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Ancient Iron Works in Taunton (Part Two)

By admin | February 10, 2011

The following is a verbatim excerpt of “Ancient Iron Works in Taunton” by J.W.D. Hall in New England Historical and Genealogical Register [1884]. I have taken the liberty to capitalize all references to George Hall, our earliest known ancestor, as now proven through DNA results. (See posts on this blog for further information.) It is noteworthy to notice the role the two Leonard brothers played in the founding of the Ancient Iron Works of Taunton.

I ask that you please forgive slight discrepancies that came with the technology of reproducing from a pdf. Thank you.
KH

ANCIENT IRON WORKS IN TAUNTON
By J. W. D. Hall, of Taunton, Mass.

A HISTORY of the early iron enterprises in Massachusetts is not our purpose, as the subject has been exhausted in elaborate data and dissenting opinions, but rather to present a few interesting facts and incidents relative to the origin, progress and successful management of the ancient Iron Works of Taunton, derived from antiquarian researches and reliable records. Traditions, which do not bear the test of investigation, have crept into histories and census reports relative to the origin and management of these works; but let them pass.
It has been generally admitted that the first iron works enterprise in this state for the manufacture of bar iron from native ore was commenced on the banks of the Saugus River in Lynn, in 1643, by a company under the auspices and influence of John Winthrop, Jr., son of Gov. Winthrop, with an English capital from London of £1000, and skilled workmen imported for the purpose; that another iron enterprise was soon after started in ” Brantry ” by the same company, and that Boston donated 3000 acres of common land as an encouragement ” to set up iron works on the Monanticut River” in that town, where ore had been discovered. It is also alleged that an unexpected scarcity of ore and incompetent management in their infancy was followed by disaster to these enterprises, and that after spending a large amount, about £10,000, the company partially suspended operations in Lynn and Braiutree, in the latter place in 1C53 and in the former a few years later.
Iron ore had been discovered quite abundant in the flats bordering on Two Mile River and other localities in Taunton, and the enterprising Pilgrim settlers considered the field open for the establishment of a ” bloomerie ” on that river. It was also learned that Henry and James Leonard, skilled iron workers from Wales, who had been employed for several years at the works in Lynn and at Braintree by the Winthrop company, might be induced to come to Taunton and aid in the practical working of iron. Accordingly in October, 1652, preliminary steps were taken to establish the first iron works in the Old Colony, in Taunton, and the following was the record, Oct. 21, 1652 :
” It was at a town meeting conferred and agreed upon between the inhabitants of Taunton nnd Henry Leonard of Braintree :
Imprimis It was agreed and granted by the town to Henry and James Leonard, bis brother, nnd Ralph Russell,Tree consent to come hither and join with certain of our inhabitants to set up a Bloomery Work on the Two Mile Hirer.
” It was also agreed and granted by a free rote of the town, that such particular inhabitants as shall concur together with the said persons in this design, shall have free liberty from the town so to do, to build and set up this work, and that they shall have the woods on either side of the Two Mile River, wheresoever it is common on that side of the river, to cut for their cord wood to make coals, and also to dig nnd take moine or ore at Two Mile Meadow, or in any of the commons appertaining to the town, where it is not now in propriety.”*
In accordance with the above preliminary action, the leading citizens of Taunton interested in the enterprise, formed a stock company, invitiug
• Baylics’s Historical Memoir of the Colony of New Plymouth, Tart 11. p. 268.
Vol. Xxxviii. 24
capitalists in other places to join them in carrying the project into effect without the aid of English capital—and they succeeded. To obtain the shareholders required some length of time; but the precise date when they were obtained has not been fully ascertained, nor is it known when the brothers Leonard and Mr. Russell came from Braintree. Probably it was soon after the suspension of the iron works there in 1G53. Nor is there any record that Henry Leonard or Ralph Russell were employed in these works. They had land ” set off to them ” by the proprietors ” as encouragement,” but they did not remain to occupy it. Russell went to Dartmouth and soon after was engaged in starting iron works at ” Russell’s Mills.” Henry Leonard was at Lynn in 1655, says Newhall the historian, and some years later was engaged with his sons by a wealthy company of Salem in an iron works at Rowley Village. He afterwards weut to New Jersey, and, it is said, successfully engaged with a company in the manufacture of bar iron. He has left in that state numerous descendants, among whom are men of ability and of prominent standing in business and the professions.
A documentary relic of the early date above referred to, recently found among ancient papers in the handwriting of Oliver Purchis, who was town clerk at the time, makes the following record preparatory to the organization of the Iron Works Company in 1653-4:
” The names of those who hath put in themselves to be proprietors in the Bloomerie, viz :—Uezekiah Hoare, Thomns Gilbert, Richard Will iains, Walter Dean, GEORGE HALL, Oliver Purchis, .(amen Walker, John Tisdall, Win. Parker, Mr. Gilbert senr: Peter Pitts, Richard Stacey, John Cobb, William Hodges, Nath’l Woodward, Timothy Holloway, James Burt, Edward Bobctt, Jonah Austin, sen’r, John Parker, Samuel Wilbore, Miss E Pole, Jane Pole.”
Additional records show the names of William Pole, Timothy Lindall of Salem, his son-in-law, Nicholas White, senr., Richard Stephens, John Turner, Thomas Lincoln, senr., Anthony Slocum, James Leonard, Tlios. Armsbe ry, Joseph Wilbore, Henry Andrews, John Hall, James Phillips, Francis Smith, Geo. Watson, Gov. Leverett and Major Edward Tyng of Boston, Nath’l Paine, senr., and Stephen Paine of Rehoboth, John Cary and Nath’l Paine, Jr., of Bristol, Benedict Arnold of Newport, Richard Thayer of Braintree—contributing from £20 to £5 each, for whole, half and quarter shares.
The building of a suitable dam across ” Two Mile River,” where was previously a bridge ; preparing the timber for the necessary buildings; obtaining from abroad the hammers and heavy iron machiuery and tools required for operating the ” bloomerie ” for the manufacture of bar iron, occupied a long time before the practical working of the same.
The following confirmatory record in a ledger0 of Capt. Thomas* Leonard, son of James,’ who was with his father a ” bloomer,” and became the ” clearke ” and manager in 1683, indicates the time the works commenced, as follows:
• This ledger was found In the old mansion built In 1750 by Dca. Elijah5 Leonard, grandson of Capt. Thomas,* who had carefully stored the books transmitted to him by his father and grandfather, when he built the house. It was the birthplace of Capt. Edward Leonard, who resided there seventy years, and of Rev. Elijah Leonard, of Marshficld, who died In February, 1834, after a forty-five years’ pastorate, and the father of Rev. Geo. Leonard, who died ill July, 1881, after a pastorate of thirty years in the same Marshficld church, and who Inherited the old place In Raynham from his uncle Capt. Edward. It was sold a few years ago to Mr. John Spinney, who In preparing to remodel the old mansion discovered the books deposited there one hundred und thirty years before. It was destroyed by fire shortly afterwards.
” An nccompt of who hath been cUrke of Taunton Iron Works ever since GEORGE HALL was first Clcnrke, nnd some others joyned with him for a time, which begun Anno 1656. Also, what product the works huth made from year to year.”
By this record, which has descended through two hundred )’ears, and whose authority is undoubted, it is shown that the manufacture of iron was commenced ” Anno 1656.” On a page of this ledger are two columns of figures, indicating the years and the product of the works fifty-eight years, from that date, to the death of Capt. Thomas in 1713. The first line reads thus: ” 1656—George Hall clearke, John Turner working ye forge.” Three years no iron was shared. “1659,400 shared.” ” 1660, a ton of iron sould to buy goods, win: were devided.”
At this time an arrangement was made by the shareholders by which the works were leased to GEORGE HALL and his associates, Hezekiah Hoar and Francis Smith. The lease of this transaction, recently discovered among the papers of Capt. Thomas Leonard, thus sets forth iu substance the agreement:
” This present writing, dated April the first, anno domini, one thousand six hundred and sixtie. witnesseth : that whereas the Companie in partnership in the Iron works or hloomerie, erected and maintained in working use within tho plantation of Taunton, in tho Colony of New Plymouth, did hy themselves and their attornies, generally consent and agree, that y« said works should he let for a term of five years; to begin after y° stock of coles is now being wrought out—yielding and paying to ye whole companie aforesaid, (not one partner at all excluded) yearly during said term the full summe of four tunne of iron:”—” thnt said Gcorga Hall. Hezekiah Hoar and Francis Smith hnvins embraced, accepted, and received said tender, and rent of yc works, according to yc said propositions named.* themselves being partners “—and ” to whom full lihertie was then and there given, that they might take into this contract with themselves whom they liked of.” Thev accordingly took into partnership : William Pole, Walter T)eane. Joseph Wilhore, John Denne, Anthony Slocum, Thos. Linkon, senr. Wm. Parker, James L-onnrd, Jonah Austin sen’r. John Parker, Peter Pitts, James Phillips. Henry Withington. of Dorchester. ” The rest of said company in partnership, do by these present* ratify, confirm, establish, promise and make good and effectual to the s”d GEORGE HALL. Hezekiah Hoar, and Francis Smith, the said contract, and do hereby give them full power and right to act, or cause to be acted or done in and about said iron works in every particular case during yc said term without interruption, molestation or hindrance of y« partners, provided that thev truly and faithfully perform their engagements in the premises. . . . And the said partners, Win. Pole, Walter Denne and others, doe likewise covenant, promise and ensnge themselves, unto said GEORGE HALL, Hezekiah Hoarc nnd Francis Smith, to enrrie out said contract as one man, with faithfulness, according to their wisdom and abilities; that they will endeavor to prevent all damages and support each other in all cases, whether in charges of payments or troubles of lawsuits nnd walk together in kite and peaco in the light of God, without sunerioritie one over another.”
” Tn witness whereof they herewith to one seal set their several hands the day and year above written :
Georqs Halt., IlraEKun Hoark, Francis Ssiim, [Seal.] Wm. Pole, Henry Withington, Jno. Deane, Wm. Parker, Walter Deane, Peter Pitts, Joseph Wilhore, James Phillips. John Parker, Anthony Slocum, Thos. Linkon sen., Jonah Austin.” ” In presence of
John Hatheway, Sam’l Linkon.
Resuming the old ledger records. George Hall held the position of manager and claike thirteen years (excepting James Walker held the office a year) until his death in October, 1669, anil ” John Hull to y * end of y0 year.”
Drawn by James Walker, Richard Williams and John Tisdall, of said company.
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“1G70, Henry Andrews clearke.” “1671, John Hall, thence to 1675 when (says the record) tho Indian [King Philip's] War began and many coals burned in the woods.” ” 1676—the works garrisoned—great rates— many coals burned.” (No iron shared three years.) “1677, Israel Dean clenrke. y” beginning, John Hall y° end of yc year.” Hall continued until 1683, and was succeeded by Capt. Thomas Leonard, during whose thirty years’ management occurred most of the transactions and ” orders ” recorded below in connection with this brief history of the most important enterprise in the early days of the Old Colony. He was an able, self-educated man ; he held military commissions from Ensign to Major in the Bristol County regiment; was the leading magistrate; presiding justice of the County Court, 1685 to 1693; clerk of the Taunton North Purchase proprietors, over twenty years ; filled various town offices ; also performed the duties of physician. He died in 1713, at the a^.e of 70, leaving, besides a large estate, the Middleboro’ and Chartley Iron Works, a large quantity of official papers and miscellaneous relics, preserved with remarkable care during his eventful life.*
Dea. Samuel’ Leonard, in Oct. 1713, succeeded his father Capt. Thomas after many years of successful management. Another ancient ledger contains an instructive record of the transactions in the business during his charge; many pages are filled with items of the bar iron “circulating medium” and barter trades, similar to those appended. On the division of Taunton in 1731, the iron works locality fell to the new town of Rayuhani, and that town owned half a share. Dea. Leonard died in 1745, after thirty-two years’ service, owning several shares.
Dea. Samuel Leonard, Jr., was the successor of his father in the management of the iron works. He had, during his four years’ management, purchased a large number of whole and fractional shares, securing nearly a majority of the stock. He died in 1749, leaving a large incumbrance on the works and a declining stock. He left 12 shares, valued in his inventory at £C60 of the common currency.t
Dea. Elijah Leonard, who had been at the ” Chartley Works ” in Norton, succeeded his brother in 1749, as clerk and manager. He soon afterwards built, a short distance east of the forge, the mansion referred to. He remained in charge of the business until 1777. During the last twenty years the shares had been depreciating in value, owing to the increasing price of coal, and the declining production of good ore, in competition with the New Jersey ore which contained a much larger percentage of pure iron, and was worked by competing establishments. With a depreciating currency and other obstacles, the iron business waned, the works hardly met expenses, the shareholders received trifling or no dividends, and the shares were relinquished at great sacrifice. The incumbrance on the works finally resulted in tho sale of a large portion of the shares to Dea. George Leonard, brother of Dea. Elijah, who in 1770 disposed of them (7J sixteenths) to
• Tlic salary of Capt. Thomas was £8 the first year, and from 1684 to 1713 it was £11. His successor received tlic same amount. From 1742 to 1745, and thereafter, ” ten hundred of iron was voted for salary.” They also received a percentage on the iron manufactured. Tlic win ks made from 20 to 30 tons annually, which brought from £400 to £075, averaging about $100 a ton of our currency.
t In 1749 £1 sterling, or “old tenor,” was worth £11 of Massachusetts currency. An oz. of silver, 0 shillings par value, stood at 66 shillings of that currency. Thus r.ipidly approaching ” flat money,” which was consummated by the United States national currency in pnying ofrthe soldiers of the revolution thirty years later, which became reduced to £1000 for £1 sterling, or about #1 per bushel.
Josiah Dean for £90—which shows a great reduction from the inventory value in 1749. At subsequent sales in 1777, tit low figures, of other shares, with a portion of the real estate, Mr. Dean became the purchaser. From the original shareholders the changes were numerous from year to year, and to attempt a record would require much time and space. Many of the sous, and descendants of the third generation from the original owners, held shares during the hundred years and more of the progress of the old iron works, until they passed into the hands of the new owner. The price of them varied from £22 to £20 the par value ; thence to £10, and finally, before the close, to £5 per share, or any price takers would give. Thus terminated the Leonard management, which had been conducted from 1(‘>8.’! by Capt. Thomas and by his son and grandsons nearly one hundred years, a large portion of the time upon the agency system, inaugurated in lU^G, as above described.
Having purchased a controlling interest in the ” old iron works,” lion. Josiah Dean took possession in 1777 ; he converted the bar iron forge, or ” bloomerie,” into a rolling mill and nail works, where also copper bolts were rolled and made for ship-building, &e. It was the first copper bolt manufactory in this region. After conducting the business about forty years he died in 1818.* He was succeeded by his son Major Kliab li. Dean, who in 1825 changed the nail works into an anchor forge, which was continued in that heavy line of iron manufacture by him and his son and successor, Theodore Dean, about forty years, when the works were suspended. About a year ago the old buildings were demolished, and the privilege, dam and foundation walls alone remain of the ancient Taunton Iron Works of two hundred and twenty-four years—the oldest successful irou manufactory in New England.
The pioneer settlers during a long period of the last and preceding century alter the iron works were started, were seriously embarrassed in their increasing business transactions by the scarcity of money. They had but a small amount of specie, chiefly brought by emigrants who came across the ocean here to make their hoines.t No banks had been established—no ” Land bank” capital had evoked even ” new tenor bills ;”t no Bank of England or “old tenor” notes were in circulation, although the pioneers owed allegiance to ” His Majesty James ” the despot, and the edicts of his tyrannical subservient Sir Edmund Andros were borne until patience ceased to be a virtue. Therefore a dernier resort tr> bar iron, manufactured at the Taunton Works, as a “circulating medium of exchange,” to supply the great deficiency. Iron made from tlia native bog ore of the creeks and swails of Two Mile River, and ” Scaddiugs moire ” became more valuable than gold —an important factor in daily traffic It entered largely into the transactions of business, as is shown by the subjoined brief letters, orders and replies, couched in expressions of genuine old-time courtesy, from managers, shareholders and patrons of the ancient iron works. These amusing and interesting scraps were found between the leaves of Capt. Thomas Leonard’s ledger of two hundred years ago, the pages of which are tilled with the records of which these scraps were vouchers.
• Hon. Josiah Dean was a member of Congress in 1807-9, and town officer and magistrate for many years.
t During the year 1652 a mint for coining silver money was established in Boston by the colony, and the first pine-tree shillings made from silver imported from the West ladies. This made but a small supply of specie.
I Paper money was first issued In Massachusetts in 1690, but in very small quantity for the demand. The bank of England was established 1694. Vol. xxxvm. 24*
The veterans Deacons Richard Williams and “Walter Dean, Ilezekiah Hoar, Shadrach Wilbore the second town clerk, Increase Robinson, Joseph Wilbore, James Walker, John Richmond, Peter Pitts, James Phillips, Richard Stephens, John Hall, Peter Walker, and the sons of many successors of ownership of shares in the iron works, appear in the collection, also Rev. George Shove and Rev. Samuel Danforth, third and fourth ministers of Taunton ; John Pole, merchant of Boston, son of Capt. William and nephew of Elizabeth ; Benedict Arnold, son of Gov. Arnold of Newport, R. I. (who married a Taunton woman, daughter of John Turner) ; Nathaniel Paine and John Saffin of Bristol, Judges of Probate; and John Cary, Register; Dea. Samuel Topliff, Philip Withington and John Bird, selectmen of Dorchester nearly two hundred years ago; the polite John Baker, son of Richard ; Richard Thayer, son of the first settler and Mistress Dorothy of ” Brantry;” Peter Noyes of Sudbury, Capt. Thomas Leonard and his son Major George of Chartley Works, not to be outdone in ” loving phrase” by his father; and others. Schools were scarce in those primitive days, and many wealthy business men made their “mark;” therefore errors in orthography, unique expressions and ancient idioms may be excused. The first order is from one of the founders of Taunton and promoters of the iron works, who draws an order to pay a grocer’s bill:
” Ensignc Thou. Leonard, please to pay to Bar: Tipping nine shillings & three pence in iron, as money : fromyr friend, Richard Williams.
Taunton 16: 1″ 1685-86.”
Deacon Walter Dean’s order.
” Ensign Thomas Leonard, Please to pay y° bearer hearof one hundred of Iron y« is due on Mr Shoves act. to my wile your friend.
Taunton y« 16 of y° 1st mo. 1685-6. Your friend, Walter Deans.”
” Thomas Leonard, clarke of the Iron Works of Taunton:
S’ pray pay to Joseph Crossman, on hundred of iron as money, & this shall be your discharg : this yc 13th Janurae, 1683. Iiezekiau Boar.
Tanton— 84.”
A letter from some friendly parishioner in 1683, addressed to the third minister of Taunton, and accompanying order, reads thus :
“For the Rev. Mr. George Shove, pastor of the church of Christ in Taunton: These:”
” Ensign Leonard, pray deliver to John Hodgea or his order one hundred and half of iron on account of yr friend George Shots.
March 14, 83-4.”
John Gary of Bristol, Register of Probate, responds to a polite request to credit a hundred of iron:
” Loving friend, John Cary, these may inform you that if You please to Credit Richard Burt as much as comes to a hundred of Iron, I will be Responsible to you, & Rest your Lo» ffriend, Thomas Leonard.
Taunton Dec. 30, 1683-4.”
” lnsign Leonard, be pleased to pay to this bearer, James Tisdall, the assents of the above written bill, by which you will oblige Your friend, John Cart. January 2, 1684.”
An order from an early settler to pay the schoolmaster’s rate :
” Ensine Lenard, I pray you let Mr greene have four shillings more in iron, as money, and place it to my account. June 20, 1684. James Walker.”
” Capt. Leonard, pray pay to John Wetherel iron 9s. and 6d. and set it to my account. Samuel Wilbore.”
” Ensigne Leonard, pray deliver to Nath1 Coddington as much iron as comes to 4″ 5d at y” rate of 18s. per 0. John Deani.
Taunton Sept. 4,1685.”
He was son of John Dearie, senior, and the first birth among the pioneer settlers of Taunton.
Increase Robinson, one of the early settlers on Dean Street, gives a credit order for iron to pay his minister, Rev. Mr. Danforth :
” Captain Leonard : Sir, I would intreate you to pay James Tindole y° sum of 2-7-fi in iron at 82s. per hund. and make me Deptr for it on yc acount of y° Credit Air Danford save mie on your book. Your ffr’d Increase Robuinbon.
Tanton y° 23’1 March 1688-9.”
Thomas1 Williams (son of Richard1) sold an ox to one Nathaniel Smith, and the following orders ensued for payment:
” Nathaniel Smith, this is to desier you to pay to my Mother Williams three hundred & half a qur. of iron which is part of y* price of y° ox which you bought of mee. Thomas Williams.
Taunton yy 1G”1 of Oct. 1603.”
On the opposite side of the above Mr. Smith ordered the iron : ” Copt. Leonard, I pray be pleased to pay to old mother Williams 3 hundreth & half a quarter of Iron. Nathaniel Smith.”
Dorchester, May 15, lfiOC.
” Worh’ysrullSir:
After my service to your Honour, these are only to desire you to Send the income of my interest in the works by L’ Robinson and these shall bo the roocpt for the same. And if I could know when you come to Boston, I should lie willing to discourse w,h you in point of sale (it being at such a distance from me) if your self is inclined to buy. t remain y’ humble servant, John Bakes.”
Deacon Topliff orders iron for the half share due Dorchester :
” Caplin Li nurd—pray please to deliver to this bearer, Philip Withington, 800 and half of Iron, the which, by your information, is due to Dorchester: In so doing you will much oblige us your asurcd friends: Dated in Dorchester 8 Aug. 1699. Samuel Toi-liff.”
Cupt. Leonard delivers 800 and half on the order for 1797- 98.
Taunton April I, 1700.
” Capt. Leonard I desire you to give John King credit upon works book for 20 shillings of iron as money. Your friend to serve John Hall.”
An order from Rev. Samuel Danforth, the fourth minister of Taunton, to pay his *’ servant niayd ” :
11 To Captain Thomas Leonard,
Sr I would pray you to pay Elizabeth Gilbert (my late servant niayd) the sum of thirty shillings in iron at 18 sh. pr Cent: to her or her order—& place it to my account ••• pr yr friend and servant Sam” Danforth.”
Dated Tanton, March 11,1703-4.
Here is one of his business orders : Rev. Mr. Danforth wants iron to buy nails. ” To Capt. Thomas Leonard in Tanton:
Sr I have got Thomas Willis to go to Bridgewater to fetch me some nails from Mr. Mitchell’s this night: & pray to let him have 800 of iron to carry with him to pay for them : of winch, 100 on ace1 of Edward Richmond ; 5s. worth on acet. of Tliomas Linkon, son of John Linkon, by virtue of his note herewith sent you : for the remainder I may by yr leave be yr debtor for a while till I have another note from some other to ballance against it: & remain yr obliged Sam1 Danforth.”
Sfi 8″«>. 1708.
” Capt. Thomas Leonard:

S*—Give credit to William Briggs (son of Wm Briggs grand-sonior) & to Thomas Briggs his brother, for the sum of two shillings and (our pence in iron at 18 pr Cent, ft make me Debtor for the same in Yr book: This 2*hl” 41 is to pay thcyr iron part of thcyr Rate to the Ware bridge. Pr Sam” Danforth.”
Dated July 15, 1703.
” to be p4 to Increse Robbinson, Constable for the use aforesd.”
Order for iron “for the ministry of Dorchester.” ” Capt. Thomas Leonard of Taunton:— Sir : These lines may inform you y* the Selectmen of Dorchester, would desier you to deliver unto Surgt. Philip Withington all that iron, wh is due from the Iron Works to the ministry of Dorchester, and in so doting this shall be diecharg. Dorchester the 20 of March 1705. Samuel Capen, for the name and with the consent of the rest of the Selectmen.” Mr. Withington receipts for the product of the half share, 700 of iron for 1699, 1700, ’1, i, and 3.
The genuine autographs of many of the early settlers are among these unique scraps of iron history, and are now in possession of the writer.
To illustrate the annual divisions of iron to shareholders, the following cases are cited from the old ledger records, from 1G83 to 1713, and later in Dea. Samuel’s records.
The oldest original shareholder was Richard Williams, who received in 1C83 for his one share £3 Gs.; for 1684-5, £4 8s. each year ; for 1G86 and 87, £3 Gs. each; for 1G88, £4 8s.; for 1089-00-91, £2 4s. each year, mostly in bar iron, or barter thereof at the stores of Bartholomew Tipping of Taunton, John Pole of Boston, Benedict Arnold of Newport, and other sources, butchers, shoemakers, weavers, &c, discounted at the iron works. Mr. Williams died in 1693, and his widow continued to receive the product share, through her son, who succeeded to his father’s business, tanning, from 1G91 to 1700 each year 2 C. to 4 ewt.; in 1701 2 C; 1702, £3 2s.; in 1703, £1 10s.; in 1704, £0 gs.; 1705, 13s 2d., about the same for five years ; in all 500 wt. of bar iron at 20s. per hundred ; discounting meeting bou.se, town, school master and county rates, and store pay, by tho clerk of the iron works, and occasionally a few shillings in mone}-. Dea. Williams was annually credited ” £2 10s. for a hide for the bellows.”
The town of Taunton held half a share, and to illustrate the amount others received, owning half shares,—in 1G83 £1 13s. was shared, or, “1 C. 2 qrs. in iron, ou Deacon Walter Dean’s order for the school master, Mr. Green;” for 1G84, “£2 4s. in iron, delivered on Dea. Dean’s order for same rate;” for 1685, £2 4s.; 1G8G, “£1 13s. paid by Dea. Dean for ammunition;” for 1687, £1 13s.; 1688, £2 4s. in iron; 1G89, £1 7s. 6d.; and 1G90, £1 2s. to Dea. Dean’s order to pay the meeting house rate of £2 15s. From that during the ten years to 1700, the average was £1 2s.; partially in money ordered by Dea. Dean for school and other rates, or in iron bartered. The amount of iron and money shared differed from the above in some cases, but iron was as much in demand as money, and as available in Boston and Dorchester as in Taunton.
The following illustrations from the ledger pages show the manner of conveyance of iron to shareholders in Boston, Dorchester and elsewhere. “June, 1685, delivered to Nicholas White, sen’r. to carry (through the wilderness) to Major E. Tyng, 7 C. of iron, also to Madam Leverett* of Boston 7 C. of iron; for Peter Noyes of Sudbury 5 C. 2 qrs. in bars, for John Baker of Dorchester 3 C. 2 qrs. and for Samuel Capen 3 C. 2 qrs. for Dorchester church, as their due for 1083-84.” “In November 1686, delivered to same to carry to Mrs. Tyng and Madam Leverett of Boston 4 C. and 12 lbs. each, for Mr Noyes of Sudbury 3 C. 2 qrs.; for Mr Baker 205 lbs. and for Mr Capen’s order 205 lbs. as their share for 1685.”
Thus, without long repetition of other cases, for tweuty years or more, the annual transportation of iron (occasionally a little money) to shareholders, varied from year to year as the product of the iron works varied. The record, however, shows a gradual decline during the succeeding years.
• Widow of John Leverett, governor of Massachusetts 1673-79.
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In 1700, delivered to Wm. Thomas of Plymouth 5 C. of iron for Madam Leverett; same amount for Mrs. Tyng of Boston, as their shares for two years, ” marked L, for John Pool of Boston.” ” To Philip Wellington per order of Selectmen of Dorchester, just 7 C. of iron for the four years, 1699 to 1703.” Also, ” per order Dea. Sam’l Topliff, for the Dorchester Church, 1 C. and half of iron for the years 1704, 5, 6 and 7, being £1 13s. each year.” “In 1720 & ’21, £1 2s.; in 1722 & ’23, nothing; from 1724 to 1732, 11 shillings each year, for Dorchester.” Other half shareholders same amount, or £1 2s. per share. Here ends the old ledger accounts, transferred to later books, of which whole columns are filled with the details.

Topics: Massachusetts | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Ancient Iron Works in Taunton (Part Two)”

  1. Edward Smith, Ironmaster | Cooper Street Historic District Says:
    March 29th, 2013 at 9:34 am

    [...] for Winthrop and the Company and at the Rowley Village ironworks (est. c.1668) on behalf of “a wealthy company of Salem”. After his financial and social ruination in Massachusetts, Leonard and his family fled south to [...]

  2. admin Says:
    March 29th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you for this contribution. Fascinating! Will delve further. KH

Comments