Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Besides being a successful merchant my ancestor John Barnes did a lot of wheeling
and dealing in real estate. His name appears in the Plymouth Court Records more
for land deals than for any other reason. Several times he was appointed by the Court
to settle land disputes between some of the colonists. On one such occasion he was
part of a committee which included a man named Thomas Pope. The irony is that
eventually the Court would be asked to deal in a dispute between Barnes and Pope.

Relations between the two men may have soured first because of a fight Pope had
with Gyles Rickard which came to blows and in which Pope hit Rickard's wife. That
incident took place in 1663. About a year later all three men were in Court:    

7Feb 1664-5
In reference vnto diuers complaints amongst some of the naighbours of
Plymouth, in pticulare John Barnes against Thomas Pope, and the said Pope
against Gyles Rickard, concerning bounds of land whereof they complained
each of the other of encroahment and treaspas by cuting of wood and makeing
of hiewaies ouer the said Barnes his land, the Court haue ordered Leiftenant
Morton and Gorge Bonum, with the healp of some other for a third man, to
measure and bound the said lands in controuersy, the ancient bounds being
lost, that soe all controuersyes about the same might sease for the future. 
V4 pp79-80

("Gorge Bonum" was my 8x great grandfather George Bonham.)

Whatever suggestions Morton, Bonham, and the unknown third man may have
made to deal with the situation, it does not appear to have worked. Thomas Pope
had been involved in several confrontations with other colonists over property
boundaries before and in this case he appears to be the instigator, although we
only have the Court Records to go by. Barnes could have very well done something
to provoke Pope that was never recorded anywhere.

Then the following May the pair were once more in Court:

3May 1665
In reference vnto the complaint of John Barnes against Thomas Pope, for
treaspasing vpon his land in carting ouer it, and the complaint of the said
Pope against the said Barnes for violently oposing the children of the said
Pope in the cart way when they were about theire honest labour, and for
beating the horse of the said Pope, and in strikeing of the horse struck his
boy, the Court ordered, that forasmuchas these contrversyes arose rather
out of prejudice then out of any reall cause, that they should addresse
themselues to the healp of naighbours for the settleing of those matters,
and that the said Pope should goe noe more through Barnes his land.
v4 p89

Despite the accusations that Barnes had hit the horse and the Pope boy, no
action was taken against him by the Court. There were no witnesses called
for either side and it's possible the boy had not been hit. What had happened,
though, was that Pope had trespassed again on John Barnes'  land and was
warned by the Court not to do it again.

Whether it was the Court's warning or the intervention of neighbors that was
responsible, John Barnes and Thomas Pope did not appear in Court as adversaries

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