First Colonial Dominion of Maine
Excerpts on Ancient voyages to the western continent: Three phases of history on the coast of Maine by Rufus King Sewall
pages 62 - 79
Bartholomew Gosnold, in a ship called the Concord, was despatched on a voyage of such discovery, and sailed from Falmouth, England, by a due west course, as the winds would allow him to run for the shores of the New World. It was a new and untried route. On the 14th of May, early in the morning, lured by the smell of land, the Concord ran in for it, and made it ahead, bearing north, 'an outpoint of rising ground, covered with tall grown trees -- land somewhat low : certain hillocks lying inland, with shore full of white sand, very rocky.' Lat. N. 43°.
This landfall of tall tree-grown headlands, prefacing round, green hills inland, with shores of white sand, and rockbound coast, brought the ship to anchor. A Biscay sloop, with Indian sailors, some clad in clothes of European cut and material, came aboard, and chalked on the Concord's deck a map of the newly discovered country called 'Mavooshan.' The new and direct course steered from England thus struck New England on the coasts of Maine, about Sagadahoc.
This notable landfall on Gosnold's report, becoming known in England, arrested the attention of its commercial circles. To verify the findings of that report of the land of Mavooshan, in 1605, a 'new survey' was projected by west of England men ; and Captain George Weymouth was despatched in May in the ship Arch-Angel, with men of the Gosnold voyage of the ship's company, among whom was Rosier, to execute the new survey, which he completed in June, and returned with the results before autumn, with five Pemaquid natives.
This survey made discovery of a magnificent harbor, and of the little river of Pemaquid, and the notable Sagadahoc, the great river of the Mavooshan landfall of the Gosnold voyage of 1602.
This landfall of hillocks, notable rivers, harbors, islands and mountains for landmarks, at once became a coveted point of commercial attraction and value to England, for 'siezen and possession,' where the forms and forces of the English common law should be applied in the planting homesteads of the English race in New England.
The report of Gosnold's findings, the confirmation thereof in details of the Weymouth survey, fixed the 'locus in quo' of eminent domain for a 'great state.' Spacious harbors, grand river tributaries, magnificent woods, abounding sea-fisheries, beaver haunts, and otter ponds, were the features of commercial promise appreciated in England, of places 'fit and convenient' for hopeful English plantations.
Such were the environments of Sagadahoc, the notable river, and Pemaquid, the quiet nook of a river in the land of Mavooshan, where existed the strangest fish-ponds of the sea, land-marked by Monhegan in the east, and the twinkling mountains of Aucocisco in the west, as described by Captain John Smith some ten years later.
The commercial industries of England, combined, in 1606 here to found the seat of empire for North America. On the 10th of April, 1606, the purposes of English 'seizen and possession' took organic form and expression in legal muniments of contract.
The Lord Chief-Justice of England, Sir John Popham, described as a great Puritan by the Spaniards, eminently honorable and patriotic, manipulated the contract, and noble men of England organized a corporate body, covered by a crown grant, hedged about with conditions precedent.
The transaction was a formal and legal conception of valid titles, permanent possessions, for legal and enduring foothold of the English race, at the places discovered, surveyed, and chosen for 'seizen and possession,' as 'fit and convenient' for making habitation, and leading out and planting colonies, of volunteer subjects of Great Britain.
The salient points of the contract of April 10, 1606, in its northern relations, were the seizure and holding actual permanent possession of the American coast at and about Lat. 44° N. The English crown and its grantees, adventurers of the Charter License of April 10, 1606, known as the "Popham Colony," an organization embodying all the elements of the best type of Christian civilization of the old world, started for seizure and possession of well-ascertained and definite points in the landfall of Gosnold's Mavooshan, at its Sagadahoc outlet, of rising ground, of its western outpoint of tall grown trees, white sandy shore of rocky makeup, garnished inland with little green rounded hills.
The possession here completed, the royal contract became executed for the mutual benefit of the English Crown, its grantees, its heirs, assignees, and successors. The Weymouth survey of 1605 left the earliest monument of Christian English civilization in Maine, in a cross set up on Monhegan Island.
Monday, the 1st of June, A.D. 1607, a colony of one hundred and twenty persons, having a chaplain and a surgeon, under command of Captain George Popham, embarked in two ships, the Gift of God and her tender of the west of England, and the Mary and John of London. Friday, the 7th of August, 1607, both ships rode at anchor side by side in a cove of twelve fathoms of water, under an island. This island was the now well-known Monhegan ; and the cove an indentation under high bluffs of its eastern and seaward shore.
In the constitution of England, protestant Christianity is fixed a pillar of state ; and in all her state, commercial, and colonial undertakings, Christianity, with the Bible for a guide and the cross a symbol of its faith, are the great factors of her civilization and polity.
Religious formal service in honor of the God of the Bible, in virtue of his word and worship, then as now, are made notable features of routine duty on shipboard and on shore, under the Royal flag of England.
The Popham Colonial Expedition, with its civil organization, assigned to be the nucleus of a great State, was and epitome of the Christian civilization of the old world, of the best type, and now harboring under Monhegan, prepared to land on the soil of Maine, and plant New England.
The Record is :'Sunday, the 9th of August, in the morning, the most part of our whole company of both our ships landed on this island, . . . where the cross standeth, and there we heard a sermon delivered by our preacher, giving God thanks for our happy meeting and safe arrival in the country.'It was to this scene Smythe alluded, who, on the day of mourning, at Bowdoin's memorial services, for her venerable and historic Packard, so eloquently said : 'And as the dawn of authentic history rises, what dim yet stirring visions break upon us from Monhegan and Sagadahoc!'
It was the advent of the Christian civilization of Europe, to the shores of Maine, to plant New England.
Shall we paint the scene.
The rays of the morning sun, of this memorable August 9, 1607, had started to spread beams of light on the tall grown thickets of oak, beach, and fir, when, led by the aged and godly chief in command, Captain Geo. Popham, the colonists embarked, to land a worshipping congregation on shore, with no doubt all the usual incidents of a public Sunday service of the English Church, from shipboard on shore, and with all the solemn and reverential formularies, of the worship of that Church. The scene must have been grand and imposing.
It was the first Christian formal thanksgiving, at least in New England, and celebrated in Maine, the 'Eastern Parts' of early New England history. Noblemen were in command, in execution of a Royal State design. Royal naval routine duties and discipline must have governed, to enforce exact obedience to Royal nautical usage.
The sun-rise gun had already saluted the king of day, as he rose out of the mists of the eastern sea, to shed effulgent freshness, on the cliffs of the main and island environments of the ships' anchorage, where side by side they still lay, dressed in the gorgeous draperies of St. George's Cross, for a Sabbath welcome.
The piping of the boatswain's mates sent shrill echoes from ship to shore and through the oak and beach groves, calling to man the boats and all hands to worship God.
The officers in full uniform -- musketeers without matchlocks, brawny tars in naval costume, colonists in holiday attire, making a congregation of one hundred and twenty souls, more or less, debark, and are boated to land. Reaching shore, they form and march to the old cross, and enclose it with a hollow square.
The English Jack may lead the way. It is a formal national, religious demonstration, for State purposes, in celebration of a national achievement.
At the foot of the cross all are gathered in devout attitudes, and over all no doubt the flag of England waved the sanction of royal authority.
The sunlit branches of the old treetops are the canopy, and the copse wood surroundings of living green are the walls to a natural sanctuary.
Rev. Richard Seymore, in cassock and bands, with the Bible and book of common prayer in hand, proclaims the word of God in the wilds of Maine, and kneeling before the cross, for the first time on the soil of New England, in the English tongue, is heard :
'Almighty and most merciful Father ! we have sinned and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
'O Lord, open thou our lips.'
The psalm of an hundred living voices tunes the air, and rises in incense of praise to God.
The groves and headlands of Monhegan, and basaltic crags of Menanas, catch and repeat the echoes.
Thanksgiving songs break from the congregation. The cornet and drum may take up the sacred refrain, till from shore and shipboard, over the placid sea, the praise of the worship of Almighty God is wafted to the wilds of Maine, over the ragged shores of Pemaquid, announcing the advent of the Christian civilization of Europe for New England planting.
Seymore preaches a sermon. The benediction is pronounced, and doxology sung. God is honored.
The soil of Maine, at Monhegan, for all New England becomes consecrated ground, in this scene of God-honoring service and initial acts of Christian English homestead life and civilization.
Pemaquid was then visited, and departure taken for the notable 'Sagadahoc' of the Mavooshan landfall of 1602, and a landing made on its west shore, amid its white sands and green hillocks, on the 20th of August, when and where all the company again gathered, to break ground for a fortified hamlet, after another sermon and scene of religious worship had consecrated the chosen site.
The result was the founding of 'Popham's Town of Fort St. George,' on the Sagadahoc side of Pemaquid in the country of the Moasans (Mavooshans of history), a town of fifty houses, with a church with a steeple to it, and a ship-yard with a vessel on the stocks, built and launched before the close of 1608 ; and thereafter a 'Popham's Port,' for fur trade and fisheries, under Monhegan, on the Penobscot side of Pemaquid, grew into active and successful commercial service prior to 1614, ending only with the fall of Fort William Henry in August, 1696.
Pemaquid was one of the places of the colonial holdings of the Popham undertakings to plant Christian civilization in New England, on the coast of Maine, within the Gosnold landfall. By the charter of 1620 it appears more than one place was occupied, and the Pemaquid foothold finally grew into a province of the Duke of York half a century after, and became prosperous and thriftful.
The following summary is a fair exhibit of the social, civil, and industrial development suggested, the culmination of which was crowned in the building of Fort William Henry in 1692, an alleged sketch of which is given, on page 75, with a photographic sketch of its site, at the mouth of the little harbor of Pemaquid, with that of the municipality of ancient Jamestown, the capital of the County of Cornwall of the Ducal Province.
Between 1631 and 1661 there were at Monhegan Island twenty sail of fishing vessels ; Fisherman's (or Hipocras) Island, two ; Damariscotta, fifteen ; Cape Newaggen (Boothbay), fifteen ; New Harbor, six ; Pemaquid, five ; East Boothbay, two ; total navigation owned and occupied in the fisheries at Pemaquid and dependencies, and within a radius of thirty miles of Pemaquid Harbor as a centre, a fleet of sixty-five vessels. Attached to each fishing boat in the conduct of this industry were four fishers, a master, a midshipman, a foremast man, and a shore's-man.
Ship Angel Gabriel, 240 tons, 16 guns, was a packet ship between Pemaquid and Bristol, England, freighting between these points as an emigrant ship, owned by the firm of Aldsworth & Elbridge. She was wrecked in Pemaquid Harbor in an August storm, 1635. The seal of the ancient settlement with a sketch of this ship and the legend of her name with the date of 1631, is now extant. She had brought to Pemaquid a company of godly Christian emigrants. In the wreck some of her people were drowned.
A.D. 1670. -- Pemaquid and dependencies, and Dukes Provinces were all filled with dwelling houses, stages for fishermen, plenty of cattle, arable land, and marshes. State Department of France in 1671 disclosed the fact that Pemaquid and Kennebec were crowned with handsome English settlements. Hay and neat cattle were exported from Pemaquid, whose fields and pastures yielded a surplus for trade with the Bay State, and Lisbon, Bilboa, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Rochelle, and Malaga, the markets for foreign exports and trade in fish.