Cambridge Farmers’ Petition, 1682

Modernized Transcription

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To the Honorable the General Court now assembled in Boston. October 11th, 1682:
The Petition of several of the inhabitants within the bounds of the town of Cambridge
humbly showeth:

That by the providence of God who hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of the habitations of all men, your petitioners are located at a great distance, the nearest of them above five miles (some of them six, some seven, some eight, some nine if not ten miles) from the public place of meeting to worship God in the town that we appertain unto. That your petitioners, by reason thereof, have now (many of us) for a long time conflicted with very great difficulties, in respect of themselves (who have been forced to be absent at some seasons of the year) and especially their children, for whose spiritual good, and the means leading thereunto, they desire to be solicitous as well as for themselves.

That there are now about thirty families, in which are contained at least one hundred and eighty souls, within the circumstances and condition abovementioned.

That your petitioners have humbly and affectionately represented the premises to the townsmen at Cambridge, at their meetings, withall signifying their desire of liberty from them to call a minister to preach amongst them, and catechize their children, they being willing to build a meeting House, which may be situated so as to be within two miles and a half near thirty families, and to advance for the present forty pounds per annum for his maintenance.

That—the premises nothwithstanding—they have as yet obtained no relief or encouragement from the town of Cambridge in this affair.

The petitioners, therefore, who are the heads of families, fearing the sad effects of this remoteness from the public worship of God, and particularly in respect of their children and those that shall come after them, lest they should grow weary of attendance upon the public means of grace and think it too much (as Jereboam tells Israel it was to go up to Jerusalem) to travel so many miles for such an end, and so should cease to worship the Lord God of their fathers, think it their bounden duty, humbly to address this honorable Court, praying that you will please to take the case of your petitioners into your serious consideration, that by your favor they may be licensed to provide for themselves a person that may be meet and able to dispense unto them the word of God; and that in order thereunto, they may be freed from payments to the Town of Cambridge; from whom as their dear and beloved brethren they no ways desire separation for any other but the forementioned cause alone, declaring it to have been their standing affliction and cause of grief, that by reason of their remoteness, they have not been in a capacity, according to their desires, to enjoy more fellowship and communion with them

And your Petitioners shall pray as in duty bound, etc.