The early annals of a State require no formal introduction to the descendants of its founders. If the transcriber have well accomplished the task which a love of the olden time impelled him to undertake, and which the liberality of the Legislature supplied, in part, the means of prosecuting, no doubt can exist as to the favorable reception of the volume now presented to the citizens of Connecticut. The value which may attach to it must, of course, mainly depend upon the degree of confidence entertained in its accuracy as a ‘true, full and literal copy of the original Record.’ The professions or assurances of the transcriber, could do little to impart such confidence; nor could they give additional weight to the certificate of official authentication, or to such internal evidence of reliability as, it is hoped, a careful perusal of the volume may supply.
A notice of the condition and arrangement of the original records, and of the plan adopted by the transcriber in the construction of this work, may not, however, be deemed inappropriate.
The first volume of the Colony Records is in three parts, originally bound in as many separate volumes. The first of these consists of the records of the General and Particular Courts, commencing with the session held at Newtown, (Hartford,) April 26th, 1636, (by the magistrates commissioned by Massachusetts, to ‘ govern the people at Connecticut,'1)The commission “to severall persons, to govern the people at Connecticutt for the space of a year [then] next coming,” was granted by the General Court of Massachusetts, March 3d, 1635(6,) — after consultation with John Winthrop, then lately “appointed governor by certain noble personages and men of quality, interested in the said River, which are yet in England.” The commissioners named were Roger Ludlow Esq., William Pincheon Esq., John Steele, William Swaine, Henry Smith, William Phelps, William Westwood and Andrew Ward. See the commission, at length, in Hazard’s State Papers, Vol. 1, p. 321. ) and closing with the December session of the Court of Magistrates, 1649. Next following, (separated by a few blank pages from the Court Records,) are the records of Wills and Inventories. The remainder of the volume contains Grants and Conveyances of Lands, by towns and individuals, some of which are of as recent date as 1702; the greater part, however, having been transcribed from the several town records, between 1662 and 1690. These have not been included in the present publication, the proposed limits of which would not admit of their insertion, and the omission being regarded of the less importance, as copies of most of them are to be found elsewhere, and as the interest which attaches to them is mainly local or personal. Six pages of recognizance and bonds for prosecution, of various years, entered at the beginning of the volume, preceding the first page of the Court records, have likewise been omitted, in publication.
The second volume contains the records of the General Court from February, 1650, to October, 1669; — and at the other end of the book, separately paged, is recorded the Code of 1650, with such additional orders ‘of general concernment,’ as were, from time to time, passed by the General Court.
The second volume of the records of the Particular Court, or Court of Magistrates, comprising a period of about thirteen years, (from January, 1650, to June, 1663,) and including the Probate Records, long since disappeared from the Secretary’s Office, and is supposed to be irrecoverably lost. The third volume, commencing June, 1663, and containing, at one end, such Wills and Inventories as were brought for record between that date and Sept. 1677, was, some years since, rebound, and lettered, “Probate Records, Vol. III. — County Court.”
In transcribing the first volume for the press, occasional changes of its arrangement have been deemed advisable, for the purpose of facilitating reference, and to preserve chronological sequence. Thus, the Constitution of 1639, has been transposed from the end of the volume, to its proper place, preceding the record of the April Court:2)Pages 20-26. the wills and inventories recorded prior to 1644, have been brought together, at the end of the Court Records, and placed with others subsequently recorded:3)See note, on page 442. the records of such sessions of the Court as were entered by the Secretary after others of subsequent date, have been restored to their proper order. These, with other similar changes, have been made with less hesitation, from the fact that the paging of the original has been carefully retained, at the side of each printed page.
The names of magistrates and deputies, and of jurors in the several courts, are, in the original, recorded on the margins of the pages. To retain this arrangement, in the printed copy, would have been, on many accounts, inconvenient. The names of the members of the court have therefore been placed, in double columns, at the commencement of each session.
While the orthography of the original has been preserved throughout, it has not seemed necessary to adhere as closely to the anomalous punctuation, or the use of capital letters, practiced by the early recorders. To have done so would have increased the difficulties of perusal and materially detracted from the interest of the volume to the general reader. Yet the liberty taken in these particulars has been cautiously used, and in all cases where the sense of the original could be affected by the change of position or interpolation of a comma or period, the record has been printed precisely as originally punctuated.
The more common abbreviations employed in the work, require no explanation. Nor will it be necessary to inform those who are at all conversant with old manuscripts, that a single m or n, with a circumflex or dash above it, (m or ñ) was frequently substituted for the double consonant; — or that the same mark placed above a vowel indicated the omission of the consonant, (usually m or n,) immediately following; (as frō for from, tiō for tion, at the end of a word.)
Where portions of the original are wholly or in part obliterated, the missing words (when obviously indicated by the context,) have been supplied by the transcriber. Such words are, in all cases, included in brackets. If the word to be supplied has seemed at all doubtful, or if the record could possibly have admitted of a different reading, the portion in brackets has been italicized or is followed by a mark of interrogation. In a few instances, where a slip of the recorder’s pen has occasioned an evident error in the original, the correction has been suggested in a foot note, or indicated by an italicized word, placed in brackets, with an interrogation mark.
In two instances only, slight changes have, for obvious reasons, been made in the language of the record. In one case, (on page 55,) a few words, (in brackets,) have been substituted, as of less exceptionable phraseology than the original: in the other, (on page 157,) the omission of a line is indicated by a note at the foot of the page.
Such extracts from the Records of the United Colonies as have been occasionally introduced in the notes and appendix, have been made from the manuscript (cotemporary) copy preserved in the Secretary’s Office. Numerous errors, especially in dates and names, occur in the copy of these records published in the second volume of Hazard’s State Papers, — to which publication, however, it has in some cases been found convenient to refer, by page.
When the publication of this volume was first proposed by the transcriber, and at the time of securing a legislative appropriation for its encouragement, an accurate copy of the original was all that was contemplated. In the course of publication, however, the liberty has been taken of introducing an occasional note, explanatory or illustrative of the text, — and a number of interesting historical documents, not previously published, have been included in an Appendix. Two Indexes, of names and subjects, have also been prepared, which, if less copious and complete than the antiquarian or genealogist could wish, it is hoped may in some degree facilitate their researches, and aid the general reader to refer to the contents of the volume. Facsimiles of the autographs of members of the first Court of Election under the Constitution of 1639, and of Magistrates chosen at the Union of the Colonies, in 1665, have been prepared with all possible care and accuracy, from originals collected in part from early files in the State Department, and in part from the town records of Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. Facsimiles of portions of the original records, in the hand writing of each of the secretaries4)A reference (upon the facsimile, facing page 9,) to John Steel, as ‘Secretary’ of the colony, from 1636 to 1639, may require a word of explanation, — as his appointment to that office is no where mentioned in the record. A comparison of the first pages of the Colony Records with the early records of Hartford and Farmington, during the period Mr. Steel was recorder of those towns, leaves no doubt of the identity of the hand writing. The chirography of Mr. S. was somewhat peculiar (as may be seen by inspection of the facsimile of an unusually legible specimen of it,) and cannot well be mistaken. The first four, part of the fifth, and the tenth pages of the first volume are in this hand. Pages six to nine, inclusive, are in a different, and far more legible hand, — possibly that of Mr. Clement Chaplin, whom Dr. Trumbull concludes (in Hist, of Conn., 1. 95,) to have been “the first secretary.” There are, however, upon all of these pages, occasional interlineations and additions, in the hand writing of Mr. Steel. who held office prior to the Union, have also been introduced. These additions, and the consequent increase of the cost of publication, will account for the advance upon the original subscription price, at which the remainder of the edition is offered to non-subscribers.
However imperfectly the task of the transcriber may have been accomplished, it is hoped that succeeding Legislatures may not thereby be deterred from lending their aid to the prosecution of a work, already too long delayed, of which this volume is to be regarded only as the commencement; — that of giving to the public, in a permanent form, and thus securing the preservation of all the early records of the Colony, prior to 1700, — together with such cotemporary documents of historical value or interest, as are preserved in the State Department. These latter constitute a large portion, indeed, almost all that yet remains to us, of the documentary history of the colony for the first half century succeeding its settlement. Of comparatively few of them are copies, even in manuscript, extant, — and the loss or injury of the originals would therefore be utterly irreparable. And yet, whatever precautions may be taken to ensure their preservation, by placing them beyond the reach of ordinary accident, no care can enable them much longer to withstand the ravages of time. As the ink fades and the paper crumbles, the work of transcribing not only becomes more difficult, but leads to less accurate and reliable results. Whatever is to be done to perpetuate these early annals of our state and memorials of its founders, should be done soon.
- Title Page
- Records of the General and Particular Courts, from April, 1636, to December, 1649, [from Vol. I., pp. 1-209.J p. 1
- Records of the General Court, from Feb., 1650, to May, 1665, [from Vol. II., pp. 1-205.] p. 204
- Record of Wills and Inventories, 1640 to 1649 — [from Vol. I.] p. 442
- Code of Laws, established by the General Court, May, 1650 p. 509
- Certificate of the Secretary of State p. 564
- Appendix 565
- Index of Names p. 591
- General Index p. 597
- No. I. Letter from Sir Wm. Boswell, relating to encroachments of the Dutch p. 565
- No. II. The articles of combination with Southampton, (L. I.) p. 566
- No. III. Respecting the agreement with Mr. Fenwick p. 568
- No. IV. The claims of Massachusetts to the Pequot country p. 570
- No. V. Letter from Connecticut to Easthampton p. 572
- No. VI. Respecting the settlement of accounts with Capt. John Cullick, p. 573
- No. VII. Abstract of the will of George Fenwick p. 574
- No. VIII. Letter to the Comm’rs of the U. Colonies, complaining of affronts received from the Narragansetts p. 576
- No. IX. Letters from Mr. William Goodwin, respecting Gov. Hopkins’ Legacy p. 578
- No. X. Instructions to Gov. Winthrop, agent for procuring the Charter; Address to the King; and Letter to the Earl of Manchester p. 579
- No. XL Petition of Mrs. Elizabeth Cullick, to the General Court, 1663 p. 585
- No. XII. List of documents relating to the Union with New Haven p. 586
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The commission “to severall persons, to govern the people at Connecticutt for the space of a year [then] next coming,” was granted by the General Court of Massachusetts, March 3d, 1635(6,) — after consultation with John Winthrop, then lately “appointed governor by certain noble personages and men of quality, interested in the said River, which are yet in England.” The commissioners named were Roger Ludlow Esq., William Pincheon Esq., John Steele, William Swaine, Henry Smith, William Phelps, William Westwood and Andrew Ward. See the commission, at length, in Hazard’s State Papers, Vol. 1, p. 321.|
|3.||↑||See note, on page 442.|
|4.||↑||A reference (upon the facsimile, facing page 9,) to John Steel, as ‘Secretary’ of the colony, from 1636 to 1639, may require a word of explanation, — as his appointment to that office is no where mentioned in the record. A comparison of the first pages of the Colony Records with the early records of Hartford and Farmington, during the period Mr. Steel was recorder of those towns, leaves no doubt of the identity of the hand writing. The chirography of Mr. S. was somewhat peculiar (as may be seen by inspection of the facsimile of an unusually legible specimen of it,) and cannot well be mistaken. The first four, part of the fifth, and the tenth pages of the first volume are in this hand. Pages six to nine, inclusive, are in a different, and far more legible hand, — possibly that of Mr. Clement Chaplin, whom Dr. Trumbull concludes (in Hist, of Conn., 1. 95,) to have been “the first secretary.” There are, however, upon all of these pages, occasional interlineations and additions, in the hand writing of Mr. Steel.|