Windham Life and Times – December 4, 2020

Copy of deed from Sagamore Wehanownowit to John Wheelwright and others of Piscataqua and Boston, April 3, 1638, the original of which is at the Exeter Historical Society. What’s amazing is the English settlers and the Indians actually resided side by side for a number of years. The Selectman passed laws to protect Indian rights and fish weirs.

The Border Dispute – Indian Deeds (V)

   The English, being all about the “Rule of Law,” that benefited the English, felt the need to go through the farce of obtaining deeds from the Indians before they settled in the vast areas of New England. They wanted their title in writing, even if the title was spurious, given the fact that the Indians had no concept of private property. The Indian worldview was that no man could ever “own” the earth. While I’m poking fun here, it is also true that English private property rights have made America great. The common man was allowed to own his property in fee simple. This enabled ordinary people in America to thrive by giving them title to the land they labored to improve and on which they lived their lives. It also provided an asset they could pass on to their heirs and the financial means to resist government tyranny.

    This is the scrap of paper, signed by a local sachem which gives you title to your property in southern New Hampshire. And it is speculated, that the first Wheelwright deed, previous to this one, was a forgery. What you are looking at is the second Wheelwright deed. All the rights you have to the land under your house derives from this document. In other words, it is the first cause of your chain of title.

    According to the New Hampshire Historical Society: “When in November 1637 the Massachusetts General Court forced the Reverend John Wheelwright to leave Boston because of religious differences perceived by leading Puritans as a threat to their authority, he spent the winter, as he described it, “in deep snow in which he might have perished.” NHHS

 “The Antinomian Controversy, also known as the Free Grace Controversy, was a religious and political conflict in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. It pitted most of the colony’s ministers and magistrates against some adherents of the Free Grace theology of Puritan minister John Cotton. The most notable Free Grace advocates, often called “Antinomians”, were Anne Hutchinson, her brother-in-law Reverend John Wheelwright, and Massachusetts Bay Governor Henry Vane. The controversy was a theological debate concerning the ‘covenant of grace’ and ‘covenant of works.’ ” Wikipedia

By spring, he had chosen a location at what is today Exeter for a settlement where he and his followers would be free to practice their religious beliefs. There was no colonial government that could grant them the right to settle there, since the area’s original grantee, John Mason, died in 1635, leaving an heir too young to take charge and no provision for governing the colony. Instead, Wheelwright sought permission to settle from the native inhabitants of the area. On April 3, 1638, the local sagamore (or chief) signed two documents with his mark, deeding a 30-mile-square tract of land to Wheelwright and others, with the exception of the “ground w[hi]ch is broken up” (for planting) and the right to “hunt and fish and foul in the said limites.” (Note that a similar deed from natives to Wheelwright, dated nine years earlier, is generally believed to be fake, though it is known to have existed as early as 1707.) Wehanownowit was the leader of the local native people, known as the Piscataqua. The Puritan minister, Reverend John Wheelwright, emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, two years after his sister-in-law Anne Hutchinson followed John Cotton, her minister, to the same location. All three were from Lincolnshire, England, and shared religious beliefs that were questioned by more orthodox religious leaders in Massachusetts. When Wheelwright and Hutchinson were banished from Boston, friends and relatives who had followed them there from England were discouraged by new legislation from staying, and several went to Exeter as well.” Their heresy was belief in  “Free Grace Theology.” NHHS

    “Although neither of the 1638 deeds gives a location for its signing, it has been assumed that the transaction took place at or near Squamscot Falls at the site soon to become the new settlement. This spot at one of the headwaters of the Piscataqua, where the present-day Exeter River flows into the Squamscot, was a logical place to settle, with its potential for river transportation and trade and its ample water power, lumber, salmon, meadows, and salt marshes. In addition, this area appeared not to be under the control at that point of any larger governing entity. There were already scattered settlers in the area, but Wheelwright is considered the founder of what became Exeter because he established the first church and local government at its site.”  NHHS When it comes to Indian deeds, it is a little bit of “go big or go home.” In other words, since the Indians didn’t understand the concept of private property, get them to give you a grant of a huge amount land, thirty miles square, from the Merrimack to the Piscataqua, for a few items of use to them. The Scotch-Irish in the Londonderry area received their land grant from the descendants of Rev. Wheelwright. I’ve heard tell, that after the “Dark Winter” and “Great Reset,” nobody will be allowed to own private property and the earth will be held “in common,” for the benefit of all 6 billion inhabitants. Doesn’t sound like an Indian paradise but more like pure evil.

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