The many difficulties which have hitherto attended a careful and exhaustive reading of the Town Records of Springfield have deterred even those who have given considerable thought and attention to the history of the founding of the town, from making a thorough study of the events which occurred during the formative period, or more than briefly mentioning in-dividuals who made up the community in this pioneer undertaking in Western New England. It is no small degree of satisfaction that I am now able to present the first volume of this work to the public, which will, with the second volume, to be issued a few months later, embody the offical acts of the town during the first hundred years.
In addition I have given a brief review of some of the leading events, and a chronological summary from which the dates of occurrences can be readily obtained, which otherwise could be learned only by a more exhaustive reading. The index will also be found unusually full. This will bring to the reader a more accurate knowledge of the various transactions which originated here, soe of which concern the beginnings of other settlements, and also a clearer view of the circumstances and motives which gave them birth, and will enable the individual reader to find that which is of most interest to him without spending hours in fruitless search.
The writers of our early history have made mention of William Pynchon's book, which was the cause of his departure from Springfield sixteen years after the founding of the town, and of his return to England, but no one has given an adequate idea of what it contained. The book was printed neary 250 years ago in England, and what was then regrded as a heresy by the leading ministers and officials in the Colony, was a protest against certain Calvinistic beliefs. The
book, or nearly the whole of it, has been printed in this volume, and will be found inter-esting as relating to the religious beliefs of the first settlers of New England and in comparison with the progress of religious thought which has taken place withing the last two or three centuries.
William Pynchon was without doubt the ablest reasoner and the best scholar residing here during the first century. The drift of his mind was towards abstract discussion of theolo-logical questions, which he treated with an independence of thought rare for his time. Viewed in the light of the present it lacks that importance which he attached to them, in-spired as they were by others who were feeding on the dry husks of dogmatic theology and placing more importance upon the letter than upon the spirit, which latter pervades the understanding and the beliefs of the present generation.
The official records have been followed literally in orthography, punctiation, and capitalization, in the printed volume, as well as the abbreviations common in all records of that time. It will no doubt facilitate the reading of those who are not familiar with the customs of the time to know that ye stands for the, yt for that, ym for them, yr for their, wt for what or white. Used in this connection the letter "y" represents the Saxon character for "th." These contractions were never found in the printed books of that period, and were in use only in written records or other writings of the time. To explain what may be misleading as to dates it may be well to keep in mind that the new year began with the 25th of March, consequently where double dates appear, like 1651-2, the last figure represents the correct year, as we reckon at present. In the chronological summary changes have been made in the dates of the years to conform to present reckoning, but no change was made in the dates of the month to correspond with New Style. While March 25 was the beginning of the new year, March was always considered as the first month, hence where "2d mo." appears it stands for April. With these explanations even the casual reader will find no difficulty in understanding the records.
In all the early New England settlements "Goodman" was in use as a prefix to surnames. Mister was applied to ministers, or some distinguished person. In the official records of Springfield "Goodman" was often contracted to the letter "G." If the reader in turning from the index to the records finds, for example, G: Parsons, or G: Ashley, he will under-stand that the letter "G" is not the initial of the given name, but refers to the title of "Goodman."
The recorders are also responsible for the different ways of writing the name of Thomas Merrick. It appears as Mirick, Myrick and Merrick. Whether the original Thomas, the founder of the family, was Merrick or Mirack, no one can tell. The division of this family name comes from the lack of knowledge on part of the recorders, whose incorrect orthography have in other New England families made many branches from a single family tree.
The map which accompanies this volume shows the location of the homelots of the first settlers, and will be useful in establishing this interesting fact to their descendants. The grants were made at various times, but mainly between 1636 to 1646.I have given much time to the prepartion of this work, including making the transcription from the records, and I hope it may prove to be acceptable and of permanent value.
Henry M. Burt
Springfield, Mass., May 10, 1898.
In list of Town Recorders on page 47, the date of service of William Pynchon, Jr., given as from 1628 to 1636, should read from 1728 to 1736.
The toll-road mentioned on p. 53, was across wet meadow on what is now State Street, not in West Springfield, as stated in the 16th line.
In last line on p. 63, "coming to England" should read, "coming to New England."
On p.90, 11th line, instead of "Christ did suffer," should read "did not suffer."
On p. 53, line 17, the statement relative to the location of the toll bridge in 1660, over Mill River, is incorrect. The bridge was established farther west of that point, on the road which crosses the river, turns southerly and leads over Long Hill.
On p. 343 "Joseph Chapin" should read "Japhet Chapin."
[In the handwriting of Elizur Holyoke.]
Names of the Townsmen or men of this Towne of Springfield
(page to be scanned)
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