The Pynchon Court Record
Joseph H. Smith, ed., Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts (1639-1702): The
Pynchon Court Record, An Original Judges' Diary of the Administration of Justice in the
Springfield Courts in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Cambridge: Harvard University
[*2] February the 14th 1638 .
We the Inhabitantes of Agaam uppon Quinnettecot takinge into consideration the
manifould inconveniences that may fale uppon us for want of some fit magistracy amonge us:
Beinge now by Godes providence fallen into the line of the Massachusets Jurisdiction: and
it beinge farr of to repayer thither in such cases of justice as may often fall out amonge
us doe therfore thinke it meete by a generall consent and vote to ordaine (till we receive
further directions from the generall court in the Massachuset Bay) Mr. William Pynchon to
execute the office of a magistrate in this our plantation of Agaam viz .
To give oathes to Conestables or military officers to direct warrantes, both processe
executions and attachmentes, to here and examine misdemenors to depose witnesses and uppon
profe of misdemenor to inflict corporall punishment, as whipping stockinge byndinge to the
peace, or good behaviour, and in some cases to requier sureties, and if the offence
requier to commit to prison and in default of a common prison to comit delinquentes to the
charge of some fit person or persons till justice may be satisfied, Also in the Tryall of
actions for debt or trespasse, to give oathes, direct juries depose witnesses, take
verdictes and keepe Records of verdictes, Judgmentes, executions: and what ever else may
tend to the Kinges peace, and the manifestation of our fidellity to the Bay Jurisdiction
and the restraininge of any that shall molest Godes lawes: or lastely whatsoever else may
fall within the power of an assistant in the Massachuset.
It is also agreed uppon my a mutuall consent that in case any action of debt or
trespasse to be tryed: seinge a Jury of 12 fit persons cannot be had at present among us:
That six persons shall be esteemed and held a sufficient Jury to try any action under the
some of Ten pounds till we shall see cause to the Contrary and by common consent shall
alter this number of Jurors or shall be otherwise directed from the Generall Court in the
John Cable is chosen and sworne to execute the office of a Constable in this place for
a year or till another shall be chosen in his roome.
[*4] December 12 1639.
John Woodcock beinge sommond by warrant to answer Mr. George Moxon in an action of
slander for reporting that he tooke a false oath against him: The said John desyred that
this difference might be tried by a private hearinge below in the River: Mr. Moxon
referred himselfe to the Judgment of the plantation present [*5] present whether it were
fitter to be heard by a private refference below in the River, or tryed here publikly by a
Jury. The generall voa[t] of the plantation is that seeing the matter is publike it should
be publikly herd and tryed her by a Jury: Liberty is granted to John Woodcoke to produce
his witnesses against this day fortnight being the 26 of December. Also at the said tyme
John Woodcoke is warned to answer for his laughinge in Sermon tyme: this day at the
Also he is then to answer his misdemenor [of] idlenesse.
The meeting on the 26 of December is deferred till the 2d of January 1639 .
1639  January 2d.
George Moxon complai[nes] against John Woodcoke in an action of slander that he saith
that John Woodcoke doth report that he tooke a false oath against him at Hartford and he
demandes of John Woodcoke for the said sland[er] 9£ 19s.
The Jury. Henry Smyth, Jehew Burr, Robert Ashly, Thomas Merik, John Searle, Samuell
Mr. Moxon produces thes witnesses Thomas Horton, John Cable, Robert Ashly, Henry Smyth,
The Jury find for the Plaintife damages 6£ 13s. [Page torn.]
When Mr. Moxon gave the Constable the warrant [*6] to distraine for the said damag the
said John Woodcoke answered that he ought Mr. Moxon no mony nor none he would pay him.
Also John Woodcoke said that he had showed Mr. Moxon more respect and reverence than
ever he would againe. Witnesse Henry Smyth, Samuell Hubbard and Thomas Horton
February 13 1639 .
The Jury Henry Smyth, Jehew Bur, Robert Ashly, John Leonard, Samuell Hubbard, Samuell
1. Thomas Horton complaines against Thomas Mericke in an action of the case for not
doinge a sufficient dayes worke for the wages of a day.
2. The said Thomas Horton Complaines against Thomas Mericke in an action of the case
for taking away certaine planks or boardes.
[*206] 3. the said Thomas Horton complaines against Thomas Mericke in an action
of the case for felling of two trees in the lot of Thomas Horton.
4. For changing of 4 bushells of corne after it was delivered.
1. Thomas Merick complaines against John Woodcoke in an action of debt of 2s 6d.
2. Also in another action of the Case for two bushells of corne that was delivered into
his possession: and about two bushells more that he is to be accountable for.
[*12] October 9. 1640.
The Examination of Widdow Horton about selling of her husbands peice to the Indians.
She saith that she hath not sould it but she confesseth that she lent it to an Indian
for it lay spoilinge in her seller, but she saith that the Indian is suddenly to bring it
againe and he hath lost about six fatham of wampam in pawne for it: and she saith that she
knew of no order against it and doth promise to take it home againe: she cannot tell the
Indians name but saith it is an Indian of Agaam.
I tould her if she would speedily get it home againe or else it would cost her dere for
no commonwealth would allow of such a misdemenor.
January the 11 1640 .
It is ordered that John Hobell shall be well whipt by the Constable for two misdemenors
first for proceeding to get promises of Marriage from Abigall Burt, after that both he and
she had been prohibbited by her Father severall tymes, and also for offeringe and
attemptinge to doe the act of fornication with her as they both confesse though as far as
we can discerne by any proofe of Justice the act was not don.
Also Abigall Burt is found guilty in both the said faultes and is also to be well whipt
by the Constable for the said faultes:
[*13] February the 15. 1640 .
Robert Ashly complaines against John Woodcooke in an action of the case for a gunn that
he bought of him and paid him 22s 6d for it yet the said John Woodcoke did not deliver it
to him accordinge to bargaine.
Also Robert Ashly complaines against John Woodcok in an action of the case for not
breaking up of certain ground for planting according to bargaine.
The Jury Henry Smyth, Henry Burt, John Leonard, John Dible, Samuell Wright, Thomas
In the first action the Jury find for the plaintife 22s 6d and in costes 4s.
The 2d action John Woodcoke doth acknowledge it his dew to brake up the said ground and
doth bynd over some of the Swine that he hath now in the hands of Thomas Mirick for the
performance of the said ground in case it for not don before the first of Aprill, then he
doth promise to allow for the damage out of the said swine as two indifferent neighbors
shall prise the said swine and so to pay as much as the workmanship of the said ground
shall be valued at.
After the Jury had given in their verdict John Woodcoke denied that Robert had paid for
the said gunn notwithstanding the action was [illegible] before him and he never
denied it: but I offered him a new tryall by a writ of error if he would present it.
Goody Gregory hearing him denie that he was paid testified uppon oath that she heard
John Woodcock say [*14] that he did not owe above as 2s 6d in the plantation she said that
she replied thus to John Wookcocke that she heard Robert say that John Woodcock ought him
between 30 and 40s. Then John Woodcok answered that Robert was a pratinge fellow for he
had set of his gunn and now he did not owe him past 7 or 8s: Also Henry Gregory testified
uppon oath that he heard him speak the same to his wife.
Goody Gregory being accused by oath of John Woodcoke and Richard Williams [*210] for
swearing before God I could break her head: she did acknowledge it was her great sin and
fault and saith she hath bin much humbled for it:
She is fined 12d to the pore to be paid to Henry Smyth within a month: or if she doe
not she is to sit 3 houers in the stocks.
[*15] August. 7. 1641.
Know all men that whereas there is a mariage shortely intended betweene the widdow
Horton and Robert Ashly both of Springfeild: That the said widdow Horton in the presence
of Robert Ashly doth assigne and set over her house and house lott conteininge about
eleven akers and 4 akers of woodland afore the house Eastward all which is valued now at
Twelfe pounds: and all her hoggs litle and greate which are valued at eighteene pounds all
together are valued at Thirty pounds into the hands of Robert Ashly for the use and behafe
of her two sonns one sucking and the other about Three years ould caled Jermy to be paid
to them that is to say to eather of them fifteene pounds apeice when they shall come to
the age of Twenty and one yeares: and the said Robert is to have the use and profits of
the said land and hogges for the educatinge of her said Two sonns: and when they shall
come to the age of 13 or 14 yeares the said Robert doth promise to put them out as
apprentises to some usefull trade such as they shall like of: and if they cannot be put
out without a portion of mony then so much is to be deducted out of their portion of 15£
apeace as shall be indifferently judged fitt for their bynding out: and for the rest of
the said 15£ apeace the said Robert doth bynd himselfe his land goods and cattell to pay
to them when they shall come to the age of .21 years: and in the meane tyme doth bynd
himselfe to maintaine the present house and fencinge and if he shall leave it in better
case than it is at present then he then shall injoy it shall pay such cost as shall be
judged to make it better for his use by indifferent parties and if one of the two sonns of
the widdow Horton shall die before the age of 21 yeares then the other shall have his
portion also: and the widdow Horton being present before me at the wrighting hereof doth
acknowledge that this is her will and meaninge and that she is fully consenting to what is
above expressed and the said Robert Ashly being also present doth acknowledge that [*16]
he is fully consentinge to all that is above expressed: and uppon this their mutuall
Consent I have given them leave and liberty to proceed in marriage when they please: and
the Inventory of her goods I have hereunto annexed as they were apprised under the hands
of Samuell Wright and Samuell Hubbard.
An Inventory of the Goods and Cattell of the widdow Horton of Springfeild this first
July 1641 we whose names are underwritten do value things as followeth
Imprimis for all her linnen brasse pewter beddinge vessels and other
implements 17£ .0 .0
her hoggs litle and greate as they were rated by
the appriser of the Towne Rate 18 .0 .0
her house and houselot 12 .0 .0
[*18] A coppie of Record: of the last will and testament of John Searles of Springfeild
dated the 21th day of the 10 month 1641 Recorded this 20 of the 2d month 1642.
I John Searles beinge very sicke in body doe make my last Will and Testament in
manner and fourme followinge first I give to my brother in law William Warrener my best
coate and my cullored hatt: and whereas in some reckonings betwixt him and me he owes be
betwixt three and fower poundes: if he pay fortie shillinges therof I am content that all
the rest shall be remitted: The rest of my estate I devide betwixt my wife and my child
equally: and doe appoint that my wife shall have for her use till my child come to the Age
of 20 yeares that portion belonginge to my Sonn John Searles in consideration of his
maintenance and education Provided that before she marry againe she shall give or in her
behalfe cause to be given sufficient security for the payment of my childes portion which
security shall be given to Mr. Moxon my brother Timothy Bawldwin and Samuell Wright whom I
doe intrust to be overseers for the performance of this my last will:
witnesses hereof Henry Smyth, Elitzur Holioake
[*19] A Coppy of the inventory of the Goods and Chattayles of the late deceased John
Searle taken the 8 Feb: 1641 .
Imprimis 8 goates at 15s peace 6. 0. 0
6 boardes and rackes at 4s 0 4 0
9 hogges at 11. 0 0
3 small piggs at 0 4 6
a hogg lent William Warrener 2 11. 9
1 hogg in salt and 2 flitches of bacon 5 0 0
2 caske at 6s, tubb at 4s and other small
things at 3s 0 13. 0
4 blankets a rugg a koverlit a bed and
boulster of flaxes and bedsted 6. 0. 0
wearinge apparrell 3. 1. 0
20. yard dowlesse 1 10 0
linnin sheetes and shurtes etc. 4. 2. 6
a black hatt 0 2 0
pewter 1 5. 3
a pair gloves and a brish 0 2 0
4 traies 0 4. 6
[*213] tooles and Iron things 3 4 0
iron potts and other things 1 1 4
3 chistes with bootes and shoes 2 3 0
peeces powder and shott 3 1 0
brasse kettle and skilletes  17 0
a wheelebarrow 0 5 0
a canoe lock and chaine 1 2 0
sackes pease and other things 1 15 4
6 bushells of meale at 3s per busheell 0 18
2 tubbes and 2 skins 0 3 0
28 bushells corne at 2s 4d per bushell 3 5 4
12 [illegible] 0 12 0
housing lotts fenceing [page torn] future
dividends 35 0 0
2 load of boltes 0 6 0
in debts that are owing from bretheren at 97 14 0
Prisers Henry Smyth Richard Sykes. Sume 101 14 0