Sale 1025 — 2012 Rarities of the World
Sale Date — Tuesday, 26 June, 2012
Category — Colonial Period and Western Express
VERY FINE. AS FAR AS WE CAN DETERMINE AFTER CONSULTING EXPERTS IN COLONIAL MAIL -- AND PERTAINING ONLY TO MATERIAL OUTSIDE OF ARCHIVES -- THIS IS THE EARLIEST LETTER DATELINED AT BOSTON AND THE EARLIEST LETTER TO BARBADOS. THE ACCOMPANYING CORRESPONDENCE IS RELATED TO CLAIMS OF OWNERSHIP OF NODDLE'S ISLAND IN EAST BOSTON.
The writer, Samuel Maverick, came to America in 1624 and settled Winnisimet. In 1628 he married Amias, the widow of David Thompson, and inherited all of their land, which included Noddle's (Nottell's) Island -- the land has since been filled in and is the location of Logan Airport. By 1629 Maverick was firmly established on Noddle's Island (with a fortified mansion and artillery), a year before John Winthrop's fleet entered Massachusetts Bay and established Boston. In 1633 he received a formal grant from the Puritans to settle Noddle's Island in exchange for a yearly payment. A staunch Royalist, he also held patents for land in Maine. In 1635 he went to Virginia and remained there for about a year, where he took delivery of a 40-ton vessel made in Barbados. In 1640 he received a grant of 600 acres in Boston and 400 acres in Braintree. Maverick Square in Boston is named for him. His son Nathaniel was born in 1630 in Massachusetts. After 1656 Nathaniel settled in Barbados full time, where he was a planter and merchant at St. Lucy's.
According to the book A Colonial History of East Boston, in 1648 a petition to King Charles was drawn up by Samuel Maverick and others requesting several liberties they did not then enjoy, including baptizing children. The petition was discovered by the Massachusetts government, and the petitioners were imprisoned. A fine of £150 sterling was imposed on Maverick, who resolved not to pay. In anticipation of a seizure of Noddle's Island to satisfy the fine, Samuel deeded the island to his eldest son Nathaniel, but he kept the paperwork hidden. Nathaniel somehow got knowledge of the deed and "By a craft Wile contrary to his Father's knowledge gott the deed into his custody." On July 26, 1650, Samuel, his wife and Nathaniel sold Noddle's Island to Capt. George Briggs of Barbados. The following day Capt. Briggs conveyed the island to Nathaniel Maverick, and immediately after (that same day) Nathaniel transferred it to Colonel John Burch in Barbados. At this point differences arose, and Samuel claimed possession of the island on the grounds that certain conditions of sale had been broken. Lawsuits were filed in several courts, and in 1653 the sale of the island was completed after the transfer of £700 of sugar delivered to a store house in Barbados. The correspondence offered here is from court papers relating to the fulfillment of the contract. Included is an inventory of 16 items, signed by Edward Winslow in the 1660's, as are five of the items on the list.
In consultations with Colonial mail and Boston Postal History experts, we found no recorded examples in private hands of a Boston dateline written prior to the 1680's. Theodore Proud's book on Barbados records the earliest outbound mail from Barbados as 1657 and the earliest inbound mail as a 1663 letter from the King of England.
By November 5, 1639, the post office for the collection of mail was established in Boston by order of the General Court of Massachusetts. On November 4, 1646, Richard Fairbanks was designated postmaster. No examples of markings from the Fairbanks post office have been discovered, so we cannot determine if the marking at upper right was applied by Fairbanks or anyone else connected to the fledgling colonial postal system. It appears to read "No. II", which is the letter number annotated on the back.
P.F. certificate 199229, which states "It is a genuine usage from Boston Massachusetts" no longer accompanies. Accompanied by copy of A Colonial History of Boston by Victor F Casaburi, which thoroughly describes the events.
A UNIQUE AND HISTORIC ARTIFACT OF THE BRITISH IMPRESSMENT OF AMERICAN SAILORS, ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL GRIEVANCES LEADING TO THE WAR BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN IN 1812.
"Lat. 10. Long 74 [Note: location off the Caribbean coast of South America] on Board the Pethel Sloop of War. I am American Born at Boston aged 26 years. Sailed from New York on Board the Brig Lyon Nov 26, 1805. Nothing Occured worthy of Remark for 14 days after. We lost sight of the Hook when at 6 o'clock in the Evening we was brought to by the above Vessel and after undergoing many Species of Insult myself & three others mainly Frederick Fenton, Simon Alongos & Aaron Stusio, all native Americans were ordered on board which we refused & on so doing was beaten & Kicked into the Boat, was then thrown into Irons for ten days, after which time was brought on Deck & Interrogated if we would enter in his Majesties Service with the Alternative of a good flogging and to live on bread and Water until we should comply with their Imperious mandates, after a short Consultation amongst us we agreed to enter & Embrace the first Opportunity that Occured to free us from the Slavery in which we was involved. Accordingly we Signified our Willingness to become the Tools of the Navy of his Britannic Majesty./Tis impossible to say any more as my watch on Deck is called. I must therefore conclude hoping that some Effectial mode of Redressing the grievances of American Tars will be thought of & put into Execution by our Govt./John Johnston/Jany. 10, 1806."
The accompanying folded transmittal letter is datelined "Collectors Office, Baltimore 10 June 1806" from the Collector of Customs at Baltimore, R. Purviance, to David Gelston, Collector of Customs at New York. It bears a red "Balte. Md. Jun. 9" circular datestamp and manuscript "34" rate. The letter reads:
"Sir, The enclosed letter was handed to me this morning by William Jennett, Master of a coasting vessel, who found corked up in a Bottle on Shore, the State of North Carolina./As the writer, as well as the other sufferers, who were Impressed with him, sailed from your Port in the month of November last, in the Brig Lion, I hope you may have it in your power to furnish the necessary proofs for their relief./I have the honor to be very respectfully, Sir, you mo(st) ob(edient) serv(ant), R. Purviance, Coll." The receipt docketing reads "R Purviance 10 June 1806. No discovery can be made."
Ex LeBow. Accompanied by P.S. No. 6 (Journal of Postal History) featuring the "Bottle Letter".
VERY FINE. AN OUTSTANDING WESTERN EXPRESS COVER WITH THE RARE WINES & COMPANY'S PRINTED FRANK USING A PATRIOTIC MOTIF.
With 2010 P.F. certificate