Waldron-Commission-DOC-PP6.jpg1 2017-08-03T00:37:48+00:00 Lisa Brooks fec693e828c406419bf2b9fc046e7ea8bc7558cb 6 1 Collection Hollis Brodrick, Portsmouth, New Hampshire plain 2017-08-03T00:37:48+00:00 Lisa Brooks fec693e828c406419bf2b9fc046e7ea8bc7558cb
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Capture at Machias: William Waldron’s Deceit
Far up the Wabanaki coast, in Wolastokuk (Passamaquoddy/Maliseet) territory, another incidence of captivity further instigated the northern front of the war. This incident involved the Waldron men of Cocheco (Dover, New Hampshire), who became notorious among Wabanaki people for their deceit in both trade and diplomacy.
In November 1675, William Waldron, the nephew of trader Richard Waldron, received a commission from his uncle “to pursue, kill and destroy and by all ways and means to annoy the said Indian enemy” (scroll down to see the commission). Under this commission, William sailed the ship Endeavor with his crew in November 1675, searching for the “enemy” on the Wabanaki coast, above Piscataqua, the region where his uncle’s trading post was centered. In a letter to the Endeavor’s crew, written while they were docked at Monhegan Island, Kennebec River trader Thomas Gardner warned them “not to take any Indians east side of Kenibek River because we had made peace with them.” Historian Emerson Baker notes that it is not clear if Waldron received Gardner’s warning.
Nevertheless, Waldron continued to sail up the coast and “did carry” at least “9 Indians away from Michias,” a Passamaquoddy village 200 miles northeast of Casco Bay, “and more from Cape Sables,” a remote peninsula across from Machias, in Passamaquoddy territory and Nova Scotia.  These locations were far beyond the northern front of the war, and these leaders and their communities were not involved in the conflict. Waldron and his crew then sailed to the Azores (Fayal Islands), an archipelago located west of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean, to sell them into slavery.
The number of captives taken is unclear from the records that remain. A warrant issued by the Massachusetts Court on August 23, 1676, for the “apprehending” and imprisonment of William Waldron, charged him with “Seazing and Carrying away 30 Indians” from “ye Eastward” including “a sagamore” and his wife.  The indictment of William Waldron, which came later, stated that he
“did unlawfully surprise & steale away seventeen Indians men weomen & children & in your vessel called the endeavor of Boston Carrjed & sent them to ffyall & there made sale of them.”
Henry Lawton, who chartered the ship, was also charged, but “broke prison” while the ship's master, John Haughton, was “fined.” Waldron, the “merchant,” was eventually “tried and discharged."
The capture of the people at Machias came at a high cost, creating an impetus for further violence on the northern front. Thomas Gardner wrote that this was a chief “Cause of the Indianes Riseing.” Bernard Trott, later commissioned to retrieve the captives, observed that this illegal capture “made the first Indian Warr in those parts” William Waldron's Commission
William Waldron’s commission is a rare document, available only through the generosity of an individual who holds the letter in a private collection and collaboration between researchers. The transcription of this letter, first contributed by Nina Mauer of the Old Berwick Historical Society, is below.
To Willliam Waldron
The Insolency of ye Indian enemy being such as that
in ye Eastern parts they have Made sundry Assaults upon
us to ye great prejudice of ye people there both in ye loss
of ye lives and Estates of many of them & as yet no
considerable damage done them by ye soldiers or
Inhabitants[.] that yourself being bound into those
parts these are to Im[power] and commission you with
what company shall [g]o along with you as opportunity
presents to pursue kill & destroy & by all
ways & means to Annoy ye said Indian Enemy[.]
Attending such further order as you shall receive
from myself or other superior authority --
Dated at Dover 19 November 1675
 Norton, In the Devil’s Snare, 89; Baker, “Trouble to the Eastward,” 194; Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Volume 1, 711-12. Documentary History of the State of Maine, Baxter Manuscripts 6:118.
 Norton, In the Devil’s Snare, 89; Baker, “Trouble,” 194; Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Volume 1, 711-12. Documentary History of the State of Maine, Baxter Manuscripts 6:118.
 Documentary History of the State of Maine, Baxter Manuscripts, Volume 6, 119-20.
 Records of the Court of Assistants of the colony of the Massachusetts Bay, 1630-1692, Vol. I, 86.
 Documentary History of the State of Maine, Baxter Manuscripts, Volume 6, 118; Volume 23, 2.