Geoff Rendall, the LPC for the Upham House study project, recently gave me a xerox copy of an old 1726 Upham family deed for land sold to Ezekiel Upham in Dorchester. I have done my best to read the old quill pen writing, and to produce a first draft typescript copy with some notes and spelling corrections (see attached).
I thought this might be of interest to all at the Dorchester Historical
Society, and possibly even others associated with the Dorchester Atheneum.
There's nothing like primary documents to make old times come vividly alive. In this case, we get a good sense of the flavor of the legal language used by Town Officers (and Justices of the Peace) when real estate was conveyed. Also, insights into how phonetic and loose the spelling often was--as well as insights into early Uphams, land in early Dorchester, and English currency and political allegiances before Independence was declared.
It appears that John Upham, the grantor, was a cordwinder or cordwainer, i.e. leather-worker in Malden [or Melrose, which was then North Malden] and that Ezekiel Upham, of some relation (?), was a "carpender" or carpenter, i.e. probably a housewright and builder of timber framed residences, barns, etc.
The 26 acres of land conveyed to Ezekiel was in Dorchester's 12th
Division, on the road to Dorchester Swamps. As I recall from my recent studies of early 18th century Dorchester, Dorchester at this time extended south almost to the Rhode Island border, and the swamps still exist, but now are considered part of a later split-off town. The swamps in themselves are also of interest, because much of the early cedar used for clapboards and wood shingles for roofs of houses was obtained from bolts of cedar trees felled in these swamps, and in the early years, Indians were often employed to do the hard labor of splitting out cedar clapboards, etc.
With regard to Dorchester's famed Blake family, there was a well-known James Blake, historian and property surveyor, who eventually died from illnesses sustained from prolonged survey work in the Dorchester swamps. See this article for more on James Blake's surveying work: "The History Corner: James Blake 3rd (1688-1751) The Poetic Surveyor of Dorchester, Parts 1 and 2" by Silvio A. Bedini at
Bedini notes that the surveying work in the swamps occurred when Dorchester was extended south beyond the 12th division. So perhaps this deed pertained to land located in the southern part of current Dorchester, or Mattapan--somewhere near the Neponset River?
[Earl Taylor commented that probably the swamps were as far south as the current town of Stoughton]
Thanks for the rapid response. YES, I believe you are right about the
swamps. I think they were mostly in what was formerly the PONKAPOAG
territory, used by Rev. John Elliot as a Christianized or Praying Indian
Town. All those high hopes of peaceful and cooperative Indian-English
living went out the window with King Phillip's War. The Indians, even the friendly ones, were herded off to Deer Island in Boston Hbr, where many of them starved and died, while Elliot continued to try to help them.
I don't think there's any need to do more research on these subjects
now--but in the future, if we found out where the 12th division was, we
might better understand where in Dorchester the 1720s Uphams owned land.
Thanks to you, I have a copy of Clapp's 1859 History of Dorchester here in Salem; but alas he appears to shed no light on the subject. There were, however, 117 houses, 6 mills, and even slaves and ships in Dorchester in 1727 when the Province Tax was assessed (see Clapp op cit., pp. 293-294). Perhaps some of those houses were built by Dorchester carpenter Ezekiel Upham.
So here's the deed:
Cordwainer John Upham of Malden [future Melrose?] as grantor:
Deed for Dorchester land [26 acres, 12th Division, road leading to Dorchester Swamps] to Ezekiel Upham, Carpenter (1726)
To all people to whome these presents shall come greeting know ye that I john upham of Malden in the county of Middlesex within his Majsty?s province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Cordwinder [= Cordwainer, leather-worker, from Cordovan leather?] for and in Consideration of the sum of one hundred and thirty pounds of good and Lawfull money of the province aforesaid to me in hand be for the ensealing and Ichinery [?] of these presents by Ezekiel Upham of Dorchester in the county of Suffolk in the province aforesaid Carpender [Carpenter] the Receipt where of y do hereby Acknowledge and myself there withal to be Satsfied and contented and thereof and of every part and parcel ther of to Exonerate Acquit and Discharg the said Ezekiel Upham his heirs executors Administrators for ever by these presents have given granted Bargained sold Alined Conveyed and Consigned and by these presents do freely fully and Absolutely give grant bargain sell Aliene convey and confirm unto the said Exekiel Upham his heirs and Assigns for ever one messuage or tract of land scituate Lying and being in Dorchester in the twelve Division Containing by estimation twenty six acres be it more or less Buled [?] and bounded as followeth beginning at a white oake tree standing by a rode leeding to Dorchester Swamps and thence to a heap of stone Lying between me and Joseph Esty and from thence to heap of stones being a corner bounds between my land and George Talbott and from thence to a black oake tree between said land and Edward Esty and from thence to a chessnut tree being a corner bounds between said land and Edward Esty and from thenc to the first menshoned whit oak tree thus bounded on how ever other way Reported to be landed - - -
To Have and to Hold the said granted and bargained premises with all the Appurtenances priviledgs and Commodities to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining to hem the said Ezekiel Upham his heirs and assigns for ever to his and then only proper use benefit and be hoof for ever - and I the said John Upham for me my heirs executors Administrators do Covenant promise and grant to and with the said Ezekiel Upham his heirs and assigns?that the said Ezekiel Upham his heirs and Assigns ? that the said Ezekiel Upham his heirs and Asigns shall and may from him to some and at all times for ever hereafter by force [?] and [??] of these presents Lawfully peaceably and quietly have hold use occupie prosses [possess] and enjoy the said dismissed and bar[g]ained premises with the Appurtenances free and clear and Freely and clearly Acquited Exonerated and discharged of from all and all manner of former and other gifts grant bargains sales mortgages wills entails jointers dowries judgments executions and Extents----
Further more I the said john upham for my self my heirs executors Admins [Administartors] do covenant And ingage [or mgage for mortgage?] the Above demised [Dismissed] premises to him the said Ezekiel Upham his heirs and Assigns Aganst the Lwafull Claims or demands of ane [any] person or persons whatsoever for ever here After to warnt [warrant] secure and defend-----
In witness whwereof I the said john upham have here unto set my hand and seal on the ninth day of july in th year of our Lord on [one] thousand seven hundred and twenty six it being the twelves year of the Raign of our gneras [generous?] King George of Grat [Great] Bretion [Britain] Franc [France] and genland [England?] King----
Signed Sealed and Delivered in presents of us
Middlx [Middlesex] ss Reading july 12 [?]: 1726
John upham pasonly [personally] apered [appeared] and acknolged [acknowledged] this instrument to be his indentry [indenture?] act and deed be for [before] me William Bryant Justice of peace
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Created: October 3, 2005 Modified: October 3, 2005