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Trent and Wells, eds. Colonial Prose and Poetry. 1901.

Vol. III. The Growth of the National Spirit: 1710–1775

Thomas Prince

THOMAS PRINCE, one of the most learned and accurate of colonial historians, was born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, May 15, 1687, and died in Boston, October 22, 1758. After his graduation at Harvard in the class of 1707, he visited the West Indies, Madeira, and England, remaining in the mother country from 1709 to 1717, doing occasional preaching. On his return to Boston he was ordained co-pastor of the Old South Church, and was connected with that congregation till his death. He attained considerable eminence as a preacher, but still more as a scholar. Already, while in college, he had begun to collect historical colonial manuscripts and the writings of New England divines. These collections, the basis of his own most important book, were deposited in the Old South Church, and destroyed in part by fire in 1775. What remains may be consulted in the Boston Public Library. It is needless to give a complete list of his numerous publications, which consist of many sermons, some editions of historical tracts, notes on earthquakes and other phenomena of nature, and his Chronological History of New England—a laborious compilation of great value, the first volume of which was issued in 1736, but was not warmly enough received to encourage its author to continue the work until nearly twenty years had elapsed. Then only three instalments of the second volume were published. Scholars have found these annals very valuable, and have wished that Prince and his contemporary, Stith, could have brought their work down to their own times.

Items from the Continuation of the Annals of New England. 1755.


HAVING brought our Annals of New-England down to the Settlement of the Massachusetts Colony, in the 1st volumn; and having lately received a most authentic and valuable Journal of Events relating to said colony,—from the time when their 1st Gov. Winthrop, Dep. Gov. Dudley, eleven Assistants, with their Charter, four ministers, & about 1500 people were waiting at the Isle of Wight & other places in the South and West of England, to sail for this desired land; viz. from Monday, March 29. 1630, to Jan. 11. 1648, 9: Wherein are many remarkables not to be found any where else; and whereby alone we are enabled to correct many mistakes and ascertain the dates of many articles in others:—all wrote with the said Gov. Winthrop’s own hand, who deceased in the very house I dwell in, the 26th of March after: I may now proceed with a further enlargement of intelligence, and with a greater certainty and exactness.

And for my readers’ greater satisfaction I shall also go on, as I did before, to give them, not my own expressions, but those of the authors who lived in the times they wrote of; excepting now and then a word or note of mine for explanation sake, distinguished from theirs by being enclosed in such marks as [These]. So that we may as it were hear those eminent persons, Gov. Bradford, Gov. Winslow, Gov. Winthrop, Mr. Secretary Morton of Plymouth; Gov. Bradstreet, Mr. Secretary Nowell, &c. in the Massachusetts Colony records; the Rev. Mr. Hubbard, and others, telling us the remarkable events of the times they lived in.

But as I was unhappily obliged to close the former volumn abruptly in September 1630, about 2 months after our entering the 2d Section of the iid Part; I must refer to that, and begin the iid Volumn with September 28, in continuation of the


Containing Articles from the begining of the Settlement of the Massachusetts or 2d Colony, to the Settlement of the 7th and last, by the combination of 41 persons into a form of Government at Piscataqua, on Oct. 22. 1640, afterwards called the Province of New-Hampshire.

[Oct. 1630.]The first execution in Plymouth Colony: which is a matter of great sadness to us, is of one John Billington; for waylaying and shooting John Newcomen, a young man, in the shoulder, whereof he died. The said Billington was one of the profanest among us. He came from London and I know not by what friends shuffled into our Company. We used all due means about his trial: was found guilty both by grand and petty jury; and we took the advice of Mr. Winthrop and others, the ablest gentlemen in the Massachusetts Bay, who all concured with us that he ought to die and the land be purged from blood.—[Taken from Bradford.]

[Jan. 3d 1631.]Dies [at Boston] the daughter of Mr. Sharp [I suppose Thomas Sharp Esq. one of the Assistants] a godly virgin, making a comfortable end after a long sickness. The Plantation here [i.e. I suppose at Boston] received not the like loss of any woman since we came hither; and therefore she well deserves to be remembered in this place. And among those who died [at Boston] about the end of Jan. was the daughter of John Ruggles, a girl of eleven years old, who in the time of her sickness expressed to the minister and those about her so much faith and assurance of salvation as is rarely found in any of that age; Which I thought not unworthy here to commit to memory. And if any tax me with wasting paper with recording these small matters, such may consider that small things in the beginning of politic bodies are as remarkable as greater in bodies full grown.—[From Gov. Dudley.]

[1632.]This year, the General Court of Pc [Plymouth Colony] make an extraordinary Act; That whoever refuses the Office of Governor, shall pay £20 Sterling, unless he were chose two years going; and whoever refuses the Office of Counsellor or Magistrate, £10 Sterling.—[From a manuscript letter.]

[1633.]This spring, or especially all the month of May, there are such [numbers] of a great sort of flies, like for bigness to bumble-bees, which come out of holes in the ground [in Pc] replenish all the wood, eat the green things, and make such a constant yelling noise as all the woods ring of them and [deafens] the hearers. The Indians tell us that sickness will follow: and so it [proves] in June, July and August. They have not by the English been heard or seen before or since [i.e. to the beginning of 1647, when Gov. Bradford ends his History: but have in like manner at distant periods risen up since, and are known by the name of Locusts].