The first known record of AMOS RICHARDSON is of May 22, 1639. On that date he was a witness in Boston with Stephen Winthrop to a deed from Governor Winthrop to Thomas Purchase. His age can be established based on an affidavit, dated Jun. 11, 1663, from the Boston Court Archives. It states that he was "aged forty years or there abouts." Thus he was born about 1623.
He was closely connected with the Winthrop family for many years, acting under a power of attorney for Stephen while the latter was in England, being associated with Dean as one of the proprietors of Groton, and looking after many business matters for Mr. Downing. He was the agent for Governor John Winthrop, the younger, and with him gave credit to Samuel Winthrop, of St. Christopher's, in the West Indies. He also acted for Capt. Wait Winthrop, of St. Christopher's, in the West Indies. And he acted for Capt. Wait Winthrop as umpire in a mill dispute.
In addition to carrying on the business of merchant tailor, he soon became a general trader throughout the colonies, and with his own vessels, to the West Indies. He acquired large tracts of land, probably as many as five thousand acres, at Stonington, New London, and in the Narragansett country.
During the early history of Massachusetts there were no practicing lawyers and a number of business men acted as attorneys. It is stated that AMOS RICHARDSON was one of the three most active attorneys in the law courts during the life of the Massachusetts colony. On July 6, 1642, he bought a house and lot, being an acre, more or less, from George Bromer, for seventeen pounds. Stephen Winthrop and John Tinker were witnesses of the deed. The land was situated on what is now the north side of Summer Street, where Hawley Street has been cut through. It was then a rear lot with no street connection, Summer Street not being laid out until 1645.
A Commission was appointed September 15, 1645, "to lay out a new way through the gardens towards the windmill." "To begin between Nicholas Parker's house and Robert Reynold's garden (on Washington Street) and go forth between Amos Richardson's and John Palmer's house".
In 1683 Hawley Street was called Richardson Lane. This was his home for more than twenty years, and probably until he moved to Stonington (about 1663). Here all of his children were born. During the next fifty years Summer Street became one of the finest residential streets in Boston. Adjoining the site of AMOS RICHARDSON's home the First Trinity Church was erected.
On March 22, 1647, he purchased two acres from Francis Smith, fronting on the Common at what is now the southeast corner of Tremont and Winter Streets. He owned other property in Boston, some of it near the Winthrop dock. Capt. James Johnson and Peter Oliver were partners with him in some of this wharf property.
On June 20, 1661, Col. Stephen Winthrop deeded to him the northeast corner of Governor Winthrop's home lot. It does not appear in the deed what the consideration was. Emanuel Downing was one of the witnesses. This lot was about 24 feet, on Washington Street, by 54 feet on Spring Lane, and adjoined the Colonel's house and land. The remainder of the Winthrop estate subsequently became the property of Old South Church, on the southwest corner of which the present historic "Old South" was erected in 1729.
In 1679 he gave this lot to his daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Timothy Clark. It was then described as: "All my Messauge or Tenement late in the tenure & occupation of Sarah Pickering widdow deed."
He also obtained a number of grants of land, very early in the settlement at Pequot. The New London town records show the following: "Memorandum for town meting Sept. 20, 1651, Amos Richardson is to havea lot."
"Caulkin's History" states that he was from Boston and had commercial dealings with the planters and that instead of taking up a new lot he purchased that of Richard Post on Post Hill.
Aug. 9, 1653.
"House lot to Amos Richardson brother, the millwright (afterwards called brother-in-law)".
"He had subsequently a grant of a large farm east of the river under the same vague denomination. 'He' has not been identified."
"Two necks of land extending into the Sound, one called 'a pye neck,' with a broad cove between them, was granted to Isaac Willey and by him sold to Amos Richardson."
"Still another containing several hundred acres of land and separated from Hugh Caulkin's land by a brook called Mistuxet, was laid out to Amos Richardson and his brother in 1653. Part of this division was known by the Indian name 'Quonaduck.'"
In October, 1661, Antipas Newman of Wenham, sold him a large tract of land, called Caulkin's Neck, bounded by the above Quonaduck farm on the east, Caulkin's Brook on the west, Capt. George Denison's land on the north, and the sea on the south.
Pequot, now in New London, embraced the present town of Stonington, where the last three of the above described grants were located.
The deed of the Indian sachem Nealewort for a part of this land was dated Aug. 26, 1658, and is recorded at Stonington. It is described as:
"a tract of land called Quinaboque lying and being near to the country of the late Pequed Indians for and in consideration of the great Love and affection I beare unto Amos Richardson of Boston in the Massachusetts Colony, Englishman. --- contain by measure one English mile and half square on each side of that river called Quinabogue River next adjoining to ye land or farme granted to John Winthrop Esq, Governor of the English Colony on Connecticut River northward of said farme and is called by the name of Nayumscut and Quaduecatuck."
Wheeler's "History of Stonington" locates this property as:
"the land lying between Stonington Harbor, Lambert's Cove and Stony Brook on the east, Fisher's Island Sound on the South, and Quiambaug Cove on the west up to a point, from which a direct line easterly passing about thirty yards south of the residence of Mr. Henry M. Palmer to Stony Brook, constituted the north boundary line of said tract of land".
The family name of MARY, wife of AMOS RICHARDSON, is unknown. He did not, however, have a second wife, as stated in the "Richardson Memorial." It is probable that they were married in 1642, the year that he purchased his house and garden.
It is conjectured that the brother-in-law referred to above was Richard Smith, of Lancaster, a "mill-wright" whose first wife Mary died with her infant March 27, 1654, and who married, on the 10th of the following August, Joanna Quarles at Boston.
It is quite certain that John and Mary Smith who are claimed to have been the parents of Richard were not the parents of AMOS RICHARDSON's wife.
They had a daughter Alice, however, who probably became the second wife of John Tinker, a man very closely associated Amos Richardson.
He named one of his sons Amos, and the inventory of John's estate shows that a farm of 240 acres and other property had been deeded to Mr. Richardson for the use of John, Mary and Amos, children of John Tinker.
In 1656 the eight proprietors of Groton included Richard Smith mentioned above, along with Dean Winthrop, John Tinker and Amos Richardson. Soon after this he moved to Lyme, Conn., where he was a deputy in 1678-1679.
His children were Richard (probably by his first wife), John, born 1655, Francis, 1657, James, and Elizabeth, who married John Lee. He had a grandson named Quarles Smith, and the Lyme records mention two Roland grandsons.
Mary Smith died in 1659 and her husband in July, 1669. In May prior to his death John Smith gave all of his estate to his son-in-law, John Moore, in consideration for his support. His will mentions only four children - John, Richard, Ann and Alice. There were so many John and Richard Smiths that it is very difficult to untangle their history.
The Diary of Thomas Minor, of Stonington, refers to Amos Richardson and his family more than eighty times. On Oct. 29, 1660, he says, "carried the firkin of butter to Mr. Smith's for Amos." On Nov. 2, 1660, "I weighed Amos his firkin of butter at Mr. Smith's." The following receipt for a horse delivered in the presence of Thomas Minor, Jr. and Ephram Minor is also found in the Diary:
"Delivered unto poor man mine (torn) A horse that he bout of a mister Richinsoone and by his appointment and order a horse a chestnut Culer with a blase in his face." ... "I Say by mee delivered this 14 day of aguste 1661 with my hand Richard Smith."
Mr. Richardson at this time, lived in Boston.
There was also a James Smith at Rehoboth, and on Sep. 7, 1653, Amos Richardson was appointed administrator of his estate. This was a month after the lot referred to was granted at New London. Nothing further is known about him, but he may have been a brother of Richard.
Another Richard Smith was associated with Richardson and Tinker in the Atherton Company. He was born in Gloucestershire, in 1596 and died at Wickford, RI, in 1666. He established a trading house there in 1637 and was a man of note. He had two sons - Richard, who died without issue in 1692, and James, who died unmarried in 1664.
The Salem Court records show that on Oct. 14, 1656, Major John Hauthorne and Amos Richardson were plaintiffs in a law suit against John Divan, which was adjourned to the next General Court. That is all that is known about it, but they must have had a joint interest in some property.
On Mar. 8, 1662, Edward Hutchinson, William Hudson and Amos Richardson were sent to Rhode Island with a letter from Massachusetts to settle troubles in the Pequot country. They could not have been well received, for two years later the Rhode Island General Assembly denounced them as intruders.
Amos Richardson probably moved to Stonington, Conn., about 1663, but also retained a residence in Boston for a number of years.
His name appears in the list of inhabitants of Narragansett in July, 1663, and of Wickford in May, 1668, but while he had land interests there, it is evident that he never had an actual residence in Rhode Island. The Diary of Thomas Minor notes, under Jun. 19, 1661 that "Mr. Richardson's house was raised and on Jun. 22, 1663, that his son was to finish it that day."
Amos Richardson was one of the most active members of the Atherton Company, later called the Narragansett Company. He must have taken a leading part in the organization of it. This is evident from the following letter:
Boston, July 9, 1659
To the much-honored John Winthrop, Esq. Governor of Connecticut Colony, at Hartford, this present: HONORED SIR, After my service presented unto yourself and Mrs. Winthrop, and all yours for whose absence I was troubled that I did so unhappily to delay one day too long in my coming to New London, so that I could not speak with you there, I had thoughts to come up to Hartford; but the weather being so hot, I darest neither venture myself nor my horse. Sir, you may remember, when I spoke with you last at Now London, I gave you a hint of my intents concerning the Narragancet Bay country, which business, as I conceive, is fully effected with the chief sachem.
The quantity, as I judge, is twelve mile alongst in Narragancet Bay. The trading house being in the middle, it judged to be the only place in the country for a plantation. There The purchase hath cost six score pound. Many there is that would willingly join in it; but we shall do nothing before we speak with you, yourself being mentioned first in the purchase. Those that are concerned in it is Major Adderton, Mr. Smith and his son, Lieut., Hudson, Captain Hutchinson, Mr. Tinker and myself. But if this come once to be settled, it will make Quinnebawge of greater value.
As concerning our friends at Wennam, Mr. Newman was here the last week; but Mr. Mygate hath been there since, who can inform you concerning their health. As for news I have got not any at present, only things are pretty sad in regard of old Mr. Duncome in respect of his last losses disenables him of satisfying his creditors. They now coming upon him forceth him to leave off his dealings, and I doubt his son in the same condition; so by this we may see the uncertainty of these outward things. Thus I rest yours to command,
Sir, I would entreat you to remember my service to Mr. Stone.
The grant to the Atherton Company was in the present town of North Kingston, RI, in the Narragansett territory which was claimed by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the disputed claims to ownership were not settled for more than fifty years.
Between the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island a bitter controversy was carried on which at times nearly resulted in open warfare. Mr. Richardson had other large land interests in the disputed territory, and was very active, in pressing the claims of Connecticut, probably more so than any other man in the colony.
Major John Mason, the noted Indian fighter, seems to have opposed the action of his colony, probably on account of his friendship for Roger Williams. This so exasperated Amos Richardson that he publicly denounced him as a traitor to the colony.
In 1670, Mason sued him for defamation of character and appealed to the General Court for the appointment of a committee to investigate the charge. He secured a judgment for 100 pounds damages in the County Court, but the case was appealed and before further action Mason died, which ended the matter.
In 1677, AMOS RICHARDSON sold 180 acres of land situated on the east side of the Pawtucket River, to Thomas Wells, who agreed in payment, to build a vessel of fifty tons. This land was located in the disputed territory, and in 1679 Wells refused to fulfill his contracts until Mr. Richardson could make good the title to the land.
In March, 1680, suit was brought against Wells for 300 pounds damages and he was arrested at Westerly by Stephen Richardson, the plaintiff's son, a constable from Stonington.
Early in July following Stephen Richardson was seized at his home by warrant of Governor Sanford of Rhode Island for making this arrest, and carried to Newport. A sharp letter from the Connecticut Council followed, demanding his release, and for peace sake agreeing not to meddle on the east side of Pawtucket River until the matter was decided in England.
The Governor replied, giving the reason for the arrest and retaining the prisoner for trial. The Council issued a formal protest against the conduct of Rhode Island and in retaliation caused the arrest of Joseph Clarke, of Westerly, on July 21.
Stephen Richardson was held by the Rhode Island authorities for about three months and in October released. A full account of this affair is given in Connecticut Colonial Records, for 1687, pages 286-291.
Amos Richardson was not a member of the church, either in Boston or Stonington, and that is probably the reason for his not being made freeman until May, 1665. His wife united with the First Church in Boston, Dec. 26, 1647, when her second child, John, was 28 days of age. The celebrated John Cotton was the minister at this time, and all of her children were baptized by him, in her right. At Stonington she was an original member of the church and attended the first communion service Sep. 10, 1674.
Amos Richardson appears to have been a religious man. He educated his eldest son for the ministry at Harvard College. When this son was married he was so pleased that he gave him a farm of a thousand acres at Stonington.
The following instrument was signed and recorded at Boston by Amos Richardson, Oct. 12, 1673:
This may certify to whom it may concern that Whereas (by the providence of God) my oldest son, John Richardson, hath made his choice of a wife with my approbation and suddenly intends marriage, I therefore thought good to signify unto him and to all whom it may concern that for his future comfortable subsistance. I do hereby under my hand declare that after my decease and my wife, yt all that farm called Quanaduck farm which now I live upon with all the appurtenances of houses an commonage, shall belong to my son, John Richardson, aforesaid to be him and his heirs forever, provided I do possess of it. I do further engage in the meantime that I will not any way dispose of said farm except it be for the settling of an estate upon my son ye said John Richardson to his acceptance in some other place, as witness my hand.
In both of the published letters from him to Governor Winthrop at Hartford he sends his regards to the Rev. Samuel Stone. For a number of years they had no way of heating the church at Stonington, and during the winter months the Sunday services and other church meetings were often held at the the residence of Amos Richardson, situated a little east of the meeting house and probably a large house.
John Gore of Roxbury, by his will in 1657, appoints John Pierpont, Phillip Eliot, and Amos Richardson executors, and calls them "my beloved brotheren."
Amos Richardson was a man of great force of character and of untiring energy. He had a number of controversies, but there is nothing to show that be was unreasonable in enforcing his rights.
He was a deputy from Stonington to the Connecticut General Court from 1676 to 1681 and was honored with other public offices. It is clear that he was held in great esteem by the Winthrop family. The following letter was from Governor John Winthrop, the younger:
Hartford, Sept. 25, 1673
Loving Friend: Mr. Amos Richardson. - Mr. Jonathan Gilbert spake to me of your desires of accommodating you some land, neer the river of Pacatuck adloying to your land there, for the convenience of your son, who maried his daughter, for setting his house there. I though fitt therefore to certify you hereby that I shall willingly, and freely accommodate you therein, according to such right or interest as I have therein in resignation thereof to yourselfe, and therefore you may goe on in yt building, for your son there as is intended, not doubting of any kindnesse yt I can doe for your convenience therein. The opportunity is hasted, and therefore shall only add my loving remembrance to yourselfe & your wife, with your son & daughters & am
Your assured friend,
Fitz-John Winthrop at New London, (month torn), 7th, 1673, (perhaps Oct. 7). to Governor Winthrop at Hartford.
"The enclosed is a copy of the record of the grant by the townsmen for the piece of land and priviliges of Pacatack river, which Mr. R. told me you ordered me to send up. I suppose the design is to lay it to some land which he intends to give his son near the same place. I suppose it is the piece of land which the most desire, being a very fine plan and I believe may deserve a little consideration (if you please to think fit) before you dispose of it."
Lucy Downing, at East Hatlie (England), Feb. 15, 1663, to John Winthrop, Jr., at his lodgings in Coleman Street. London.
"If y'r occasions shall draw you to Boston, I pray you commend my love and service to my sister Norton, to Mr. Endicot & his lady, to honest Mr. Richardson & his wife, and to all such who shall enquire of mee."
Christopher Gardyner at Boston, July 2, 1656, to John Winthrop, Jr., at Pequitt:
Sir: - "I cannott but returne you most humble thanks for yr favours and civilities both in yr usage of us your selfe, and in yr recomendation of us to honest Mr. Richardson, who has indeed expressed much kindness to us and as becomes one who does much honour you."
Lucy Downing, Edenbrgh, (Scotland), Feb. 23, 1658-9, to Fitz-John Winthrop, at Cardrosse, (Scotland).
Dear Nephew: - I have recd a let'r from Mr. Richason, dated the 27 Decemb'r last, and one inclosed to yo'r selfe alsoe, mentioneing that yo'r father and all our friends there were then in good health; alsoe that they had foure moneths of much raigne, which had occasioned great prejudice to their corne, and scarsity of hay, and that there was gene'lly much sicknes and mortallity, but the begining of winter was very cold & fro and that yo'r eld'st sister is married to one Mr. Newman, a minister whom they judge to be a very good match for her, but I suppose you will have in yo'r owne more perticularly.
Lucy Downing, Edinburgh, (Scotland), Mar. 27, 1658 to John Winthrop, Jr.
Sir: - I thank you much for your great care of my troublesome small business, and I question not but Mr. Richardsonn hath done his best, but knowing the difficulty of New England, I marvell not at the delay, but it seemes things were not fully perfected betuxt the merchant and him, but I shall waite his further intelligence.
Lucy Downing, East Hatlie, Apr. 20, 1662, to John Winthrop, Jr., at his lodgings in Coleman Street, London.
I pray present my servis to my neece your wife, and to all yours, with you, and ellswhear, and my servis to my nepbewe, Dean Winthrop and his wife when you write, and to Mr. Amos Richardson. The letter you sent, was a kinde letter from him, but he mentions nothing of hopes to mende my bargin.
William Cheseborough, who died in June, 1667, by his will speaks of Rev. James Noyes and Amos Richardson as "my truly and well-beloved friends."
A large part of the collection of manuscripts known as the "Winthrop Papers" has never been printed. They belong to the estate of the late Robert C. Winthrop, Jr., of Boston, who died on June 5, 1905, leaving them by his will to the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1895 Mr. Winthrop gave the author the following information concerning the letters of Amos Richardson in this collection:
"In looking through the unpublished manuscripts in my possession I find (if I have counted correctly) fifty-one letters of Amos Richardson. A number of them are without date and some are badly torn. Of those bearing dates, the earliest is November 10, 1648, the latest October 14, 1674.
"They chiefly relate to matters of business, either business in which the writer was acting for members of the Winthrop family or business in which he was interested with them. He appears to have been a person in whom Governor John Winthrop, the younger, bad great confidence. So far as I have found time to partially decipher them I should say that reference to public affairs are few in comparison and I have not happened to notice a single allusion to the writer's family.
"The letter of September 13, 1659, mentioned by Mr. Savage, is not among them. There is a memorandum 'one taken out' in my father's hand, but it evidently refers to the one he gave you.
"To thoroughly decipher the whole fifty-one letters would be the work of an expert with a magnifying glass for many days, and I could not undertake it nor could I at present suffer anyone else to do so.
"In addition there is one letter from Mary Richardson, dated February 18, 1672, and four from Rev. John Richardson, of Newbury, 1677-1693."
In 1878, the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop presented the author of this sketch with an original letter from this collection. It was written to Governor John Winthrop, the younger, at Hartford, and endorsed on the back with the name of the writer, by Governor Winthrop. The writing is still plain and legible.
Boston - February, day the 2, 1659
Hounoured Sir, after my service presented to you and Ms Winthrop, by this you may be pleased to understand I have received yours by Edward Messenger, by which we understand of your good health, for which we rejoice.
Sir, here is a ship lately come from England, heavy laden with sad newse, the particulars I doubt not but you will have by better inteligence. I have only sent you a coppy of a letter by Edward Messenger, which came out of England, and you may inform yourself of some newse.
Sir, my ernest desire is that you would persuade Mr. Frits to return home. Concerning the farme, the court referred it to a Comitty, but as yet hath done nothing. for our friends at Wennam, I know nothing but they are all in good health. This with my service presented to yourself, Mr Winthrop, Ms Lucy and Ms Marget and to all the rest of the Gentlewomen. my service also to Mr Stone.
Yours to serve, Amos Richardson
Amos Richardson died Aug. 5, 1683, at his residence, "Quiambog Farm," Stonington. Thomas Minor notes in his Diary: "mr. Richardson sent ffor mee sabath day the ffift about one a clok in that mr. Richardson departed this life." Also on the 17th following: "mistris Richardson made her will."
His wife was appointed by his will as sole executrix but she died early in the following month, and their sons, Stephen and Samuel, were appointed executors. Both wills were probated by the General Court in 1683.
Amos Richardson's residence was located two miles northwest of the railroad station at Stonington, on what is now called Palmer's Hill. The exact location of his house cannot be determined, but it was probably five or six hundred feet south of the residence of Henry M. Palmer and it was the opinion of Judge Wheeler that part of the framework was used in building the Palmer house.
This is the highest elevation for some miles around and from it a beautiful landscape is presented to
every point of view. Lantern Hill is fifteen miles north, and Pequot Hill, where the state erected a
monument to commemorate the overthrow in 1637 of the Pequot Indians, is about three miles west. To the
south is Fisher's Island, and beyond it, twenty miles away, stands the far-famed lighthouse at Montauk
Point. To the southeast, overlooking Stonington may be seen Watch Hill and Point Judith, and still
further away, almost lost to view, lies the storm-beaten coast of Block Island.
The Quiambog farm of Amos Richardson is now the site of many beautiful homes, notably those of Mr.
Charles Phelps Williams and Judge Collins, which are adorned with marked evidence of wealth and culture.
After this farm became the property of his son-in-law, Capt. John Hallam, a new house which is still
standing was erected on it about a mile nearer the harbor. This old Hallam house has been remodeled
by Judge Gilbert Collins, of Jersey City, and is now his summer home.
husband Jonathan Gatliffe
husband Jehosophat Starr
|08- -1681 |
wife Mary Hallam
wife LYDIA GILBERT
husband Capt David Anderson
husband Capt Richard Sprague
husband Timothy Clark
wife Anna Cheseborough
husband John Hallam
husband Elnathan Minor