An Inheritance of Ghosts

Richard Fairbanks and Elizabeth [Daulton?]

Posted in Elizabeth ([Daulton?]) Fairbanks, Elizabeth [Daulton?], Richard Fairbanks by Gregg Mattocks on 23 May 2009

Richard Fairbanks [2050]

Father: unknown [4100]

Mother: unknown [4101]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Elizabeth [Daulton?] [2051]

Father: possibly Johns Daulton [4102]

Mother: unknown [4103]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


Richard Fairbanks [2050] and his wife were two of the earliest English residents of Boston, Massachusetts, having arrived within a few years of the initial settlement made in 1630 by John Winthrop and his party.  At times, the Fairbanks couple were exemplary Puritans, seeming to embrace the Congregation’s values and customs while achieving moderate success within the community.  At other times, the family’s path would diverge from the norm, earning the censure of the pioneer leaders.  By this inconsistency, the Fairbanks story reflects the conflicts which marked the early culture of Massachusetts Bay.

Indisputable records of the couple have not yet been found in England. There are some intriguing clues to the pedigree of Richard Fairbanks, but the bulk of research abounds with contradiction and misinformation.

For instance, we read in James Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary of New England that Richard Fairbanks “came with [the Reverend John] Cotton in the Griffin, at least his union with the ch. here was on the same day with Elder Leverett and w. Gov. Brenton and Edward Hutchinson, in the month after the great teacher [Cotton] arr.”  If Richard and Elizabeth did travel aboard the Griffin, it would suggest that they had come from the area of Boston, county Lincoln, from whence came Cotton himself.  That venerable city, which gave its name to the Massachusetts town, has indeed been credited as the English home of Richard and Elizabeth Fairbanks.

James Savage’s passion for abbreviations — which undoubtedly kept his extensive tomes from being even more massive — has resulted in some Fairbanks researchers making an error in interpretation.  The quote above records Richard’s “union with the ch. here.”  This shorthand has been interpreted to mean his “union with the children here,” which is not what was intended.  The “ch.” is short for “church”, not “children”.  The misreading has caused some to speculate that Richard’s children had already arrived in Massachusetts, or conversely, that his children were the ones who traveled aboard the Griffin to join their father in New England.  Such a misinterpretation might lead one to the belief that Richard already had other family relations in Massachusetts, and thereby lends support to the claim, often made, that Richard was related to the immigrant Jonathan Fairbanks of Dedham, Massachusetts.  The error also leads one to the assumption that Richard and Elizabeth had other children besides the two who were born after the couple’s arrival in Massachusetts, an assumption for which the evidence is scant.

Of course, even discounting the above misreading, Richard still may have been related to Jonathan Fairbanks.  The surname is uncommon enough and its double appearance in early Massachusetts tries the belief that it was merely a coincidence.  Establishing a relationship between these two men would be rewarding, as the distinguished lineage of Jonathan Fairbanks has been fairly well established.  Besides, Jonathan Fairbanks has a bit of claim to fame, as his home in Dedham, Massachusetts, built in 1636, still stands and is a registered historic site.  Built of timbers brought over from England, the eleven-room house at 511 East Street may well be the oldest wooden frame house in America.  The same family has occupied the home for 350 years, without it ever being deeded or mortgaged.

Considerable effort has been made to connect the two Fairbanks immigrants — with various suggestions that they were brothers, cousins, or father and son — but ultimately the proof is lacking.  The fact that both Richard and Jonathan seem to have come from the area of Yorkshire, and that both had their New England homes designated as post offices has been forwarded as circumstantial evidence that the two were closely related, but no Massachusetts records actually link the men.

The Fairbanks family name may well have had its origins in the Beaumont family.  Robert de Beaumont took part in the Norman Invasion of 1066 under William the Conqueror.  “Robert was a nobleman of great stature, and enjoyed status and prestige in the Norman Kingdom as did his family in this and the subsequent Plantagenet Dynasty.”  It was with the commencement of the reign of Henry VII, the story goes, that the Beaumont name fell into royal disfavor, when the “family refused to support any other than the legitimate heir” to the throne.  So it was that William Beaumont, born about 1455 at Sowerby, Halifax parish, Yorkshire, in an effort to escape censure from the Crown, anglicized his surname to “Fairbanks”.

Our Richard Fairbanks may possibly have been the son of George Fairbanks, baptized 2 August 1562 at Halifax, and who lived at Heptonstall in Halifax parish.  This George, in turn, was the son of George and Sybil (Wade) Fairbanks.  The elder George Fairbanks was the son of Gilbert and Jennet (—–) Fairbanks.  Gilbert was the son of John Fairbanks, and John was the son of William Fairbanks (originally Beaumont) of Sowerby.

Heptonstall, the home of George Fairbanks, is located on the old pack horse road to Colne, Lancashire, surrounded by wild, windswept, bleak moors.  Here, in 1593, George obtained a license to marry, possibly as a second wife, Mary Farrer.  Mary, at the time of her marriage, was a resident of Erringdon, a detached part of Heptonstall surrounded by Sowerby.  Both Sowerby and Erringdon were parts of the manor of Wakefield.  Mary was the daughter of Richard Farrer, clothier, and Margaret Blackburn, and was mentioned as the wife of George in her father’s will, dated 7 April 1610.  She may have been the Mary, “daughter of Richard of Warley, who was baptized in 1581” at Halifax, although this Mary, if baptized at birth, would have been only twelve at the time of her marriage to George Fairbanks.  A “George Fayrebanke of Sowerby” was churchwarden at Halifax in 1612.

Baptism records at Heptonstall are missing until June 1599, so that only two children can definitely be attributed to George and Mary.  Daughter Mary was baptized 30 November 1600 and was probably the Mary who was buried at Heptonstall on 11 December 1620.  Daughter Esther was baptized 27 February 1602 at Heptonstall.

There may well have been older children, and genealogist Clarence Almon Torrey has stated that “[i]t is certain that Jonathan [Fairbanks of Dedham], born it is supposed in or about 1595, was one of the children.”  Torrey suspected that there were other children as well, including “George Fairbanke, sonne of George Fairbanke,” who was bequeathed “ye summe of 5 lbs.” in the 1650 will of his cousin George Fairbanks, who was the bachelor son of John Fairbanks of Thornton-in-Craven, Yorkshire.

The will of the bachelor George Fairbanks, proved in July of 1650, provides the clue which links this family to Jonathan Fairbanks of Dedham.  A copy of this will was forwarded to Jonathan and contained a bequest of 20 shillings for “Mr. Jonathan Fairbanke.”  We assume, since a copy of the will was sent to Dedham, that the Jonathan of the will and the Jonathan of Massachusetts are one and the same.  In his will, George did not state his relationship to Jonathan, but the copy of the will sent to Dedham contained (in different handwriting) the inscription, “For his lovinge Cusen Jonathan Fayrbanke in New Ingland these.”

The evidence, so far, suggests that Jonathan Fairbanks of Dedham may have been the son of George Fairbanks baptized in 1562.  However, the Reverend Hiram Francis Fairbanks claimed that this George had a son Jonathan who, instead of migrating to New England, instead “graduated from Brazenose College, Oxford, and became Prostestant Vicar of Bingley, Yorkshire, where he remained until more than eighty years of age.”

If it were not for the “Cusen” relationship stated in the superscription to the copy of the 1650 will of George Fairbanks, one might well believe that Jonathan of Dedham was George’s half-brother, that is, the son of John Fairbanks of Thornton-in-Craven.  It is certainly true that John had a son named Jonathan, who was bequeathed in John’s will of 1625.

Jonathan Fairbanks of Massachusetts married at Warley, Yorkshire, 20 May 1617, Grace Smith.  Their daughter Susan is reported to have been baptized 23 December 1627 at Thornton-in-Craven.  Thornton-in-Craven was the home of John Fairbanks, not of John’s brother George Fairbanks (baptized in 1562).  Therefore, if George were Jonathan’s father, we must believe that the Massachusetts immigrant was with his uncle John when his daughter Susan was baptized.

The names of the children of John Fairbanks of Thornton-in-Craven are fairly well established.  Hence it is unlikely that Richard Fairbanks, the Massachusetts immigrant, was John’s son.  But what of the possibility that Richard was the son of John’s brother George Fairbanks?  The parish registers of Halifax, Co. York, 1538-1593 reveal that a “Rich. Fairbank”, son of “Georg. Fairbank” was christened at Halifax 25 March 1591.  If George Fairbanks of Heptonstall had been previously married, he could very well have been the father of this record.  Endowments and sealing sheets on file with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints repeat the above record and add the name of the mother, Agnes Harget.  A “George Fayrbank” married Agnes Harget 14 August 1581 at Halifax.

A record also exists of a Richard Fairbanks, son of George, being christened at Kirklington, county York, the date being alternately given as 2 March 1603 or 19 March 1603.

Since both events give a George Fairbanks as the father, accepting either as the christening of the immigrant Richard Fairbanks leaves us with the name George for his father.  It is possible, though I think doubtful, that the George listed as the father for each baptism was the same man and that he had two sons named Richard, the first of whom died young.  This doubt rests mainly on the fact that Halifax, the site of the first baptism, is some 60 miles distant from Kirklington, the locale of the second baptism.

If ultimately we are unconvinced that the immigrant Richard Fairbanks was a close relation of Jonathan Fairbanks of Dedham, we might instead look to Richard’s alleged connection to Reverend John Cotton to help us discover Richard’s roots.  This would lead us to investigate Lincolnshire, a county not far from the Yorkshire homeland of Jonathan Fairbanks.

We find that a “Richard Fairbanke”, son of Samuell, was christened at Keddington, county Lincoln, on 4 December 1589.  Another “Richard Fairbank”, son of “Georg Fairbank”, was christened at Kirkby on Bain, county Lincoln, on 29 April 1604.

A Richard Fairbanks married, 17 September 1618, at Boston, Lincolnshire, Elizabeth Daulton [2051].  As it is known that the wife of the immigrant Richard Fairbanks was named Elizabeth, it seems quite possible that this Lincolnshire marriage was that of the Boston immigrants. If the couple married this early, it seems likely that they may have had other children prior to those born after their arrival in Massachusetts.

Several “Elizabeth Daultons” have been identified who could have been the spouse of the immigrant.  An Elizabeth Dalton, daughterof Johannis, was christened at Bradley, county Lincoln, on 18 October 1595.  An Elizabeth Dawlton, daughter of “Johis.” or “Johns”, was christened at Boston, county Lincoln, on 16 March 1597.  And finally, an Elisabetha Dalton, daughter of “Johis.”, was christened at Almondbury, Yorkshire, on 7 May 1598.  Family researchers seem to have favored the 16 March 1597 date, perhaps because this Elizabeth’s christening took place in the same city as the Fairbanks marriage, and therefore Elizabeth’s father is generally supposed to have been Johns Daulton.

In October 1633, Richard Fairbanks joined with the church at Boston, Massachusetts.  “Elizabeth Fairebancke the wife of our brother Richard Fairbancke” was admitted to the church in the same month.  Because many who had landed from the ship the Griffin on 4 September 1633 joined the Boston church that October, we believe that the Fairbanks couple also traveled on board that vessel.  It was on the Griffin that vintner Robert Turner, who had later business dealings with Richard, sailed to Boston.

Richard was accepted as a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on 14 May 1634.

Boston quickly grew to a size that necessitated the employment of numerous officials for the successful management of the town’s affairs.  Over the years, Richard was appointed to many positions by the Boston government, suggesting that he was generally trusted and respected by his fellow citizens.  Many of Richard’s official duties required him to work with livestock.  His first recorded appointment was as cowkeeper, a responsibility assigned him by the town on 13 April 1635.

As crops (even when protected by fences) fell prey to unruly cattle and as beef cattle competed with milk cows for the limited grass, the town turned to a system whereby all cattle except milk cows were exiled from early spring to fall.  In 1634 the twon’s stock was assembled in a single herd, driven to Muddy River, and placed in charge of a “cowskeeper” paid by the town.  In 16535 Pullen Point was used, the herd being free to graze during the day and confined in a “payled yard” at night; a house was built for the herder at town expense, and the inhabitants paid 5s a head for the privilege of incorporating their stock with the common herd from the middle of April to the first of November, “the latter end of harvest.”  Presumably the cattle, on returning to the town, were wintered partly on the stubble in the fields, partly on hay gathered from the marshes.

Pullen Point was located on a peninsula at the mouth of the Boston harbor.  Thus, according to Darret B. Rutman, author of Winthrop’s Boston, the cowkeeper would have resided at some distance from Boston proper, so it would seem that Richard would have spent most of 1635 away from town.  However, Rutman declares that Richard had another responsibility in 1635 which would have required his presence in Boston, that of tending to the town’s milk cows.  Rutman does not attempt to explain this discrepancy.

Milk cows, indispensible to the community and needing daily care, could not be driven from the Neck.  Hence, with the end of indiscriminate grazing, they were put in the care of a town-appointed herder — Richard Fairbanks from 1635 to 1638, followed in turn by William Hudson, John Ruggle, Thomas Joanes, and Alexander Beck.  Ruggle’s schedule was stipulated in the order appointing him.  Each morning from spring to fall, an hour after sun-up, he collected the herd in the village, driving it onto the common or down the Neck to the cow pasture just beyond Town Gate; at six in the evening he started back, slowly traversing the winding streets, the number of his charges dwindling as cows dropped out at their proper barns.  His pay was a bushel of Indian corn per head, payable by the owner.  The shortage of pasture brought a limitation on the size of the herd as early as 1636, when the town stipulated that no family could maintain more than two cows on the peninsula.  The same act limited the number of goats to five per family and barred families having goats from keeping cows and vice versa.

Richard was in Boston to serve on a petit jury on 19 February 1635/6.  His daughter Constance was baptized at Boston on 10 (11) 1635 [10 January 1636].

In 1634, the townspeople had delegated powers to dispose of its lands to a group of “allotters,” consisting of the governor and six other persons.  By November 1635, in response to Governor Winthrop’s expectation that many “Hutchinsonians” were soon to arrive in Massachusetts, a town meeting ruled that no further allotments should be granted to any newcomers not “likely to be received members of the Congregation,” and “[t]hat none shall sell their houses or allotments to any new comers, but with the consent and allowance of those that are appointed Allotters.”  On 6 June 1636, town officers voided a 1635 sale of property by Richard Fairbanks.

Wee finde that Richard Fairebanke hath sold unto twoe straingers the twoe houses in Sudbury end that were William Balstones, contrary to a former order, and therefore the sayle to bee voyd, and the said Richard Fairbancke to forfeite for his breaking thereof, xls.

From this, we learn that Richard owned at least two houses by 1635, purchased from William Balstone, and located in that part of Boston known as Sudbury End.  This neighborhood was nestled between Tramount (later called Beacon Hill) and the Mill cove.  Since the sale was declared void, Richard must have retained possession of the two buildings.  He was faced with the burden of paying the penalty, and probably of reimbursing the two “straingers” who had purchased the houses.  During this time, Richard and Elizabeth must have lived in another house, perhaps the one provided for the use of the town cowkeeper at Pullen Point.

We do not know who the two “straingers” were who had purchased the houses.  Perhaps the two were indeed among those dreaded Hutchinsonians that the law was intended to thwart.  The term “strangers” was frequently used in colonial Massachusetts to identify those who did not belong to the established church.  Indeed, it is quite possible that Richard knowingly sold these properties to Hutchinsonians, for, as will be seen, the Fairbanks couple were themselves part of this religious movement.

On 15 November 1636, Boston appointed Richard as hogreeve, with power to impound all strays.  He was subsequently appointed foldkeeper on 13 May 1637 and again on 25 March 1639.

Draft animals kept on Shawmut, including oxen, horses, an occasional steer, together with riding horses, goats, swine, and sheep, were similarly curbed by the town.  Like “great cattle,” stock maintained on the mainland allotments was the responsibility of the owner, who was liable for any damage done to the property of others.  On occasion owners were ordered to move their livestock abroad for the planting season; more generally, after the first years, regulations merely limited the number.  When permitted on the peninsula, the animals were restricted to their owners’ yards and allowed to wander only under the eye of a keeper, usually a young boy of the family.  Swine were a special problem and were required to be ringed and yoked at all times, the ring to allow easier control, the yoke to prevent them from squirming through the fences into gardens; special officers or hogreeves were appointed to enforce compliance.  Despite all the restrictions strays were an unceasing problem, many a townsman waking in the morning to find an errant sow rooting up his corn and peas.  By the mid-1630’s the twon erected a pound or fold and appointed a foldkeeper to take up “every trespassinge beaste or horse … Calfe, goat or hogg”; individuals, too, were authorized to seize and pen a stray animal.  Those “taken up” by either the keeper or others were advertised on the fold gate, and owners claiming their animals were required to pay fines, indemnities, and the cost of seizing and confining the stray.  When no owner came, as happened on occasion, the animal was sold and the proceeds used to compensate the keeper and any person claiming damages.  The fines seemed to have had little effect, however; strays remained a problem, and for a brief period the town sent them to one of the islands in the harbor so that the owners would have the additional cost and effort of a day’s trip to reclaim them.  Ultimately goats so plagued the town that they were banished from the peninsula, the town mentioning “the great Damages done” by them to “gardens, orchards, and cornefields; the great grievances that often ariseth among the Inhabitants by reason of them, the many orders made about them, and yet altogether ineffectual.”

Boston originally allowed its inhabitants the right to gather hay from the common marshes of the town.  As available marshland was exhausted, limitations were placed on the right to harvest, and from 1637, “only a few specified inhabitants were given permission to mow town land.”  At town meetings held on 2 June 1637, 8 January 1637/8, 30 December 1639, and 30 November 1640, Richard was granted permission to mow marshland.  At the first of these meetings, it was recorded “that Richard Fairbancke shall have leave for this summer time to mow the marsh that is against his acre of planting ground in the New Field, as he hath formerly mown it.”

Richard may have been granted this mowing privilege to provide feed for the livestock entrusted to his care through his official appointments, as it seems quite possible that he owned no cattle of his own.  This assertion s based on the fact that, on 8 January 1637/8, Richard was granted “a Great Allotment of 23 acres at Muddy River.”  In December 1635, a town committee had begun to lay out land allotments at Muddy River for “the poorer sort of the Inhabitants, such as are members [of the church] or likely to be so, and have noe Cattell.”

The survey at Muddy River had proceeded slowly, and in 1636 a provision was made that those whose allotments were not yet laid out could plant their crops temporarily upon available land there.  The committee eventually allocated four acres for every member of a family where the land lay close to Boston, five acres per head “farther off.”  The math is imprecise, but suggests that Richard’s household in 1638 consisted of at least four individuals.  In that year, Richard and Elizabeth’s only known child was daughter Constance, son Zaccheus not being born until the following year.  Perhaps the household also contained another relative or an indentured servant.

Allotments to the generality totaled less than 1,500 acres and averaged below 30 acres.  Most small holdings were laid out at Muddy River, 55 grantees receiving an average of 15 2/3 acres, the smallest being eight acres, the largest 25 and 35 acres.

Richard promptly sold his Muddy River allotment, as his 23 acres were already in the possession of Robert Scott on 21 January 1638/9, when Scott sold them to Thomas Savage.

On 7 August 1637, Boston selectmen allowed Richard “to sell his shopp to —– Saunders, a booke-bynder.”  The record does not indicate the location of Richard’s shop, but it may have one of the two houses that Richard had unsuccessfully attempted to sell in 1635.  It is not recorded what business, if any, Richard had conducted at this shop.  That Saunders was a bookbinder might seem strange in a town without a printing press.  The majority of the work may have consisted of assembling blank accounting books.  These books were an absolute necessity in a community which, due to the shortage of specie, operated largely on credit.

The events described above clearly place Richard in the town of Boston in 1636 and 1637.  It is therefore unlikely that he actually participated in the brief war Massachusetts conducted against the Pequot Indians.  This conflict had arisen as a result of English encroachments in the Connecticut – Rhode Island – Long Island area.  The English settlements in this area, in addition to depriving the Pequots of their land, also created tension between the various tribes of the area who were competing for European trade.  Boston contributed heavily to the war effort and, by August 1637, the Pequot tribe had been “virtually eradicated.”

During their first years in Boston, Richard and Elizabeth Fairbanks had come under the influence of a unique and powerful individual.  In 1634, a woman named Anne Hutchinson had landed in Boston, having come to New England to be near her beloved teacher, the Reverend John Cotton.

Anne … was a logical vehicle for translating the teacher’s doctrine into language which the everyday townspeople could understand.  Of brilliant mind and rapier-like wit, educated far above the average woman of the time, Anne began explaining and elaborating upon Sabbath and lecture-day sermons for the other women of the town shortly after her arrival in 1634.  In the enthusiasm of the time, her meetings were considered only a “profitable and sober carriage of matters” and a fit expression of the injunction in Titus “that the elder women should instruct the younger.”  But by 1636 her meetings included both men and women, and Anne was holding forth twice a week to between sixty and eighty persons.  Her intellectual fare was drawn from Cotton’s discourses, though the master’s words gained something in the retelling….

By October, Mrs. Hutchinson’s activities had come to the attention of the Bay, and they appeared in Boston to investigate and, “if need were,” remonstrate with the Boston church about them.  But it was too late.  In the rarified religious atmosphere, Anne’s views had swept up the greater part of the church and town, from Harry Vane, “a young gentleman of excellent parts” who had eschewed preferment at the court of Charles II to savor “the power of religion,” to William Dinely, the barber-surgeon.  Vane, arriving late  in 1635 and well regarded for his high birth, had been elected governor in May 1636 and had carried Anne’s views into the council chamber.  Dinely dispensed them in a more plebian way:  “So soone as any were set downe in his chaire,” wrote the orthodox Edward Johnson later, “he would commonly be cutting of their haire and the truth together.”  To such as these, the ministers — including [John] Wilson but excluding Cotton and the Reverend John Wheelwright, Anne’s brother-in-law and a new arrival to the commonwealth — were among those with “no gifts or graces.”  Without the spirit themselves, they could not preach the spirit to their hearers; hence, they were but “legal teachers,” drawing their congregations to hypocrisy by holding out obedience to the moral law as the way to salvation.  Less than a week after the ministers met in Boston, the Hutchinson faction was openly working to have Wheelwright called to be a third minister in the Boston church.

Wheelwright’s bid for office in the First Church was blocked on the basis that he was desired by those who sought to gather a church at Braintree.  But this was not the end of the dissension.  The debate over Wheelwright thrust the Hutchinsonian opinions of and their origins in cotton’s teachings into the limelight, precipitating almost two years of confused, chaotic conflict involving Boston and the whole commonwealth.  The terminology of the argument was theological, and all sides displayed the exuberant righteousness which only a theological dispute among persons convinced that heaven and hell await the results can have.  Yet at stake were the community itself, Winthrop’s “Citty upon a Hill,” and the ministers’ godly truth.

Anne Hutchinson was disruption personified.  Where Winthrop would find his way to God by living a godly, useful life in an orderly society committed to God, the Hutchinsonians found their way by direct and personal revelations.  They divided men into believers and non-believers, saints and damned, and took themselves alone for saints.  Ministerial authority was denounced as men of Wilson’s … caliber were castigated as false teachers, undeserving of even polite attention.  They walked out when Wilson rose to speak, or, if they stayed, heckled him with comments and questions; not content, they streamed out of the town to public lectures elsewhere, heckling and questioning again, badgering all whose doctrines disagreed with theirs.  They followed Cotton, but twisted his words.  When he spoke of sanctification being a natural concomitant of election but not a sign of it, they heard (and repeated) only his denunciation; when he spoke of faith and spirit they heard only spirit and declared faith to be as erroneous a ground for assurance of election as sanctification.  Indeed, they dismissed Cotton, however inadvertantly, by their anti-intellectualism, for by pronouncing the personal discovery of the Holy Ghost within as the only “infallible certaine evidence of our Justifyed [or elect] estate” they effectually discarded the church (and Cotton) as mediator between themselves and God.  For them, truth was a lightning flash in the night sky, illuminating God’s world to the elect, not a painful searching out of Scripture.  To one Hutchinsonian, Anne was “a Woman that Preaches better Gospell then any of your black-coates that have been at the Ninneversity.”  “for my part, saith hee, I had rather hear such a one that speakes from the meere motion of the spirit, without any study at all, then any of your learned Scollers, although they may be fuller of Scripture.”

Church, state, all the orderly processes of society were required to bow before the revealed truth of the Hutchinsonians.  “When enymies to the truth oppose the way of God,” John Wheelwright told the Bostonians in a fast-day sermon early in 1637, “we must lay loade upon them, we must kille them with the worde of the Lorde.”  And if this were to “cause a combustean in Church and Commonwealth,” then so it must, for “did not Ch[rist] come to sende fier upon the earth?”  The sermon frightened the Winthrops and Wilsons of the Bay, for they remembered the bloody swath such enthusiasm had cut in Germany.  Wheelwright was tried by the General Court and found guilty of sedition.  But the Hutchinsonians would not rest.  A remonstrance in Wheelwright’s favor was prepared and distributed.  Winthrop sought to curb it:  “You invite the bodye of the people, to joyn with you in your seditious attempt against the Court, and the Authority here established against the rule of the Apostel, who requires every soule to be subiect to the higher powers and every Christian man, to studye to be quiet, and to meddle with his own business.”  Anne herself best expressed the challenge to authority.  “You have power over my body but the Lord Jesus hath power over my body and soul,” she told her judges when brought to trial in 1637:  “If you go in this course you begin you will bring a curse upon you and your posterity, and the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

Such views provoked the wrath of the commonwealth.  “Antinomian,” “Familist,” “Erronist,” “this red Regiment” — so the Hutchinsonians were termed as magistrates and ministers alike moved to break their hold on Boston.  It was traumatic.  “Your complaynt of the want of Brotherly love, I needes say is too just,” a friend wrote Cotton in March 1637;  “I [have] found soe much Strangenes, alienation, and soe much neglect from some whoe would sometimes have visited me with diverse myles going, (yett here, will passe by my dore, as if I were the man that they had not knowen).”  And Margaret Winthrop, writing to her husband John:  “Sad thoughts possess my spirits, and I cannot repulse them, which makes me unfit for anything, wondering what the Lord means by all these troubles among us.”  But it was easily done, for despite the appearance of strength the Hutchinsonians did not form a strong party.  They were but a mob scrambling after God, and like all mobs, quickly dispersed once their leaders were dealt with.

Vane was excluded from the government in a tumultuous election in May 1637, and sailed for England in the late summer, his reputation on both sides of the Atlantic temporarily darkened.  By a series of astute maneuvers Boston’s political leaders — almost to a man committed to the Hutchinsonians — were, if not silenced, rendered ineffectual.  Cotton, whose views, “too obscurely” stated, continued to be used to support their position as the conflict raged in 1637, was weaned away in a succession of conferences with his fellow ministers and the commonwealth’s lay leaders.  The conferees did not change his views, but they brought him to see the extreme position of those who claimed him for their master and the shattering effects of their doctrines on the churches, the ministry, and the state.  With Cotton neutralized, the ministers met in synod in August to catalogue and denounce the Hutchinsonian errors.  All the while the First Church was being barraged with lectures and sermons, John Davenport, for example, expounding on “the nature and danger of divisions, and disorders.”  Finally, the more vocal Hutchinsonians were brought to trial before the General Court.  Their conviction in November was assured, for the commonwealth leaders had already agreed “that two so opposite parties could not contain in the same body” and determined “to send away some of the principal.”  Anne herself was convicted of “traduceing the mi[niste]rs and their ministery in this country” and committed to custody until the court should enforce an order banishing her.  Wheelwright, his sentencing postponed since March, was ordered to leave the commonwelath within fourteen days.  Others were penalized, the list spanning Boston’s social spectrum and including two deputies, three selectmen, and a deacon of the church:  John Coggshall, disfranchised and “enjoyned not to speake any thing to disturbe the publike peace, upon pain of banishment”; William Aspinwall, disfranchised and banished; William Baulston, disfranchised, barred from public office, and fined twenty pounds; Edward Hutchinson, disfranchised, ousted from office, fined forty pounds, and committed “dureing the pleasure of the Courte”; Richard Gridley, disfranchised; William Dinely, disfranchised; John Underhill, disfranchised and ousted from his militia captaincy.  Ten others, threatened with the same penalties, signified their submission by denouncing their part in the Wheelwright remonstrance.

The humbling of Boston followed.  Fifty-eight of the townsmen were required to give up their arms and ammunition, not to receive them back again until they “acknowledg their sinn in subscribing the seditious libell” contained in remonstrance.  It was a demand for a symbolic and conscious surrender and the Bostonians knew it.  But while the order “troubled some of them very much,” as Winthrop wrote, “especially because they were to bring them in themselves,” they meekly obeyed.

“Richard Fairbanke” was one of those on the list of 20 November 1637 to be disarmed for supporting the petition in favor of Wheelwright.  But by 22 November 1637, Richard had added his name to a long list of Boston men in repudiating his support for Wheelwright.

By ones and twos, then in groups, the Bostonians appeared before the magistrates to acknowledge their previous errors.  Those who would not recant … left.  More than twenty families followed Wheelwright north beyond the Merrimac River; an equal number traveled south to Narragansett Bay, first to attempt an absolute theocracy, then to split into voluble, argumentative sects.  In March 1638 Boston’s humiliation was completed as Anne, for “divers Errors. and unsound Opinions,” was brought before the people she had once moved so deeply to be dealt with “in a church way”….  In the end Anne was excommunicated, the majestic but horrible phrases rolling from Pastor Wilson:  “In the name of our Lord Jes[us] Ch[rist] and in the name of the Church … I doe cast yow out … I doe deliver you up to Sathan … I doe account yow from this time forth to be Hethen and a Publican…. I command yow in the name of Ch[rist] Je[sus] and of this Church as a Leper to wihdraw your selfe.”

Richard and Elizabeth remained in Boston, and apparently did not suffer long for their sins against the church.  Their lives instead took a turn away from the spiritual and towards spirits.  Perhaps using the profits from the sale of his shop to Saunders, Richard Fairbanks opened a tavern.  On 12 March 1637/8, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts licensed Richard “to sell wine & strong water in Boston.”  The licensing system was “the cornerstone of regulation, in which a hierarchy of officials approved and granted licenses.  Theoretically, applicants for licenses or renewals humbly sought approval from selectmen and justices and on some occasions submitted petitions to the governor, Council, and House.  Licenseholders must also submit to inspection and regulation by tithingmen, excise collectors, grand jurymen, and sheriffs.”

Richard’s tavern was probably located in his home, as were most “ordinaries” of that time.  And Richard’s home at this time was advantageously situated for his business.  He was not living in one of the two houses in Sudbury End that he had attempted to sell earlier.  Instead, located on the west side of what is now Washington Street, his home, with adjoining garden, was so close to the meeting house to the south that Richard could probably have heard the sermons from his doorstep.  Across Washington Street was the western terminus of Great Street (later King, and now State Street).  Washington and Great streets were the main thoroughfares of Boston.  The first led to the Neck and the mainland, and the latter was the site of the marketplace and the governor’s home.  Great Street was not named for its length — with its eastern end opening nearby into the Great Cove of Boston Harbor — but rather for its breadth.  At the intersection with Washington, Great Street was 113 feet wide.  In this wide expanse an open-air market flourished, so that anyone emerging from the Fairbanks house during the daytime would be confronted with noisy, odorous commotion.  Even on Sundays, the meeting house must have attracted lingering crowds, though on this day the people assuredly engaged in more somber and quiet conversation.  Great Street at this time was likely “paved with pebbles and without sidewalks.”  An early visitor to Boston noted that the buildings in this area “[stand] close together on each side of the street as in London, and are furnished with many fair shops.”

Boston’s innkeepers, taverners, vintners, and brewers profited in satisfying the needs of the transients as wella s the Bostonians themselves.  In 1638 there had been but two “ordinaries” in the town, Cole’s and Baulston’s, both limited to selling food and beer, although Cole’s was regularly selling wine illegally; Richard Fairbanks’ tavern alone was allowed to sell “strong waters.”  A decade later, however, there were five inns licensed to sell food, beer, wine, and hard liquor, at least two taverns, and eight or more “pubs” selling food and beer to those of “an inferiour ranke that wilbe content with meaner diats paying less than in other places.”

It is not known if Richard’s establishment served as both a tavern and an inn.  If it did not, his “ordinary” would have been out of the ordinary.  At most taverns of that era, a traveler could expect not only drink, but also a meal, food for his horse, and a bed for the night.  Richard’s tavern was ideally suited for overnight guests.  Right outside his door were “farmers in town for market day, peddlers, and other small-time tradesmen.”  Other potential lodgers included sailors, sea-going merchants, and fresh immigrants, as well as the people from outlying areas who were in Boston on business with the colony’s government.

We will assume that Richard’s tavern was fairly typical.  By today’s standards, it was undoubtedly plain and uncomfortable.  There were likely no mirrors or pictures on the walls.  There would have been few chairs, and patrons would share whatever benches, stools, or other seating that was available.  The clientele may even have shared the same drinking vessels, perhaps pewter pots and flagons.  Richard and Elizabeth may have owned a few pieces of silver plate which could be used for special guests.  Forks had not yet come into use, so that knives, spoons, and hands were the instruments of consumption.  If typical, the establishment probably had no more than five tables.

They had one main area, the taproom, for drinking and eating.  Customarily, taprooms had a large fireplace, many chairs and tables, a bar, and a desk for making out bills.  They usually had several signs with prices, other information, or cute sayings many of which dealt with the extension of credit: “[M]y liquors good, my measure just, but honest sirs I will not trust” was a popular one.  “I’ve trusted many to my sorrow,” another read, “pay today, I’ll trust tomorrow.”

Large taverns often had a dining room, adjacent tot he taproom, in which full meals were served at specified times.  Diners sat together, paid a set rate, and passed dishes communally among themselves as if they were members of a family.  People eating at other times or wanting a snack, ordered and ate in the taproom.  Large taverns also had adjacent rooms set aside for use by groups or special parties.

William E. Woodward, in The Way Our People Lived, vividly described a stranger’s visit to a typical Boston tavern of 1652.  By that time, the legal price for a quart of beer had been raised from one penny to two:

The long room had a low ceiling.  The windows were small and the light came through diamond-shaped panes.  On a shelf that ran all around the room, a little higher than a man’s head, there stood a row of drinking vessels.  Some of them were of pewter, but most of them were made of wood or leather.  Opposite the windows there was a large brick chimney and fireplace.  The hearth was so wide that a seven-foot log could be laid on it and the big-throated chimney was almost as deep as a small room.  On this pleasant October day only a tiny fire — a nest of embers and hot coals — was burning in the center of the capacious hearth.  Close to the chimney a door opened on a little room — or bar — where the liquors were stored and served.

The humble stranger did not inquire the price of his quart of beer, for he knew that it would cost twopence.  That was the rate established by law, so when the aproned man brought the beer to him in a great leather flagon he laid his two pennies on the table.

The inns and taverns — usually called “ordinaries” — were permitted to sell beer and cider and a few varieties of light wine at regulated prices, but they were forbidden to sell sack, which was a strong and heady drink.  Yet almost every vessel that came from Europe brought many casks of sack, which were sold to individuals who kept them in their cellars.  Sack was a customary beverage at family festivals and convivial parties.

Even the sale of beer in the ordinaries was restricted to some extent.  They were permitted to sell only one quart to each customer between meals, and as much as he wanted at meals.  That meant the drinker could have one quart in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening, besides a quart at each meal from breakfast on.  It would seem to be enough to satisfy even the most capacious beer drinkers, though evidently it was not, or the restriction would have been unnecessary.

Besides the indentured servant in the tavern’s long room there were several other customers.  Most of them were seafaring men, captains or mates of vessels in the harbor.  The townsmen were too busily at work during the daytime to frequent the ordinaries, though they were there in numbers during the evening.

One of the reasons for the popularity of the taverns was that “Puritans, like most Englishmen, harbored doubts about the safety of drinking water and considered it an unappealing alternative.”

Throughout colonial New England’s history, beer remained a popular beverage, but by the middle of the seventeenth century fermented cider overtook it and became the most popular drink for the remainder of the century.  Cider was easier to press than beer was to brew; New Englanders also preferred its taste and thought that it was healthier, particularly for women and children.  Neither cider nor wheat was commonly distilled; instead, local millers fermented them as they did the juices from almost every fruit that could be grown or picked wild in the countryside.  Perry, the drink made from pears, was the third most popular.  Fermented drinks usually had a low alcohol content compared to distilled spirits, so relatively large amounts could be consumed without causing noticeable ill effects on behavior or judgment.  At meals, family members drank pressed juices, which often had undergone some degree of fermentation and contained at least a small amount of alcohol.  Beer, less ubiquitous at meals and usually higher in alcohol content, was consumed by children and women in small amounts.

Distilled alcohol and wine fit into a different category and played a lesser role in daily family life.  Regarded as more masculine drinks, they were considered to pose a greater danger to public safety.  Rum enjoyed the greatest popularity by far among New Englanders who drank spirits.  West Indian rum was being produced in the Leeward Islands and Jamaica by the 1640s and was exported to New England, where it was prized above all others.  Most regions of New England distilled their own rum by the middle of the century and also produced local brandies from apples, peaches, and cherries.  Englishmen on both sides of the Atlantic believed that distilled liquor, particularly rum and brandy, was good medicine for people who were chilled and that men working in cold weather should take a dram before going outdoors.  At mid-seventeenth century, New England produced a small amount of wine, primarily from currants, but imported the majority of its wine from Portugal.  Wine consumption remained relatively low in the seventeenth century compared to drinking of beer, cider, perry, rum, and brandy.

If the Fairbanks tavern served as an inn, sleeping chambers were probably located on the second floor.  Travelers took it for granted that they might have to share one of the few beds with a complete stranger.  They might find themselves sleeping in the same room with the Fairbanks family or, after the tavern “closed,” in the public rooms.  Only those of high social rank could expect any special treatment or private beds.

The beds were plain wooden frames with tall posts at the four corners.  They were usually so high above the floor that feeble old people had to use steps to get into them.  The trundle beds on which the young children slept were slipped under the high beds in the daytime.  The beds had no springs; cords or ropes were stretched across them in a sort of network and a hay-filled mattress was laid over the cords.  Thick curtains were used, not for privacy, but to keep out the drafts which swept through all New England houses at that time.

Despite frequent complaints about “tavern food, bad beds, and rude staff,” New Englanders “spent a lot of time in taverns and had fun doing so.”

Men did not drop into a public house simply for a drink; they came for the afternoon or evening or both.  Sailors read posted notices for available berths.  Bulletin boards told what ships were in port, what ones were sailing and where.  Mail was directed to the house an addressee was known to favor.  America had no newspapers until the eighteenth century, but English papers and journals were available in the taverns, as were chess and backgammon boards for those who wished to play.  For both the better and meaner sort, the public house was a home away from home.

In a semi-literate puritanical society, where communication and fellowship were nowhere near as easy to come by as today, the tavern was the link to the world. It is unfortunate that — even though “[t]he tavern was the most numerous public institution in colonial New England” — the conversations and activities which transpired within its walls “are largely lost to us.” Each new guest, “however humble,” must have been welcomed as the potential bearer of interesting news or gossip. Surely in this intimate environment — with the shared furniture gathered close to the hearth, with the authority lax, and with drink releasing inhibitions — the talk was “more open and unguarded.” Richard Fairbanks may have been one of the best informed men in the city.

Though in purpose the “public houses” were designed to provide comfort to travelers, “it is clear that most Boston taverns rendered service primarily to local inhabitants day and night.” Especially in the evenings, the townsmen must have felt drawn to Richard’s establishment. Candles and firewood were costly items. Staying at home often meant lingering in darkness and cold. Tavern owners were wise to keep their candles lit and fires burning. With the relatively bright glow emanating from their few windows, the inns “were inviting beacons of light” to their neighbors.

On some occasions the voters of an entire town might assemble in these familiar rooms to transact town business. Still more august assemblies convened in taverns in public pomp and ceremony when selected taverns hosted meetings of the courts. In public rooms, the justices presided over the adjudication of offenses ranging from unpaid debts to murder, and on such days taverns could be the settings in which the most fundamental values of Massachusetts society were exhibited and reaffirmed. Here the hierarchy of governors from king to constable was announced, upheld, and made partially visible; here the “best men” at the top of the social hierarchy sat in judgment of the people called to court; here those who had violated the order and harmony of community life were condemned and humiliated.

It is not known if Richard ever hosted such auspicious gatherings but, in later years, the vintner Robert Turner, who purchased Richard’ s tavern, was a frequent host for the courts of Boston. After Turner came George Monk, who also hosted numerous sessions of the court. By Monk’s time, a pictograph sign hung in front of the establishment, announcing to even the illiterate that this was the Blue Anchor Tavern.

In a community of Bible-toting Puritans, taverns were the focus of much concern and condemnation. Ministers attacked the “needless expense and injurious drinking” which lured the devil while provoking God’s wrath. ln 1673, Reverend Increase Mather commented that, “When drink is got into the brain, then out come filthy songs, and scoffing at the best men, yea at godliness itself in the power of it.” Another minister opined that ordinaries were nothing more than “pest houses and places of enticement.” It is not surprising then that numerous laws were passed to regulate public houses.

During the 1630s and 1640s, as ordinaries were being opened in Boston, Cambridge, Salem, and other Massachusetts towns, the General Court passed a series of laws regulating conduct in them; dancing, singing, bowls, and shuffleboard were prohibited, strangers frequenting ordinaries had to be reported to the magistrate, and prices for food, drink, and lodging were set by the General Court and had to be prominently displayed. The court, of course, outlawed drunkenness and made both the tipsy patron and the ordinary-keeper who served him liable to prosecution. Local residents could not spend more than half an hour a day in an ordinary; travelers could exceed this limit since they lodged on the premises for the night.

Many people were barred from spending time in taverns or buying liquor retail, among them all Indians, known alcohol abusers, servants without their masters, and children without their parents. Known drunks would have their names “posted,” which meant that a selectman or justice of the peace required local taverns to display a public list of people not to be served…. Tavern-keepers themselves were virtually deputy constables by dint of their responsibility for keeping good order. They had to report troublemakers — “those who carry themselves uncivilly; frequent patrons — those who spend “their time and estate by drinking and tipling”; and, of course, any “common drunkard.” At times tavern keepers and magistrates disagreed on the meaning of “drunkard.” After one troubling case in which a man appeared drunk but had consumed only a small amount of liquor, Massachusetts considered passing a law defining drunkenness but then decided not to. More courageous and probably less practical, Plymouth Colony did codify the term.  In 1660, its General Court wrote: “By drunkenness is understood a person that either lisps or falters in his speech by reason of overmuch drink or that staggers in his going or that vomits by reason excessive drinking, or cannot follow his calling.”

The tavern keeper was faced with more regulations than workers of most other occupations. Officials restricted what kinds of beverages could be sold. They passed legislation “to ensure that beer brewed for sale was of good quality and to promote beer and cider as the staple alcoholic drinks. Price controls ensured that cheap and affordable drink was always available, and indirectly controlled the alcoholic potency of a brew.” Guests could not be served more than one-half pint at a time. The tavern keeper could be fined twenty shillings if he allowed shuffleboard or bowling “or any other Play or Game, in or about any such House.”  The keeper who permitted gambling or dancing, or who knowingly served mariners, servants, apprentices, laborers, or youths, would probably have suffered penalties.

One of the strangest laws affecting taverns was the prohibition of health drinking:

In 1639 the Court decreed that any person who “directly or indirectly by any color or circumstance drink[s] to another” would be fined.  Health drinking was not just an occasion for the consumption of a series of drinks but a custom associated with pagan ritual.  Written covenants and “sober” conversation must now define loyalties. Colonists so universally flouted this law, however, that it suffered repeal in 1645.

Richard and Elizabeth were probably quite overwhelmed with complying with all these rules while managing the other affairs of their business. Cooking, cleaning, and sewing were probably the responsibilities of Elizabeth and, later, her daughter Constance. Richard meantime served in his public offices, while attempting to keep track of the debts of his clientele as well as his own financial obligations.

Despite all the regulations and the clergy’s concerns, taverns continued to flourish.  In this new foreign land — with all its dangers and uncertainties — the lure of the public house, with the fellowship of its patrons, the warmth of its hearth, and the soothing effects of its beverages, was a temptation too hard to resist.  Perhaps the indiscriminate condemnation of taverns was not wholly deserved, as “most maintained a quiet and decorous atmosphere. Few court cases arose from disturbances in them.”  Taverns served a useful function in colonial society, especially when they conformed to those “right ends and uses for which they are designed; namely, for the refreshment and entertainment of travelers, and to serve public occasions.”  In the end, even Increase Mather was forced to admit “that in such ‘a great town’ as Boston ‘there is need of such [public] houses, and no sober minister will speak against the licensing of them.'”

Richard was appointed “overseer of fences” on 25 March 1639, and 30 March 1640.

Because the colonists permitted their animals to forage freely, their precious plots of corn and beans often fell prey to hungry swine and cattle.  In England in such cases, the laws of trespass allowed the farmer to sue the livestock owner for the crop damage, but colonial conditions dictated a reversal of this practice. Since the animals were so critical to the colonists’ survival and their owners had no other efficient way to feed them, the burden fell upon farmers to ensure that their arable fields were adequately fenced.

To the town fell the task of determining the individual’s responsibility toward the common fences, and the earliest Boston records show the community requiring that “every man shall make his [portion of the] fences sufficient for all his planting ground on the neck” by a set day and appointing committees to inspect the work. Subsequently, every man who had “any new all[otment of planting] ground upon the necke” was to be shown how much of the common fence he was to maintain, fence responsibility to be in proportion to acreage. “Viewers of fences” were regularly appointed for each field through the 1630’s, enforcing the orders and requiring repairs of the prescribed “duble rayle and payle.”  Heavy fines were levied for non-compliance, as in 1638 when the town demanded 3s 4d “for every rodd” in disrepair.  In the second decade the Muddy River common fence was still being kept up by cooperative effort under the direction of town-appointed fence viewers. But on the peninsula large portions of the fields had come to be fenced separately, the town ordering that proprietors maintain “all fences that lie in division betweene on[e] and other” equally. Where common fences were retained the obligation to labor on them was apparently replaced by a money payment, 1s per acre being collected in 1641 from holders of land in Sentry Hill field “towards the mayntaining of the fence thereof.”

Attestation to the central location and importance of Richard’s tavern is revealed in an order passed by the General Court in November 1639, which effectively made Richard the first postmaster of Boston:

For preventing the miscarriage of letters; & it is ordered, that notice be given that Rich[a]rd Fairbanks his house in Boston is the place appointed for all letters which are brought from beyond the sea, or are to be sent thither, are to be brought unto; & he is to take care that they be delivered or sent according to their directions; & he is allowed for every such letter a 1d., & must answer all miscarriages through his own neglect in this kind; provided that no man shall be compelled to bring his letters thither, except he please.

At one pence per letter, Richard gradually became wealthier.  But, of course, running the town’s only post-office could only have been a boon to Richard’s other business.  Postal customers might be unlikely to pass up a convenient opportunity to catch a beverage or a meal while transacting more serious business. Imagine the table at Richard’s establishment, the mail lying in piles, “until it was found by its addressee or by someone who was willing to carry a letter to him.”

A letter was written on paper made by hand from linen rags, with a pen, hand-cut from the quill of a goose or a wild turkey, dipped in ink, homemade from vinegar and ox gall or from tea and iron. The ink was blotted by scattering dry sand over the page and then pouring the sand back into its container. The knife that converted a quill into a pen was, naturally, a penknife.  We have kept the name and apply it to what our forefathers called a jackknife; penknives were small. The whole equipment was kept in a desk, which wasn’t a piece of furniture to which you might draw up a chair, but was a small box, often with a slanted lid convenient for writing when the desk was put on a table.

Letters were not then, or for years afterward, enclosed in envelopes. Instead the sheets were folded so that none of the writing could be seen, and were sealed with a blob of hot wax into which the writer impressed his seal from an engraved disk with a handle or from his signet ring. The address was written directly on the sealed packet. Addresses had to be descriptive.

On 8 December 1639, Richard and Elizabeth baptized their son Zaccheus at Boston. Zaccheus was an uncommon name, even then. Perhaps the boy was named after the Fairbanks neighbor, Zaccheus Bosworth. Elizabeth’s presence at her son’s baptism is the last we hear of her in the record books. How soon after this she may have died is not known.

On 28 March 1642 — probably because his tavern saw so much traffic, and also perhaps as a result of his previous experience with the town’s cattle — “Richard Fayerbankes … promised to give his endeavor in dealing with such as have milk to sell, and to direct them where they may be provided for.”  On 29 May 1643, Richard was appointed surveyor of highways. This office required him to lay out new streets and maintain existing ones.

Also on 29 May 1643, Governor Winthrop, Valentine Hill, Richard Fayrebankes, Robert Turner and James Davis were authorized to dig “a creek for the harbor of boats in the marsh near William Hudson, senior, his house.”  The five began the work, “expecting to get the town to undertake its completion.”  The town was not interested.  But later that year, the project was renewed by “the Mill Creek proprietors, including Henry Symonds, George Burdon, John Button, John Hill, John Mylam, and William Franklin.”

In 1643 they obtained title from the town to the cove on the northwest side of the peninsula, together with all the marsh surrounding it and a strip of marsh sixty feet wide linking the cove to the town side of Shawmut. The marsh-creek running through the strip was widened and deepened (making the North End an island joined only by a bridge to Shawmut proper) and dams were built to use the tides in such a way as to operate two grist mills, one on the creek and another on a causeway dividing the cove from the Charles River. The land itself was drained, divided among the proprietors, and by them subdivided and sold for house plots, Mylam and Franklin being the most active in the business.

Around this time, the Boston Book of Possessions was compiled, and from it, we can get an idea of the property owned by Richard Fairbanks during these years. Richard owned the house and garden on Washington Street, the site of his tavern and post-office. He also possessed about six acres of marshland used as pasture. This property appears to have been located just south of Fort (later Milk) Street, just beyond the cart-bridge across Shelter Creek. The surrounding area was known as Fort Field for nearby stood “a great broad hill, whereon is planted a Fort, which can command any ship as shee sayles into any Harbour within the still Bay.”  On Richard’s Fort Field land were a “cottage or tenement with … orchard, gardens, outhousing, [and] closes.”  Others with property in the area were Robert Turner, Edward Hutchinson, and Richard Gridley. Did Richard own cattle that grazed on his pastureland? Or was Richard merely a supplier of feed to the townspeople and his guests who arrived on horseback?

ln addition to his land at Fort Field, Richard also owned four acres at New Field. This area was located beyond Sudbury End, at the western extreme of the Shawmut peninsula.

Richard owned an additional garden on Washington Street just south of his house. This property ran from the west side of Washington Street in a narrow strip to the highway to the training ground (later known as Common Street, now Tremont Street). Located about halfway between School House Lane (later School Street) and Winter Street, the garden probably included what is now Bromfield Street. Most of this property was later owned by William Davis, the apothecary. However, Richard retained a lot behind the houses on School House Lane.

On 12 August 1645, a “bill of sixty & nine pounds eighteen shillings & five pence, being presented to this Court by Rich: Fairbanks, of many particulars as due to him from the country, is accepted by the Court for a debt of sixty-three pounds nine shillings, &c., due to the country from Mr. Edward Ting, so far as it appears to be just by the examination of the surveyor general & Wm. Parks.”

This accounting tidbit demonstrates the peculiar way business was transacted in the “specie poor” Massachusetts Bay Colony. Was Richard owed payment from the governement for one of the offices he had held? Or had his tavern been used as a courtroom, for which he deserved recompense? Unfortunately, the record is silent as to the exact nature of the Court’s debts to Richard. Within a year of “the country” owing Richard payment, the situation was reversed:

“It is ordered, that whatsoever appears due to the widow Wilson from the country, with respect to her late husband’s wages, &c., appearing under the hands of the Treasurer, she shall be forthwith paid & satisfied by Rich: Fairbanks, as far as that comes to, which he oweth the country for the custom of wines, & the rest by the Treasurer, so as she depart the prison house or quietly resign it to the keeper,” 7 October 1646.

The “widow Wilson,” named Patience, was the relict of William Wilson.  William had been the prison keeper at Boston from 1642 until his death in 1646.  The General Court had a difficult time trying “to persuade his wid. that she must not always liv. at the pub. build.”

On 4 November 1646, having apparently paid his “custom of wines,” Richard was again granted, by the Massachusetts government, a license to sell alcohol. This was probably the last time Richard was licensed directly by the Colony, thereafter the law permitted him to seek permission to operate from the selectmen of the town of Boston.

On 30 June 1651, Richard witnessed a deed of Robert Turner. Shortly thereafter, on 14 August 1651, Richard witnessed the will of Robert Turner, shoemaker of Boston.  The testator Robert Turner was not the same man as Robert Turner, vintner, with whom Richard had likely traveled aboard the Griffin, and it does not appear that the shoemaker and vintner were even related.  In addition to other legacies, Robert Turner, the shoemaker, left “forty shillings unto John Spurrs wife.”  John Spoore had been recorded as the “brother” of James Mattocks, and Mattocks was soon to become the father-in-law of Richard’s daughter Constance.  The shoemaker’s bequest to Spoore’s wife Elizabeth was the only legacy not proved to have gone to one of his relatives.  One wonders then if Elizabeth Spoore might have been related to Robert Turner.

Richard Fairbanks may have found it more difficult to run his tavern profitably as competition increased. “By 1648, five ordinaries could sell beer, wine, and hard liquors, and eight others could sell beer and fermented drinks, for a total of thirteen places where the public could legallv gather to drink alcohol in a town of approximately three thousand people.”  lf Elizabeth had died by this time, the workload might have been too much for the grieving widower. Richard may have realized that his daughter Constance was going to marry soon, and his son Zaccheus may have been dangerously ill. For whatever reasons, by 2 April 1652, Richard seems to have decided to leave the tavern business behind. On that date, Richard exchanged land with Robert Turner of Boston, vintner, Turner receiving “one dwelling house, garden & yard, while Richard received “one dwelling house, garden & yard” and “6 acres or thereabouts of enclosed ground … in the Fort Field.” The apparent imbalance of the exchange might be explained by the prime location of Richard’s establishment. It is known that Robert Turner soon built a new house on the property he acquired from Richard. On 5 October 1652, Turner paid a fee to be allowed “to have his new house jet out farther into the street (than his old house now standeth).” Turner operated a successful tavern for several years, which was known in his time as The Anchor. He died in 1664. The vintner left his “new built house” to sons Ephraim and John. John operated the inn. After John’s death, the establishment came into the hands of George Monk who married John’s widow. Under Monk, the tavern was known as The Blue Anchor.

Regrettably, I have not been able to determine where the house-lot that Turner sold to Richard was located. However, Turner’s six acres at Fort Field were located on High Street, adjoining Richard’s pasture to the south.

On 30 March 1653, Richard’s daughter Constance married Samuel Mattocks. Within eight months, on 10 November 1653, Richard’s son Zaccheus died. As his family disappeared from around him, Richard himself was probably losing his enthusiasm for life. Still, in 1654, Richard was hale enough to be admitted to the elitist “Honourable” Artillery Company. As he marched with his matchlock in the Common, Richard must have thought with irony of those days long ago when the colony had taken away all of the arms and ammunition of this dangerous “Hutchinsonian.”

[T]he “Military Company of the Massachusetts” was formed [about 1639], and Robert Keayne … was captain. These persons had a formal charter authorizing them to choose oflicers, to assemble and drill wherever they pleased, and to make laws for their own government; it being specially stipulated that no officers should be put upon them but those of their own choice. One thousand acres of land were given them for the payment of any charges they should be put to, and the first Monday of every month was set apart for their drill-day, no other training, or even town meetings, being permitted on that day. Captain Keayne had been connected with the “Honourable Artillery Company” of London, and, in course of time, this new organization was called the “Honourable” Artillery Company. ln I738, it was styled the “Honourable and Ancient Company;” since that time it has been known as the “Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company,” and the last name has been confirmed by the Legislature.

William Dinely, the barber-surgeon who had been an outspoken follower of Anne Hutchinson, died in 1639 in a snowstorm. When Dinely’s widow Alice made her marriage contract with Richard Critchley on 15 August 1654, Richard Fairbanks, Atherton Hough, and Thomas Leverett were her representatives.  On 29 January 1654/5, in an attestation concerning Alice’s remarriage, “Richard Fairebanck did acknowledge this to be his own handwriting, viz, his name here underwritten before me.”

lt was probably shortly after this date that Richard Fairbanks died. We know for certain that Richard had died before 15 April 1667, because of a deed of that date concerning Richard’s pasture land at Fort Field.  This deed reveals that Richard had sold “several years” previously at least some of his pasture land to the Boston Church:

On 15 April 1667 James Penn, ruling elder, James Johnson & Richard Truesdall, deacons of the Church of Christ in Boston, sold to Theodore Atkinson, senior, of Boston “all that their cottage or tenement with the orchard, gardens, outhousing, closes or pasture lands thereto adjoining or belonging as it hath been & is now fenced in, situate, lying & being in Boston near to the Fort Hill containing in quantity seven acres and seven rods or thereabouts as they heretofore purchased it from the late Richard Fairebancks several years since, having been also for & from that time in the possession of the said Theodore Atkinson, senior.

Not long after 1700, Atkinson sold this property to Edmund Gray “who built rope-walks on it in 1712.”

Richard had sold his pasture land to the Church, but he may have charged them very little, the exchange of a sum of money or other payment being a mere formality. The pasture may have been more of a gift to the Church. And this may not have been all which Richard “gave” to that institution. In 1834, an inventory of church plate belonging to the First Church of Boston, revealed a small cup, with some evidence that it may once have belonged to Richard and Elizabeth Fairbanks.

Children of Richard and Elizabeth ([Daulton?]) Fairbanks:

+     2050.1. Just possibly Lydia.

+     2050.2. Constance [1025], baptized 10 (11) 1635 [10 January 1636].

+     2050.3. Zaccheus, baptized 8 (10) 1639 [8 December 1639].


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