Maj. John Mason

Maj. John MASON (1600 – 1672) was the commanding officer in the Pequot War.

John Mason Portrait

At the time, he was a victorious hero who later became  Deputy Governor of Connecticut and founded Norwich, Connecticut.  Now, he is viewed by some as a war criminal due to his responsible for the Mystic Massacre.  He was Alex’s 10th great grandfather, one of 2,048 in this generation of the Miner line.

The statue of Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather, Major John Mason stood on Pequot Hill, Mystic, CT at the spot where on June 7, 1637 he ordered his 90 colonists soldiers and 100 Mohegan Indians to attack and burned to death 600-700 men, women and children of the Pequot Indian Tribe.

A statue of Major John Mason is on the Palisado Green in Windsor, Connecticut.   The John Mason statue was originally placed at the intersection of Pequot Avenue and Clift Street in Mystic, Connecticut, near what was thought to be one of the original Pequot forts.The statue remained there for 103 years. After studying the sensitivity and appropriateness of the statue’s location near the historic massacre of Pequot people, a commission chartered by Groton, Connecticut voted to have it relocated. The State in 1993 relocated the statue to its current setting.

The work of the committee is an interesting piece of history in its own right, raising issues of history, our national identity, fairness and revisionism. See my post John Mason’s Controversial Statue for more of this story.

Maj. John Mason was born in 1600 in England.   He became an officer in the English army and served as a lieutenant under Sir Thomas Fairfax.  He married his first wife Isabel [__?__] about 1630 in England.  They immigrated to New England in 1630 on the Mary and John. Within five years he had joined those moving west from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the nascent settlements along the Connecticut River that would become the Connecticut Colony. Tensions there rose between the settlers and the dominant Indian tribe in the area, the Pequots, ultimately leading to bloodshed. After some English settlers were found dead, the Connecticut Colony appointed Mason to lead an expedition against the Pequot stronghold in Mystic, Connecticut. The result is known as the Mystic Massacre, and it was the major engagement of the Pequot War, which virtually destroyed the Pequot tribe.

John Mason – -Pequot War

After Isabel died, he married Anne PECK in Jul 1640 at Hingham, Mass.   John died on 30 Jan 1671/72 in Norwich, CT.  Mason’s Island in Stonington, Connecticut, is named after John Mason.

Isabel [__?__] was born about 1604 in England. She had one son Isrel Mason who was born before 10 Mar 1637/1638 in Windsor, CT.  Isrel died after 15 Mar 1693/1694 in Windsor, CT. Isabel died in 1637 in Windsor, Hartford, CT.

Anne Peck was born on 16 Nov 1619 in Hingham, Norfolk, England.  She was the daughter of Rev. Robert PECK and Anne [__?__].

Children of John and Ann:
The record of births of John Mason’s children by his second wife was entered in Norwich vital records, even though none of the births had occurred there, with only the month and year of the birth given. The division of births between Windsor and Saybrook is based on the knowledge that Mason was in Saybrook by 1647.

Name Born Married Departed
1. Priscilla MASON Oct 1641
Windsor, CT
Rev. James FITCH
2 Oct 1664
Norwich, CT
1714
Norwich, CT
2. Maj. Samuel Mason Jul 1644 Windsor, CT Judith Smith
JUN 1670
.
Elizabeth Peck
4 Jul 1694
30 Mar 1705 Stonington, CT
3. Capt. John Mason 19 Aug 1646 Windsor, CT Abigail Fitch (daughter of Rev. James FITCH above)
c. 1668
.
Hannah Arnold
c.  1676
18 Sep 1676 New London, CT
Fatally wonded in the Great Swamp Fight Narragansett, Dec 19, 1675.
4. Rachel Mason 1648 Saybrook, CT Charles Hill
1678
1679
5. Ann Mason Jun 1650 Saybrook, CT John Brown
(son of our ancestor John BROWN)
8 NOV 1672 Swansea, Mass
1709 Swansea, Bristol, Mass
6. Daniel Mason Apr 1652 Saybrook, CT Margaret Dennison
.
Rebecca Hobart
10 OCT 1679
28 Jan 1736/37
7. Elizabeth Mason Aug 1654 Stonington, CT Maj. James Fitch (Son of Rev. James FITCH above)
Jan 1674/75
8 Oct 1684 Norwich, CT
?. Judith Mason? c. 1639 Windsor, CT John Bissell
17 JUN 1658 Saybrook, CT
1665

Early life

Mason was born in England about 1602. He became an officer in the English army and served as a lieutenant under Sir Thomas Fairfax.  He later served in the English military in the Netherlands under Sir Horace de Vere when English protestants assisted protestant Hollanders in their fight with the Catholic Spaniards.

In 1630 Mason immigrated to America on the Mary and John and settled in Dorchester,  Massachusetts, where he represented that village in the General Court.   In 1632 Lt. Mason was paid 10 pounds by the colonial government for going after a pirate, and soon thereafter he was promoted to Captain.  He was elected freeman March 4, 1634/5 (as “Captain John Mason”). “Major John Mason” is shown in the October 9, 1681 list of Connecticut freemen in Norwich.

In his few years in Massachusetts John Mason was found very useful by town and colony. On 2 Jul 1633, an order is “given to the Treasurer to deliver to Lieutenant Mason £10 for his voyage to the eastward, when he went about the taking of Bull”. On 5 Nov 1633, “Sergeant [Israel] Stoughton [son of our ancestor Rev. Thomas STOUGHTON] is chosen ensign to Captain Mason”. On 3 Sep 1634, “Captain Mason” was appointed to a committee to “find out the convenient places for situation, as also to lay out the several works for fortification at Castle Island, Charelton, and Dorchester”. A rate was gathered for the support of Captain Mason on 29 Dec 1634.

In 1635 he moved to what would become Windsor, Connecticut, in company with the Reverend John Warham, Henry Wolcott, and others, prominent settlers of the town. He was elected an assistant or magistrate of the Connecticut Colony from Windsor in 1642. On 3 Sep 1635, “Captain Mason is authorized by the Court to press men and carts to help towards the finishing of the fort at Castle Island, and to return the same into the Court”.

Education

His prose is vigorous and direct in his regular correspondence with the Winthrops and in his history of the Pequot War.  His activities from the earliest days in New England give evidence of training as a military engineer.

Pequot War

From The Wordy Shipmates

The Pequot War is a pure war.  An by pure I don’t mean good.  I mean it is war straight up, a war set off by murder and vengeance and fueled by misunderstanding, jealousy, hatred, stupidity, racism, lust for power, lust for land, and most of all, greed, all of it headed toward a climax of slaughter.  The English are diabolical,  The Narragansett and the Mohegan are willing accomplices,  The Pequot commit distasteful acts of violence and are clueless as to just how vindictive the English can be when provoked.  Which is to say that there’s no one to root for.  Well, one could root for Pequot babies not to be burned alive, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

On 1 May 1637, the Connecticut General Court raised a force of 90 men to be under the command of Captain John Mason for an offensive war against the Pequot. Mason commanded the successful expedition against the Pequot Indians, when he and his men immortalized themselves in overthrowing and destroying the prestige and power of the Pequots and their fort near Mystic River, on the Groton side. During the attack, they killed virtually all of the inhabitants, about 600 men, women, and children. This event became known as the Mystic massacre.

John Mason – Pequot Warrior

Mason reports that on May  25

“about eight of the clock in the morning, we marched thence towards the Pequot with about five hundred Indians.

Their original aim was to attack the headquarters of Sassacus, the Pequot sachem,  After all, it was Sassacus who had murdered Captain Stone to avenge his father’s death.  But at some point, they decide to attack the Pequot fort at Mystic instead.  It’s closer.

As the day wears on, they get hotter and hungrier.  Mason says that “some of our men fainted.

Mason writes :   I then inquired of Uncas what he thought the Indians would do? Uncas predicts, “The Narragansetts would all leave us.” As for the Mohegan, Uncas reassures Mason that “he would never leave us: and so it proved. For which expressions and some other speeches of his, I shall never forget him,  Indeed he was a great friend and did a great service.”

At night, recalls Mason “the rocks were our pillows, yest rest was pleasant.

The next morning, Mason asks Uncas and his comrade Wequash where the fort is.  They tell him it’s on top of a nearby hill.  Looking around Mason wonders where the hell the Narragansett have disappeared to.  They are nowhere to be seen.  Uncas replies that they’re hanging back “exceedingly afraid.” Mason tells Uncas and Wequash not to leave but to stand back and wait to see “whether Englishmen would now fight or not.

Then Underhill joins in the huddle and he and Mason begin “commending ourselves to God.”  They divide their men in half, “there being two entrances to the fort.

The Pequot fort is encircled within  a palisade, a wall made of thick tree trunks standing up and fastened together.  Around seven hundred men, women and children are asleep in wigwams inside.

Mason writes that they “heard a dog bark.” Their sneak attack is foiled.   Mason says they heard “an Indian crying Owanux, Owanx! Which is Englishman! Englishman!”

Mason: “We called up our forces with all expedition, gave fire upon them through the palisade, the Indians being in a dead – indeed their last – sleep.”

Mason commands the Narragansett and Mohegan to surround the palisade in what Underhill describes as a “ring battalia, giving a volley of shot upon the fort.”  Hearing gunfire, the awakened Pequot, writes Underhill, “brake forth into the most doleful cry.”

The Pequot screams are so dolefule Underhill says the English almost sympathize with their prey – almost.  Until the English manage to remember why they are there in the first place (to avenge the murder of various Englishmen from a drunken, wife-stealing pirate to the settlers on the Connecticut frontier whehn those girls were kidnapped.  Thus Underhill reports “every man being bereaved of pitty fell upon the work without compassion, considering the blood [the Pequot] had shed of our native countrymen.”

Then the English enter the fort, carring, per Underhill ” our swords in our right hand, our carbines or muskets in our left hand.”  Mason and Underhill start knocking heads inside the wigwams.  Various Pequot come at them “Most courageously these Pequot behaved themselves”.  Underwill will praise them later on.

Combat in the cozqy little bark houses is chaos – too dangerous and unpredictable.  Mason is hit with arrows and Underhill’s hip is grazed.  Mason is faced, on a smaller scale, with the same problem Harry Truman would confront when he was forced to ponder the logistics of invading Japan in 1945.  A ground war would damn untold thousands of American troops to certain slaughter.  The Puritan commander, in a smaller, grubbier, lower-tech way, arrives at the same conclusions as Truman when he ordered the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Mason says “We must burn them.

And they do,

Mason dashes inside a hut, lights a torch and “set the wigwam on fire.”  The inhabitants are stunned.  “When it was thoroughly kindled,” Mason recalls, “the Indians ran as men most dreadfully amazed.”

Underhill, too, lights up his vicinity, and “the fires of both meeting in the center of the fort blazed most terribly and burnt all the space of half an hour.

The wind helps.  According to Mason, the fire “did swiftly overrun the fort, to the extreme amazement of the enemy and great rejoicing of ourselves.”  Mason notes that some of the Indians try to climb over the palisade and others start “running into the very flames.”  They shoot arrows at the Englishmen who answer them with gunfire, but, writes Underhill, “the fire burnt their very bowstrings.”

“Mercy they did deserve for their valor.” Underhill admits of the Pequot.  Not that they get any.   William Bradford was told by a participant that “it was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire, and the steams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof.”

The Englishmen escape the flames and then guard the two exits so that no Pequot can escape.  According to Underhill, those who try to get away “our soldiers entertained with the point of the sword; down fell men, women and children.”

Mason summarizes, “And thus … in little more than an hour’s space was their impregnable fort with themselves utterly destroyed, to the number of six or seen hundred.”

Two Englishmen died and about twenty are wounded.  Mason is triumphant.   After all, this is the will of a righteous God. He praises the Lord for “burning them up in the fire of his wrath, and dunging the ground with their flesh: It is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes!”  That might be the creepiest exclamation point in American Literature.  No, wait – it’s this one: “Thus did the Lord judge among the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies!”

John Mason – Pequot War Woodcut

The Narragansett and Mohegan, whom Underhill calls “our Indians”, were shaken by the viciousness of the English and the horror of the carnage.  Especially the Narragansett.  Recall they had explicitly asked before the campaign, via Roger Williams, “that it would be pleasing to all natives, that women and children be spared.

“Our Indians,” Underhill writes, “Came to us much rejoiced at our victories, and greatly admired the manner of Englishmen’s fight, but cried ‘Mach it, mach it’ that is ‘It is naught.  It is naught, because it is too furious and slays too many men.”  The word “naught” to a seventeenth -century English speaker, meant “evil.”

Captured Pequot are divvied up as spoils among the victors.  Boston sells some of its share of Pequot survivors into slavery in Bermuda.  Many Pequot descendants still live on Bermuda’s St. David Island, their Indian slave ancestors having intermarried with their African slave ancestors.

In 1638, the Connecticut English host a treaty party where a few remaining Pequot are dived among the tribes that had been English allies.  The Pequot absorbed into Uncas’s tribe later became known as the Mashantucket Pequot.  In 1976, this tribe successfully sued the state of Connecticut for recovery of some of its land in Connecticut and recirved federal recognition from Ronald Reagan in 1983.  This is the home to the tribe’s wildly profitable Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The Pequot Indians Today

In 1889, a statue of Mason drawing his sword was erected on the site of the Mystic Fort massacre, in the present day town of Groton. The event is commemorated by a boulder monument that formerly was on Mystic Hill upon the pedestal of which is a life-size statue of Major Mason drawing his sword, representing the moment when he heard the war-whoop of “Owanux” in their fort.

On Pequot Hill, Mystic, Ct. stands the statue of Major John Mason at the spot where on June 7, 1637 he with 90 colonists and 100 Mohegan Indians burned to death 600 to 700 men, women and children of the warlike Pequot Indian Tribe

In 1992, a Pequot named Wolf Jackson petitioned the town council to remove the statue.  According to the Hartford Courant, in one of the meetings in which the statue’s fate was debated, one citizen proclaimed “that the statue on Pequot Avenue is about as appropriate as a monument at Auschwitz to Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Nazis’ Final Solution.”   As a compromise, in 1996 the statue was moved a way from the site of the massacre to nearby Windsor which was founded by Mason.  The New York Times reported that nine protesters attended the rededication ceremony: “‘No Hero’ said one sign; ‘Remember the Pequot Massacres’, said another.  A few weeks later, vandals doused the bronze Mason with red paint

Present Day Pequot

He took a company of Englishmen up the river and rescued two English maids during this war. On 8 March 1637/8, in the aftermath of the Pequot War, the Connecticut General Court “ordered that Captain Mason shall be a public military officer of the plantations of Connecticut, and shall train the military men thereof in each plantation”.

John Mason fought alongside two Native American tribes, the Mashantucket and Narrangansetts.

Later Career

John Mason was one of the most trusted men in Connecticut during his three and a half decades of residence there, in both civil and military matters. In his latter years the formal colony records referred to him simply as “the Major,” without forename or surname. Only a sampling of his activities can be presented here.

John removed his family to Old Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut in 1647. He was awarded land by the state of Connecticut where Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut was founded and in 1660 united with a number of distinguished families in the settlement of Norwich, New London County, Connecticut where he was Deputy/Lieutenant Governor (1660-1669), and Major General of the forces of Connecticut.

From 1647 to 1657

On 2 Jun 1647 the court ordered that Captain Mason should for the peace, safety and good assurance of the Commonwealth, have the command of all soldiers and inhabitants of Seabrooke, and in case of alarum or danger by approach of an enemy, to draw forth or put the said soldiers & inhabitants in such posture for the defense of the place as to him shall seem best,” and “whereas Captain Mason, at the special instance & request of the inhabitants of Seabrooke, together with the good liking of the Commonwealth, did leave his habitation in the River and repair thither, to exercise a place of trust. It is this day ordered, that his former salary of £ 40 per annum be continued.

During the winter of 1647/48 Winthrop records thatin the depth of winter, in a very tempestuous night, the fort at Saybrook was set on fire, and all the buildings within the Palisado, with all the goods, etc., were burnt down, Captain Mason, his wife, and children, hardly saved. The loss was estimated at one thousand pounds, and not known how the fire came.

Prior to the sitting of the court on 6 Oct 1651, Captain Mason had sent a letter to the court, wherein he desires, among other things, the advice of this Court touching a motion propounded by some of New Haven interested in Dillaware design, for his assistance of them in that business, with some encouragements for his settling there.” The Court did not like the idea, but admitted they could not prevent him, and gave the irreluctant permission to “attend the service for 3 months, provided he will engage himself to return within that time and continue his abode amongst them as formerly.

New Haven was at this time attempting to establish a daughter colony on the Delaware River.

By the sitting of the Court on 18 May 1654 he had been advanced from Captain to Major, the rank that he would hold for the remainder of his life. On 13 Jun 1654 he and Captain John Cullick were sent to Boston as agents of Connecticut, to discuss Cromwell’s plans for fighting the Dutch at New Amsterdam. In Apr 1657 he received from the General Court an extensive commission, requiring him to go to Southampton and investigate the complaints of the inhabitants of that town (then under Connecticut jurisdiction) regarding depredations made by the Montauk Indians.

From 1659 to 1670

On 15 Jun 1659 Mr. Willis was requested to go down to Sea Brook, to assist the Major in examining the suspicions about witchery, and to act the rein as may be requisite.

NORWICH, MASSACHUSETTS
Norwich was settled in 1660. Most of these original proprietors of Norwich came from Saybrook, and East Saybrook (now Lyme). The 35 original proprietors of that town were:

Reverend James FITCH, the first minister
Major John MASON, afterwards Lieut. Gov. of Connecticut
Lieut. Thomas Leflingwell
Lieut. Thomas Tracy and
his eldest son John Tracy
Deacon Thomas Adgate
Christopher Huntington and
his brother, Deacon Simon Huntington
Ensign Thomas Waterman
William Hyde and
his son Samuel Hyde, and
his son-in-law John Post
Thomas Post
Lieut. William Backus and
his brother Stephen Backus
Deacon Hugh Calkins (from New London, CT, and
his son John Calkins (from New London, CT) and
his son-in-law Jonathan Royce (from New London, CT)
John REYNOLDS
Thomas BLISS
Francis GRISWOLD
John Birchard
Robert Wade
Morgan Bowers
John Gager (from New London, CT)
Thomas Howard
Dr. John Olmstead
Nehemiah SMITH (from New London, CT)
Richard Edgerton
John Elderkin
John Bradford (from Marshfield, MA)
Thomas Bingham
Robert Allen (from New London, CT)
John Baldwin
John Pease (Son of  Robert PEASE Sr.) (from New London, CT and Edgartown)
Thomas Smith (from Marshfield, MA)

In the summer of 1669 residents of Easthampton, Southampton and Stonington addressed letters to Mason, warning him of an impending attack by several groups of Indians. Mason passed these letters on to the colony authorities in Hartford, and added his own strongly worded advice.

In the summer of 1670 John Mason acted as an intermediary between Roger Williams and the Connecticut government regarding a boundary dispute between Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Estate

On 10 Feb 1634/35 “Captayne Mason” received a grant of 2 acres (8,100 m2) in Dorchester. He drew 6 acres of meadow beyond Naponset in lot #73.

In the Windsor land inventory on 28 Feb 1640/41 John Mason held seven parcels, six of which were granted to him: “a home lot with some additions to it”, 10 acres; “in the Palisado where his house stands and mead adjoining” 20.5 acres; “in the first mead on the north side of the rivulet, for mead and addition in swamp” 8 acres; “in the northwest field for upland” 8 acres “with some addition on the bank side”; “over the Great River in breadth by the river twenty-six rods more or less, and continues that breadth to the east side of the west marsh, and there it is but sixteen rods in breadth and so continues to the end of the three miles”; 9 acres “of land by Rocky Hill”; and “by a deed of exchange with Thomas Duy [Dewey] … on the east side of the Great River in breadth eighteen rods more or less, in length three miles”.

On 5 Jan 1641/42 Connecticut court ordered “that Captain Mason shall have 500 acres of ground, for him and his heirs, about Pequot Country, and the dispose of 500 more to such soldiers as joined with him in the service when they conquered the Indians there”.

On 12 Jul 1644 John Mason of Windsor sold to William Hosford of Winds or 8 acres  in a little meadow with addition of swamp. On 11 Sep 1651 “the island commonly called Chippachauge in Mistick Bay is given to Capt. John Mason, as also 100 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow near Mistick, where he shall make choice”.

On 14 Mar 1660/61 the “jurisdiction power over that land that Uncus and Wawequa have made over to Major Mason is by him surrendered to this Colony. Nevertheless for the laying out of those lands to farms or plantations the Court doth leave it in the hands of Major Mason. It is also ordered and provided with the consent of Major Mason, that Uncus & Wawequa and their Indians and successors shall be supplied with sufficient planting ground at all times as the Court sees cause out of that land. And the Major doth reserve for himself a competence of land sufficient to make a farm”.

On 14 May 1663 the court granted “unto the Major, our worshipful Deputy Governor, 500 acres of land for a farm, where he shall choose it, if it may not be prejudicial to a plantation already set up or to set up, so there be not above 50 acres of meadow in it”. On 13 Oct 1664, the “Major propounding to the Court to take up his former grant of a farm, at a place by the Indians called Pomakuck, near Norwich, the Court grants liberty to him to take up his former grant in that place, upon the same terms as it was granted to him by the Court”.

On 20 May 1668 the “Major desiring this Court to grant him a farm” of about 300 acres , for “one of his sons, his desire is hereby granted (provided there be not above 30 acres of meadow) and Lt. Griswold & Ensign Tracy are hereby desired to lay it out to him in some convenient place near that tract of land granted Jer[emiah] Adams, it being the place the Major hath pitched upon, the name of the place is Uncupsitt, provided it prejudice no plantation or former grant”.

On 9 May 1672 “Ensign Tracy is appointed to join with Sergeant Tho[ma s] Leffingwell in laying out to the Major and Mr. Howkins their grants of land according to their grants”.

Offices

  • Deputy for Dorchester to Massachusetts Bay General Court, 4 March 1634/35, 2 Sep 1635.
  • Captain by 1637.
  • Deputy for Windsor to Connecticut Court, November 1637, March 1638, April 1638, September 1639, February 1641, April 1641, September 1641.
  • Assistant, 1642-1659, 1669-71 [CT Civil List 35].
  • War committee for Saybrook, May 1653, Oct 1654.
  • Major, June 1654 (but he was called Major at the General Court of 18 May 1654).
  • Connecticut Deputy Governor, May 1660, May 1661, May 1662, Oct 1662, May 1663, May 1664, May 1665, May 1666, May 1667, May 1668.
  • Commissioner for United Colonies, Jun 1654, May 1655, May 1656, May 1657, May 1660, May 1661.
  • Patentee, Royal Charter, 1662.
  • Militia Committee, May 1667 – June 1672.

Founding the New London Court – Maj, John Mason was the first magistrate followed by his son-in-law Capt James Fitch and sons Capt. John Mason and Capt. Samuel Mason – Source: New London County, Connecticut A Modern History

Children

1. Priscilla MASON (See Rev. James FITCHs page)

2. Maj. Samuel Mason

Maj. Samuel Mason  held the office of major of the militia, and was an assistant of the colony, besides holding other positions of trust.

Samuel’s first wife Judith Smith was born about 1650.  Her parents were Capt. John Smith of Hingham, Mass.

Samuel’s second wife Elizabeth Peck was 30 years younger than Samuel, born 29 Dec 1673 Wallingford, New Haven, CT. Elizaabeth died 1709 ‎(Age 35) Wallingford, New Haven, CT.  She survived him, and m. Gershom Palmer of Stonington, son of our ancestor Walter PALMER.

After a brief interval of quiet, troubles broke out anew early in 1700. Captain Sabin observed many suspicious indications, and mysterious hints were dropped by certain Indians. A meeting was held at Crystal Pond, ostensibly for fishing, which was attended by most of the Indians, but after several days’ absence they came back without fish, and a few days afterward they started off again, with squaws and children and the treasure of the tribe, “pretending fear and danger from the Mohegans.” Fears were at this time entertained throughout the Colonies of a general combination and uprising among the various Indian tribes, and it was at once conjectured that the Wabbaquassets had gone to meet the combined forces at Monadnock and join in a general foray. A panic ensued. Dispatches were sent at once to the Governor and Council of Connecticut, who sent to their relief, Captain Samuel Mason, with twelve English soldiers and eighteen Mohegans. Arriving at Woodstock at 2 P. M., Saturday, February 3, they found the people in great excitement. James Corbin’s cart, laden with ammunition, was on the road from Boston in great danger of interception and capture by the enemy. News had come that the fugitives traveled sixteen miles the first night, though divers children were much frozen, and one man nearly drowned in crossing a river. A consultation was held with Mr. Dwight, Captain Sabin and the principal men of Woodstock, who thought it best to send for the Indians to return and assure them of their friendship and protection. Three Wabbaquassets, “of great faithfulness to the English”-Kinsodock, Mookheag and Pesicus-were accordingly sent on Sunday to Colonel King, of Dunstable, with a note from Captain Mason, praying him “to forward them on their journey to Penacook or Monadnuk, where, as we understand, the combined Indians keep their head-quarters, or to any other place where our Indians are gone, and if there be with you any Indians it may be well to send some with them, that they may fully inform the Indians that the English have no designs against them, and that if Tobey himself should return he would have courteous treatment showed him.” A pass was given to these envoys, forbidding people to take their arms from them. A dispatch was also sent to Lord Bellmont, governor of Massachusetts, by John Ingalls, of Oxford, showing their fear of approaching evil from the enemy, and the aid sent from Connecticut.

Samuel Mason was Owaneco’s agent in land dealings in Lisbon Township.  Owaneco was son of the famous Uncas.  Samuel’s brother-in-law Capt. James Fitch played a questionable role in these grants.

Children of Samuel and Judith

i. John Mason b. ca. 1672; d. 1705

ii. Anne Mason b. ca. 1675

iii. Sarah Mason b. ca. 1680 Windham, CT; d. bef. 1721 Lebanon, New London, CT; m. Joseph Fitch son of Rev. James FITCH and (Sarah’s aunt) Priscilla MASON. Joseph and Sarah lived in Stonington, Connecticut. She died and he married Ann Whiting of Windham in 1729 and they moved to Lebanon. Joseph died in Windham on May 9, 1741 and Ann died there September 18, 1778.

iv. Samuel Mason Jr. b. ca. 1682; d. 1701

v. Elizabeth Mason b. 1684

vi. Hannah Mason b. ca. 1686

3. Capt. John Mason Jr.

John’ wife Abigail Fitch was born 5 Aug 1650 in Saybrook, CT. Her parents were our ancestor Rev. James FITCH and his first wife Abigail Whitfield.  Abigail’s brother married John’s sister Elizabeth and her father married his sister Prescilla.  Abigail died 18 Sep 1676 in Stonington, New London, CT.

John died of wounds suffered in the Great Swamp Fight on 18 Sep 1676 in New London, CT.  Of the 71 Connecticut troops killed in the battle, nine were from John Mason’s 5th Company of Norwich. To the First and Fifth Connecticut Companies were attached Indian Scouting Companies, numbering seventy-five to each, made up mostly of Indians from the Mohegan and Pequod tribes.

Second Letter of Joseph Dudley

Mr Smith’s, 21, 10, 1675
May it please your honour

The comming of the Connecticut force to Petaquamscott, and surprisal os six and slaughter of five on Friday night, Saturday we marched towards Petaquamscott, though in snow, and in conjunction about midnight or later, we advanced: Capt. Mosley led the van, after him Massachusetts, and Plimouth and Connecticut in the rear; a tedious march in the snow, without intermission, brought us about two of the clock afternoon, to the entrance of the swamp, by the help of Indian Peter, who dealt faithfully with us; our men, with great courage, entered the swamp about twenty rods; within the cedar swamp we found some hundreds of wigwams, forted in with a breastwork and flankered, and many small blockhouses up and down, round about; they entertained us with a fierce fight, and many thousand shot, for about an hour, when our men valiantly scaled the fort, beat them thence, and from the blockhouses. In which action we lost Capt. Johnson, Capt. Danforth, and Capt. Gardiner, and their lieutenants disabled, Capt. Marshall also slain; Capt Seely, Capt. Mason, disabled, and many other officers, insomuch that, by a fresh assault and recruit powder from their store, the Indians fell on again, recarried and beat us out of, the fort, but by the great resolution and courage of the General and Major, we reinforced, and very hardly entered the fort again, and fired the wigwams, with many living and dead persons in them, great piles of meat and heaps of corn, the ground not permitting burial of their store, were consumed; the number of their dead, we generally suppose the enemy lost at least two hundred men; Capt. Mosely counted in one corner of the fort sixty four men;

Capt. Goram reckoned 150 at least; But, O! Sir, mine heart bleeds to give your honor an account of our lost men, but especially our resolute Captains, as by account inclosed, and yet not so many, but we admire there remained any to return, a captive women, well known to Mr. Smith, informing that there were three thousand five hundred men engaging us and about a mile distant a thousand in reserve, to whom if God had so pleased, we had but been a morsel, after so much disablement: she informeth, that one of their sagamores was slain and their powder spent, causing their retreat, and that they are in a distressed condition for food and houses, that one Joshua Tift, an Englishman, is their encourager and conducter. Philip was seen by one, credilbly informing us, under a strong guard.

After our wounds were dressed, we drew up for a march, not able to abide the field in the storm, and weary, about two of the clock, obtained our quarters, with our dead and wounded, only the General, Ministers, and some other persons of the guard, going to head a small swamp, lost our way, and returned again to the evening quarters, a wonder we were not prey to them, and, after at least thirty miles marching up and down, in the morning, recovered our quarters, and had it not been for the arrival of Goodale next morning, the whole camp had perished; The whole army, especially Connecticut, is much disabled and unwilling to march, with tedious storms, and no lodgings, and frozen and swollen limbs, Major Treat importunate to return to at least Stonington; Our dead and wounded are about two hundred, disabled as many; the want of officers, the consideration whereof the Genreal commends to your honer, forbids any action at present, and we fear whether Connecticut will comply, at last, to any action. We are endeavoring, by good keeping and billetting oue men at several quarters, and, if possible removel of our wounded to Rhode Isalnd, to recover the spirit of our soldiers, and shall be diligent to find and understand the removals on other action of the enemy, if God please to give us advantage against them.

As we compleat the account of dead, now in doing, The Council is of the mind, without recruit of men we shall not be able to engage themain body.

I give your honor hearty thanks for your kind lines, of which I am not worthy
I am Sir, your honors humble servant

Joseph Dudley

Since the writing of these lines, the General and Council have jointly concluded to abide on the place, notwithstanding the desire of Connecticut, only entreat that a supply of 200 may be sent us, with supply of commanders; and, whereas we are forced to garrison our quarters with at least one hundred, three hundred men, upon joint account of colonies, will serve, and no less, to effect the design. This is by order of the council.  Blunderbusses, and hand grenadoes, and armour, if it may, and at least two armourers to mend arms.

This gallant young captain was severely and, as it proved, fatally wounded in the Great swamp fight at Narragansett, Dec. 19, 1675. It is probable that he was brought home from that sanguinary field by his Mohegan warriors on an Indian bier. His wounds never healed. After lingering several months, he died, as is supposed, in the same house where his father expired, and was doubtless laid by his side in the old obliterated graveyard of the first comers. Though scarcely thirty years of age at the time of his death, he stood high in public esteem, both in a civil and military capacity. He had represented the town at three sessions of the Legislature, and was chosen an assistant the year of his decease. In the probate of his estate before the County Court he is called “the worshipful John Mason.”

The Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, of New London, records his death in these terms:

“My hon’d and dear Friend Capt. Juo Mason one of ye magistrates of this Colony, and second son of Major Jno Mason, dyed, Sept. 18, 1676.”

Children of Abigail and John Mason

i. John Mason , III, Captain b: 1673 in Stonington, CT; d. 1736; m. 15 Jul 1719 to Anne Sanford b: 1680

ii. Anne Mason b: ABT 1676 in Stonington, CT; m. 1690 to Captain John Dennison , Jr.  b: 1 JAN 1668/69 in Stonington, Conn John died of tuberculosis in 1699, at the age of thirty.

4. Rachel Mason

Rachel’s husband Charles Hill was born in 1630 in Barlow, Derbyshire, England, His father was George Hill. Charles died Oct 1684 in New London, CT

5. Ann Mason

Ann’s husband John Brown was born 30 Sep 1650 in Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts, His parents were our ancestor John BROWN (1630 – 1662) and Ann Dennis (1633 – 1700) John died 24 Nov 1709 in Swansea, Bristol, Mass.

6. Daniel Mason

Daniel’s first wife  Margaret Denison was born 15 Dec 1650 Roxbury, Suffolk, Mass. Margaret died 16 May 1678 in Stonington, CT

Daniel’s second wife Rebecca Hobart was born 9 Apr 1654 in Hingham, Plymouth, Mass. Her parents were Peter Hobart (1604 – 1679) and Rebecca Peck (1620 – 1693). Her paternal grandparents were our ancestors Edmund HOBART and Margaret DEWEY.   Her maternal grandparents were our ancestors Joseph PECK and Rebecca CLARK.  Rebecca died 8 Apr 1727 in Stonington, New London, Connecticut, United States

Daniel Mason was well-educated and of independent means, and occupied in Stonington an ample estate in the “Five Mile Purchase”, in which territory the family then held large interest.  This estate was near the borders of Long Island Sound, and comprised of Chippacursett Island in Mystic Bay, since then called the Mason Island, and a large tract of upland and meadow.  He was the earliest school teacher in Norwich, CT.

He was commissioned quartermaster of the New London County Troop of Dragoons in October 1673, when he was 21.  He was later promoted to the rank of Captain.  While staying in Norwich, he filled for a short time, in 1679, the office of instructor at the newly established “School on the Plain”.  He later moved to Stonington as his permanent place of residence.   He was active and influential in the various civil duties connected with the incorporation, by act of the General Court in 1700, of the town of Lebanon, where he died.

Children of Daniel and Rebecca:

i. Peter Mason (1680 – 1737

ii. Rebecca Mason (1682 – 1742

iii. Margaret Mason (1683 – 1683

iv. Samuel Mason (1686 – 1737

v. Abigail Mason(1689 – 1717

vi. Priscilla Mason (1691 – 1719

vii. Nehemiah Mason (1693 – 1768

7. Elizabeth Mason

Elizabeth’s husband Maj. James Fitch helped to reestablish colonial government after the Revolution of 1689. He served in the military as Company Sergeant Major of New London Company in 1696. He was Assistant in 1690. He also served as Boundary Commissioner and Land Reviser. He led military expeditions, named forts, and guarded the frontier. He exercised jurisdiction over the Mohegans and all their lands and interests.  James died 10 Nov 1727 in Canterbury, Windham, CT.

Children of Elizabeth and James:

i. James Fitch III b: JAN 1676/77; d. within the week.

ii. James Fitch III b: 7 JUN 1679;  died as a child

iii. Jedediah Fitch b: 17 APR 1681 in Norwich, CT; d. 20 NOV 1756 in Nantucket, Mass.  He moved to Nantucket and there in 1701 married 1701 to Abigail Coffin b: 9 JUL 1683 in Nantucket, Mass.

All his brothers were soldiers fighting Indians and such. As a young teenager, Jed moved to the north shore of Massachusetts and settled in Newbury, and then later went to Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts. Nantucket was a Quaker colony at the time and in 1701 he married into an established Quaker family. His father had been quite friendly with the local Indians, the Mohegans and Pequots, yet fought against other tribes. Perhaps Jedediah became a pacifist and wanted no part of fighting the Indians he grew up with and so left for Nantucket.

iv. Samuel Fitch , Sr. b: 12 JUL 1683 in Norwich, CT; d. 1729 in Lawrenceville, New Jersey; m. Mary Smith b: SEP 1682 in Burlington, New Jersey

Sources:

http://www.newenglandgenealogy.pcplayground.com/f_3a.htm#28

http://users.ece.utexas.edu/~perry/fun/genealogy/mell/fitch.html

http://www.jeanniemay.com/genealogy/turkfair/pafg11.htm#153

http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/j/o/n/Frances-J-Joneslory/GENE4-0024.html

http://trees.ancestry.com/owt/person.aspx?pid=21009406&st=1

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37 Responses to Maj. John Mason

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  21. Martha Spindler Brown says:

    Were the Connecticut Masons related to the Archibald Masons who later lived in Pittsburgh, Pa.?

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  35. B. A. Church says:

    Hi, I don’t know if this is still being watched by the author but I am looking for specific proof of service for Daniel Mason b. April 1652, d. 28 January 1737, married to 2nd wife Rebecca Hobart – died 8 April 1727, married on 10 October 1679. I have found many citations of his service of being a Quartermaster in the New London County Troop of Dragoons on 17 Oct. 1673 at age 21 and that he was promoted to Lieutenant – 9 October 1701 and finally promoted to Captain but I would like to know the source info. for this service. Can you help on this? Please advise. Thank you!

    • markeminer says:

      Hi, I don’t know the source, but would be interested to learn more. My paternal immigrant ancestor, Thomas Miner, helped found Stonington. He and his sons were also in the local militia. Turns out all four of Rebecca Hobart’s grandparents were also my ancestors.

      Cheers!,
      Mark

    • Martha Spindler says:

      If you google Daniel Mason until you get “New London CT GenWeb History 1650-1698”, and you will find information about Daniel toward the end of the page. The article is by
      William L. De Coursey and is from his book, It’s About Time.

      My 8th great grandfather was Robert Allyn who was also a pioneer in Norwich, Ct. at this time. Hope this helps.

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