Monday, May 20, 2019


In the conclusion of the dispute between my ancestor Roger Conant and his partners had with Francis Johnson, Roger presented a final argument to the court. Frederick Odell Conant reprinted that document in his book A History and Genealogy of the Conant Family in England and America, Thirteen Generations, 1520-1887:

"ffor awnswer to mr. Johnsons declaration we desire the court and Jury to have knowledge

"1 that as for the matter of these bills it was never denied, only on of them was lost 2 And as for the quantity of the bill lost none of vs can affirm, neither can mr. Johnson, but only by supposition, but whether the bills be or were more or less, we suppose it littell to the purpose or to what we looke after wch is our pts of that beaver and otter wch mr. Johnson hath received as witness his two letters dated long after the bills. ;3. As ftor the twenty three pounds wch we accounted due to each of vs, it was so much disbursed by each of our pticuler statements so must our disbursements even in the trad weh was long before the time that mr. Johnson received this forementioned beaver & otter, and for what might be further due by lulls if it came to hand to be equally divided among vs. 4 for the fowerth pticular there is no need of awnswer to it. 5 As for the arbitrators of Boston they did fully considder and debate of the bill lost, and of what mr. Johnson had rendered of our joynt debt, and of what mr. Johnson had pmised to mr. ffoxwell of land and house to be secured, proofs being produced to the arbitrators by ffoxwels agent.
Roger Conant
Peter Palfrey
Nathaniel Pickman"

The verdict was as follows:
"At a Court held in Salem ye 27th  9 mo 1655. Mr. Roger Conant Peter Palfrey and Nathaniel Pickman ptfs. against Mr. Francis Johnson defendt: in an action of the case for detaining a parcel of Beaver cont. 141 1/2 lbs and a parcel of otter nere as bigg in bulke, wch he received twenty yeers since wth due damages for forbearance. Jury finds for the plt's, in the hands of the defendt 141 lbs of Beaver vallued at 70 lbs 10s and 70 lbs of otter at 5s per lb: 17 lb 10 sh. three parts whereof we find for the pits, bothe of the beaver and the otter wch. 3/4 amounts to 66 pounds, and costs of Courts wch is 36s 2d"-pp112-113

A History and Genealogy of the Conant Family in England and America, Thirteen Generations, 1520-1887: Containing Also Some Genealogical Notes on the Connet, Connett and Connit Families, private printing, Portland, Maine 1887 

There was an image of the original handwritten document included in the book but unfortunately it didn't reproduce too well in the e-book version and the text has all faded away,

But at least we have the statements from the court record which shows how valuable the fur trade and beaver skins were to the colonists of  the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

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