rejudice and persecution were two major reasons that the
Scotch-Irish left Ireland for America. They encountered both again in
Worcester, Massachusetts Bay Colony at the hands of the Puritan majority
there. Their reaction was to move yet again. This time to a place where
they could worship and live in their own way; they called it the Lisburn
Proprietary, after the city of Lisburn in Ireland. Modern sensibilities
interpret their experience in Worcester as an unfortunate injustice. The
settlers themselves, however, viewed it differently. They wanted to
separate themselves from people they saw as unorthodox in religion. The
truth of this can be seen in the articles to which all settlers in the
Lisburn Proprietary had to agree. They said:
(They shall be)
"families of good conversation... Who shall be such as were
inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland, or their descendants, being
Protestants, and none to be admitted but such as bring good and
undeniable credentials or certificates of their being persons of good
conversation and of the Presbyterian persuasion as used in the Church
of Scotland, and conform to ye discipline thereof."
There was to be no repeat of the Worcester experience. In
fact, they were no less prejudiced than the Puritans they left. The
difference was that now they were in control.
The Lisburn Proprietary worked like this. In 1738 two
Worcester Scotch-Irish men, Robert Peebles and John Thornton, acting for
a few others, contracted to purchase a large tract of land (about thirty
thousand acres) in central Massachusetts from the owners who had it as a
grant from the crown. These were the proprietors.
They would in turn sell portions of the parcel to the people who fit the
criteria above stated. They would also get first choice of lots. Then,
the land was again divided and sold, until three divisions were made.
The new owners agreed to develop the land and settle on it. Lots were
set aside for a church and a home for the minister and space was allowed
for roads. In this way, a town was created.
William Crossett purchased three lots, one in each
division. They were numbers (1)57, (2)38, and(3)46. (seen here in
red) These lots were, I believe, for himself and his brothers,
Archibald and Robert. Number 57 is a larger lot in the east section, 38
of the second division is two ranges to the north on a creek, and 46 of
the third division is just a bit to the west of 57. Average size of lots
was about 100 acres. Brothers John and James appear not to have been
with the others. There is evidence that John may have married in Boston
in 1735 under the name of Crozier, and James seems elusive as well. It
is possible that some opted to return to Europe.
We must suppose that at the time of this settlement this
land was undeveloped forest. In fact, this was the frontier of America.
Travel in this land was oriented north and south along the river
valleys, not east and west. The Atlantic Coast, and the Hudson and
Connecticut River corridors were the paths of settlement and trade.
Original settlements occurred along these corridors and later filled in
William, Archibald, and Robert Crossett were housewrights.
Their skills were central and essential to the success of this new
community. They, together with the sawyer and the blacksmith would help
create an infrastructure. As part of their purchase each owner agreed
that in three years time, they would be settled on the
"each to have a house of at least eighteen feet
square and seven feet stud, well inclosed, and made habitable and upon
one of said hundred acre lots, and have three acres part thereof
improved by plowing and mowing."
Development would progress in stages. Food and shelter
were primary. Initially, possibly only a lean-to was built for the man
to use while clearing part of the land. This meant felling, lopping, and
clearing trees and underbrush. Doing this to an acre of land is a
daunting idea when done totally by hand. At an earlier time the work
might have been easier. Native Americans habitually burned over the
forest clearing it of brush and encouraging grass growth. Large trees
would not be affected by the fire. So, huge tracts of forest would
appear like parkland. However, in the late 17th century, the Native
American tribes were ravaged by smallpox and measles probably brought by
Europeans. It is difficult to be absolutely certain, but scholars agree
that a majority of the native people died in that plague. Native hunters
could no longer care for their hunting grounds and undergrowth returned.
Settlers would temporarily share meadow for pasturage and grazing. Pigs
would be allowed to live free in the woods since the trees supplied an
ample fodder of chestnuts and acorns. This led to the establishment of a
colorful civic office, that of "hog-reeve." He took care of the behavior
of the community's pigs, who could do a lot of damage if not somewhat
controlled. Another colorfully titled office was "dog whipper", a
self explanatory, if dangerous, occupation. If a man had his family with
him, then a more substantial house would be necessary. These were made
of logs, since they were abundant and could be quickly formed into a
house. A cabin could be constructed using only a large hand ax, a
mallet, some wedges, an adze, and a froe (a device used to split
shingles from a log.) All this haste was necessary in order to get in a
crop so that the first winter could be survived. No doubt the Crossett
brothers had plenty of work, not only on their own land but in helping
wintered, and a new crop put in, more time could be spent on housing and
barns for the animals, wells could be dug, and a sawmill built. With the
ability to saw timber, and forge tools, including plowshares, a more
permanent residency could develop.
Each of the Crossett brothers were married after settling
in Lisburn. William married in 1740,Robert
and Archibald in 1748 to sisters Mary and Sarah Savage. The connection
with the Savage family is strong and needs to be discussed at more
length, elsewhere. There is no evidence of the presence of their mother,
Martha Crossett, although she may have been living with one of her sons.
Here are their families.
Elizabeth Macklam and they had ten children.
- Jacob b. 13 Feb. 1743 - a twin who
- Samuel b. 13 Feb. 1743 m. Agnes
- Thomas b. 6 Jan. 1745
- Mary b. 25 July 1746 m. George
- John (?)
- Elizabeth b. 8 Mar. 1748 m. Jonathan
- Margret b. 2 Dec. 1749 m. Joseph
- William b. 19 Sep. 1751 m.(1) Susanna
Jackson (2) Jannet Thomas
- Robert b. 2 Nov. 1753 m. Nancy
- James b. 3 Aug. 1755 m. Sarah
Robert married Mary Savage and they also had ten
children.We should note that Mary and Sarah's mother was Mary Hamilton,
related to our Hamiltons.
- Edward b. 25 July 1749 d. 31 Dec. 1820
m. Elizabeth Cady
- Samuel b. 25 Dec. 1750 d. 2 Nov. 1802
m. Abigail Cady
- Robert b. 9 Mar. 1753 d. 29 Sep. 1776
( a war casualty)
- Sarah b. 14 Feb. 1755 m. Joseph
- John b. 4 Feb. 1757 m. Olive
- Isaac b. 25 Apr. 1760 d. 20 Sep. 1791
- Ebenezer b. 10 Jun. 1762
- Richard b. 5 Nov. 1764 d. 6 Aug. 1814
m. Olive Powers
- Patience b. 22 Oct. 1766 d. 19 Feb.
1853 m. Zenas Ware
- Mary (Polly) b. 4 Apr. 1769 m. Samuel
The two Cady girls were
Archibald and Sarah
set the record with thirteen children. (some list more, but not
- Jacob b. 19 Dec. 1749 m. (1) Elinor
English (2) Fanny Savage
- Son b. 1752 - a twin who
- Mary b. 1752 m. William
- Martha b. 1754 m. Samuel
- Lydia b. 1754 m. Thomas
- Rachael b. 1757
- Israel b. 3 Mar. 1759 m. Martha
- Eunice b. 15 May 1761 m. John
- Samuel b. 10 May 1763 d. 20 Oct. 1822
m. Sally Polhemus
- Rebecca b. 19 May 1765 m. Ephraim
- Sarah b. 5 Jun 1767 m. Matthew Gray
- John Savage b. 24 July 1769 d. 3
- Elizabeth b. 1771 m. Solomon
So, from three
brothers we get a second generation of 33 people. Notice the last names
that repeat; Macklam, Savage, Gray, Cady, Hamilton, Thompson. All these
names are common in the counties of Antrim and Down in North Ireland and
are found richly populating the central part of Massachusetts and
particularly the Lisburn Proprietary which later became Pelham,
Massachusetts. Data is missing on several of the siblings. Some died in
infancy, some married and moved away, and some just lost touch. Just
like modern families only it was much harder then to keep in touch.
The three brothers
were active members of their community. In the French and Indian War
William served as an ensign in the company of Captain Robert Lotheridge
in their march for the relief of Fort William Henry in 1757. Brother
Archibald also enlisted as a private. William later was often chosen
moderator of town meetings. In 1774 he was named to a committee called
"The Committee of Inspection" whose duty was to "follow the instructions
of the Continental and Province Congresses." This was to interpret to
the town what was asked of them by the larger government. In 1777 he and
five other men were allowed one pound as payment for "carrying down
provisions to the army at Cambridge." This was for the Battle of Bunker
Hill. He moderated the meeting calling for a new Constitution in 1779,
and chaired the meeting accepting it in 1780. William was deeply
involved in the committee to set the "average" for calling
men to serve in the militia. This average was derived from tax payments
and other contributions and was a bone of contention among the
surrounding towns. These men all had sons serving in the army and
William's nephew Robert was killed in the war. They took great care that
their sons were treated fairly.
was also a well known townsman. It is from his family that we New York
Crossetts are descended. Taxes were levied following a formula based
upon a man's land ownership and wealth. The "invoice" for Archibald was
found among a tattered pile of papers in the Pelham town offices. He was
fairly well to do.
- Dwelling house - 19 by 37
- Horses - 2, Cows - 3, Sheep -
- Ackers of Mowing land -
- Tuns of hay - 9
- Ackers of tillage land -
- Ackers of orchard - 3
- Bushels of Corn - 45, Rie - 20,
- Bushels of Oats -
- Barrels of Sider - 3
This was 1760 and he and Sarah
already had six children, so we can assume the house to have been two
stories. Archibald was the only male old enough to vote. He
was active in the church and was given, along with Thomas Dick,
the task of allotting pews in the meeting house. He and William
were in the third row and paid four and a half pounds for
the space. The allotment was contested and changed to allow
the elderly members to sit in the front downstairs "provided they clear
them on Sacrament Days." In 1769 he was chosen with two others to
"provide shingles to finish the roof of the meeting house and to Imploy
Workmen to do said work."This indicates that he was indeed a housewright
as he would have the ability to produce the shingles; each split from a
log, and would have knowledge of men to contract to do the work. The
work was a social occasion judging by the amount of rum purchased by the
town clerk for the workers. Afterward the town sold at auction a large
amount of shingles and nails left over. These Scotch-Irish Presbyterians
were not teetotalers by any means. Liquor was often used as money.
Drunkenness, however, was not tolerated. Mixing alcohol with drinking
water made it more palatable and also made it safer from disease.
the youngest of the brothers, is found later in town affairs. Robert was
involved in the School Committee. Schools were started in Pelham in
1744. In 1798 and 1800 he voted the allotment for the school's cost.
Over two years it went from $100 to $450. That seems familiar somehow.
In 1809 Robert was a tax assessor in Pelham. His own assessment was
$8.42. This was toward the upper level of taxpayers.
The person with the highest tax was
one Dr. Nehemiah Hinds at $24.02.
The good Doctor
was not shy in putting in his two cents. He directed a letter "To the
Church of Christ in Pelham, East Parish." In it he brought charges
against the minister, putting six points against him. The first three
allege him to be in "disregard for the truth" on various grounds.
The fourth may be most to the point. "In falling from a bargain he made
with me to procure him lumber for his house." In the fifth point he gets
theological; "In declaring that he believed only a lesser part of
Creation would be saved, and afterward denying that he ever said a less
part would be saved but the greater part." The last charge is vehement.
"Profaneness. In saying that he would not pray for the Reverend Mr.
Williams of Leveritt because he was in error; but if he did he must pray
as the other man did - O Lord! Damn such damnable
a crisis and a committee was formed on which Robert Crossett served to
consult with four other clergymen and seek their cousel. The result was
that an Ecclesiastical Council was convened. Like a court with half the
people chosen by the plaintiff and half by the accused, they heard
testimony from various people. Tellingly, Dr. Hinds was the moderator
and the matter was conducted at his house. The council did not reconcile
the parish to the minister. At a town meeting the people, after hearing
the committee report were asked to vote. The method of voting was
interesting and very expressive of opinions since it was not secret.
"All those that are not for Mr. Cazier as their minister under present
existing circumstances to move to the west end of the meeting house.
Twenty nine moved to the west end of the meeting house which was the
whole of the voters present."
Robert was then
named to a committee to supply the parish with a new minister. These
Scotch -Irish Presbyterians were very particular about their religion
and demanded orthodoxy and strict observance. Deviation from that led to
the need for public confession. In 1794 Pelham formed a second parish,
led by the above named Reverend Matthias Cazier. Archibald Crossett was
apparently not an easy man to change. His son Israel and wife Martha
joined the new parish as did his daughter Lydia Gray. Sarah, Archibald's
wife, joined as well, but he and his son-in-law, Thomas Gray, did
not. This fact was published for the town to see. Sarah was
clearly as strong minded as her husband.
No dates of death
have been discovered for any of the original Crossett brothers except
Robert who died in 1812. William and Robert may be represented in the
1790 census, but Archibald is not unless he is living with a child. Only
heads of household were named. It is Archibald's family we must follow,
especially his first son, Jacob.