December 25, 2019

SWITCHES SUFFICE:

Weare, NH 1772: Rebellion Before the Revolution-The Pine Tree Riot (Janice Brown, Mar. 21st, 2006, cowhampshireblog.com)

General Court passed an act (which was enforced until the American Revolution) making it a penal offense to cut any trees that were twelve inches or more in diameter.  The fine for doing so was five pounds, and all lumber made from such trees was forfeited to the king. [...]

Samuel Blodget, Esq. of Goffstown was sent by the mill owners to settle. According to the History of Weare NH, while there, the governor won Mr. Blodget over, and in February 1772, made him a deputy 'Surveyor of the Kings Woods," which included a commission and a large territory to look after. He made an agreement with the governor that the men involved would pay a sum, the logs would be given to them, and the case dropped, then Blodget returned home. On February 24, 1767 Mr. Blodget sent a letter to each man involved indicating his new status, and urging them to pay the fines.  Three men from Bedford and fourteen from Goffstown came at once, paid the settlement, and obtained their logs.

But the "obstinate" men of Weare did not come.

Benjamin Whiting, Esquire, of Hollis, who was then sheriff of Hillsborough County, and his deputy Mr. John Quigley, Esq. of Francestown, went to Weare to serve the warrant on Ebenezer Mudgett, who was considered the chief of these offenders.  He was living on the north road from Clement's Mill in the Oil Mill section of South Weare.  When arrested, it was late in the day, and Mudgett agreed to provide bail in the morning. They allowed Mudgett to go home, while the two law men went to Aaron Quimby's inn nearby to spend the night.

13 April 1772. News of Mudgett's arrest spread throughout the town. Many said they would provide bail for him, and they gathered at his house to create a plan. At dawn, Mudgett went to the inn and woke the sheriff, saying his bail was ready. Whiting jumped out of bed, berated Mudgett for coming so early, and started to dress.  Suddenly more than twenty men rushed in.  Their faces were blackened and they held switches (rods made of green tree limbs) in their hands.  Whiting went for his guns but they were taken from him, and the men beat him.  These same men also beat his deputy, Mr. Quigley. Later Whiting would say, "They almost killed me."

When the beating was over, the horses of the sheriff and his deputy were saddled and bridled, but not before their ears, manes and tails were shaved. (This act made the value of the horses worthless). The King's men were placed on their horses, and sent down the road with the sound of jeers, jokes and shouts in their ears.

Sheriff Whiting quickly sought out Colonel Moore of Bedford and Edward Goldstone Lutwytche of Merrimack [the history of Weare said they also approached John Goffe of Derryfield].  A posse or party of men assembled and with muskets in hand, marched to Weare to find the rioters. But not a soul could be found, as they had fled to the woods.  Soon, one of them was captured and jailed, then the rest discovered when they posted bail, and ordered to appear in His Majesty's Superior Court.

The eight "rioters" from Weare who were brought before the court were: Jotham Tuttle,  Timothy Worthley, Jonathan Worthley, Caleb Atwood, William Dustin, Abraham Johnson, William Quimby and Ebenezer Mudgett.

Posted by at December 25, 2019 7:58 AM

  

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