Friday, March 21, 2014


Continuing the case of my ancestor William Pinson vs Walter  Munjoy from the
case files of the Essex County court, it appears that William felt Munjoy had
not given him his fair share of the catch. Among other items of interest to me
(other than how many ways everyone's name, including the ship could be misspelled)

-How did William Pinson injure his hand? Was it a "Deadliest Catch" type
accident or did he pull something in the hand hauling in the heavy nets?

-This is the earliest mention of Thomas Robbins and William Pinson knowing
each other.

-What was "Reffuse fish?"

"Nathaniell Sharpe, aged thirty-five years, and Charles
Knight, aged about thirty-five years, deposed that they and
Gilburd Peeters, Jno. Tapley and William Pinson shipped
in Mr. Jno. Curwen's ketch called the Lewse in Jan., 1676,
and agreed with Wallter Monjoy to make and weigh the
fish as their shoreman. Sometime in February they went
out to sea to make the first fare and before they came home
William Pinson was taken lame in one of his hands, being
unable to go out for the second fare. Pinson then hired
Pascoe Foot to take his place and he was accepted by the
whole company and did his work well. For the third fare,
Pinson shipped William Nouell, who also was acceptable to
the company. Each man's share for the three fares was to
the value of twenty-five pounds, as Walter Munjoy informed
them. Deponents had been engaged in this employment for
seven or eight years. Sworn in court.

Thomas Robens, aged about sixty-two years, and Jno.
Whefen, aged about fifty-two years, deposed that Peeters
bought Pinson's share in the voyage for 171i. 10s. after Pinson's
hand was disabled and gave him a bill, but afterward Peeters
told him that he might have the fish and the bill was declared
null and void. Sworn in court.

Walt. Mungoy, aged about forty-six years, testified that
being shoreman to Gilbertt Peters and company in 1677, he
paid for him in fish to Wm. Pincent or order and to Cap. Jno.
Corwine for his account 15li. 10s. 6d. Sworn, Sept. 20, 1678,
before William Browne, t commissioner. Owned in court.

Thomas Jeggells, sr., aged about fifty-seven years, deposed
that for thirty years past he had been engaged in fishing in
Salem, and as a shoreman. Sworn in court.

John Taply, aged about forty years, testified concerning
the sale of the fish to Gilbord Peters. Sworn, Aug. 7, 1678,
before William Browne, t commissioner. Owned in court."


After I read all this I went searching online for what "reffuse fish" might be
and discovered something I had never known about the early New England
fishing industry. One of the main reasons the colonies began to thrive was
the codfish, so much so that a carving of a codfish has hung from the ceiling
of the Massachusetts State House for three centuries. The top grade cod
was salted and shipped off to be sold in England and Europe. The lesser
grade (and I have no idea how such things are determined. I assume they were
smaller in size) cod and other fish were likewise salted but were shipped off
to the Caribbean to feed the slaves working on the British owned plantations.
It's one of those "inconvenient truths" of New England history.

In the first two court cases I've discussed here, William Pinson was or claimed to
be the injured party. In the third case, he's the one facing charges for his actions.

To be continued.

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