Cambridge’s Counterpetition, 1683

Modernized Transcription

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To the Honorable the General Court assembled in Boston, October the 16th, 1683

Your humble suppliants the selectmen of Cambridge, in obedience to a warrant sent to us, and [because of] the concerns of our town, do humbly present unto Your Honors’ serious consideration, in answer to a petition of the remote farms of our town [this response]:

Some of Your Honors may yet remember the unsettled condition of this church when it was about to remove to Mattabesic, for the prevention of which the honored General Court held at Boston in March, 1643 was pleased to grant to this church a tract of land at Shaw Shin and another parcel adjoining to [the] Concord line, for the enlargement of our boundaries and to enable this church and town (with the rest of our accommodations) to maintain the ministry in this place—provided the then church and elders did continue in this place, which condition was accordingly performed—though this church and town (as may be demonstrated) was abler to maintain the ministry and defray public charges then than it now is, by reason most of our principal men are now removed from us, some by death, and others [gone] into England and other countries.

We also humbly present unto Your Honors’ serious consideration the great disenablement of our church and town by the village on the south side of the river breaking off from us, which was so considerable a part of our town, and bore a considerable part of our charge in the maintenance of our ministry, and now bares none of that, nor several other charges the town is at, whereby we are greatly disenabled so comfortably to maintain our ministry and discharge our other public charges as we want and ought to do, by reason one principal arm of our town is cut off, and our accommodations for husbandry so poor and small, and our trade in this town so little and inconsiderable, that it is even a wonder to ourselves, how we do subsist and carry on public charge[s] so well as we do, though we do it not so well as we should.

We therefore humbly present unto this honorable General Court’s most serious consideration the great damage it will be to this poor church and town (that have suffered so many diminutions already) if the honored Court should grant our farmers’ petition to let them have a ministry of their own and so be taken wholly off from contributing to ours—but much more should we be damnified if the honored Court should grant any part of our outlands unto them, [since] we are so straitened in the boundaries of our lands, as we shall plainly demonstrate to the honored Court.

[As] for the distance of place that our brethren at the Farms are from the public meeting with us, it is but the same [as] it was when they first settled themselves and families there, and they have there other conveniences with it, and Concord is not far from them, which in bad weather they may go unto.

If we should have this arm cut off too, we shall be much disenabled to carry on God’s work among us, both in church and commonwealth. [So] that as it has been the care of the honored fathers of our commonwealth formerly to take care for the subsistence and well being of this senior church of Christ in Cambridge, so we still crave the continued care of the honored fathers of our commonwealth now in being, that they would not destroy the parent for the offspring.

We humbly leave our languishing condition to Your Honors’ most serious consideration, and your suppliants shall pray as in duty bound, etc.

William Manning
Samuel Andrewe
Samuel Champney
In the name of the Town of Cambridge