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 (a letter datelined "Boston" in 1673 and addressed to London, offered in Siegel Sale 1146, was ultimately determined to originate in Boston, England). 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.
With P.F. certificate no. 199229, which states "It is a genuine usage from Boston Massachusetts". See A Colonial History of Boston by Victor F. Casaburi for a thorough description of the events discussed above.
VERY FINE. THIS 1685 LETTER FROM BOSTON TO PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE, IS BELIEVED TO BE THE EARLIEST DOMESTIC BOSTON LETTER OUTSIDE OF PERMANENT ARCHIVES.
Apart from the 1651 letter offered in the previous lot, this 1685 letter is the earliest from Boston that we have offered at auction (a letter datelined "Boston" in 1673 and addressed to London, offered in Siegel Sale 1146, was ultimately determined to originate in Boston, England). According to Mark Schwartz's research, this is also the earliest domestic Boston letter in private hands. From 1673 to 1687 John Hayword was postmaster of Boston, and was responsible for both domestic and overseas letters. However, it is not possible to determine if this letter was carried by Hayword's post.
THE EARLIEST RECORDED AMERICAN FREE FRANK AND THE EARLIEST RECORDED BOSTON POSTAL MARKING OUTSIDE OF PERMANENT ARCHIVES. AN IMPORTANT RARITY OF AMERICAN COLONIAL MAILS.
John Campbell was postmaster of Boston from 1702 to 1718. This letter concerned the ownership of a stolen silver tankard, which was described in the Boston News-Letter of Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 1706, published by Campbell. This letter enclosed a second letter (which no longer accompanies) from the lawyer representing the original owner of the tankard, describing certain markings thereon. In this letter Campbell is requesting the opinion of Admiralty Court Judge Nathaniel Byfield on whether or not evidence of ownership was sufficient. Byfield wrote his favorable opinion on the inside of the letter and returned it to Campbell.
Prior to the enactment of the Queen Anne Act of 1710 (effective June 1, 1711), most mail was carried by courier or by favor. The relatively few letters that actually went by post normally were prepaid and bear no postal markings. The free frank marking on this cover is an official Boston postal marking and is the earliest recorded example in private hands.
THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF ONE OF THE EARLIEST AMERICAN FREE FRANKS AND AN IMPORTANT LETTER FROM JOSEPH DUDLEY -- WHO WAS A MAJOR HISTORICAL FIGURE IN COLONIAL AMERICA.
Joseph Dudley, son of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor Thomas Dudley, had a long and illustrious career in colonial Massachusetts. His assignments included service as a member of the Massachusetts General Court (1673-76), fighting the Narragansett Indians during King Philip's War (1675), member of the Upper House in the Massachusetts Bay legislature (1676-83, 1684), commander of the United Colonies of New England (1677-81), member of the Governor's Council, President of the Council (1684) and governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (1702-1715).
In 1692, the first attempt to create an American post was established under the Neale Patent. It was understood at that time that public letters were to be sent and received without charge. Under the Queen Anne Act, effective June 1, 1711, military officials could also send correspondence free of charge.
Ex Kantor and Dr. Robertson