Entries from Roger Clap's memoirs

These references are taken from Roger Clap's memoirs. They mention John Maverick and John Warnham, plus they give a vivid account of the very early days of the Massachusetts Colony. Roger Clap settled in Dorchester, so did Robert Deeble. John Warnham led many people of Dorchester to Windsor, including Thomas Dible.

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 scanned version.

Page 1 I was born in England, in Salhom, in Devonshire, in the year of our Lord 1609. My father was a man fearing God, and in good esteem among God's faithful servants. — His outward estate was not great ; I think not above eighty pounds per annum. — We were five brethren (of which I was the youngest) and two sisters. God was graciously pleaded to breathe by his Holy Spirit (I hope) in all our hearts, if in mine ; which I am not altogether without hopes of. Four of us brethren lived at home : I did desire my dear father (my dear mother being dead) that I might live abroad, which he consented to. I first went for trial to live with a worthy gentleman, Mr William Southcot, who lived in about three miles from the city of Exor [Exeter].

He was careful to keep a godly family. There being but a very mean preacher in that place, we went every Lord's Day into the city, where were many famous preachers of the word of God. I then took such a liking unto the Rev. Mr. John Warham, that I did desire to live near him. So I removed (with my father's consent) into the city, and lived with one Mr. Mossiour, as famous a family for religion as ever I knew. Ho kept seven or eight men, and divers maid-servants; and he had a conference upon a question propounded once a week in his own family. With him I covenanted. I never so much as heard of New-England, until I heard of many godly persons that were going there, and that Mr. Warham was to go also. My master asked me, whether I would go? I told him were I not engaged unto him I would willingly go. He answered me, that should be no hindrance, I might go for him, or for myself, which I would. I then wrote to my father, who lived about twelve miles off, to intreat his leave to go to New-England; who was so much displeased at first, that he wrote me no answer, but told my brethren that I should not go. Having no answer, I went and made my request to him, and God so inclined his heart, that he never said to me nay. For now God sent the Rev. Mr. Maverick, who lived forty miles off, a man I never saw before: He having heard of me, came to my father's house, and my father agreed that I should be with him and come under his care, which I did accordingly.

Mind by what I have already expressed, that it was God that did draw me by his Providence out of my father's family, and weaned me from it by degrees. It was God put it into my heart to incline to live abroad ; and it was God that made my father willing. God, by his Providence, brought me near Mr. Warham, and inclined my heart to his ministry : God, by his providence, moved the heart of my master, Mossiour, to ask me whether I would go to New-England : It was God, by his providence, that made me willing to leave my dear father, and dear brethren and sisters, my dear friends and country : It was God that made my father willing, upon the first motion I made in person, to let me go: It was God that sent Mr. Maverick, that pious minister, to me, who was unknown to him, to seek me out that I might come hither. So God brought me out of Plymouth the 20th of March, 1629 30 [20 Mar 1630], and landed me in health at Nantasket, on the 30th of May, 1630 [30 May 1630], I being then about the age of twenty-one years. Blessed be God that brought me here!

Now coming into this country, I found it a vacant wilderness, in respect of English. There were indeed some English at Plymouth and Salem, and some few at Charlestown, who where very destitute when we came ashore; and planting-time being past, shortly after provision was not to be had for money, I wrote to my friends, namely, to my dear father, to send me some provision, which accordingly he did ; and also gave order to one of his neighbours to supply me with what I needed (he being a seaman) who coming hither supplied me with divers things. But be fore this supply came, yea and after too (that being spent) and the then unsubdued wilderness yielding little food, many a time, if I could have filled my belly, though with mean victuals, it would have been sweet unto me. Fish was a good help unto me, and others. Bread was so very scarce, that sometimes I thought the very crusts of my father's table would have been very sweet unto me. And when I could have meal and water and salt boiled together, it was so good, who could wish better?
Page 12 I now return to declare unto you some of the wonderful works of God in bringing so many of his faithful servants hither into this wilderness, and preserving us and ours unto this day; notwithstanding our great unworthiness, and notwithstanding the many assaults and stratagems of satan and his instruments against God's people here. I say wonderous works! For was it not a wonderous work of God, to put it into the hearts of so many worthys to agree together, when times were so bad in England, that they could not worship God after the due manner prescribed in his most holy word, but they must be imprisoned, ex-communicated, &c. I say that so many should agree to make humble suit unto our sovereign lord the King, to grant them and such as they should approve of, a Patent of a tract of Land in this remote wilderness, a place not inhabited but by very barbarous nations! And was it not a wonderous good hand of God to incline the heart of our King so freely to grant it, with all the privileges which the Patent expresseth! And what a wonderous work of God was it, to stir up such worthys to undertake such a difficult work, as to remove themselves, and their wives and children, from their native country, and to leave their gallant situations there, to come into this wilderness, to set up the pure worship of God here! Men fit for government in the magistracy, and in families; and sound, godly, learned men for the ministry, and others that were very precious men and women who came in the year 1630. Them that came then were Magistrates ; men of renown were Mr. Winthrop, Governor ; Mr. Dudley, Deputy-Governor ; Sir Richard Saltonstall, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Rossiter, Mr. Ludlow, Mr. Nowel, and Mr. Bradstreet: Mr. Endicott came before, and others came then, besides those named. And there came famous Ministers in that year, and afterwards: as to name some; Mr. Wilson, Mr. Warham, Mr. Maverick, and Mr. Phillips. In our low estate God did cheer our hearts in sending good and holy men and women, and also famous preachers of the word of God; as Mr. Eliot, Mr. Weld, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Bulkley, Mr. Stoughton, Mr. Nathaniel Rogers, and Mr. Ezekiel Rogers, Mr. Shepard, Mr. Mather, Mr. Peters, Mr. Davenport, Mr. Whiting, Mr. Gobbet, Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Brown, Mr. Flint, Mr. Thoaison, Mr. Newman, Mr. Priuldcn, Mr. Norris, Mr. Huit, Mr. Street, and many others. Thus did God work wonderfully for his poor people here.
Page 14 In our beginning many were in great straits, for want of provision for themselves and their little ones. Oh the hunger that many suffered, and saw no hope in an eye of reason to be supplied, only by clams, and muscles [mussels] , and fish. We did quickly build boats, ahd some went a fishing. But bread was with may a very scarce thing ; and flesh of all kinds as scarce. And in those days, in our straits, though I cannot say God sent a raven to feed us, as he did the prophet Elijah ; yet this I can say to the praise of God's glory, that he sent not only poor ravenous Indians, which came with their baskets of corn on their backs, to trade with us, which was a good supply unto many; but also sent ships from Holland and from Ireland with provisions, and Indian Corn from Virginia, to supply the wants of his dear servants in this wilderness, both for food and raiment. And when peoples wants were great, not only in one town but in divers towns; such was the godly wisdom, care and prudence (not selfishness, but self-denial) of our Governor Wintlirop and his assistants, that when a ship came laden with provisions, they did order that the whole cargo should be bought for a general stock: And so accordingly it was, and distribution was made to every town, and to every person in each town, as every man had need. Thus God was pleased to care for his people in times of straits, and to fill his servants with food and gladness : Then did all the servants of God bless his holy name, and love one another with pure hearts fervently.
Page 20 I gave you a hint towards the beginning, that I came- out of Plymouth, in Devon, the 20th of March, and arrived at Nantasket (now Hull) the 30th of May, 1630 [30 May 1630]. Now this is further to inform you, that there came many Godly families in that ship. — We were of passengers many in number (besides seamen) of good rank. Two of our magistrates came with us, viz. Mr. Rossiter and Mr. Ludlow. These godly people resolved to live together; and, therefore, as they had made choice of those two Reverend servants of God, Mr. John Warham and Mr. John Maverick to be their ministers, so they kept a solemn Day of Fasting in the New Hospital in Plymouth, in England, spending it in preaching and praying: where that worthy man of God, Mr. John White, of Dorchester, in Dorset, was present, and preached unto us the word of God, in the fore-part of the day; and in the latter part of the day, as the people did solemnly make choice of, and call those godly ministers to be their officers, so also the Reverend Mr. Warham and Mr. Maverick did accept thereof, and expressed the same. So we came, by the good hand of the Lord, through the deeps comfortably ; liaving preaching or expounding of the word of God every day for ten weeks together, by our ministers. When we came to Nantasket, Capt. Squeb, who was Captain of that great ship of four hundred tons, would not bring us into Charles River, as he was bound to do ; but, put us ashore and our goods on Nantasket Point, and left us to shift for ourselves in a forlorn place in this wilderness. But as it pleased God, we got a boat of some old planters, and laded her with goods ; and some able men, well armed, went in her unto Charlestown, where we found some wigwarms and one house, and in the house there was a man which had a boiled bass, but no bread that we see: but we did eat of his bass, and then went up Charles River, until the river grew narrow and shallow, and there we landed our goods with much labour and toil, the bank being steep. And night coming on, we were informed that there were hard by us three hundred Indians. One English man that could speak the Indian language (an old Planter) went to them and advised them not to come near us in the night; and they hearkened to his counsel, and came not. I myself was one of the centinels that first night. Our Captain was a low country soldier, one Mr. Southcot, a brave soldier. In the morning some of the Indians came and stood at a distance off, looking at us, but came not near us ; but when they had been awhile in view, some of them came and held out a great bass towards us ; so we sent a man with a bisket, and changed the cake for the bass. Afterwards they supplied us with bass, exchanging a bass for a bisket-cake, and were very friendly unto us.

Oh Dear Children! Forget not what care God had over his dear servants, to watch over us, and protect us in our weak beginnings. Capt. Squeb turned ashore us and our goods, like a merciless man ; but God, even our merciful God, look pity on us ; so that we were supplied, first with a boat, and then caused many Indians, (some hundreds) to be ruled by the advice of one man, not to come near us: Alas, had they come upon us, how soon might they have destroyed us ! I think we were not above ten in number. But God caused the Indians to help us with fish at very cheap rates. We had not been there many days, (although by our diligence we had got up a kind of shelter, to save our goods in) but we had orders to come away from that place, (which was about Watertown) unto a place called Mattapan, (now Dorchester) because there was a neck of land fit to keep our cattle on. So we removed and came to Maltapan. The Indians there, also, were kind unto us.

Not long after, came our renowned and blessed Governor, and divers of his assistants with him. Their ships came into Charles River, and many passengers landed at Charlstown, many of whom died the winter following. Gov. Winthrop purposed to set down his station about Cambridge, or somewhere on the river; but viewing the place, liked that plain neck that was called then Blackstone's-Neck, now Boston. But in the mean time, before they could build at Boston, they lived many of them in tents and wigwarms at Charlestown; their meeting-place being abroad under a tree ; where I have heard Mr. Wilson and Mr. Phillies preach many a good sermon.

In those days God did cause his people to trust in him, and to be contented with mean things. It was not accounted a strange thing in those days to drink water, and to eat samp or homine without butter or milk. Indeed it would have been a strange thing to see a piece of roast beef, mutton or veal; though it was not long before there was roast goat. After the first winter, we were very healthy; though some of us had no great store of corn. The Indians did sometimes bring corn, and truck with us for cloathing and knives ; and once I had a peck of corn, or thereabouts, for a little puppy-dog. Frost-fish, muscles and clams were a relief to many.