Monday, April 13, 2009


By the fall of 1676 Jeremiah Swain had seen action in two campaigns against the
Indians and had acquitted himself well. He and his men had returned to Reading
from western Massachusetts and apparently been mustered out. But while things
were quiet with the Indians for the moment, matters on the home front were a
bit more complicated.

It appears that units were being organized and officers elected by the local
townsfolk for possible campaigns in the coming Spring of 1677 and Jeremiah
Swain found himself embroiled in controversy. In what was probably one of the
earliest examples of the "generation gap" in American politics, the town of
Reading was divided into two camps on who should have the captaincy of their
troops, and much to the consternation of some of the town elders, Jeremiah Swain
was the overwhelming choice of the younger citizens of Reading. So dismayed
were some of them, a petition was sent to General Court in Boston:

"To the Honourable General Court, boath Governor and Magistrates, with the Deputies,
new sitting in Boston :
The request of your humble servants, being part of the inhabitants of the towne of Redding :—This Honoured Court, not being altogether ignorant of the state of our towne, to which your humble suppliants boath belong, Respecting the complecation of
our Military Officers, we would
not fill up lines with compliments to trouble this Honoured
Court. But, Briefly, to give a narrative
of our condition, and so humbly beging that this
Court would put an issue to our Bissenis, which
is like to have so ill a consequence, if it lay longe as now it doath. There hath bin some strange actions relating to military officers, whereby we are become tow parties in the towne, one in opposition agaynst the other ;
wee apprehend wee have bin ingenious
to the other party, notwithstanding great
eregularities they run into ; our party, as wee apprehend, is very considerable,
though not the major part in number, wee yielded to them that voted for Captain
and prefered their minds to the Court, by setting our hands to itt, that was sent
to the
Court, though we voated for Captain Poole, for not one of those hands that voated
for Captain
Swaine was sent to the Court when he was presented to the Court; now, notwithstanding ther is, in our parte, the chiefest partes for heades and estates, amongst which are Decons, Commissenors and Selectmen, and the Major parte of the freemen, yet wee, not being wilful, but condescended to prefer their mindes to the Court, and concluded that though Capt. Swayne was not a freeman, yet if the General Court see cause to confirm him, wee should have been satisfied with what your honors had done. But he being not accepted, the matter is yet to doe; the towne running only upon tow perssons, we would
be glad to have our bissenes to bee promoted to the consideration of this Honoured Court.

Our numbre upon trial for voate for Capt. Poole was 2d voate.

There hath been several meetings and agetations since Capt. Swayne was presented to the Court,
and they will have all the youth to voate that hath not taken the oath of fidelity to
Commonwealth. And soe wee are outvoated, and they are not willing the Court should hear both parties andwhat wee have to saye—this being delivered after our ingenuity to
them, and they will do nothing; and so the towne is brought into tow parties.

And it begins to have influence into Towne matters, to strive to circumvent one another
in our a
ctions, which wee feare will have a bad consequence. Therefore wee humbly
intreate the Honored
Court that you would be pleased to issue the case for us, and settell
some abell and meete person
in the place of a Capten amongst us, that our strife may be
at an ende. And wee know wee must at
your Honours appoyntment sett downe quiett. As
to our Lieutenant, we could wish the Honored
Court did thouerly understand his abillities
as to heade and estate.

Your humble servants, not having else to ad, but ever to praye for devine protection and
guidance to your honners,—and remayne your humble petissioners."

The "Captain Poole" supported by the older town officials of Reading was Jonathan
Poole who was approximately ten years older than Swain. In 1671 he was appointed
quartermaster and had risen to the rank of "cornet" by the time of the start of the
King Philip's War. Like Swain, he'd served under Major Appleton and had seen action
in the Connecticut River Valley fighting, He had, in fact, previously had command of
the same garrison forts that Swain later commanded. Despite that, and despite having
the support of many of the town officials, he'd lost the election for the Captain's rank to
Jeremiah Swain.

So now those same officials looked to the General Court to somehow overturn the
results of the election. They would receive their answer in May of 1677.

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