The Pynchon Papers Volume I. Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts, 1639-1702;
The Pynchon Court Record,
an original judges’ diary of the administration of justice
in the Springfield courts in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Pynchon Manuscript
Among the material preserved in the Treasure Room of the Law School of Harvard University is a small manuscript volume known as the Pynchon Diary or the Pynchon Magistrate’s Book. Neither designation is quite accurate and for the purpose of this publication the volume is called The Pynchon Court Record. ... The bulk of this manuscript consists of a record kept by William Pynchon, the founder of Springfield, Massachusetts, by his son-in-law, Elizur Holyoke, and by his son, John Pynchon, of matters coming before various courts on the lower jurisdictional levels (below the county level) held for Springfield and the vicinity during the period from February 14, 1638/9 to January 9, 1701/2.
p 121–122 [Introduction. Criminal Jurisdiction]
[John Sackett selling liquor to the Indians]
... the sale of liquors was subject to extensive regulation in Massachusetts Bay in the seventeenth century.
At the March 1662 sitting of the commissioners at Northampton, with the powers of the County Court, John Sackett was fined forty shillings for selling liquor to the Indians and one hundred pounds for violating the law against trading for furs with the Indians; however, the latter fine was remitted because of the weakness of proof. [Rec. 69-70; 1 Hamp. Cty. Probate Ct. Rec 8, 11.]
p 165 [Introduction. Civil Jurisdiction]
[John Sackett’s not thatching Town barn]
[A number of cases concerning failure to perform a bargain were brought before the court and entered in the record without reference to any form of action; several examples are cited, including:]
...; for John Sackett's 'not performing his bargayne in thatching the Town barne' (an action by the selectmen of Springfield)..." County Court (1660-1662). See also p240.
p 173 [Introduction. Civil Jurisdiction]
[Estate of Simon Sackett]
On July 14, 1659 the commissioners entered an order of administration upon the estate of Symon Sackett.
p 217 [Pynchon Court Record]
[Simon & John take oath of fidelity]
March 23rd 1655/56 being a Trayning day these underwritten took the oath of fidelity Thomas Bancroft: John Stewat: James Warrener: Obadiah Miller: Symon Sackett: Nathaniel Burt: Hugh Dudley: Samuell Bliss: William Morgan: Lawrence Bliss: Jeremy Horton: James Taylor: Edward Foster: John Sackett: Josiah Chapin: Abell Wright: Richard Maund: John Riley: Anthony Dorchester: Francis Pepper: James Osbourne: John Horton: John Earle:
p 240 [Pynchon Court Record]
[John Sackett’s not thatching Town barn]
[*78] the selectmen of Springfield complayne contra John Sackett of the same town for not performing his bargayne in thatching the Town barne: (c. 1658-59)
p 241 [Pynchon Court Record]
[Simon Sackett’s Estate]
[*80] An Order of Administration upon the estate of Symon Sackett deceased who died the 9th day of July 1659: which Order was graunted by the Commissioners the 14th day of the Same Month. Symon Sackett of Springfeild who deceased the Ninth of July 1659 dyinge intestate; and it beinge necessary that Administration be made upon the said Symons Estate; And William Blomefeild of Hartford appearinge to be assistant to his Daughter wife of the said deceased party to Administer to the aforesaid estate; therefore the said William Blomefeild is hereby allowed and appoynted to be Administrator and Sarah his Daughter wife of the said deceased party to be Administratrix to the Estate of the said Symon Sackett deceased:
An Inventory of the Estate of Symon Sackett deceased taken the 15th day of July 1659 by Richard Fellowes and Samuell Chapin:
Inprimis one barne 6. 00. 00 Item 3 piggs 1. 01. 00 Item one sow and a pigg 1. 00. 00 Item a chayne 0. 08. 00 An axe 3s, a pott with the hookes. 6s. 6d 0. 09. 06 A parcell of brass with old Iron 0. 02. 00 9. 00. 06 [*81] One chape for a cart 0. 02. 00 a sickle 6d 2 fork tynes 2s 0. 02. 06 a bed tick with a pillow 0. 06. 06 a cellar .1£ 4 score rayles. 12s 1. 12. 00 1 tray, and a half bushell the 1/2 bushell John
0. 04. 00 2 barrells 0. 02. 00 2 acre and neere a quarter of wheat at 38s
4. 05. 00 7 bushel of wheat to be paid by William Brookes 1. 04. 06 4 bushel of wheat from Joseph Crowfoote 0. 14. 00 1 acre of Pease 1. 10. 00 One parcell of Indian that Obadiah Miller bought 2. 00. 00 One parcell of Indian and the grass 1. 16. 00 A parcell of Oates with the Oates in the
Orchard and water mill:
0. 16. 00 an acre of Oates 1. 15. 00 a plough share 0. 12. 00 a garden that Richard Fellowes bought 0. 10. 00 a cart with Irons to it 1. 05. 00 a spade 2s 3 pounds tallow 1s 6d 0. 03. 06 a steer 1. 15. 00 a yoke staple and ring 0. 03. 06 Item 8s due from Daniel Blomefeild 0. 08. 00 An Oxe 6. 10. 00 2 hoggs if found 2. 00. 00 A Canow to Richard Fellowes 0. 08. 00 30. 04. 06 all the Oates and pease and water-millions and the use of half the barn is for Richard Fellowes for to pay 3£ 12:
On the other side 9. 00. 06
39. 05. 00
This is a true account as we judge witnes both our hands: July 15, 1659
Samuell Chapin, Richard Fellowes
theres due Goodwoman Sackitt from Goodman Bloomfeild 4s
Onely the heiffer and steere to Daniell for 3£ 17s that Simon oweth Daniell:
1. Steere yeere and vantage 1£ 15s.
p 255 [Pynchon Court Record]
[John Sackett selling liquor to Indians]
John Sackett being presented to this Corte uppon suspision of Sellinge Strong Liquors to Indians: there appearinge some difficulty in it about the proofe of such offence, the matter was referred to the Corte at Northampton next March: And he was bound to this Corte in the summe of 10£ then and there to appeare to make further answer when he shalbe called: And his bond for appearance at this Corte is to be voyd:
John Sacketts fyne.
John Sackett beinge at the Corte at Springfield September 24 1661 bound in a bond of 10£ to appeare at this Corte to answer to suspicions of his selling of liquors to Indians: He appearinge at this Corte and there beinge many grounds of suspicions that he had Sold much liquors to the Indians: and it beinge proved that he had Sold unto them 1 pinte he was fyned 40s to the County: And it beinge pleaded against him considering his estate how he could have soe much goods in his house of Indian trade as trayes kettles peltry of Beare and deere Skins he said he bought them of the Indians for wampam and corne. The Corte adjudged he had broken the law about trading peltry incurring the penalty of 100£ which the Corte adjudges him to pay to the County: only execution thereof shalbe respited till the first Sessions of the Generall Corte be ended.
John Sackett the next day pleadinge that these skins were traded above a yeere agoe and probability thereof appearinge: his 100£ fyne was remitted: Only he is to behave himselfe well in those respects for future. And if he be found suspicious in such matters hereafter: these things shall stand as witness against him which he consented to:
p 263 [Pynchon Court Records]
[Widow Sackett in actions for debt]
[The following entries for a court held by commissioners at Springfield on September 30, 1662, not contained in the Record, are found in 1. Hamp. Cty. Probate Ct. Rec. 14-17.]
At a Corte holden at Springfeild September 30th 1662.
Thomas Noble of Springfeild Plantiffe contra Widdow Sackett late of Springfeild defendant in an action of debt with damage to the vallue of 3£.
Captain Pynchon Plantiffe contra Widdow Sackett Administratrix above said, defendant and William Blomefeild administrator to the estate of Symon Sackett Late of Springfeild deceased defendants in an action of debt with damage to the vallue of 24£.
Thomas Stebbin Plantiffe contra Widow Sackett defendant in action of debt with damages to the vallue of Three pounds:
In this last action the Jury fynd for the Plantiffe vizt Thomas Stebbin the summe of forty shillings and the costs of the Corte vizt 10s for entry of the action:
Mrs. Lord of Hartford Plantiffe contra Widdow Sackett late of Springfeild defendant in an action of debt to the vallue of 2£. 18s. 04d and 1£. 15s 0d: damage:
In the action depending betweene Thomas Noble and Widdow Sackett the Jury fynd for the Plantiffe the summe of three pound:
In the action depending between Captain Pynchon Plantiffe and Widdow Sackett and William Blomefeild defendants the Jury fynd for the Plantiffe 20£. 15s. 08d. vizt 19£. 15s. 08d. and 20s for costs of the Corte:
In the action dependinge betweene Mrs. Lord and Widdow Sackett the Jury fynd for the Plantiffe vizt 2£. 18s. 4d. and costs of the Corte:
March .17. 1662/63. Before the Commissioners Capt. Pynchon and Elizur Holyoke.
Serjant Stebbins of Springfeild Atturney for Mr Goodwin of Hadley complaynes against Widdow Sackett late of Springfeild Administratrix and William Blomfeild Administrator to the estate of Symon Sackett deceased in an action of debt due upon account together with damage to the vallue of Six and Thirty shillings.
The Plantiffe prooving the debt of 1£ 06s 01d the Comissioners adjudged the Defendant to pay the said Debt: and 6s 5d for costs and charges belonging to the said action: the debt was prooved as by account on the file:
pp 291–2 [Pynchon Court Record]
[William Sackett’s wounding]
[*169] July 5th 1679. At A Court By Major Pynchon:
John Sackut Plantiff against James Sexton for Beating and wounding his son William Sackut: As also for Pound breach or rescuing of swine goeing to Pound.
John Sackut appearing also his son William charges James Sexton with Beating him at the Pound dore when some of the hogs were in the Pound he gave him .3. blows with his fist and tooke him by the Throat and hindered the putting the rest of the hogs into the Pound.
It being not so cleare yet very suspicious by Samuell Loomis Oath I only Judge James Sexton to allow for the entry of action and summons 3s 6d.
James Sexton fyned 20s I say: 20s [Marginal notation.]
And likewise for Rescuing the swine I fine James Sexton to the County 40s which I afterward abated to 20s And so he is to pay the County: I say 20s.
For the Rescuing of the swine It being evident by Testymony on file: I find for the plantiff himself and sons attendance 4s } .3. witness 6 } 14.00 Coming for Atachment 2s Atachment and for serving it 3.6 } 2. sumons for witness 0.6 } all is 17s. 6d
I gave 6 Months tyme for the payment and John Minor Ingaged with him and for the payment of [illegible] in 6 Months.”
p319-320 [Pynchon Court Record]
[John Sackett mentioned in Moore v Randall]
Mr. James Moore Plantiff against Nathanell Bancroft for debt of
I find for the Plantiff .9s 1d and costs 6s 10d.
Mr. Cunningham of 1. 16. 6 Whereof Paid 1. 7. 5 Rest . 9. 1
Moore Against Edward Neale for 14 bushels of Indian Corne.
I find for the Plantiff .14. bushels of Indian Corne. He forgave the costs:
[Moore] Against William Randall for .1£ 13. 6 wherof Randal Paid as he makes oath .4. bushels of Indian Corne: to Mr. Cunningham himselfe at Sackcuts house which sets of .8s. I find for the plantiff .25s 6d only If Randal prove .2. barrels of Tar Paid one at Windsor per Thomas Nobl and .1. at Westfeild paid John Sackcut and to the plantiff have bin paid since August 1685. or since the .16th of the March Instant before: then I find him but 3 and Costs of Court.
p322 [Pynchon Court Record]
[Bancroft’s debt to Moore to be paid at Joseph Sackett’s house]
[*207] May 19th 1688
They agreed only they desyre me to enter their Agreement which is That Nathanel Bancroft Ingages to pay to Mr. Moore 4 bushels ½ of Indian Corne and 2 Bushels of winter wheat to be Paid in next Munday at Joseph Sackcuts house.”
p 338 [Pynchon Court Record]
[John Sackett v Benjamin Smith]
July .2d 1694. John Sackcut of Westfeild Senior his Complaint against Benjamin Smith Junior on File with the Papers where (I waiving it what I might) see the Papers how far that I proceeded.”
p 344 [Pynchon Court Record]
[John Sackett v Benjamin Smith settlement]
Dec. 23.1695. John Sackut of Springfeild Plantiff Contra Benjamin Smith of Westfeild, defendant in a Plea of They appeared and agreed.”
p346 [Pynchon Court Record]
[A non-Sackett item, but illustrative of the mores of the Colony]
[*228] Feb. 27 1695/6.
Complaint being made against William Anthony for horible lying If not adding cursing etc. I sent warrant to apprehend him and bring him before me to answer for the same.
And February 28. 1695/6.
William Anthony being apprehended and brought by the Constable and examened saith he remembers nothing about it and puts al upon profe: which is evedenced by the Testymonys of Jehojahdah Bartlet and Ephraim Bartlet which are on File whereuppon I sentence said William Anthony for his wittingly abusive reports (which he is Common in) and so wilfully speaking falls by (Timothy Moses being present and saying al is utterly false, and Anthony himselfe granting it: and owning noe provocation) That he the said William Anthony shal Forthwith Pay a Fine of sixe shillings downe in Money and pay the charges or else be whipt with Ten lashes by the constable and If he doe not depart the Place within .2. days Then to be committed by the constable til he find surtys in five Pound Bond for his good Behaviour.
1s the writ
1s to the Constable and
1 for a man to watch over him.
3s [Marginal notation]
p347 [Pynchon Court Record]
[Deputy John Sackett]
Mathew Noble of Westfeild Being Summoned to appeare this day to answer John Gun of Westfeild in a Plea of Trespass for Felling and Taking away Pine Trees of said Guns Ground Granted him by the Towne for turpentine to said Guns damage 40s.
John Gun absenting: The Defendant Mathew Noble demands his Costs and charges which by Reson of the constabls not returning the Summons: Three men (as on file) [which is on File viz Thomas Myryk, John Myryck, Adiya Dewey oaths (Marginal notation.)] made oath to the Constable Deputy John Sackcuts serving the summons: Read it and required Nobles appearing accordingly: Whereuppon I grant the Defendant Mathew Noble his Costs viz 2s and a witness to himselfe that was summoned viz .2s Deacon Nathanel Dolbee appearing. For the plantiff to pay: unless he should make appeare that the defect is in the constable for not returning the summons and then said Noble is to pay it.
[The words “Constable Deputy” and a lack of punctuation in the above make John Sackett’s title unclear. A comma between “Constable” and “Deputy” would give the meaning that: “Three men made oath to the Constable. Deputy John Sackett served the summons.” However, footnote 5 on page 185 of the 1985 edition of The Pynchon Papers, Vol. II states, “John Sackett was a deputy constable of Springfield in 1696.”]
Joseph Smith, editor, Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts, 1639-1702: The Pynchon Court Record, an original judges' diary of the administration of justice in the Springfield Courts in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1961). (Researched by Patty Sackett Chrisman).