The job of bailiff in Dorchester

My ancestor, Robert Deeble, was bailiff in Dorchester 1639 and 1640. There are various references to the work of the bailiff in the early records.

These references are taken from Dorchester Town Records.

The dates given in the records can be confusing. I have given the modern version of the date on the left. Please read the discussion on dates for an explanation. The page numbers below are of the Victorian book, not the original Dorchester Records, nor the scanned version.

Page 8

28 Oct 1634
October, 28, 1634. ...
It is agreed that whosoever is chosen in to any office for the good of the Plantation, he shall abide by it, or submit to a fine as the company shall thinke meete to impose.
Nicholas Vpsall is chosen vnto the office of Baylife in this Plantation for the yeer ensuing, and is by vertue of this office to Levie fines amer[ced] & rates by way of destrayneing goods or impounding cattle for the [satis.]ficing of them.
Page 12

5 July 1635
July 5th 1635. ...
Whereas there is a former order for all swine that shall trespasse in any of the Corne feilds, the pale where the swine come in to pay one halfe and the swine the other: It is now further ordered that such swine as trespass shall be impounded and there to be kept till the owner shall pay the trespasse, as shall be J'udged by Two of the members: and if the owner in 3 dayes after notice take not of the swine and satisfie the trespasse then it may be lawful for the Baylife to sell the swine as he can and pay the trespasse and returnc the overpluss to the owner.
also ownour of the pales where swine come in it shall be lawfull for the Baylife to attach his goods and satisfy halfe the trespasse according to the former order.
And further it is ordered that the same Course shall be taken for the levying of any trespasse that shall be committed by goates or other cattle.
It is ordered that if any breake Oop the pound or take out cattell violently shall forfeit 5 pound sterling to be imployed for generall woks in the Plantation, and if it cannot be proved who brake the pound then the p'ty that is the owner of the Cattell shall fill the pound agayne, or elce he shall be taken to be the trespasser —
Page 12

5 July 1635
The 11th day of November, 1635 ...
Walter Filer is chosen Baylife for this halfe yeere and it is ordered that he shall levie all rates fines or amercements for the Plantation, by impounding the offenders goods, and there to detayne them till satisfaction be made, and if the owner of the goods doe not make satisfaction within fouer days it shall be lawfull for him to sell the goods and returne the overplus to the p'tie offending, and to be allowed twelve pence for every distress and ijd. for every impounding and if the sayd Baylife shall [be] negligent in dischardgeing his office and delay the taking distresse he shall be liable to a fine as shall be thought lift p' the Tenn men.
Page 16

1 Mar 1636
The first of March. 1635. ...
It is ordered that whereas Walther Filler was by vcrt[u] of his Baylife office to levy all rates, fynes and amercements, p'pounding the offenders goods and so to sell the goods and returne the overplus as in the order made in November, 1635, he hath now further power given him not only to recover such rates and fines by pounding of cattle or piggs but also to distrayne any other goods and thereof to make sale to pay such rate or fynes and to Returne the overplus to the oflendcrs.
Page 19

2 Oct 1636
The 2d of October 1636. ...
Joseph Flood is chosen Baylife during the tyme of the 12 men, now Chosen and till new be Chosen to that office, and it is ordered that he shall levie all fynes, rates or amercements for the Plantation p' impounding the offenders goods ; and there to detayne them till satisfaction [be] made, and if the owner of the goods shall not make satisfaction within 4 dayes it shall be lawfull for him to sell the goods and to returne the ouerplus to the p'ty offending, and to [be] alowed 12d for euery distresse, and 2d for euery imponding Cow, horse or hogg and for every gote a penny, and if the sayd Baylif shall be necligent in dischardgeing his office and delay the taking distresse he shall be loyable to a fyne as shall be thought fit by the 12 men.
It shall be lawfull for the sayd Baylife to recouer any rates or amercements p' way of distresse [on] any goods.
Page 20

16 Jan 1637
January 16, 1636. ...
It is farther ordered that what Tresspasses shall hereafter be done the Tressepasser shall pay the one halfe of the dammadge, and he that is defective in his pale the other halfe ; and this order to be generall thorough the whole Plantation. Provided that if any cattle be knowen to be common pale breakers ; they shall pay the whole Trespasse.
Page 22

16 Jan 1637
January 16, 1636. ...
It is ordered for the better payment of heardsmen that whomsoeuer shall put any cattle to keepe, and neglect to bring in his mony to the say heardsman for such cattle at such tymes as shall be agreed, for after some Generall warneing one a lecture day it shall be lawfull for the Baylife to impound any cattle of such p'sons and their to deteyne them for a day in which tyme if the p'ty hauing noteice thereof doe not bring in his money the sayd Baylife with 2 freemen shall price and make sale of such Cattle and take satisfaction for what is due to the heardsmen 3 shill. for himself p'ty for levying the distresse, and then to return the ouerplus to the delinquent.
Page 32

18 Mar 1638
March 18. ...
Robert Deeble is chosen Baylif for half a yeere or till an other be chosen and it is ordered that he shall levy all fines rates and amercements for the Plantation by impounding the offenders Goods, and then to deteyne them till satisfaction be made and if the owners of the goods shall not make satisfaction within 9 dayes it shall be lawfull for him to sell the goods and to returne the overplus to the p'ty offending and to be alowed 12d for euery distresse and 2d for every impounding of Cow horse or hogg and for euery goate a penny and if said Baylif shall be negligent in discharging his office and delay the takeing distresse he shall be loyable to a fyne as shall be thought fit by the 20 men. It shall be lawfull for the said Baylif to recouer any rates or amercements by way of distresse on any goods.
Page 33

3 Apr 1638
The 3d Aprill 1688 ...
Where as the pennalty for swyne goeing un yoaked and unringed was in a former order 5s a swine It is now ordered that the pennalty shall be but 2 shilling and that the Baylif have one halfe of the fine for his paynes in takeing up such hoggs and the Towne the rest to be leuied by distresse according to the former order. If any other shall pound swine such p'tye to have halfe the fine.
23 Aprill. 1638.
It is ordered that noe goates shall goe one the Commons or highwayes neere Corne feilds without a keep but to be impounded and pay doble dammage.
Page 38

13 Feb 1639
February 13th. ...
It is ordered that no inhabitant of Dorchester shall keepe any swyne but within his own p'ptye or vnder a herdsman 2 miles from any corne feild vnder penalty of Two shill: for every hogg taken goeing about the Plantation either p the Baylif or any planter within the Towne contrary to this order: and also any swyne so taken to pay dammige, the dammidge to be vewed and Judged by 2 neigbors, and the p'tye that takes any such swyne to impound them or keepe them till the owners of the swyne shall make full satisfaction, if the sayd owners shall refuse to make payment of the sayd forfeiture and dammige within three dayes it shall be lawfull for the p'ty that hath taken vp such hoggs with the helpe of 2 Neghbors to prize and sell one or more of them to make himself satisfaction, and deliuer the rest of the mony to the ownr of the hoggs this order to take effect from the first of Aprill next and to continue till all the Indian Corne be taken in.
It is farther ordered that no swyne shall be kept at the great necke on payne of five shill. to be levyed p distresse.
It is ordered that Good. Deeble shall be baylif for this yeere to execute and have pay for his labor according to the order of the last yeare.
Page 41

31 Oct 1639
October 31st 1639. ...
It is ordered that no p'son what soouer shall fell any trees within Dorchester [that] is marked lor the bounds of any land either in p'priety or Commons on penalty of 20 shillings for every tree so felled to be levied by distresse.
It is ordered that if any inhabitant of Dorchester shall put any hoggs on the groat necke, or any mans hoggs be found there they shall be impounded p the Baylif or any free man and pay 2 shill for every hogg ther taken to be levied by distresse the sayd pennalty to be halfe for him that takes vp such hoggs the rest to be for the vse of plantation.
It is ordered that Robert Deeble is to be Continued Baylif for the yeere foil with the same power according to the order of the former jeere.
Page 42

1 Apr 1640
Aprill 1st 1040. It is ordered that no hoggs within 12s price shall be suffered to goe out of any mans p'prietie on payne of 12d for eury within that price found on the Comons and all other hogs shalbe Sufficiently yoaked and Ringed or bee vnder the hand of a sufficient keep' on payne of 12d for every hogg found in the Comons Contrary to this order the sayd fyne to bee levied by distresse and half thereof to bee for any freeman that shall take vp such hoggs the Rest to be for the vse of the towne this order to take effect this p'sent day.
Page 45

1 Mar 1641
1 of 1 mo 1641. ...
It is ordered that all the inhabitants of Dorchester shall at or before the 22th of this instant march sufficiently Ringe and yoke all their Hogges and other swine and that it shall be Lawffull ffor Bayliffe of the towne or any ffreeman of the Towne whosoeuer after the Daye aftbresaid to take and to impound any such Hogges or other swine as he or they shall Find vpon the Comons of Dorchester vnringed or vnyoked from tyme to tyme and the owners to Paye for euery Hogge or other swine so impounded 8s beside the pounde chardge the one halffe to the impounder and the other to the vse of the towne to be Leuied by Destresse p'vided that if there be any Liuinge neare vnto any Clam bankes where they would haue their hogges to Clam they shall Comitt them vnto the handes of a keep to driue them to the banke and there attend them and to bringe them back vnto their Coates or pounds where they keepe such swine and if any such swine be Found not vnder the hands of a keep and not vnringed and vnyoked shalbe Lyable vnto the penalty expessed in the pemisses, the order of yoakinge to continue vntil Indian Harvest and ringinge, in regard of the sad experience we haue of the hurt is Done in and about the Towne and Like to be it is to continue all the yeare.
Page 47

17 Apr 1641
17 of II mo. 1641 ...
It that no p'son or p'sons whoseuer shall send Forth any Cowes or other Catlell vnto the Cow walke or any p't thereof vnder the hand of any keep there to Feed vntil the 3d of the 3d mo: 1642 [3 May 1642] (except the towne please to send Forth the heard) vpo paine of 2s for euery head that shall be so sent Forth ffor the First Trespasse and the 2nd to be agrauated by the Discretio of the 7 men for the tyme beinge the penalty to be vnto any Free man that shall impound any Cattell offendinge against the pemisses : to be Leuied by Distresse.
It is ordered that the Freemen of Dorchester From tyme to tyme yearely at the End of 6 months accordinge to a Former order shall Elect and choose their 7 men without delaye: and in case of Deffault therein it shalbe Lawffull For the 7 men to giue in an accompt of their seruice and to Laye Downe their place.
It. That the Bayliffe for the tyme beinge and so From tyme to tyme hereafter shall make speedy and Faithfull executio of all bnsnesses comitted to him vpo paine of 10s to be forfeited For euery Trespasse and also shall giue in a Faithfnll aceompt vpo Demand vpon paine of the foresaid penalty to the vse of the towne.
Page 47

4 Apr 1642
The 4th of 2th 1642. George Proctor is Chosen Balife for this p'sente yeare.
Wheare as there are Diuers cattle that are Vn Rulley not apt to bee pounded neither Can bee driuen by on man. It is therfor Ordered that any such Cattle Trancegresseinge Aganst any towne order that The Owneres thereof shall pay the Balife his dutyes Although the Cattle are not Impounded (provided that the Balife goes and acquantes the Owners at the time that they Trancegreses) but if the Owneres of the Cattle shall Refuse to pay the baylife: Then it shall be lawfull for him to take one man or more as occation may requier to helpe him to driue thoes cattle to the pound and the Owners shall pay the fine and all the Charge of thoes men helpeinge of him and this to be leueyed by destrese.
Page 317

28 Nov 1653
The 28 day of the 9 mo. Anno 53 at a meetting for the choyse of towne officers for the yeare insueing their is chosen for Select men.
Captayne Humphry Atherton
Richard Baker
Richard Leeds
Mr Patten
Leeftenant Clap
John Wales
Sergent Capin
John Minot
John Smith
Survayers for the high wayes as also the neck of land
Lawrence Smith and
Richard Witherington

There are a lot of further refences to bailiff in Dorchester Town Records, but they are a lot later than Robert Deeble's time. I have put in the last entry to show that the bailiff was considered to be one of the officers of the town.

Robert Deeble's grandson, Ebenezer Dibble also became bayliff, but in Windsor. Robert Deeble's son, Thomas Dibble, moved to Windsor from Dorchester, and Ebenezer Dibble was born there. From Page 87 of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut Vol I (history) by Henry Reed Stiles:
Dec 31 1672 "Ebenezer Dibble was by town vote chosen for town Baylif for the year ensuing, to go forth when required by the townsmen to fetch in town rates of those that refuse or neglect to pay their rates when demanded, and the Bayliff is allowed to take three pence upon a shilling for his pains."