Bristol County History
Settlement of the Town of Bristol
The treaties of the Indian Chiefs Massasoit, Alexander and Philip, with the Plymouth Colony, secured to them their rights to the land, unless parted with by honorable purchase, but recognized the jurisdiction of the Colony under the English Crown over the entire territory. In 1669, the Plymouth Court granted one hundred acres within the present limits of Bristol, to Mr. John Gorham, "if it can be purchased of the Indians;" and the remainder to the town of Swanzey, "for the promoting of a way of trade in this Collonie." On the first of July, 1672, Mr. Constant Southworth, Mr. James Brown, and Mr. John Gorham were appointed by the Court "to purchase a certain p'ccll of land of the Indians granted by the Court to the said John Gorum lying att Pappasquash Neck." After the close of Philip's war on the thirteenth of July, 1677, the Court "ratified, established and confirmed the aforesaid one hundred acres of land to John Gorum's heirs and successors forever." This land was north of the town Cemetery, between the Neck road and the Bay, and remained in the Gorham name and family for several generations down to a quite recent date.
In 1680, The Plymouth Colony granted to John Walley, Nathaniel Oliver, Nathaniel Byfield, and Stephen Burton, four merchants of Boston, for 1100 pounds, all that portion of territory not previously sold, which is now included in the town of Bristol. The whole of Plymouth Colony was then settled, except this territory, which was the last spot left uncovered in the western march of English population. Mr. Oliver sold his share of this purchase to Nathan Hayman, another merchant of Boston.
These gentlemen obtained from the Colony special privileges, and made liberal provisions for the settlement of the town. Among the former were exemption from all Colony taxes for the term of seven years; the privilege of sending Deputies at once, as other towns, according to the number of free-men; a Commissioner's Court to try and determine all actions and causes under ten pounds, with liberty to appeal to the Court of Plymouth; also, when sixty families were settled, a new County should be organized, and this town should be the County or Shire town. Among the latter were the laying out of broad and regular streets, with building lots of convenient size on them; the donation of lands for the support of the Ministry and Schools; the reservation of a large and beautiful Common in the central part of the town; and the donation of six hundred acres for the Common improvement of the settlers, and designated as "The Commonage." The proprietors retained for themselves, each, one-eighth part of the original purchase, and, with the above donations, put the balance into the market for sale at reasonable prices. The liberal inducements offered soon drew a number of families here, chiefly from Boston, where the proprietors resided, and from Plymouth Colony. The proprietors, themselves, also settled here with their families, and closely identified themselves with all the interests of the town. On the first of September, 1681, the people assembled together and agreed "the name of this town shall be Bristol."
The following names appear on the Town Records, as being admitted Inhabitants at this date:
John Walley, Nathan Hayman, Nathaniel Byfield, Stephen Burton, Proprietors;
Eliashib Adams William Ingraham Watching Atherton Joseph Jacob Joseph Baxter Benjamin Jones John Bayley Daniel Landon John Birge Thomas Lewis Thomas Bletsoe John Martin Edward Bosworth Nicholas Mead Nathaniel Bosworth George Morye William Brenton Jeremiah Osburn William Brown Nathaniel Paine James Burrel Peter Pampelion James Burrows Samuel Penfield David Cary John Pope John Cary Edmund Ranger Captain Benjamin Church Nathaniel Reynolds Timothy Clarke Increase Robinson Samuel Cobbett John Rogers John Corps John Saffin Solomon Curtis Joseph Sandy Zechariah Curtis Christopher Saunders Thomas Dagget John Smith Jonathan Davenport Richard Smith Robert Dutch Widow Elizabeth Southard Jeremiah Finney Robert Taft John Finney Major Robert Thompson Jonathan Finney William Throup Joseph Ford John Thurston Anthony Fry George Waldron Samuel Gallup
Doctor Isaac Waldron
John Gladding Thomas Walker Jabez Gorham Uzal Wardwell Richard Hammon Richard White Henry Hamton John Wilkins William Hedge John Wilkins William Hoar
Jabez Howland John Wilson Benjamin Ingell Hugh Woodbury Samuel Woodbury
Source: Historical Sketch of the First Congregational Church of Bristol, 1687-1872, by J. P. Lane, Pastor, 1872, Transcribed by C. Anthony