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extending further back than that period. The register informed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather Thomas, who was born 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dyer, residded,and with whom my father was apprenticed. He died, and was buried there; we saw his monument in 1759. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter, who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher, of Wellingborough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Ested, the present proprietor.
My grandfather bad four surviving sons, Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josias. I shall give you such particulars of them as my memory will furnish, not having my papers here, in which you will find a more minute account, if they are not lost during my absence.
Thomas had learned the trade of blacksnith under his father; but possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the solicitation of a gentleman of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged in like manner all my uncles to improve their minds. Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country attorney: soon became an essential personage in the affairs of the village: and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise, as well relative to the county, as to the town of Northampton. A variety of remarkable incidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoy. ing the esteem
and patronage of Lord Halifax, be died January 6, 1702, precisely four years before I was born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village, struck you, I remember, as extraordina. ry, from its analogy to what you know of myself. "Hadhe died,” said you,“just four years later,one might have supposed a transmigration of souls."
John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wool-dyer.
Benjamin served his apprenticeship in Lon. don, to a silk-dyer. He was an industrious man; I remember him well; for, while I was a child, he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house with us. A particular affection had always subsisted between my father and him, and I was his godson. He arrived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto vol. umes of poems in manuscript, consisting of little fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. He had invented a short hand, which he taught me, but having never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant attendant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasure in writing down according to the expeditory method he had devised. Many volumes were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of politics, too much so perhaps for his situation. I lately found in London a collection which he had made of all the principal pamphlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717.
Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there still remain eight in folio, and twenty-four in quarto and octavo. The collection had fallen
into the hands of a second-hand bookseller, who knowing me by having sold me some books, brought it to me. My uncle, it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the margins. His grandson, Samuel, is now living at Boston.
Our humble family had early embraced the reformation. They remained faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in danger of being molested on account of their zeal against Popery. They had an English Bible, and to conceal it the more securely, they conceived the project of fastening it, open, with pack-threads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a close-stool. When my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, he reversed the lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the packthread. One of the children was stationed at the door to give notice if he saw the proctor, an officer of the spiritual court, make his appearance; in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin.
The whole family preserved its attachment to the Church of England, till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain ministers, who had been ejected as non-conformists, having held conventicles in Northamtonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the family continued in the Episcopal Church.
My father, Josias, married early in life. He went with his wife and three children to NewEngland, about the year 1682. Conventicles being at that time prohibited by law, and frequently disturbed, some considerable persons of his acquaintence determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their religion, and my father was prevailed op to accompany them.
My father had also by the same wife, four chil. dren born in America, and ten others by a second wife, making in all seventeen. I remember to have seen thirteen seated together at his table, who had all arrived at years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Boston, in New-England. My mother, the second wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one of the first colonists of New-England, of whom Cotton Mather makes honorable mention, in his Ecclesiastical History of that province, as “a pious and learned Englishman,” if I rightly recollect his expressions. I have been told of his having written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675, and is in familiar verse, agreeably to the taste of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favor of the anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To this persecu. tion he attributes the wars with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the country, regarding them as the judgments of God, in punishment of so odious an offence, and he exhorts the goverment to the repeal of laws so contrary to charity. The poem appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity: I recollect the six concluding lines, though I have forgotten the order of the words of the two first; the sense of which was, that his censures were dictated by benevolence, and that; of consequence, he wished to be known as the author, because, said he, I hate from my very soul dis. simulation.
From Sherburn* where I dwell,
I therefore put my name,
My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With respect to myself, I was sent, at the age of eight years, to a grammar school. My father destined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of the family, The promptitude with which, from my infancy, I had learned to read, for I do not remember to have been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragement of bis friends, who assured mne that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in his design. My. uncle Benjamin approved also of the scheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of sermons, written, as I have said, in the short band of his invention, if I would take the pains to learn it.
* Town in the Island of Nantucket.