Richard Waldron's letter to Daniel Gookin regarding Mary Namesit & Peter Jethro1 2017-08-30T17:18:12+00:00 Lauren Tuiskula b7c9c11aacd058b57ca4a71131c107a00033aab2 6 5 Richard Waldron to Daniel Gookin, October 2, 1676, Massachusetts Archives 30:226. plain 2018-05-29T18:56:05+00:00 Lisa Brooks fec693e828c406419bf2b9fc046e7ea8bc7558cb
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Contributed by Allyson LaForge
Although most of the people taken captive at Cocheco were sent down to Boston, a small number of Native men were retained as scouts to guide the Massachusetts troops on the Wabanaki coast. In their letter to the Massachusetts Council, Richard Waldron, Nicholas Shapleigh, and Thomas Daniel noted, “your Pleasures being to have all sent down to determine their Case at Boston, hath been attended here keeping about 10 young men of them to serve in the Army...” These ten Native men were found suitable for a scouting mission, and Waldron retained “their relations” while they served in the colonial army. The rest were sent to Boston, despite Waldron’s admission that “the Indians being now on board & Coming towards you We that have been So far improv’d about them thought it Convenient to Inform how far they have kept the Peace made with us.” However, in at least one case, a scout’s family was sent down to Boston with the rest of the captives, contrary to Waldron’s promise. One of the 10 scouts recruited, John Namesit, came back from his mission to find that Waldron sent his wife, Mary, to prison in Boston with their child.
Mary Namesit “had life & liberty promis’d and ingaged to her husband at Pascataway and was left at Cocheco whilst her husband with the rest of the army, went to Casco and Black Point.”  While her husband served in Captain Hunting’s troops on the Northern Front, Mary was sent “down” to the Boston prison with the “First Great Company of Indians” by Richard Waldron.  Importantly, Mary Namesit was not alone; accompanying her to prison was her “suckling child,” whom Waldron also captured at Cocheco. On November 20, the Massachusetts missionary Daniel Gookin intervened on their behalf after a visit from John Namesit. Gookin sent a letter from Cambridge with John to the Council in Boston petitioning for the return of Mary and certifying John’s legitimate position as a scout in the colonial army. The situation was dire, as Mary Namesit and her child faced not only imprisonment, but also the danger of enslavement. Correspondence between Waldron and Gookin reveals that Waldron had already sold Mary and her child to Thomas Deane and James Whitcome before their release. Responding to Gookin and John Namesit’s advocacy, on November 23, the Council ordered the “Prison keeper in Boston” to release Mary and her child so that they could be “delivered unto her husband.” From these two exchanges, the paths of the Namesit family following the deceit at Cocheco can be envisioned, paths where John moved through Native spaces, but on colonial terms, and paths where Mary was moved as a captive of the English army, narrowly escaping the enslavement of her and her child.
The map above shows Mary and John’s travels relating to the events at Cocheco. The yellow line shows Mary’s journey from Dover to Boston, where she was held in prison with her “sucking child” until late November, 1676, nearly three months after her original capture at Cocheco. The red lines show John’s movements as he traveled from Dover to Black Point and Casco Bay, and then back down to Cocheco, where he found that his wife had been taken by Waldron and sold. From Cocheco, he traveled to Cambridge, where he met Daniel Gookin. On November 20, Gookin sent him with a letter to the Council in Boston appealing for the release of Mary. Finally, on November 23, the Council ordered “the prison keeper at Boston” to release Mary, and for Waldron to repay Thomas Deane and James Whitcome the amount they paid for her. From there, the Namesits perhaps traveled to Wamesit, along with Penacook leader Wanalancet, although it is possible they returned to Cocheco or went further north. According to Colin Calloway, some Penacook people traveled to Schaghticoke after the events at Cocheco; Mary and her husband may also have sought protection in the multi-tribal refugee village in New York.
Return from Captivity
In the larger context of King Philip’s War, the chance of escaping from captivity was incredibly slim. The fate of those taken at Cocheco reflects this reality. As Gookin wrote,
When they were sent to Boston, accusations came against some of them by English captives escaped, that some of them were in arms against the English, (how true these accusations were God only knows, for ‘tis very difficult, unless upon long knowledge, to distinguish Indians from one another,) however, the testimony of the witnesses against them were admitted, and some of them condemned to death and executed, and others sent to the Islands out of the country; but some few were pardoned and reconciled, whereof Wannalancet and six or seven of his men were a part, and the Wamesit Indians, Sam Numphow (hardly escaped), Symon Betokam, Jonathan, George, a brother to Sam Numphow, and very few other men, but several women and children, who lived among the rest. 
Mary and her child were likely among these women and children. Her release from prison is a rare example of redemption. The Council ordered Waldron, who received payment for her sale, to “repay unto Thomas Dean & Mr. James Whitcome so much mony as they paid him for them.” Along with the captives taken from Machias and then brought home from the Fayal Islands, Mary is one of the few Native people who were restored from slavery and returned to their relations. Hundreds of others did not have the same chance. Sent through Boston and other colonial ports, they were then taken out into the Atlantic World, where they become members of enslaved Native communities in Barbados, the Azores, and other far-away islands. For those to whom Mary returned home, her redemption was likely a constant reminder of the act Waldron committed in 1676. As historians Mary Beth Norton, Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney have shown, the aftermath of the events at Cocheco reverberated throughout the next generation, contributing to the killing of Richard Waldron in 1689 and even the raid on Deerfield in 1704. Furthermore, the loss of hundreds of Native people to slavery challenges dominant captivity narratives. Not only were Native people captured and sold into slavery, they also sometimes returned home. These returns happened despite attempts by the English to sell Native people to places far from their networks of relations.
Mary Namesit’s return home was only one part of her story. We know very little about the beginning of her life, but the word “Namesit” may refer to Wamesit. If so, it is possible that she and John both came from there.Wamesit was both a “Praying Town" and a traditional gathering place, a fishing falls, located at an important intersection of multiple Native communities. The Namesits may have been at Cocheco in 1676 as refugees from the war or for other reasons, such as the peace treaty pursued earlier that summer. At Cocheco, Captain Hunting recruited (or coerced) John as a scout for a mission heading further north. Mary may have even been held in captivity at Cocheco before prison in Boston in order to guarantee John’s service. We do know that her removal to prison constituted a form of punishment. Prison conditions were harsh, especially for a woman with an infant child. Her release was never guaranteed, despite the amnesty promised to her by the Massachusetts Bay Government. Did Mary know she had already been sold into slavery before John was able to redeem her? The fear of permanent separation not only from her homelands, but also from her family, must have haunted her. It is hard to believe she did not leave embittered towards Richard Waldron and his unfulfilled promises.
For his part, Richard Waldron refused to admit any wrongdoing in the capture of Mary; in his letter,he wrote to Major Gookin,
as to ye Squaw you mention belonging to one of Capt. Hunting’s Souldiers, there was such a one left of ye first Great Company of Indians 1st [sent] down which Capt. Hunting desired might Stay here til himselfe & her husband Came back from Eastward which I consented to & how she came among ye company I know not I requiring none to go down to Boston but those that came in after ye Armies departure neither knew I a word of it at Boston when I disposed of them so twas her own fault in not acquainting me with it.
Despite blaming Mary, Waldron agreed to reimburse Whitcome and Deane and to “sett [Mary] at liberty being wholly innocent.” Yet Mary’s capture, which is specified here as taking place before a potential second company was sent down, is clear evidence of Waldron’s deliberate deceit. His actions not only affected the Indians who had taken refuge and attempted peace, but also those who had been promised “life and liberty” by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Furthermore, the fact that Waldron received payment for Mary’s sale also proves that he had a financial stake in the capture of refugees and others. Waldron’s actions jeopardized diplomatic relations between the Penacooks and the English while provoking conflict further north in the Wabanaki country. Letter from Richard Waldron, Nicholas Shapleigh, and Thomas Daniel, September 10, 1676, Massachusetts Archives, volume 30, document 218. Transcription in George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War (Boston,1906), 307. Letter from Daniel Gookin sent with John Namesit to the council at Boston, November 20 1676, Massachusetts Archives, volume 30, document 228. Letter from Richard Waldron to Daniel Gookin, October 2 1676, Massachusetts Archives, volume 30, document 226. Transcription in Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War, 309. Order re: Mary Namesit and Jacob Indian, November 23 1676, Massachusetts Archives, volume 30, document 228a. Daniel Gookin letter for John Namesit, November 20, 1676, Massachusetts Archives volume 30, document 228. Colin G. Calloway, Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), 81. Daniel Gookin, “An Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England,” in Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society 2 (Cambridge, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1836), 492. Massachusetts Archives 30:228a. See Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (New York: Vintage Books, 2003), , 82-83, and Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney, “Revisiting The Redeemed Captive: New Perspectives on the 1704 Attack on Deerfield,” in After King Philip’s War: Presence and Persistence in Indian New England, ed. Colin G. Calloway (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997), 22-23.
Peter Jethro and the Capture of Monoco
In his Relation, Increase Mather exclaimed, “That abominable Indian Peter Jethro betrayed his own Father and other Indians of his own special Acquaintance, unto Death. Many of the Nipmuc Indians who were wont to lay Snares for others, were at last themselves taken by a Stratagem, and brought to deserved Execution.” Mather referred to the capture of several key Nipmuc leaders, as well as Peter's father “Old Jethro” or Tantamous, who were sent down to Boston from Cocheco, then executed on Windmill Hill. However, in this statement, Mather obscured the complex context of their capture by attributing a singular betrayal to the Nipmuc convert, Peter Jethro, who was seemingly able to accomplish, through “stratagem” what the colonial troops and scouts under Captain Hunting could not. Peter Jethro’s story, as it unravels, raises more questions than answers about the "second company" that came down from Cocheco.
On September 23, 1676, Samuel Sewall noted in his diary that “One-ey’d John [Monoco], with about 45 of your Southern Indians, have been apprehended since the Souldiers went Eastward. This group included “a Sagamore of Quapaug,” referring to Muttaump. The passive voice is notable here, as none of these captives were taken by the “souldiers.” Both Increase Mather and William Hubbard placed the blame for this “betrayal” solely on Peter Jethro, displacing the role of Cocheco trader Richard Waldron as well as the Massachusetts leaders who recruited Jethro and other scouts. If Captain Hunting’s “soldiers” had such trouble locating Indians in their expeditions on the Wabanaki coast, ranging north of Cocheco, how is it that a singular scout was able to capture so many “southern Indians” who had taken refuge in the north, including three formidable leaders?
"Life and Liberty": Two Spies and an Offer of AmnestyOn August 28, 1676, the Massachusetts Council ordered Gookin to recruit at least “two Indians” to serve as “spies among the enemy.” These spies were empowered to give “assurance” to other Native people in the Nipmuc, Penacook and Wabanaki countries, particularly those who held English captives, that “in case they will come in & Submitt themselves to ye mercy of” the colonial “government” they would “have their lives given them & freed from foreign slavery.” This message was similar to the offer of amnesty that had been extended to James Printer and his relations, and was likely an immediate context for Shoshanim's effort to "obtain peace" at Cocheco, just days after this order. But it also offers an explanation for the capture of Monoco and Tantamous, or Old Jethro. Shortly after the “surprise” at Cocheco, Richard Waldron reported that two Native women came in to Cocheco “informing that one eyed John [Monoco] & [old] Jethro were designing ye Surprizing of Canonicus,” the Narragansett sachem, and that they desired to speak with “some of our old men” to seek their advice. Waldron reported that he sent someone, perhaps Peter Jethro, abroad to “further the design,” which may have included not only the capture of Canonicus, but of Monoco and the other leaders. Waldron later acknowledged in a letter to Daniel Gookin that he had given Peter Jethro incentive for the capture of Monoco, and Peter insisted he had been promised "life and liberty" for this service. Perhaps both Nashaway leaders, Monoco and Shoshanim, were induced to come in under the offer of peace and amnesty.
If they came in under the promise of life and liberty, Monoco and “Old Jethro” may have offered Canonicus, a highly valued captive in exchange. Indeed, Waldron's report conflicts with another report from Cocheco, recorded by Samuel Sewell in his diary, that Mohawks had taken Canonicus, perhaps a cover for the more complicated context of captivity and coercion. While Monoco and Shoshanim had played highly visible roles in the war, Old Jethro had not. He merely escaped from Natick as Captain Prentice rounded up the residents for Deer Island, bringing his family with him. He found protection among the Nipmucs, but there is no evidence he participated in any raids or ambushes. Rather, he was likely among the many noncombatants who came in seeking peace and amnesty.
Was Peter Jethro scouting with a large group, like Captain Hunting’s scouts? Or did he act on his own, with a small company, recruited by Gookin and Waldron? Were there groups of scouts that left with orders, from Cocheco, which were not reported back to Boston (or for which the records no longer exist)? Did Peter Jethro travel from Cocheco to the upper Merrimack, pursuing the Nashaway men at Penacook, where they may have been among the people sheltered with Wanalancet? Or were they among the resistance at Ossipee? Were they persuaded to come into Cocheco under the pretense of peace, or taken by ambush and force?
Peter Jethro’s relationship to the captured men is worth considering. Peter may have had a personal motivation for tracking down Monoco, in addition to the promise of his own “life and liberty.” Peter and his father were among those captives taken at Okkanamesit, along with James Printer, and imprisoned for the false charge of murdering settlers at Lancaster, a raid which Monoco had led. Moreover, both Monoco and Shoshanim had been at Weshawkim in 1674 when Gookin sent Peter Jethro to pursue missionary efforts at Nashaway, an overture that was not welcomed, especially given the missionaries’ efforts to influence governance at Nashaway through the guise of religious concern. Perhaps, in Peter Jethro’s mind, turning the Nashaway war leader in to the men at Cocheco and Boston signaled a kind of justice. Yet, Peter had also served as scribe for Shoshanim and the Nipmuc sachems, writing one of the letters that led to Mary Rowlandson’s release from Wachusett. Was Peter someone Shoshanim thought he could trust? And what role did his father play? Josiah Temple suggests the elder, a traditional spiritual man, resisted missionary overtures, a clear divide between father and son, and that Peter “had been so long under the instruction of the English, that he had become almost one of them.” Was there enmity between Peter Jethro and his father? Did he truly betray his own father, or did he imagine that he could also advocate for his father’s “liberty”? Did he know that “Old Jethro” would face execution, that the rest of his family would be shipped into slavery? Did he bargain their lives for his individual salvation? 
Even after this “betrayal,” Peter could not even guarantee his own “life and liberty.” When Daniel Gookin pressed Richard Waldron, the trader replied through correspondence that he had only promised that if Peter were “Instrumental” in bringing in Monoco, he “would acquaint ye Governor with what service he had done & Improve my Interest in his behalfe.” Monoco’s execution in Boston was not enough to guarantee Peter’s protection. However, with Gookin’s advocacy, Peter Jethro ultimately earned his life and liberty, later appearing on numerous deeds and other documents as Massachusetts colony sought to confirm its titles to land in Nipmuc country after the war. Increase Mather, A Relation of the Troubles Which Have Happened in New England, ed. Samuel G. Drake (Boston, 1864), 257-8. Diary of Increase Mather, March, 1675-December, 1676, ed. Samuel A. Green (Cambridge, J. Wilson, 1900), 47. William Hubbard, A History of the Indian Wars in New England, ed. Samuel Gardner Drake (Roxbury, MA: W.E. Woodward, 1865), 133. George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1906), 307-9. The Diary of Samuel Sewall: 1674–1729, ed. M. Halsey Thomas (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1973), 23. Bodge, Soldiers, 307-9. Massachusetts Council to Daniel Gookin, August 28, 1676, Massachusetts Archives 30:214, 30:226. Samuel Gardner Drake, The Book of the Indians (Boston: Antiquarian Bookstore, 1841) 3:81. J. H. Temple, History of Framingham, Massachusetts (Town of Framingham, 1887), 51-2.
Diary of Samuel Sewall, 22-24. Temple, History of Framingham, 51-2. Drake, Book of the Indians 3:81. Daniel Gookin, Historical Collections of the Indians of New England (1674) (North Stratford, NH: Ayer, 2000), 53-4. Temple, History of Framingham, 51-2. Bodge, Soldiers, 309. Daniel Mandell, Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Eastern Massachusetts (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 32. See also Mary de Witt Freeland, The Records of Oxford, Massachusetts (Albany: Joel Munsell's Sons, 1894), 126