Saturday, June 27, 2009


I haven't as yet found any online information as to the results of the Court ruling in 1658
that William Gerrish could command the Newbury cavalry troops or its foot troops but he
couldn't command both. I suspect that if it were up to him, he would have chosen the
cavalry because it was more befitting his status as a leading citizen of the new colony.
Gentlemen (and before them, nobles) rode into battle, after all! Quite possibly the
question remained a bone of contention for quite some time. Given what I've seen from
the court records of his feud with Thomas Woodbridge, it's not hard to believe that the
matter might have rankled at William Gerrish. It might even have been the reason why
he found himself in an embarrassing situation in 1678.

William Gerrish indulged in a little creative bookkeeping when he submitted his expenses
for the recent campaign in King Philip's War. The case was laid out in court, beginning
with copies of his orders and some official correspondence, and then proceeding with
testimony of witnesses, the most damaging of these being Constable Joseph Pike. The first
paragraph gives a brief summary of the case and the verdict:

"Court having heard the presentment against Capt. Gerrish for altering figures in an
of the militia of Newbury, and further complaint being made by Joseph Pike, constable of Newbury, for some alteration made by said Captain in said account
without the knowledge
of the rest of the committee, and also that he had made
somewhat unjust demands for
disbursements made by himself and attempted more
than once to have made up said
accounts in general without citing the particulars,
to the great trouble of the said constable, whose fidelity and care court acknowledged,
it was declared by the court that Capt. Gerrish
had wittingly or carelessly defrauded
the country and occasioned much trouble and charge.
They found him culpable and
fined him.

Presented for making the figures three into six and ten into twenty."

Next came his orders and some correspondence:

"Capt: Gerrish the present feares & distress of Norfolke calling for present assistance
admitting no delay putts me on doing that wch for divers reasons I should haue chosen
to haue auoyded. But Necessity hath no law

You are therefore upon sight hereof imediately required to march ouer to Salisbury wth
of your best able marching men wel armed & furnished wth amunition & victuals so as
they attend the seruice of the country for one weeke & till other succors can be sent if
your self cannot goe, send them by a sufficient leader & tender them to Major Pike and
attend his further order for the security of the county (the enemy being on this side
Puscataquay) by scouring the woods about Haueril &Exeter who will doubtles affoord
you gardes, heereof faile not. "
Apr 15, 77 at 2
Daniel Denison"

Right away I wondered about that phrases about "putts me on doing that wch for divers
reasons I should haue chosen to haue auoyded." Was there some personal reason that
Daniel Dennison was reluctant to send William Gerrish in particular out with his troops,
or was it the sending of the troops in general that he'd hoped to avoid? I also noticed the
word "marched" which would certainly seem to indicate that Gerrish was commanding infantry.

Next is a statement by Willian Gerrish about the length of his service at this period and
correspondence concerning the money due him for that service:

"15 Aprill to the 30th This may informe the Committee that acording to warrant I
sarued the Cuntry fourteen dayes. Wm. Gerrish Capt.

"This aboue writen is a true Coppye of the originall Certifecat which was on file at
boston about desem 6th 1677 to which we are redy to giue oth if Called tharto.
Joseph Pike."

"Capt John Hull Sr
Capt Wm Gerrish had in May 22d last a dibenter for four pounds for fourteen dayes
wch it seemes was a mistake he being allowed as a Capt of hors, should have
been as Capt
of Foot: pray let Twenty shillings be deducted and there will remaine
due to him on that
dibenter but three pounds.
"Janu: 1st 1677:
John Richards
John Hayward."

And finally, the evidence and terstimony in the case:

"To ye honored Court Now sitting att Ipswich aprill ye 30th 1678 theas are to signefie vnto
this honoured Court that whearas I am presented as a witnes in ye behalfe of the Cuntry
against Capt. Gerish Confirming the altering of figars this may also inform you that there
are seuerall things besides yt in his account whereby I Conseaue that ye Cuntry or sum
others are wronged: as Confirming bread which hath bene wronge Charged and is not yet
Isued to sattisfaction also Consirning a returne giuen to ye Comitty for the war by Capt.
Gerish which I humbly Conseaue is not acording to truth: and soe to the dameg of the
Cuntry & seuerall other things the which I thinke as I am the Cuntryes ofisser I am in
duty bound to declare unto this honoured Court: that soe truth may appeer the which
I humbly Craue and soe remaine
Your oblidged seruant
Joseph Pike, Constable of Newbery."

Dudley Bradstreet certified that Joseph Pike, constable of Newberry desired him to testify
concerning a writing he showed him which he said Capt. Gerrish wrote, and which was as
follows: "Joseph Pike demands for disbursments for wages, armes & amunition, for John
Hobs: fiue pounds. Wm. Gerrish." This was in Capt. Gerrish's handwriting.

Joseph Pike, aged about thirty-nine years, deposed that after much trouble about the
accounts of disbursements to the war, the accounts being rejected to his great damage
and loss of time and expense, "The Committee of Mallittea in Newbery being mett together
on the 19th daye of September 1677 as may appear by the date of the sd acount I then told
them yt they must now draw a particullar acount notion euery particullar they Charged on
the Cuntry or els the Treasurer would not acsept of the acount I told them yt I would now
haue an acount that should pass or els I would have none and they semed to be throughly sensable of my former truble: and drawed up the acount with as great Care as might well
be for I red out of my booke to Capt. Gerish who entered the perticullars and the prise:
the Ensigne greenleif and Sargent moody writt downe the perticullar sums and soe all
three Cast up the sums & when all three agreed: the Capt. enterd the gros sum to eury
mans acount & when we Came to ye Captins acount I told him that he must saye how
many times posting and whether: the Capt. Gerish saide he Could say three times to
Ipswich I sd to him then enter three times which was done and his a count setled to his
Content as I did aprehend: for what we Could not Charge on ye Cuntry the Comety
Consented to paye him out of the fines soe yt he had his whole demand one waye or ye
other: he had entered ye time in which the figars are in the manar as followeth
(my man posting 3 times to Ipswich 10') afterwards when we met the 2d time to finish the
acount I understanding that Ipswich Charged thayr guns twenty shillings mony I informed
our Comittee of it: then they agreed to Charg only 26s in rate paye soe those guns that
enterd before that day the sum was alttered as doth apear in ye sd acount the day
ended I Caried whom the acount wth me: and Carfully vewed it puer at my own
house and
Could not see any alteration in it: and to my best remembrans I did then see the figer of 3 as it was entered: and being prety well sattisfie with the acount I Caried it to ye Comitee on a trayninge day to signe it: ye liftenant being gon ye Capt. brought in to me
after the acount
was drawne att sargt moodyes which they entered and signed the acount and then I Carried it to the lift: and sargant moody and shewed them what was aded:
they Consented
to it and signed the acount and then I toke it and Caried it to the
treasurer: whoe would not acsept it becaus the sum was not entered in words at teng absollute soe I brought it whome againe and being taking out a Coppye of the acount I
found the figar of thre was altered in
this maner) the 10 made 20 the gros sum of three
pounds 4 shill: was made 3" 14" 0: the
one part with the white Inke the other blake:
when I informed the Comittee of it Capt.
gerish saide he would owne it for he did it
with the Consent of the Comitee which they did
deny to his fase he then gaue this acount:
I went three times to Ipswich my selfe I told
him that was not his man: besides he was
payed for those three Jornies before: which I
can prove: he then bed me strike out the
ten shillings againe which I did in the gros sume:
and soe he seemed to be sillent and
made noe demand of any other thing as euer
I heard in the preasons of the Comitee
untill the Church meeting soe that I thinke I may
rashonally Conclude that Capt.
gerish knew nothing of these postings to roully when he
altered the sd figers."
Sworn in court by Joseph Pike to the whole and Lift. Woodman
and Sergt. Caleb
Moodye to that part concerning the militia which they were together.

James (his mark) Ordway, sr., and John Webster, sr., deposed that on Apr. 15, 1677, they
went out with Capt. Gerish to the Eastward and on Apr. 24, a warrant came from said
Gerish to release all Newburey soldiers, except deponents who were ordered to go to the
said Captain at Portsmouth. Accordingly they went to Portsmouth, and after the sun was
set, the Captain ordered them to go to Greenland where they were to stay until the
Captain came to them. They endeavored to obey his order but lost their way in the night
and went at Greenland early the next morning. They reached home on Apr. 26, the
Captain having arrived before them. John Webster further testified that "the constable
hauing Goten a ticket in on paper for all our lay and that James ordway and my selfe wear
not alowed more then the Rest & also yt Jonathan woodman that was put in ye place; &
Ded ye worke and had the title of a Leutenant; yet was not so reterned by Captin Gerish:
I being in the Roome of a clarke went to ye captin & moued him to do on day more to
each of us ordway & my self No said ye captin I canot Do it: for the comity will say why
should theas two haue more then the Rest: said Hee ye Answer will bee thes two stayd
for to Guard the captin Home said Captin Gerish the comitey will say why Did ye captin
stay after His souldiers; No said ye captin I will not Do it to cheat the countrey; I further
testify that I went out the second time with captin Gerish in Mr Friers vesell we went by
sea in on day & the Next day I came with Him to salsburey & went back the same day to Portsmouth this 2d Going out was about the 3 or 4 day of may as I remember.
Sworn in court.

Moses Gerrish, aged about twenty-two years, testified that since the Indian war began
went post upon the country's account three times to Ipswich, three times to Rowley
once from Andover to Newbury. Sworn, Apr. 28, 1678, before Jo. Woodbridge,

Richard Dole certified, Apr. 29, 1678, that about the beginning of the wars with the
Capt. Gerish was at his house with a company of soldiers intending to go to
Salem. Capt.
Geerish wanted money to lay out for the soldiers, and he lent him 20s. and charged him for it. When they came to an accounting, said Gerish told him that he must charge the country for it which he did, but the constable refused to pay it and the
Captain paid it.

Thomas Hale, jr., deposed that sometime in the winter of 1676, being in the room where the
militia of Newbury were met at Goodman Doel's, there was a great contest between Capt.
Gerish and Joseph Pick, constable, the Captain pressing very hard to have the total sums entered without mentioning the particulars. The constable strongly opposed him, saying
that those who were ashamed to enter the particulars should have no money of him, but
the Captain was so enraged that he was afraid the constable would be run down by him
and yield, in which case the Captain would establish a precedent whereby he would have opportunity to cheat the country. Deponent called out the constable and advised him to
mind what he did and not to dothat which he might afterward repent of. Sworn in court.

Account, signed by Wm. Gerrish, Hechelaus Woodman, Stephen Grenlefe and Samuell
Plumer: To Capt. White post 3 times Ipswich — And 1 bowshell of wheate prest, 10s.;
Jonathan Woodman 16 Weakes horce hier, 24s., a bridle, 5s., Gun, 2s., 2li. 9s.; John Jones
post to Ipswich, 2s. 6d.; James Jackman, a sadle, 16s., a bridle, 2s. 6d., 1li. 1-2 powder,
1li. 9d.; Daniell Mussilloway, a rapier & belt, 18s., a weake's pvisions, 3s. 6d., 1li. powder,
horne & 20 bulletts & 1 snapsaicke, 5s. 6d., 1li. 6s.; Benjamine Coker post to Sallisbury,
1s. 6d.; Peter Godfry, sword & belt & powder, 17s.; Mathew Pettingell, 2li. powder, 3s., 2 poutches, 2 : 6 bulletts, worme & scourer 18d, a mare hier 4s., 11s.; Wm. Sayre, 1li. 1-2
powder, snapsaicke, bandileres, bullet mould, 6 dayes pvisions 2s., a sadle 13s., Hi. powder
& Powderhorne, 6s.; Wm. Danford, Cheace, 5s.; Wm. Fanning, a snapsaicke, 2 : 6, 1li.
powder 18d, poutch 1s., 1 p of bandileres, 2 : 6, bullets 1s., 8s. 6d.; John Swett, 1 Gun
Lost, 1li.; Joseph Bayly, a bridle lost, 3s ...."

The account runs on for several pages.

Finally, Gerrish makes a statement in defense of his actions:

"Wm. Gerrish, senior testified that at a meeting of the committee of militia of Newbury at Caleb Moody's house Joseph Pike, constable, informed the committee that there were
new demands
from several, desiring such accounts to be added to the country account.
I then said so have
I for posting, so wee proceded, And I did alter many figures and
sums; And doe owne I did
then alter figures for myselfe; at the time same on ye same
table before the same persons, without
any purpose to wrong the Cuntry, it being my
due; The Constable being bound for Boston &
not a season to cleare up my demand
rather than interrupt was perswaded to yeild to have it put
forth againe & have it
afterwards on new demand; therefore no wrong donn to the Cuntry by
me if it had
stood on ye accot, but the wrong is to my selfe not as yet beeing payd my due."

His testimony wasn't enough in the face of the evidence against him. William Gerrish was
found guilty and fined and soon lost his militia command.

I'll have some final thoughts in the next post which will conclude this series on William Gerrish.

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