Atherton Trading Company

The Atherton Trading Company also known as the Atherton Syndicate was formed in 1659;[1] with Humphrey Atherton and John Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut at the helm. [2] This partnership of merchants and investors included Simon Bradstreet, Daniel Denison, Elisha Hutchinson, Richard Smith and Boston traders; John Tinker, Amos Richardson and William Hudson. Edward Hutchinson joined and by 1661, Plymouth investors included Josiah Winslow, John Brown and Thomas Willet.[3][4] Their land speculation in the Narragansett area of Rhode Island[5] was at the expense of the Native American inhabitants.[6][7]

Critics from the Colony of Rhode Island alleged that Humphrey Atherton had kept one signatory, the younger brother of Narragansett Indian sachem Pessicus (also known as Maussup), drunk for several days and took him to Boston in order to secure Atherton’s and his partners perceived "rights" to the land at little expense.

The company obtained a large tract of land north of Kingston, 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of land on Boston Neck, above Wickford. The Commissioners of the New England Confederation were opposed to the dissenters in Rhode Island, and colluded with the Atherton Trading Company by imposing a heavy fine on the Niantic for an infraction by certain members of their tribe.[8] This event became known as the Atherton Purchase.[9]

“Atherton played a key role in fighting and removing Indians from land he later owned”

[10] The company acquired title after the Native American inhabitants defaulted on the loan. The purchase violated the jurisdiction of Rhode Island.

In 1660, commissioners of the New England Confederation, of whom John Winthrop, Jr.[11] was one, transferred ownership of the mortgage of Pessicus's land to the Atherton Trading Company for 735 fathoms of Wampum. The company then foreclosed on the mortgage. The land included the Narragansett property within the bounds of the Colony of Rhode Island.[12] Rhode Island found this transference of land to be illegal and prevented the resale for several years.

The list of proprietors [13] dated Oct 13, 1660 also included Thomas Willett, later to be the first Mayor of New York City.[14] The conflicting purchase claims were settled in 1679, after Humphrey Atherton’s death.[15] His son Jonathan Atherton [16] pushed the case on October 8, 1674 for continued support from Connecticut, seeking mutual interest to reassure the company’s rights to the land if Connecticut bolstered its claim to land to the east of Stonington, Connecticut.[17] Jonathan Atherton sold his shares in 1676 to John Saffin and Thomas Dean and all his rights to Narragansett Neck.[18]

The company, which by then had changed its name to "Proprietors of the Narragansett Country," eventually did sell 5,000 acres (20 km2) of the land to Huguenot immigrants who began a colony there called Frenchtown. The Huguenots lost the land when, in 1688, a Royal Commission determined the Atherton claim to be illegal. However the dispute remained ongoing in 1708.[19]

Neighboring land speculation edit

John Hull, along with other Boston Merchants acquired a land grant in 1657, south of Wickford, known as the Pettaquamscutt Purchase, (later South Kingstown) from the Indian sachems in 1657. Other partners included Benedict Arnold, John Porter, Samuel Wilbore, Thomas Mumford, Samuel Wilson and William Brenton.[20] This preceded the Atherton Trading Company. It too was declared illegal by the Royal Commission of 1688.

Some documents refer to there being an overlap with the two claims.[21]

Further reading edit

  • Dunn, Richard S. “John Winthrop, Jr., and the Narragansett Country.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 1, 1956, pp. 68–86. JSTOR,
  • Ellis, George E., Winthrop, Robert C., Green, Samuel A., Channing, Edward and Deane, Charles (1885), November Meeting, 1885. Washington Monument; The Beadle Tablet; Atherton Company." Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 2 (1885): 136-53, Massachusetts Historical Society, pp. 150–153, JSTOR 25079641{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Colonial Records of Rhode Island, 2: 464. Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 279. Howard Chapin, Sachems of the Narragansetts, (Providence, RI: Rhode Island Historical Society, 1931), 68. Samuel Gardner Drake, The Book of the Indians (Boston: Josiah Drake, 1833), 2: 58. John Fredrick Martin, Profits in the Wilderness: Entrepreneurship and the Founding of New England Towns in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 62-73. James N. Arnold, The Records of the Proprietors of the Narragansett, or FONES RECORD (Providence: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1894), 1:1.
  • John Russell Barlett, Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Providence: A. Crawford Greene and Brother, 1856–65), 1:465. Arnold, Fones Record, 1:5-16. Chapin, Sachems, 70-4. Drake, Book of the Indians, 2:81. Richard Dunn, “John Winthrop, Jr. and the Narragansett Country,” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 13:1 (Jan. 1956): 68-74, Jennings, Invasion, 276, 279. Martin, Profits, 68-9. Paul Robinson, “The Struggle Within: The Indian Debate in Seventeenth-Century Narragansett Country” (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Binghamton, 1990), 161-2, 179-80.
  • Jennings, Invasion, 276. Chapin, Sachems, 71. Drake, Book of the Indians, 2:81. Robinson, “The Struggle Within,” 161-2, 179-80.
  • Jennings, Invasion, 279. Dunn, “Winthrop,” 68-74. Martin, Profits, 68-9. Arnold, FONES RECORD, 1:5-16.
  • Society of Colonial Wars, The Narragansett Mortgage: the Documents Concerning the Alien Purchases in Southern Rhode Island (Providence, RI: E. R. Freeman Company, 1926), 35. Jennings, Invasion, 278-86. Dunn, “Winthrop,” 70-1, 74. On Mason-Winthrop rivalry, see David W. Conroy, "The Defense of Indian Land Rights: William Bolan and the Mohegan Case in 1743." Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 103 (1993), 403.
  • Rhode Island Records, 1: 36-8, 435. Jennings, Invasion, 278-86. Drake, Book of the Indians, 2: 58. Dunn, “Winthrop,” 74.
  • RI Records, 1:418, 1:38.

External links edit

References edit

  1. ^ Chandler, Alfred N. (2010). Land Title Origins: A Tale of Force and Fraud by Alfred N. Chandler. Beard Books. ISBN 9781893122895.
  2. ^ Holmes, Abiel (1829). "The Annals of America: From the Discovery by Columbus in the Year 1492 to 1826 Volume 2".
  3. ^ "America and West Indies: March 1665. Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 5, 1661-1668". Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London. 1880. pp. 284–289.
  4. ^ Brooks, Lisa. "Our Beloved Kin: Remapping A New History of King Philip's War".
  5. ^ Potter, Elisha R. (1879). Memoir Concerning the French Settlements and French Settlers in the Colony of Rhode Island. Providence: Sidney S. Rider. pp. 19–21.
  6. ^ "Proceedings of the Rhode Island Historical Society 1881-1882" (PDF). Rhode Island Historical Society.
  7. ^ Ellis, George E.; Winthrop, Robert C.; Green, Samuel A.; Channing, Edward; Deane, Charles (1885). "November Meeting, 1885. Washington Monument; The Beadle Tablet; Atherton Company." Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 2 (1885): 136-53". Massachusetts Historical Society. pp. 150–153. JSTOR 25079641.
  8. ^ "pettaquamscutt-rock and claim by Atherton Trading Company". Online Review of Rhode Island History.
  9. ^ "Narragansett History referring to the Atherton purchases".
  10. ^ Martin, John Frederick (1991). a Profits in the Wilderness: entrepreneurship and the founding of New England towns in the seventeenth century. UNC Press Books. p. 62,80,100,164. ISBN 9781469600031.
  11. ^ Dunn, Richard S. (8 December 2015). Puritans and Yankees: The Winthrop Dynasty of New England 1630-1717 by Richard S. Dunn. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400878727.
  12. ^ Anthony, Craig (2017). King's Province: Samuel Teffts Narrative of the Narraganset Country by Craig Anthony. ISBN 9781387474370.
  13. ^ "The Names of the chief Proprietors of the lands of the Narragansett, Niantica, and Cowesett countries, chosen and admitted by Major Humphrey Atherton".
  14. ^ Parsons, Charles William (1887). "First mayor of New York city, Thomas Willett". Magazine of American history for March.
  15. ^ Martin, John Frederick. Profits in the Wilderness: entrepreneurship and the founding of New England towns in the seventeenth century. UNC Press Books. 1991 p. 306
  16. ^ Arnold, James N. (James Newell); Fones, John (1894). "The records of the proprietors of the Narragansett : otherwise called the Fones record".
  17. ^ Bowen, Clarence Winthrop (1882). "The boundary disputes of Connecticut". Boston, J. R. Osgood and company. pp. 31–34, 38–39, 41.
  18. ^ Cole, J R (January 1889). "History of Washington and Kent counties, Rhode Island, including their early settlement".
  19. ^ "To the Honourable the committee appointed to receive claims of such as have right and propriety in the Narraganset Country, or Kings province, in New-England. The declaration of claim in the name and behalf of the proprietors, and owners". Library of Congress. 1708. pp. 1–2.
  20. ^ Cole, J. R. (1889). "History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island". W.W.Preston & Co., New York.
  21. ^ Richardson, James Daniel (1908). "U.S. President - A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 Vol. XI". Bureau of National Literature and Art. p. 301.