Wednesday, June 8, 2011

James Rollins--1632 Immigrant

Chart compiled by Merry Lu Zeller from
 From Records of Families of the name Rawlins or Rollins in the United States, pages 1-4
Compiled by John R. Rollins
(Printed 1874 in Lawrence, Mass. By Geo. S. Merrill & Crocker)

James Rawlins (N. E. Hist. Gen. Register.  Vol. 8: p. 257.)


    "Emigrated to America in 1632, with the settlers of Ipswich, Mass. He did not, however, remain long at Ipswich, for he is mentioned by Farmer as being at Newbury in 1634; being probably, one of a small party who went there for the purpose of looking out a favorable spot for settlement."  


    "We next hear [after Ipswich and Newbury] of him at Dover, where he was located as early as 1644, as he received a grant of land from the town, July 10th of that year.  Another grant of one hundred acres "was layed out for him," Nov. 26, 1656.  This last named lot is so accurately described, and the position and boundaries are so clearly defined, that the description is copied here for the benefit of descendants who may, in future, desire to visit the old place, and explore the paternal acres:

    "Given and graunted [sic] unto James Rawlins, his heirs and assigns, one hundred acres of upland anext to his one lot, as so layed out and bounded, by Capt. Hall and Sargeant Hanson, who have bounded it as followeth':  that is to say, by the water sied [sic] 109 rodde [sic]; upon the N. W. sied, 240 rodde, upon S. W. and by W. line; and the S. E. sied is upon a S. W. and by W. line.  Layed 26th of 11th mo., 1656."

    Mr. Rollins resided in that part of ancient Dover called Bloody Point* (now Newington), till his death, receiving grants of land at various times.

    The origin of the name  [Bloody Point] is somewhat amusing.  According to Mr. Hubbard, the historian, it grew out of a quarrel between Walter Neal, the agent of Gorges & Mason, at Pascataqua, and Capt. Wiggans, agent of another company, who proposed forming a settlement higher up the river.  Neal had forbidden Wiggans to come upon a certain pice of land, about half way between Dover and Easter, over which Neal claimed jurisdiction.  Capt. Wiggans intended too have defended his right by the record, but it seems both litigants had so much wit in their anger as to waive the battle, each accounting himself to have done very manfully in what was threatened, so that from not what did, but from what might have happened, the place, to this day, retains the formidable name of Bloody Point.

    James Rawlins arrived in 1632 with the Ipswich, Massachusetts settlers from England.  Daniel Webster tells story about Rollins who lived somewhere in vicinity of Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire.  They were not remarkable other than for the large and peculiar shape of their noses.  Daniel tells of his unrepressable laughter in the courtroom because of a line up of four Rollins who came in to view the trial with noses next to each other.


    1634, Aug. 5.  "It was witnessed upon oath that James Rawlins took 8 pence per day, and meate and drinks for ten days worke, for one of his servants, for weeding corn, contrary to an order of Courte: (an act regulating the price of commodities and labor).  And therefore he is to pay 5 shillings for every daye he hath soe transgressed."   Source:  ? Massachusetts Covvency?

    1656, Jan. 27.  "James Rawlins was presented for neglect of coming unto the publicke meeting, and admonished therefor, and sentenced to pay the fees of the Courte, two shillings and six pence."  Source:  Massachusetts Colony Records

    A few years later, we find him again in trouble.  At the second session of the General Court held at Boston, 18th Oct., 1659.  "The Court having considered of the severall offences of those persons ye entertayned ye vikers, with ye answers given in by them respectively, doe order that James Rawlins, being more innocent and ingenious than the rest, be only admonished by ye honnored Governor, wch was donne."  Source:  Massachusetts Colony Records

    We shall, probably, judge him more leniently for failing to attend public worship, when we remember that the people of Bloody Point, at that period, were compelled to attend church either at "Cochecae" (Dover", or "Pascataqua" (Portsmouth), a distance of several miles, by Indian trails, and exposed to the attacks of Indian foes; and they so continued to do until about 1713, when the good people of Bloody Point erected a meeting house of their own, and petitioned the Governor and Council for an Act of incorporation as a distinct parish.  Their petition was granted, and the parish of Newington incorporated 1713.  Among the petitioners were four of the descendants of James Rawlins, viz.:  Joseph, Samuel, John and James.

    In regard to the violation of the law respecting the price of labor, he was not alone.  The regulation was arbitrary, and being found of very difficult application, was repealed the next month.  In modern times, nearly two hundred and fifty years later, certain politicians seem to be befogged witht he crude ideas of the legislators of that elder day.

    His third offence, for which he received a reprimand from the Governor--the crime of hospitality--is now a crime of so comparatively rare occurrence, that no laws against it are considered necessary; and, without attempting to extenuate his fault, we must leave him on this point, as guilty of a flagrant violation of the eminently wise, liberal, wholesome, Christian regulations of the times in which he lived.

    The fact that he held slave (servants), at all, was not then considered at all prejudicial, for this was common.  As has been well said by Mr. Edmund Quincy:--

    "The blessings of the patriarchal system were not always monopolized by our Southern brethren.  New England, also, once rejoiced in its benign influences.  Although the fathers of New England did not exactly make slavery the corner stone of their republican institutions, (for the science of political ethics was then in its infancy), still they were not so fanatical as wholly to reject it from the fabric of their new State.  The scarcity of laborers in those early days reconciled some of them to a system, which, when first proposed, they rejected with abhorrence, and the obvious convenience of having their work done without having to pay for it, might well help to silence any fantastic scruples as to the justice of the arrangement."

    From the foregoing remarks, it would seem that their subject, Mr. Rawlins, was one of the hardy pioneers in the settlement of the Western wilderness; a plain, sturdy farmer, possessed of good common sense, and practical ideas; capable of thinking and acting for himself, sometimes independently of the arbitrary enactments of the law of his time, and hospitable to the stranger tho' proscribed.  Thus, probably, he spent his life as contentedly as the savage foes around him would permit--cultivating his broad acres, and rearing a family, who were subsequently to do their part in carrying out the undertaking of founding, and establishing the new State; and, at a good old age, his spirit was gathered to his fathers while his ashes, the first of his tribe in the new world, were mingled with the virgin soil, which he aided in clearing from the "forest primeval."


    Whether James had any other daughters or not [other than Deborah], tradition does not say, and, so far as has been ascertained, the records are silent.  No mention is made of any in his will. 

    Belknap's History of New Hampshire, however, has the following item--

    "April 22, 1677.  A company of fifty men, and ten Natick Indians, marched under Capt. Swane? to Pascataqua, to succor the inhabitants, who were alarmed by scattered parties of the enemy, who were killing and taking people, and burning homes in Wells, Kittery, and within the bounds of Portsmouth.  A young woman who was taken from Rawlins' house, made her escape, and came into Cocheco, informing where the enemy lay; three parties were immediately dispatched to ambush these places, by one of which the enemy must pass; appearing at one of these places, they were reasonably? discovered, but by the too great eagerness of the party to fire upon them, they avoided the ambush, and escaped."


    Of the previous history of James Rawlins, or his personal character, we know nothing, except by inferences to be drawn from the following fragmentary notices.

    He was not, probably, one of the class who came hither solely for the high purpose of seeking a "Faith's pure shrine," but was rather an adventurer, prompted either by a spirit of enterprise, or a desire for gain, or both.  He evidently belonged to a class of men of whom some writer has said:

    "The early settlers of New Hampshire were distinguished neither for literature nor religion; they were patient, hardy, enterprising men:--and as unvarnished account of their sufferings, dangers and exploits, would appear to us like the tales of romance.

    Such an account is not preserved.  They had not leisure, if they had ability, to write history; they were much more conversant with the axe, the firelock, and the sword, than with books and the pen.  It was often their business to fight, and conquer a savage enemy, but very seldom to give any other or more durable account of their engagements than what they gave to their children and neighbors around those firesides, to defend which they had fearlessly exposed their lives."


    Will proved July 25, 1691.  Obadiah Mors, of Strawberry Bank, was executor.

Source: "Records of Families of the Name Rawlins or Rollins, in the United States", compiled by John R. Rollins, Lawrence, Mass.: Geo. S. Merrilll & Crocker, Printers, 1874.

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