Anno Dom: 1646
About the middle of May this year, came in 3 ships into this harbor in warlike order; they were found to be men of war. The captain’s name was Cromwell, who had taken sundry prizes from the Spaniards in the West Indies. He had a commission from the Earl of Warwick. He had aboard his vessels about 80 lusty men (but very unruly) who after they came ashore, did so distemper themselves with drink as they became like mad-men, and though some of them were punished and imprisoned, yet could they hardly be restrained. Yet in the end they became more moderate and orderly. They continued here about a month or 6 weeks, and then went to the Massachusetts, in which time they spent and scattered a great deal of money among the people, and yet more sin (I fear) than money, notwithstanding all the care and watchfulness that was used towards them to prevent what might be.
In which time one sad accident fell out. A desperate fellow of the company fell a quarreling with some of his company. His captain commanded him to be quiet and surcease his quarreling; but he would not, but reviled his captain with base language, and in the end half drew his rapier, and intended to run at his captain; but he closed with him, and wrestled his rapier from him, and gave him a box the ear; but he would not give over, but still assaulted his captain. Whereupon he took the same rapier as it was in the scabbard, and gave him a blow with the hilts; but it light on his head, and the small end of the bar of the rapier hilts pierced his skull, and he died a few days after. But the captain was cleared by a counsel of war. This fellow was so desperate a quarreler as the captain was fain many times to chain him under hatches from hurting his fellows, as the company did testify; and this was his end.
This captain Thomas Cromwell set forth another voyage to the West Indies, from the Bay of the Massachusetts, well manned and victualed; and was out 3 years, and took sundry prizes, and returned rich unto the Massachusetts, and there died the same summer, having got a fall from his horse, in which fall he fell on his rapier hilts, and so bruised his body as he shortly after died thereof, with some other distempers, which brought him into a fever. Some observed that there might be something of the hand of God herein; that as the forenamed man died of the blow he gave him with the rapier hilts, so his own death was occasioned by a like means.
Vol 2 Boston: Printed by Thomas B. Wait and Son. No. 90, Court Street. 1826. Pages 263-264
One captain Cromwell (about ten years since a common seaman in the Massachusetts) had been out with captain Jackson in a man of war by commission from the Earl of Warwick divers years, and having a commission of deputation from his said captain, had taken four or five Spanish vessels, and in some of them great riches, and being bound hither with three ships, and about eighty men; (they were frigates of cedar wood about sixty and eighty tons,) by a strong northwest wind they were forced into Plimouth, (divine providence so directing for the comfort and help of that town, which was now almost deserted,) where they continued about fourteen days or more, and spent liberally and gave freely to many of the poorer sort.
It fell out, while they were there, that a desperate drunken fellow, one Voysye, (who had been in continual quarrels all the voyage,) on being reproved by his captain, offered to draw his rapier at him, whereupon the captain took it from him, and giving him some blows with it, as it was in the scabbard, he threw it away; Voysye gate it again, and came up to his captain, who taking it from him again, and throwing it away, when he could not make him to leave his weapon, nor forbear his insolent behaviour, he gave him a blow on the forehead with the hilt of it, which made a small wound, which the captain would presently to have been searched and dressed, but Voysye refused, and the next day went into the field to fight with another of his fellows, but their weapons being taken from them, no hurt was done; and the next day after, his wound putrifying immediately, he died.
It was then the general court at Plimouth, and a jury being empannelled, they found that he died of the wound received from the captain, whereupon the captain was sent for on shore. He offered to put himself upon trial, so as he might not be imprisoned, and that he might be tried by a council of war, both which were granted him, and one of Plimouth, one of their chief men, but no magistrate, undertook for him, body for body, and some of the magistrates and other military officers were chosen a council of war, who, upon the evidence, and sight of his commission, by which he had power of martial law &c. acquitted him.
The trained band accompanied the body to the grave, and the captain gave every one of them an eln of black taffeta for a mourning robe. After this he came, with his three ships to Boston, and presented the governour with a sedan, which (as he said) was sent by the viceroy of Mexico to his sister. It was a very fair one, and could not be less worth than 50 pounds.
He and all his men had much money, and great store of plate and jewels of great value; yet he took up his lodging in a poor thatched house, and when he was offered the best in the town, his answer was, that in his mean estate that poor man entertained him, when others would not, and therefore he would not leave him now, when he might do him good. He was ripped out of his mother’s belly and never sucked, nor saw father nor mother, nor they him.
Winthrop Papers Volume V 1645-1649 The Massachusetts Historical Society 1947 [Pages 80-83]
To his much honored Friend John Winthrop, Esqr. Gov[ernou]r of the Massach: these be delivered
MUCH HONORED SIR, Yours of the 3d of this present I received by Mr. Hutchenson, and remaine thankefull for your care and loue manifested as often as you write. Our eleccion is over. mr. Bradford Governour the Assistants the same, saue onely mr. Thomas insteed of mr. Freeman whom I suppose the Countrey left out in regard of his professed Anabaptistry and separacion from the Churches. Mr. Brown and mr. Hatherly are our Commissioners for the yeare.
We haue a sad accident heer befallen. the Captain of the man of war, who reproving and commanding one of his company silence, who most notoriously abusing his person command and whole company (being a trowbler of earth aire and sea whilest he lived) tooke the mans rapier out of his hand which he offered to draw upon his captain and first struck him with it in the scabberd: but he continuing his raging and vilefying his person and company chiefely, strooke him with the hilt of it on the head, the blow falling on the crosse barre most unhappily peirced his scull and he is dead thereof. But however he was never out of quarrels at sea as they say or on shore since they came in hither, having been twice in the field tho not at sharp through the wishes of others who detayned his rapier from him, yet the quest fownd he died of the strooke given by Capt. Crumwell. this morning we purpose to send for him whom we heare attendeth his triall onely desireth these two favors that he be not committed to the ordinary prison nor put into the hands of the marshall but into the custody of such as will be bownd body for body for him. The 2d is that he be not tried by a pety jury but by a Cownsell of war according to the nature of his offence and place wherein I commend him and I conceiue it may be granted him, but if his commission be so full as we heare by those of ours which haue seen it vizt. as full power for the exer[cise] of marshall discipline by sea and land over his company as any Generall on the shore or Admirall on the seas it will soone be ended.
Their purchase is yet unknown to themselues in part one of their prises hold being unbroke up: but cannot be so little worth as some of their soberest men report as fifty thowsand pownds. And thus much for news at pre[se]nt, their deboist humor being well blunted before they come to you, for which you are beholden to us, and the people from desperate rudenes become civill in a pretty measure and now as wary as prodigall at their first landing of many our worser sort of people which could endure their cursing etc. getting well by them, but the better sort very little for they want little or nothing which the Countrey hath but wine which they begin to be weary off.
Thus saluting you and yours hartily take leaue and remaine Yours as euer
PLYM. this 4 (4) 46
[Page 98 of Winthrop Papers as above]
STEPHEN PAYNTER TO JOHN WINTHROP
Sumers Island this 24th of August 1646
MUCH HONOURED SIR, The Lord having clothed you with power to be ruler over his Israell, besides those gifts and graces which doe abounde in you as a maine pillar in his house, and you also doe desire that justice may be administred to all men, causeth me to present you with these few lines in the behalfe of the right honorable Earle of Warwicke, whose agent I am, that you wolde be pleased to afourde your best assistance to Major Gibbins, for the recovery of my lords right of those two ships which Captain Cromwell hath brought to you, unto whom I have sent a copy of my lords commission and a letter of aturney to inable him thereunto, soe nothing doubting of your worships favourable assistance I humbly take leave, Yours in all christian servis, ever to be commanded
ROBERT HARDING’S BILL OF SALE TO JOHN MYLAM
Be it knowne by these p[rese]ntes that I Capt. Robt. Harding of Boston in the Massachusetts Owner of the Spanish frigot bought of Capt. Thomas Cromwell 3 for good and valuable Consideration by mee in hand Receiued have given granted bargained and sould all the said Spanish frigot vnto John Milom of Boston aforesaid Cooper together with all her masts sailes saileyards Anchors Cables ropes cords guns gunpowder shott artillery tackle munition apparell boate and furniture whatsoever to the said ship belonging or in any wise appertaineinge, to have and to hould the said Frigot with all the appertenances foremencioned vnto him his execut[or]s administr[ator]s and assignes as his and theire proper goods to his and theire proper vse forever.
In witnes whereof I have herevunto put my hand and seale theis 1 of October Anno 1646.
Robert Hardridge [Seal]
3 This was the Separation, which Harding had bought from Cromwell on June 26, I646. Aspinwall Notarial Records, 22-23. See also Journal, II. 272.
[Some footnotes omitted]
Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England Court Orders Vol II 1641-1651
Edited by Nathaniel B.Shurtleff, MD Boston, From the Press of William White, 1855
1646 2 June. New Plym.
At a Gen’all Court holden at Plym afores, the second Day of June, in the xxij Yeare of the Raigne of our Souaigne Lord, Charles, by the Grace of God King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defendor of the Fayth, &c.
The Counsell of Warr chosen & nominated by Court for this ensuing yeare.
Mr Edward Winslow, psident,
Mr Thomas Prence,
Captaine Miles Standish,
Mr Tymothy Hatherley,
Mr John Browne,
Mr John Alden,
Capt Wilim Poole.
It is enacted by the Court, that these, or any three of them, meeting together, shall haue power and authoryty to make orders for matters of warr, and to yssue forth warrants, &c; but if but two of them do meete, then to haue the consent and approbacon of the Gov in what they doe ; and that when these do so meete together, they shall haue power to choose such psons to their counsell <and assistance as they shall think good, (if they please,) so they exceed not the number of foure psons ; and if any man shall refuse to doe the service -when they are so warned or called therevnto, that then such pson or psons shalbe fyned as the counsell of warr shall think meete, so it exceede not fourty shillings to the colonies use ; and that these shall haue power to determine in’ any offence concemeing warr, either donn before this day or after, before thend of this ensuing yeare, and for all psons, as well strangers as our selues, for any thing donn within this goiiment, and shall ^ power to choose a p’sident amongst themselues, and to make orders about such thinges as shalbe needfull.
Captaine Miles Standish chosen Treasurer for this ensuing yeare.
Mr Wilim Collyer coroner.
The Rates agreed vpon for Excise.
That such strangers as haue liberty to fish at the Cape to pay fiue shillings p share.
Vpon euery gallon of Spanish Wine drawn by retayle by such as are allowed, eight pence.
Vpon euery gallon of French wine drawne by retayle by such as are allowed, foure pence.
Vpon euery hogshead of beere, two shillinges.
Vpon euery gallon of strong water, eighteene pence.
Vpon euery pound of fobaccoo retayled, j.
Vpon euery gallon of oylc, j.
Thanks to Stephen O. and Stan W. for the research.