THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GENERAL COURT.--MEMBERS FROM HOLLIS
AND THE OLD DUNSTABLE TOWNS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION.
CONTESTED ELECTION IN 1762.--DIVISION OF THE PROVINCE
INTO COUNTIES.--ORGANIZATION OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY.
COUNTY OFFICERS FROM HOLLIS.--THE PINE TREE LAW.--ITS
UNPOPULARITY AND TROUBLE IN ENFORCING IT.--RIOT AT
WEARE.--GOV. JOHN WENTWORTH.--HIS PERSONAL POPULARITY.--ADDRESS
FROM THE PEOPLE OF HOLLIS.--JURORS
TO HOLLIS.--THE FIRST TRIAL FOR MURDER IN HILLSBOROUGH
COUNTY.--POPULATION BEFORE 1775.--1741 TO 1775.
MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE FROM HOLLIS AND THE OLD DUNSTABLE TOWNS.
There was no member of the House of Representatives from either of the old
Dunstable towns till 1752, when Jonathan Lovewell was chosen for Dunstable and Merrimack.
From 1762 to 1768 these towns were coupled together and represented as follows:
1762. Dunstable and Hollis--Dr. John Hale.
Merrimack and Monson--Joseph Blanchard, Esq.
Nottingham West and Litchfield--Capt. Samuel Greeley.
1768. Dunstable and Hollis--Dr. John Hale.
Merrimack and Monson--Capt. John Chamberlain.
Nottingham West and Litchfield--James Underwood, Esq.
I find the following scrap of characteristic political history in respect to the election for Hollis and Dunstable in 1762, in the New Hampshire Historical Collections (v. 1, p. 57) which is here presented as follows:
"What is now Hollis was formerly the West Parish of Dunstable. For a number of
years after Hollis was incorporated, the two towns were classed together to send a man to
represent them to the General Court. Dunstable being the older town, required the
Elections to be uniformly held there, until Hollis became the most populous, when it was
requested by Hollis that they should be held in those towns alternately, that Each might
have an Equal chance. But Dunstable did not consent to this proposal. Hollis feeling some
resentment, mustered all its forces, leaving at home scarcely man or horse. Previously to
this time the person chosen had been uniformly selected from Dunstable. But on this
occasion the people of Dunstable, finding they were outnumbered, their town clerk mounted
a pile of shingles and called on the inhabitants to bring in their votes for
Moderator for Dunstable. The town clerk of Hollis mounted another pile and called on the inhabitants of Dunstable and Hollis to bring in their votes for Moderator for Dunstable and Hollis. The result was that (???) Lovewell, Esq., was declared Moderator for Dunstable and Dea. Francis Worcester, Moderator for Dunstable and Hollis. Each Moderator proceeded in the same manner to call the votes for Representative. Jonathan Lovewell, Esq., was declared chosen to represent Dunstable and Dr. John Hale was declared chosen to represent Dunstable and Hollis. Accordingly both repaired to Portsmouth to attend the General Court. Lovewell was allowed to take his seat, and Hale rejected. Hale, however, instead of returning home, took measures to acquaint the Governor with what had transpired and waited the issue. It was not long before Secretary Theodore Atkinson came into the House and proclaimed aloud, 'I have special orders from his Excellency to dissolve this House; Accordingly you are dissolved.' 'God save the King.' "
It appears from the Journal of the House that the election of both Lovewell and Hale was set aside, and the House immediately dissolved by the Governor. A very few days after, a second election was held, and Hale was returned by the sheriff, and at once obtained his seat without further objection.(*)
(*)Prov. Papers, Vol. 6, p. 806.
Dr. Hale was afterwards re-elected and continued to represent Hollis and Dunstable till 1768, when he was succeeded by Col. Samuel Hobart, who, as appears from the Journal, represented Hollis only for the next six years till the Revolution. In 1767 Dr. Hale was Lieut. Colonel of the Regiment of Militia to which Hollis was attached, and Col. Hobart, Major of the same regiment. In 1775, Hale was appointed Colonel of that regiment, and Hobart Colonel of the Second New Hampshire Regiment of Minute Men, ordered to be raised by the New Hampshire Provincial Congress in September, 1775.(*)
(*)Prov. Papers, Vol. 6, pp. 607, 641.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
Before the Revolution, Justices of the Peace as well as the Governor and Council held their commissions, as Magistrates, from the King. The only persons in Hollis known or supposed to have been so commissioned were Samuel Cumings, Sen., the first Town clerk, his son Samuel Cumings, Jun., John Hale, Samuel Hobart and Benjamin Whiting, the first sheriff of Hillsborough County. Samuel Cumings, Jun., and Whiting were Loyalists or Tories, and are supposed to have left the State early in 1777 and never afterwards returned, and together with Thomas Cumings, a brother of the former, were proscribed by an act of the New Hampshire General Court passed in 1778, forbidden to return and their estates confiscated.(+)
(+)Belknap's History of N. H., p. 381.
ORGANIZATION OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY.
Previously to 1771 there had been no division of New Hampshire into counties. Till that year the province, in law, was but a single county, and the courts of law, as well as the sessions of the General Court, were ordinarily held at Portsmouth, near the S. E. corner of the province. That part of New Hampshire between the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers had for many years been largely settled, and the settlers west of the Merrimack had for a long time been greatly dissatisfied with the inconvenience, delays and expense incident to their being so remote from the courts of justice and seat of government. As early as 1754 the people of Hollis, with a very large portion of the settlers west of the Merrimack, united in petitions to the General Court setting forth their grievances, and praying for a division of the province into counties. But no such division was made till 1771. On the 19th of March of that year the General Court passed an act dividing the province into the five original counties of Rockingham, Strafford, Hillsborough, Grafton and Cheshire. These counties were so named by Governor Wentworth in honor of some of his friends in England connected with the English government.(*)
The county of Hillsborough was organized the same year, with the county seat at Amherst. The town meeting in Hollis, held in August of that year, "Voted to raise 100, for a prison at Amherst, provided it should be built on the South side of the Souhegan river."
Two of the first Judges of the Court of Sessions for the county were Matthew Thornton, of Merrimack, and Samuel Hobart, of Hollis. Benjamin Whiting, also of Hollis, was the first high Sheriff, and Hobart the first county Treasurer and Register of Deeds, his office being kept in Hollis.
(*)Belknap, p. 344.
COMPLIMENTARY ADDRESS TO GOVERNOR WENTWORTH.
In reference to this attack upon Governor Wentworth, the people of Hollis, at their annual town meeting in 1773, unanimously voted a highly complimentary address to him, the most of which is copied in the following extracts from the record of the meeting:
"May it please your Excellency:
"We, the inhabitants of Holles, being assembled at our annual town meeting, having been informed that Peter Livius, Esq., has presented a memorial to the Lords of Trade. * * wherein it is signified that your Excellency, together with the Honorable Council, have obstructed the channels of Justice in this Province, &c., &c. * * We, the Inhabitants of Holles, being sensible of the many obligations this county and Province are under to your Excellency, for the repeated and continued instances of your goodness to them * * in all respects but more especially in your unwearied endeavors that Justice might be duly and impartially administered; * * We beg leave to assure your Excellency that we shall hold ourselves in the greatest readiness to bear testimony against all such false aspersions of your Excellency's administration, and think ourselves in duty bound to give our voice publickly--and we do it cheerfully and sincerely in favor of your Excellency's Administration * * *
(*)Sabine, Vol. 2, p. 411.
and we have no doubt that it has been to the satisfaction of the people of this county and province * * We beg leave to add that it is our earnest desire that the Divine Blessing may attend your Excellency, and that you may be continued in the important place you now fill for many years to come.
"Voted that Hon. Samuel Hobart and Col. John Hale, Esq., wait on his Excellency with this address."
THE SETTLEMENT OF PLYMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE.--A HOLLIS COLONY.
The war for the conquest of Canada ended in 1761. Many of the soldiers from Hollis who
had been in that war, in their toilsome marches through the northern wilderness, had
become acquainted with the fine country on the upper branches of the Connecticut and
Merrimack. They returned to their homes with so favorable impressions of that part of New
Hampshire, that in the fall of 1762, a party of eight men from Hollis went to what is now
Plymouth, to explore the country with a view to settlement there. This exploration, with
their report of it, resulted the next year in obtaining a charter of the town of Plymouth
from Benning Wentworth, then Governor, dated July 16, 1763. Of about sixty grantees named
in this charter, near two-thirds were Hollis men. Emigration from Hollis at once
commenced, and within the next three years a large number of the former residents of
Hollis became settlers in Plymouth, of whom many were afterwards known as influential and
respected citizens of that town. Among them were Col. David Hobart, afterwards
distinguished for his bravery and good conduct as the Colonel of a New Hampshire Regiment
under Gen. Stark at the battle of Bennington, and Col. David Webster, who commanded a
Regiment of New Hampshire troops at the taking of Burgoyne at Saratoga, and was afterwards
sheriff of Grafton County. Besides the foregoing, there were Dea. Francis Worcester, for
many years a deacon of the Hollis church and town treasurer, and afterwards a
representative to the General Court from Plymouth in the war
of the Revolution; also three Captains of companies in the army, viz.: Jotham Cumings, John Willoughby and Amos Webster, the last of whom was killed at the battle at Saratoga in the command of a company of infantry attached to Col. Morgan's famous rifle corps.(*)