Uncas (1588 – 1683) was a sachem of the Mohegan who through his alliance with the English colonists in New England against other Indian tribes made the Mohegan the leading regional Indian tribe in lower Connecticut.
He was a friend and ally of our ancestor Major John MASON for three and a half decades and he had dealings with many other of our ancestors.
Uncas has acquired two different, divergent reputations. Most of the general public think of Uncas in the manner he was portrayed by Cooper, as epitomizing the “Noble Savage.” Some historians, however, regard the historical Uncas as a selfish conniver. Best known for his support of the New England colonies during the Pequot War in 1637, Uncas, acting at the behest of the Connectieut colony, gained notoriety for his role in the murder of the Narragansett sachem, Miantonomi, one of the first Native American leaders to advocate unity in the face of the European invasion. Who was the real man?
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In 1645 – Thomas MINER joined John Winthrop Jr.’s colony of Massachusetts Puritans in the settlement of New London, CT. During the years that Thomas lived in New London, his son Mannassah and his daughters Ann and Mary were born. Manassah was the first white child born in New London.
May 1649 – At the session of the General Court, the following regulations were made respecting Pequot in New London:
1. The inhabitants were exempted from all public country charges — i.e., taxes for the support of the colonial government — for the space of three years ensuing.
2. The bounds of the plantation were restricted to four miles each side of the river, and six miles from the sea northward into the country, ” till the court shall see cause and have encouragement to add thereunto, provided they entertain none amongst them as inhabitants that shall be obnoxious to this jurisdiction, and that the aforesaid bounds be not distributed to less than forty families.”
3. John Winthrop, Esq. [Col. Edmund READE’s son-in-law], with Thomas MINER and Samuel LOTHROP as assistants, were to have power as a court to decide all differences among the inhabitants under the value of forty shillings.
4. Uncas and his tribe were prohibited from setting any traps, but not from hunting and fishing within the bounds of the plantation.
5. The inhabitants were not allowed to monopolize the corn trade with the Indians in the river, which trade was to be left free to all in the united colonies.
6. ” The Courte commends the name of Faire Harbour to them for to bee the name of their Towne.”
7. Thomas MINER was appointed ” Military Sergeant in the Towne of Pequett,” with power to call forth and train the inhabitants…
Minutes before the Court of Assistants 1664-1666
Uncas, an Indian, vs Mathew Beckwith, Jr, for buring a wigwam of his.
Mathew BECKWITH (1610-1681), Mathew Beckwith (1637-1727), Mathew Beckwith (1667-1740); it must have been the son of the immigrant who burned Uncas’ wigwam.
I also found reference to an earlier Court Order: Uncas to return three goats to Mathew Beckwith.
The second Mathew Beckwith, son of immigrant, had a rather interesting marital history; “Elizabeth Rogers, daughter of Mathew Griswold, granted a divorce from her husband, John Rogers, the founder of the Rogerine Quakers, 12 Oct 1676 under pressure from her family, they married 17 Oct 1670. Shortly afterword she married Mathew Beckwith she had children by each husband. In 1703, Rogers made a rash attempt to regain his divorced wife, then married to Beckwith; Beckwith complained that he laid hands on her, declaring she was his wife, threatened Beckwith that he would have her in spite of him , all of which Rogers confessed to be true. See my post John Rogers – Rogerene Founder for details.
In 1663 Cary Latham, son-in-law of John MASTERS, was an author of the following report to the Commissioners of the United Colonies of New England regarding the property rights of the Pequot Indians. Latham was an early resident of Cambridge, afterward removing to New London where he was in public life for nearly 20 years.. He was a Deputy to the General Court from 1664 to 1670.
“Boston, September 19th, 1663
We, being desired by the Commissioners of the United Colonies to enquire of the Indians present concerning the interest of the Pequots, or respecting lands which Uncas layeth claim unto, we accordingly have endeavored the same, according to our best skill and understanding; and there being present, Cassisinnamon, Kitchamoquion and Tomasquash Ecoadno (alias,) the old honest man, Pequots; also, Womesh, Mumuho, Kaiton, Narragansett Councillors, with many others Indians; which do all jointly affirm, that long before the Pequots were conqered by the English, Uncas, being akin unto the Pequots, did live upon and Enjoy that land above a place called Montononesuck, upon which Mr. Winthrop’s saw mill standeth; also, that it was his father’s before him, and left unto him by his father; which he possessed some time. But he growing proud and treacherous to the Pequot Sachem, the Pequot sachem was very angry, and sent up some soldiers, and drave Uncas out of his country; who fled unto Narragansett, for a while. At last he humbled himself to the Pequot Sachem, and desired that he might have liberty to live in his own country again; which the Pequot Sachem granted, provided he would be subject unto him, and carry it well. But soon after, he grew proud again, and was again driven out of his country, but his men subjected unto the Pequot Sachem; and yet again, upon his humbling, was restored, and grew proud again, and was conquered; and so five times; and upon his humbling himself was restored, and again conquered; until when the English went to war against the Pequots; and then Uncas went along with the English; and so, since, the English have made him high.”
“They further say, they know not the English fashions, but according to their manners and customs, Uncas had no lands at all, being so conquered. This they say, Uncas cannot deny, but if he should deny it, the thing is known to all the Indians round about.”
“Also the Narragansetts say that there is yet two of his men yet alive that fled with him into the Narragansett country, and have there abode ever since, who knew these things to be true. And further, they jointly affirm that Uncas had at first but little land and very few men, insomuch he could not make a hunt, but always hunted by order from other Sachems, and in their companie; which Sachems, being five brothers, lived at a place called by the Indians, Soudahque, at or near the place where Major Mason now liveth; who were the sons of the great Pequot Sachem’s sister, and so became very great Sachems, and had their bounds very large, extending their bounds by Connecticut path almost to Connecticut, and eastward meeting with the bounds of Paswuattuck (who lived at Showtackett, being a Pequot Sachem whose bounds extended eastward and took in Pachogg;) the which five Sachems, being brothers grew so great and so proud that upon hunting they quarrelled with the Pequots; at which the great Pequot (Sachem) being angry with them, made war upon them and conquered them and their country, and they all fled into Narragansett country, (leaving their country and men unto the Pequot Sachem,) from whence they never returned, but there died. So that Indians affirm all their lands and Woncas’s too, according to their customs and manners, were Pequot lands, being by them conquered, and now are the true right of the English, they having conquered the Pequots.
John MASON’s son John Mason Jr. was Captain of the 5th Connecticut Company. John died of wounds suffered Dec. 19, 1675 in the Great Swamp Fight (See my post) 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. Indian Scouting Companies numbering seventy-five to each, made up mostly of Indians from the Mohegan and Pequod tribes were attached to the First and Fifth Connecticut Companies.
It is probable that he was brought home from the field of battle 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. John’ wife Abigail Fitch was the daughter of 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.
In 1695 at the age of 74, Rev. James FITCH (1622 – 1702) founded and settledLebanon, Connecticut, a new town nearby Norwich where he lived. He moved to Lebanon in 1701 when he retired from the church in Norwich. He remained in Lebanon until his death at age eighty on November 18, 1702. He is buried at the churchyard there and his stone remains in the old cemetery.
The town of Lebanon has its origins with the settlers of Norwich, who wanted to expand beyond the “nine miles square” they had bought from the Mohegan sachem Uncas. In 1663, the first grant in the area was given in to James’ father-in-law Maj. John Mason, deputy governor of the Connecticut colony; the next year, Mason accepted 500 acres northwest of Norwich. This area, known as “Pomakuck” or “Pomocook” by the Mohegans, is now the Goshen Hill area of Lebanon. In 1666, Connecticut granted an additional 120 acres to the Rev. James Fitch, minister of Norwich, adjacent to Maj. Mason’s land which was now known as Cedar Swamp. The Mohegans conferred their blessing on the grants by giving an additional seven-mile strip to Maj. Mason’s son in 1675, who split the land with the Rev. Fitch, his father-in-law. This area is now known as “Fitch and Mason’s Mile,” or just “The Mile.”
Traditionally, it has been thought that, a few years before selling the “Five Mile,” Owaneco had given the “Mile” to Rev. Fitch. As Frances Caulkins wrote in History of Norwich, Connecticut (1873) following the description of James Fitch’s Pomakuck grant:
To this grant, Owaneco, the son and successor of Uncas, at a subsequent period, in acknowledgement of favors received from Mr. Fitch, added a tract Five miles in length and one in breadth. This munificent gift was familiarly called the Mile, or Mr. Fitch’s Mile.
Others have repeated this story: notably, Rev. Orb D. Hine in Early Lebanon (1880) (pp. 9-10); the 1986 town history cited above; and Robert Charles Anderson, who in a master’s thesis on the settlement of Lebanon cited a 1687 Norwich land record which seemed to support it.
All of these accounts are incorrect, see my post Mr. Fitch’s Mile. The land was not given by Owaneco, but by Joshua, another of the sons of Uncas, and it was given to Capt. John Mason, Jr. (1646-1676), not to Mason’s father-in-law Rev. Fitch. The grant was made not in 1687 but eleven years earlier, in 1676. The 1687 grant by Owaneco cited in the Anderson thesis was to Capt. James Fitch, son of Rev. James Fitch, and was for land to the northeast of Norwich. The 1687 tract does include (as the first of many items) a piece “six or seven miles in length and a mile in breadth.” But that piece was “bounded east on quienabaug River” (the Quinnebaug joins the Shetucket River northeast of Norwich). The actual grant for what became Mr. Fitch’s Mile was on 8 Mar 1675/76, three months after Capt. Mason had received his” death wound” in King Philip’s War (he lived nearly a year thereafter) and two months before the death of Joshua..
Norwich was bought in June, 1659, of the Indian Chief Uncas and his sons.. 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
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)
Thomas Bliss (Grandson of John BLISS)
Francis Griswold (possibly FRANCIS GRISWOLD‘s nephew)
John Gager (from New London, CT)
Dr. John Olmstead
Nehemiah SMITH (from New London, CT)
John Bradford (from Marshfield, MA)
Robert Allen (from New London, CT)
John Pease (Son of Robert PEASE Sr.) (from New London, CT and Edgartown)
Thomas Smith (from Marshfield, MA)
Jun 1659 – Nehemiah SMITH was one of the original proprietors of Norwich, Connecticut, which was bought in June, 1659, of the Indian Chief Uncas and his sons. His home lot was laid out in November, 1659. He had the largest tract of any of the first settlers, and received other grants at later times. His house was about fifty-seven feet north of the oldest burying ground, known as the Post and Gager burying ground.
1658 – Nehemiah’s son-in-law Deacon Joshua Raymond was perhaps the second person who built on the Indian lands Raymond went to New London, CT where he purchased land. 1662, a small grant of the water front,south of the “Fort land,” was made him. In 1668, by the payment of £15 to Uncas, a settlement of the town bounds was effected. The payment of this gratuity was assumed by James Avery, Daniel Wetherell, and Joshua Raymond, who were indemnified by the town with 200 acres of land each. He was one of the Committee who laid out the road between Norwich and New London through the Indian Reservation, and for this service he received a farm on the route, which became the nucleus of 1,000 acres lying together about eight miles from New London, which was owned by his descendants. In 1672 he was Cornet of Capt. Palmer’s Co. of Troopers. In 1675 his land, now the corner of Parade and Bank Streets, was fortified against the Indians, the town raising 70 men, beside Pequot and Mohegan Indians, of these troops he was Commissary. Joshua died 24 Apr 1676 New London, CT. Killed in the “Great Swamp Fight“.
1684 – Nehemiah and wife Ann deeded their homestead and other property to their son-in-law, Joshua ABELL, on condition that he take care of them in their old age. He died about 1686, aged about eighty-one years, and was buried in the Post and Gager burying ground.
In 1686, Thomas Parke, Thomas Tracy, and several others petitioned for and were granted by the Connecticut General Court authority to establish a plantation seven miles square to the East of Norwich and North of New London and Stonington. Owaneco, son of the Mohegan sachem Uncas, gave a confirmatory deed for the land in 1687. In October of that same year, the town was formally incorporated as Preston.
George CORLISS’ son-in-law Joseph Ayer and his brother John settled at Preston and North Stonington as farmers. Joseph’s farm was within the bounds of “Norwich East Society” (part of Preston) where he was admitted an inhabitant in 1704. He bought a large tract of land from Uncas and built the Ayer homestead in a narrow gap at the foot of Ayer’s mountain, known as Ayer’s Gap, where his father had settled before him.
The Beckwiths By Paul Edmond Beckwith