings of the immediate testimony of the Holy Spirit rather than the evidence of good works. She downplayed the need for sanctification and for the law as a rule of life. The gifted woman attracted many believers into her fellowship and managed to cause friction between Cotton and other ministers, even to the point that some of the ministers began to question Cotton’s orthodoxy. Cotton initially seemed to support Hutchinson and a few of her ideas, particularly a clerical overemphasis on sanctification as evidence of election. Cotton embraced both of these doctrines, but he felt uncomfortable with the amount of emphasis they were receiving among the New England clergy. Hutchinson’s views were gradually brought out into the open, however, and when she openly lapsed into mysticism, Cotton sided with the other ministers against her. Cotton’s fellow clergymen presented him with a list of questions to clarify his views in relation to Hutchinson, after which the synod detailed a list of Hutchinsonian errors. The controversy ended dramatically with Hutchinson’s trial and conviction both by the colony’s general court and by the Boston church, which led to her banishment from the colony. The Williams controversy dealt with the relation between church and state. Magistrates are God's deputies and their power goes as far as life and death, said Cotton. Roger Williams declared that a man's religious loyalties are untouchable by civil power.
In the document below, Gov. John Winthrop recorded in his Journal what Cotton's conclusions were in a sermon about fair local economic behavior.
Mo. 9 [Sept. 1639]
At a general court holden at Boston, great complaint was made of the oppression used in the country in sale of foreign commodities; and Mr. Robert Keaine, who kept a shop in Boston, was notoriously above others observed and complained of, and, being convented, he was charged with many particulars; in some, for taking above six-pence in the shilling profit; in some above eight-pence; and, in some small things, above two for one; and being hereof convict, (as appears by the records,) he was fined £200, which came thus to pass: The deputies considered, apart, of his fine, and set it at £200; the magistrates agreed but to £100. So, the court being divided, at length it was agreed, that his fine should be £200, but he should pay but £100, and the other should be respited to the further consideration of the next general court. By this means the magistrates and deputies were, brought to an accord, which otherwise had not been likely, and so much trouble might have grown, and the offender escaped censure. For the cry of the country was so great against oppression, and some of the elders and magistrates had declared such detestation of the corrupt practice of this man (which was the more observable, because he was wealthy and sold dearer than most other tradesmen, and for that he was of ill report for the like covetous practice in England, that incensed the deputies very much against him). And sure the course was very evil, especial circumstances considered: 1. He being an ancient professor of the gospel: 2. A man of eminent parts: 3. Wealthy, and having but one child: 4. Having come over for conscience' sake, and for the advancement of the gospel here: 5. Having been formerly dealt with and admonished, both by private friends and also by some of the magistrates and elders, and having promised reformation; being a member of a church and commonwealth now in their infancy, and under the curious observation of all churches and civil states in the world. These added much aggravation to his sin in the judgment of all men of understanding. Yet most of the magistrates (though they discerned of the offence clothed with all these circumstances) would have been more moderate in their censure: 1. Because there was no law in force to limit or direct men in point of profit in their trade. 2. Because it is the common practice, in all countries, for men to make use of advantages for raising the prices of their commodities. 3. Because (though he were chiefly aimed at, yet) he was not alone in this fault. 4. Because all men through the country, in sale of cattle, corn, labor, etc., were guilty of the like excess in prices. 5. Because a certain rule could not be found out for an equal rate between buyer and seller, though much labor had been bestowed in it, and divers laws had been made, which, upon experience, were repealed, as being neither safe nor equal. Lastly, and especially, because the law of God appoints no other punishment but double restitution; and, in some cases, as where the offender freely confesseth, and brings his offering, onlv half added to the principal. After the court had censured him, the church of Boston called him also in question, where (as before he had done in the court) he did, with tears, acknowledge and bewail his covetous and corrupt heart, yet making some excuse for many of the particulars, which were charged upon him, as partly by pretence of ignorance of the true price of some wares, and chiefly by being misled by some false principles, as 1. That, if a man lost in one commodity, he might help himself in the price of another. 2. That if, through want of skill or other occasion, his commodity cost him more than the price of the market in England, he might then sell it for more than the price of the market in New England, etc. These things gave occasion to Mr. Cotton, in his public exercise the next lecture day, to lay open the error of such false principles, and to give some rules of direction in the case."
Some false principles were these:
1. That a man might sell as dear as he can, and buv as cheap as he can.
2. If a man lose by casualty of sea, etc., in some of his commodities, he may raise the price of the rest.
3. That he may sell as he bought, though he paid too dear, etc., and though the commodity be fallen, etc.
4. That, as a man may take the advantage of his own skill or ability, so he may of another's ignorance or necessity.
5. Where one gives time for payment, he is to take like recompense of one as of another.
The rules for trading-, were these:
1. A man may not sell above the current price, i.e., such a price as is usual in the time and place, and as another (who knows the worth of the commodity) would give for it, if he had occasion to use it: as that is called current money, which every man will take, etc.
2. When a man loseth in his commodity for want of skill, etc., he must look at it as his own fault or cross, and therefore must not lay it upon another.
3. Where a man loseth by casualty of sea, or, etc., it is a loss cast upon himself by providence, and he may not ease himself of it by casting it upon another; for so a man should seem to provide against all providences, etc., that he should never lose; but where there is a scarcity of the commodity, there men may raise their price; for now it is a hand of God upon the commodity, and not the person.
4. A man may not ask any more for his commodity than his selling price, as Ephron to Abraham, the land is worth thus much.
Keayne was censured by his church in Boston (in addition to the fine imposed by the General Court). Fourteen years later (1653), Keayne wrote a 158-page justification for his actions as his last will and testament.
Source: John Winthrop, The History of New England from 1630 to 1649