Cambridge Farmers’ Petition, 1682

Manuscript and Literal Transcription

Only the text of the original petition is transcribed here—the General Court's several responses in the margins are presented and transcribed on other pages to follow. The transcribed text includes the heading, two long paragraphs (differently indented) and the list of signers at the lower right.

Letters in the transcription are underlined for one of these three reasons:
th is substituted for a written y where it represents the sound th (as in the definite article, which was never pronounced “yee”); F is substituted for ff, a common way of ‘capitalizing’ that letter; or an abbreviation is expanded to the full word.
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To the Honorable the Generall Court now assembled
in Boston. October 11th: 1682,
The Petition of Severall of the Inhabitants within the
bounds of the Towne of Cambridge—
Humbly Sheweth

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 greate distance, the nearest of them above five miles (some of them
Six, Some seven, Some Eight, Some nine if not ten miles) from the publique place
of meeting to Worship God, in the Towne that wee appertaine unto. That your
petitioners by reason thereof, have now (many of us) for a Long time conflicted
with very greate difficultyes, in respect of themselves, (who have beene forced
to be Absent at some seasons of the yeare) and Especially their children, for
whose spirtuall good and the meanes leading thereunto, they desire to be solicitous
as well as for them Selves. That there are now about thirty Famalyes,
in which are contained at Least one Hundred & Eighty Soules, 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 Signifieing 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 soe, as to be within Two miles and An half
neare Thirty Famalyes, and to advance for the present Forty pounds
per Annum, for his maintenance; That the premises nothwithstanding they have as
yet obtained noe relief or encouragment; from the Towne of Cambridge in this affaire —

THE petitioners Therefore, who are the Heads of famalyes, feareing the
Sad Effects of this remoteness from the publick worship of God, and partic
: cularly in respect of their children and those that shall come after them, least
they Should grow weary of attendance upon the publike meanes of grace
and think it too much (as Jereboam tells Israel it was to goe up to Jerusalem) to
travil Soe many miles for such an end, and Soe Should cease to worship the
Lord God of their Fathers, Think it their Bounden Duty, humbly to addresse
to this Honorable Court, Praying that you will please to take the case of your
Petitioners into youre serious consideration, That by your favour, they may be licens’d
to provide for themselves a person that may be meet and able to dispense
unto them the word of God; & that in order thereunto, they may be freed from
payments to the Towne of Cambridgte; from whome as their Deare & beloved Brethren
they noe wayes desire separation, for any other but the foremention’d cause alone
declaring it to have been their standing affliction & cause of greif, that by —
reason of their remoteness, they have not been in a capacity, according to their
desires, to enjoy more Fellowship & communion with them: And your Petitioners
shall pray as in duty bound, & c.

James Cutler
Mathew Bridges Senior
David Fiske Senior
Samuell Stone Senior
Francis Whitmore
John Tedd
Ephraim Wenshepe
John Winter
In the behalf of the rest of the familyes: