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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

Nathaniel Williams

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