Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War

The Captivity of Samuel Numphow

An important context for the Captivity at Cocheco is the Cocheco Treaty of July 1676, which was led by the Penacook sachem Wannalancet and included multiple signatories. Among them were the Saco River sachem known to the English as Squando, who led multiple raids on the Northern Front, and the Patucket scholar Samuel Numphow, who had gone on an expedition to locate Wanalancet for the Massachusetts Council early in the war. The Cocheco Treaty arose from the spring 1676 peacemaking process that was initiated by Native leaders gathered on Kwinitekw and at Wachusett, including Shoshanim (Sagamore Sam), with representatives from Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonies. It was also the pretext for bringing additional people to Cocheco in to join the peace in September 1676.[1] 

Samuel Numphow and Shoshanim

Penacook leaders gave sanctuary to relations coming from places as diverse as the “praying town” of Wamesit and the Nipmuc stronghold of Wachusett. Wanalancet sought to shelter them all under this peace agreement. Shoshanim of Nashaway had played a leadership role before and during the war and helped initiate the process of peace.  Samuel Numphow of Wamesit had served the Massachusetts colony and participated directly in the Cocheco treaty. In the spring, Shoshanim’s family had been taken captive, and some killed, by Massachusetts forces, even while he was on a mission which arose from the treaty negotiations, as he traveled to the Connecticut River in diplomacy to bring back English captives. Likewise, Numphow had seen similar captivity and violence toward his own relations due to misplaced settler vigilante violence in his mission community. Ironically, Waldron sent both Numphow and Shoshanim to Boston as prisoners. 
At the beginning of September, Shoshanim came in voluntarily with Wananlancet to “obtain peace” following the Cocheco Treaty, but Waldron “secure[d] him, and sen[t] him to ye Governor at Boston.” Wanalancet and others pleaded with Waldron to “save his life, if it be possible.”  Only days later, Samuel Numphow was sent to Boston with the large party of prisoners taken in the “surprise.” There is no record of any trial for Shoshanim, or any testimony against him. On September 26, Shoshanim was hanged in Boston Common, alongside his kinsman Monoco, the Quabaug leader Mattawamp, and the elder Tantamous, or “Old Jethro.” Daniel Gookin noted that Numphow “hardly escap[ed]” with his life. Daniel Gookin’s account makes clear that the Wamesit leader was in danger of enslavement or even death, along with the two hundred or more shipped into slavery and the eight unnamed Cocheco captives who were “shot to death on Common, upon Wind-mill hill" in Boston. Numphow’s story illustrates the challenges the Cocheco captives faced and the narrow window of “escape,” even for a “praying Indian” and scholar fluent in English.[2]    

Testimony against Samuel Numphow

While Samuel Numphow was held in Boston, two testimonies came in against him: one from Mary Osgood and one from Timothy Abbott, both of Andover. From these testimonies, we can discern how the Massachusetts Bay magistrates attempted to build a case against Numphow, who had strived to maintain peaceful relations with the English. The testimonies were delivered on September 11, 1676, four days after Waldron sent the first company of Native people down to Boston from Cocheco. 
Abbott and Osgood were both from Andover, which bordered Wamesit, the praying town where Numphow was a teacher. Despite their proximity to each other, their testimonies concerned separate events. Osgood described an encounter that took place “about a year ago.” She stated that Samuel Numphow was “bound for Strawberry Banke” (Portsmouth, in New Hampshire colony) with two other Indians, but “ye same night ye said Samuel returned back againe to Andover.” When Osgood questioned Numphow’s motivations for returning, she claimed, “his answer was that he had not money enough to carry him like a man and therefore would not goe but wthin two months should have money enough.” Osgood then asked where he would get the money, to which Numphow replied that he would “have it at Boston” and that he would “goe ahunting [for beaver].” Osgood reported that there was “never a beaver skinn.” The circumstances of this exchange between Numphow and Osgood are unclear, but Numphow may have been making reference to his scouting mission to the north to find Wannalancet. He may have planned to go to Boston to receive payment for his service, and intended to go hunting, during or after his scouting expedition. Furthermore, if Numphow were headed to Boston to meet with colonial authorities and to receive money for his scouting trip, he may have kept his reasons intentionally hidden from Osgood. Nonetheless, her testimony cast suspicion on Numphow’s motivation for returning to Andover, an example of how colonial people monitored and attempted to restrict the movements of Native people during King Philip’s War.[3]
Osgood’s testimony was accompanied by Timothy Abbott’s, who was taken captive during a raid on Andover on April 8, 1676. Abbott was the son of George Abbott, whose garrison house was the first attacked. According to the Historical Sketches of Andover , Timothy Abbott and his brother, Joseph Abbott, were both at work in the fields when a Native force came upon them. Joseph Abbott was a soldier in the colonial army who had fought in the Great Swamp Fight at Narragansett. The author of Historical Sketches, Sarah Loring Baily, speculates that the Indians “knew who were the men in town who had helped murder their brethren in the swamp fight” and attacked accordingly, killing Joseph and taking Timothy captive. Timothy was likely first brought to Wachusett and then north to Penacook, where he met Numphow, who had also traveled north for the ongoing peace negotiations and to escape the violence and turmoil in Wamesit. Abbott returned to Andover in August; according Thomas Cobbett’s account, “Good-wife Abbott’s boy of Andover was brought home, almost starved, by a poor” Native woman “that had always been tender to him whilst in captivity.” Abbott’s return was possibly related to the end of war on the southern front or the peace treaty signed on July 3 in Cocheco, further complicating the story told in Historical Sketches of Andover.[4]   
Timothy Abbott referred to this period of captivity in his testimony against Numphow, stating that as a “captive among ye Indians,” he “did...observe and take notice oft ye carriage and profound imperious insulting oft the said Samm Nobbough who I have heard to threaten one William Bollard of Andover.” According to Abbott, “Nobbough woude whipp [Bollard] to death.” Abbott’s statement further implicated Numphow, portraying him as an enemy of the English; however, the reasons for Numphow’s conflict with Bollard are unclear from the testimony. William Ballard of Andover is listed among those soldiers who participated in the Great Swamp Fight. Furthermore, Numphow’s presence away from Wamesit, in Penacook territory, was in part due to unfair accusations against his people by the English. As Gookin related, Numphow and his people “had not been in hostility against the English, nor had done them any wrong, only fled away for fear, and for wrongs suffered from some English.” These wrongs included the attack on several Wamesit people for the burning of a barn in Chelmsford in November 1675, an act in which the Wamesits had played no part.  In February 1676, Wamesit leaders petitioned the council in Boston for removal from their precarious location; ultimately, the Wamesits were forced to leave, fleeing toward “Pennahoog.” Abbott’s description of Numphow’s “insulting” provided evidence against him in Boston, but given the circumstances of the Wamesit peoples’ refuge, the likelihood that Numphow would attack an Andover man for no reason was slim. Perhaps William Bollard had threatened the Wamesits, or perhaps Abbott misconstrued the conflict in his declaration.[5]  
Despite the two testimonies against him, Numphow was ultimately released; it is likely that Gookin advocated for him, as he did for Mary Namesit. Several others from Wamesit who were sent to Boston were also released, including Numphow’s brother, Jonathan George, and Simon Betomkin, another Christian Indian who acted as a scribe for Shoshanim, and later, for Wanalancet’s brother, the Penacook sachem  Kancamagus.[6] They were likely among those returned to Wamesit, along with Wanalancet, under the guard of land speculator Jonathan Tyng. The circumstances of Numphow’s capture and accusation show how tenuous the charges against those taken at Cocheco were, calling into question thet division of “guilty” and “innocent” that took place in Boston.

[1] Pascataqua River, Cocheco 3rd July 1676 Treaty, Massachusetts Archives, Volume 30, Document 206b. Transcription in George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill Press, 1896), 304.
[2] Richard Waldron to Gov. Leverett, September 2, 1676, Portsmouth, AYER Mss 962, no. 2, Newberry Library, Chicago. Samuel Sewall, “Diary of Samuel Sewall, 1674-1729,” Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 5 (Boston: Published by the Society, 1878), 17, 23. Samuel Gardner Drake, The Book of the Indians (Boston: Antiquarian Bookstore, 1841), 3:83. Daniel Gookin, “Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England,” Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. II (Cambridge: Printed for the Society at the UP, 1836), 492.
[3] “Declaration of Mary Osgood,” Massachusetts State Archives, Volume 30, Document 219a.
[4] Sarah Loring Baily, Historical sketches of Andover, (Comprising the present towns of North Andover and Andover), Massachusetts (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1880), 173-6. Thomas Cobbett, "A Narrative of New England's Deliverances," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 7 (1853), 218.
[5] “Declaration of Timothy Abbott.” Massachusetts State Archives. Volume 30. Document 219. Gookin, “Historical Account,” 491-2. Bodge, Soldiers, 422.
[6] For Shoshanim and the Nipmuc leaders’ letters, see Mary White Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: With Related Documents, ed. Neal Salisbury (Boston: Bedford Books, 1997), 140-1. For Kancamagus’ letter, see Colin Calloway, Dawnland Encounters: Indians and Europeans in Northern New England (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1991), 96-7. 

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