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converted into a field. All the cows feed together in one herd, to the amount of about five hundred. All the sheep feed in one pasture, and each man knows his own by marks made in the ears by cutting them in different forms. In order to shear them, they are all driven into one large yard, where each man goes, picks out his own sheep, and shears them, which commonly takes up two days, and is performed about the 20th June; at which time and place most of the inhabitants assemble for the sake of diversion. The proprietors commonly plant about twenty five acres of corn to a share, which are six hundred and seventy five acres for the whole twenty seven shares, which are in one field, and will produce on an average twelve bushels to the acre; that number multiplied by six hundred and seventy five, gives eight thousand one hundred bushels. The next year the same land is sowed with rye and oats; about eighty one aeres with rye. The produce about six bushels to an acre, is four hundred and eighty six bushels. The remainder, five hun dred and ninety four acres, is sowed with oats, which produces about fourteen bushels to an acre, that is eight thousand three hundred and sixteen bushels. On the private farms there are about two hundred acres planted with corn, which will yield twenty bushels to the acre, and as many acres for rye and oats.

It may be remarked, that the island is continually wasting on each side by the seas washing the shores.

There have been many times found at the bottom of wells, at the depth of forty and fifty feet, and after digging through several strata of earth, such as clay, &c. shells of the same kind as are now found on the shores of the island; and in all, at the level of the sea, is found the same kind of sand as is on the shores. In many it has the appearance of having been once the boundary between the the sea and land, by its declining from a horizontal level.

Nantucket, May 21, 1791,


IRST, I find that the original right of Nantucket was obtained by Thomas Mayhew of James Forrett, agent to William, earl of Stirling, the 13th day of the tenth month, in the year 1641, at New York; and that by the said Mayhew nine tenths of it were conveyed to nine other proprietors, named below, the 2d day of the seventh month, in the year 1659.

The first meeting of the proprietors was held at Salisbury, the 2d day of the seventh month, in the year 1659, in order to take in their part


First, the partner of Thomas Mayhew was John Smith;-of Tristram Coffin-Nathaniel Starbuck;-of Thomas Macy-Edward Starbuck;

of Richard Swain-Thomas Look ;-of Thomas Barnard-Robert Barnard of Peter Coffin-James Coffin-of Christopher HusseyRobert Pike;-of Stephen Greenleaf-Tristram Coffin, junior;-of John Swain-Thomas Coleman. William Pile sold his whole tenth to Richard Swain.

At the same meeting, the above named persons agreed to have ten other partners, who should each have half as much land as themselves, called for that reason half share men. They also agreed that John Bishop should have two of the said half shares. And after they came to Nantucket, they granted the following rights :-To Thomas Macy one half share in the year 1663 ;-to Richard Gardiner two ditto, in 1666; -to Joseph Gardiner one ditto, in 1667;-to Joseph Coleman one ditto, in 1665;-to William Worth two ditto, in 1662 and in 1674; -to Peter and Eleazer Folger two ditto, in 1662 ;-to John Gardiner two ditto, in 1672; to Samuel Stretor one ditto, in 1669 ;—to Nathaniel Wier one half of a sort of a poor one, in 1667 Which in the whole make twenty seven shares. But at this time there are near three hun. dred proprietors of the island. One share is limited to keep seven hundred and twenty sheep. Sixteen sheep are reckoned equivalent to one horse; and eight sheep, to one ox or cow. The property is very unequally divided, varying from one sheep commons right to fourteen hundred sheep commons right. Clerks of the sheep yards are appointed, who on their books credit each proprietor with his rights, and make him debtor for his cattle, horses, and sheep. About the 20th of the sixth month, the sheep are driven to the yards, to be sheared. At this time each proprietor gives in to the clerks the number of his sheep, cattle, and horses, that he may be charged with them on the books. And if they be more than he is entitled to by his rights, he hires of his neighbours who have less. But if the proprietors all together have more than their number, the overplus are either killed or transported from the island. Beside the commons, there are sundry lands, swamps, and saltmeadows, which are divided among the proprietors in proportion to their shares, and are made use of for house lots, mowing land, and pasA proprietor may keep his sheep either on the common, or on the said lots and pastures, as suits him best. But he is not allowed, when he has more than his number, to remove the overplus from the commons to the pastures: because by the agreement, a share is entitled to keep no more than seven hundred and twenty sheep on the whole commons and pastures taken together.


Of the first coming of the English to Nantucket.

In the year 1659, Thomas Macy removed with his family from Salisbury, in the county of Essex, to the west end of the island, to a place called in the Indian tongue Madakit Harbour. Thither came Edward Starbuck, James Coffin, and one Daget, from Martha's Vineyard, for the sake of gunning, and lived with him as boarders. At

that time there were near three thousand Indians on Nantucket. I cannot find that the English had any material quarrel or difficulty with them. They were willing to sell their lands; and the English went on purchasing, beginning at the west end of the island, till in fine they have obtained the whole, except some small rights, which are still retained by the natives.

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Of the Whale Fishery.

The whale fishery began at Nantucket in the year 1690. One Ichabod Paddock came from Cape Cod to instruct the people in the art of killing whales, in boats from the shore. This business flourished till about the year, 1760, when the whales appeared generally to have deserted the coast. It is remarkable, that during all that time, not a single man was killed by a whale, or drowned, whilst engaged in this hazardous employment. But it happened once, when there were about thirty boats about six miles from the shore, that the wind came round ⚫ to the northward, and blew with geat violence, attended with snow. The men all rowed hard, but made but little head way. In one of the boats there were four Indians and two white men. An old Indian in the head of the boat, perceiving that the crew began to be disheartened, spake out loud in his own tongue and said, Momadichchator auqua sarshkee sarnkee pinchee eyoo sememoochkee chaquanks wihchee pinchee eyoo: which in English is, "Pull a head with courage: do not be disheartened: we shall not be lost now: there are too many Englishmen to be lost now," His speaking in this manner gave the crew new courage. They soon perceived that they made head way; and after long rowing, they all got safe on shore.

In the year 1718, the inhabitants began to pursue whales on the ocean, in small sloops and schooners, from thirty to forty five tons. The blubber was brought home in large square pieces, and tried or boiled in try-houses. In a few years, vessels from sixty to eighty tons were employed, and the oil boiled out in try works at sea. When the late war began with Great Britain, we had a fleet of about one hundred and forty sail, consisting of large sloops, schooners, and brigs. But when the war ended, we were reduced to about thirty old hulks. Our voyages are now long and distant. We are obliged therefore to have vessels so large, that few persons are able to fit them out. For a great many of our most substantial men, allured by the hope of large bounties, have removed from the island; some to England, some to France, and others to Halifax, where they carry on the whale fishery. This is a great damage to us, and perhaps to our country in general. If these persons had carried away with them their part of the poor, it would have lightened our burthens; for we have now left two hundred and fifteen widows, of whom not thirty are able to support themselves without the assistance of their friends and neighbours, and some are mainained by the town. We have besides a great number of poor, and

some who are wretchedly poor. But then, on the other hand, we have a considerable number of able industrious men, who carry on the whale fishery, which is great help to the whole town at this day.

Description of the Island.

Nantucket is about fourteen miles long, east and west, and about three miles and an half wide.* The south side is very clear of stones. I never saw a stone along the shore bigger than a man's head. The soil is thin, but will bear Indian corn, rye, oats, and feed for our cattle. The north side is in several places, somewhat stoney, and produces pretty good English hay. The wood being entirely gone, and few shrubs left to shelter the ground against the cold winds and hard winters, the profits of our farming business are much reduced. Since my time, we called it only a middling crop, when we got from eighteen to twenty bushels of Indian corn from an acre. But now, when we get from twelve to fourteen bushels, we esteem it a tolerable crop. The profit on our sheep is also much reduced. The rule of our old men was, when they had a hundred lambs, they would kill fifty sheep that year, and leave fifty lambs to keep their stock good, and it would generally do it. But for ten or twelve years past, when we have a hundred lambs if we kill thirty sheep, and leave seventy lambs, it will not leave our stock good.

The town stands near the middle of the island, on the north side, having the harbour on the east, at a place called in the Indian language Wesko, which signifies the white stone. This white stone lies by the side of the harbour, and is now covered by the wharf.

Of the Indians.

The natives of Nantucket were a kind people, and very friendly to each other. There were no poor persons among them. For when any of them grew old and helpless, and went to a neighbour's house, they were made welcome to stay as long as they pleased. If the English entered their houses, whilst they were eating, they would offer them such as they had, which sometimes would be very good. At their feasts they had several sorts of good food, and very good strong beer. By drinking rum their numbers were so much reduced that in the year 1763, there were but three hundred and fifty-eight left on the island. In that year an uncommon mortal distemper attacked them. It began the 16th of the eighth month, 1763, and lasted till the 16th of the second month, 1764. During that period two hundred and twenty-two died. Thirty-four were sick and recovered. Thirty-six who

*This account differs from that of Mr. Folger. (See page 153.) As Nantucket is of an irregular shape, it is not easy to determine its length and breadth. Including Sandy Point, the breadth in one part is eleven miles; but the general breadth is not more than three miles and a half.

lived among them, escaped the disorder. Eight lived at the west end of the island, and did not go among them : none of them caught the disease. Eighteen were at sea. With the English lived forty, of whom none died. The Indians are now reduced to four males and sixteen females. Before this period, and from the first coming of the English to Nantucket, a large fat fish, called the blue fish, thirty of which would fill a barrel, was caught in great plenty all round the island, from the 1st of the sixth month till the middle of the rinth month. But it is remarkable, that in the year 1764, the very year in which the sickness ended, they all disappeared, and that none have ever been taken since. This has been a great loss to us.

In the year 1665, King Philip came to the island to kill an Indian, whose name was John Gibbs. He landed at the west end, intending to travel along the shore, under the bank, undiscovered, to the east part of the island, where John lived. But an Indian, happening to discover his plan, ran and gave John word; in consequence of which John made his escape to town, and got Thomas Macy to conceal him. John's crime was speaking the name of the dead, who was supposed to be one of King Philip's near connexions. For the Indians had a custom or law, that no one should speak or name the name of the dead. The English held a parley with Philip, and all the money, which they were able to collect at that time, was barely sufficient to satisfy him for John's life. This story has been handed down to us by our fathers, and we do not doubt the truth of it.

The Indians had a singular way of punishing their children and servants, which was as follows. They took some bayberry root, and scraping off the bark, put it into a bottle; they let it stand awhile, steeping it in water. They would then take the boys, and lay them on their backs, putting a knee on each of the boy's arms; and turning back their heads, by laying hold of the hair, they took some of the water into their mouths, and squirted it into the noses of the boys. This was repeated twice or thrice, till the boys were nearly strangled. After a while, however, they would recover. This mode of punishment, called by the Indians medomhumar, or great punishment, has prevailed among them since my time.

Of Peter Folger.

When the English first came to Nantucket, they appointed five men to divide and lay out twenty acres of house lot land, to every share ; and Peter Folger was one of the five. But I have remarked, that it is said in the records, that any three out of the five might do the business, provided the said Peter Folger was one of them. From which it is plain, that the people saw something in him superiour to others. I have observed also, that some of our old deeds from the Indian sachems were examined by Peter Folger, and he would write something at the bottom of the deed and sign it, in addition to the signature of the justice; for he understood and could speak the Indian tongue. So that

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