In 1638, the General Court of the Plymouth Colony granted a group of settlers the rights to a new town named Taunton, the validity of which grant was confirmed by Wampanoag Sachem Massasoit. In 1664 Massasoit’s son and successor Metacomet-more familiar to us as “King Philip”–confirmed that grant in writing, with his interpreter John Sassamon acting as witness.
Offered here is a 1696 copy of that important document, prepared by the Taunton town clerk and certified as accurate by the Bristol County clerk. It bears secretarial copies of the signature of Sassoman and the marks of Metacomet and Nimrod, one of his leading warriors. The document reads in part:
“March 23 : 1663/4
Those present witnesseth that whereon there was a plantation granted by the Court of Plimouth in the year thirty eight named Taunton to sundry persons, who there sate[?] down : viz: Capt. William Pouleme[?] John Gilbert Henry Andrews John Doane[?] Walter Doane[?] and sundry others, the bounds of which plantation are expressed in the grant of the Court of Plimouth according to the several points of the compass thereon expressed which plantation so bounded as above mentioned Together with the meadows upon the great river downward so far as the store house point so called with all the meadows of Assonate & Broad Cove[?] with a smale[?] tract of land, bought of [illegible three-word name] the marked tree at the Pond and the mouth[?] of Niscoquahamock[?] or the three mile river which land and its meadows with their appurtenances [illegible] and priviledges whatsoever were bought of Osamoquin[?] by the parties above mentioned. I Philip Sachem do therefore by those presents ratify & confirm for my self my heires and successors the granted premises made by the Court of Plimouth and also assented too by Osamoquin my father, to the [illegible] inhabitants of Taunton and their heirs & successors for ever peaceably to enjoy without molestation or disturbance from by or under me witness my hand and seale the day the day [sic] & year above written.”
Metacomet gained enduring fame as the titular leader of native forces during the 1675-76 conflict now known as King Philip’s War, which resulted in his death and the near-extermination of the Wampanoag. Sassamon was a “praying Indian” (i.e., a Christian convert) killed in 1674 on Metacomet’s orders after warning Plymouth Colony leaders of an impending native revolt. The war was touched off by the punishment of the perpetrators and subsequent humiliation of Philip.
Old folds with some weakness and smudging at intersection, else excellent.