It Has been a while (maybe two weeks) since I’ve been so excited by a Book in my stock!610G Increase Mather
610G Increase Mather

Like so many books, this is a bit of a sleeper, reading really pays off in this case. I had heard of ‘The famous Andros tracts’ and even had an idea what they were about but I had never really read them with in any sort of serious context. This ‘little tract’ is so short and so concentrated that I am going to post the whole text here, first though I will explain what has so inspire me.

I should have been alerted by the phrase “Arbitrary Government” alas it took a little more to peak my curiosity.

So Here is a little about the Context: {but first allow me a short digression: recently I have spending a lot of time contemplating the ramifications of evolutionary theory. Firstly because I am wondering why there are sparse if any discovery of fossil or other early (pre 1840) evidence of proto Homo Sapiens. Further there is an ‘equalizing’ or even democratic effect of the notion that,more or less we All share a Common ancestry, thus undermining the the theo-economic concept of ‘divine rule’. So it seems to me that in a sense the irrepressible striving for freedom, self-determination and individual relation with God, had in fact set the stage for investigation into the nature of ‘human’ origins} Now back to context. It goes without saying, or it should, that one of the main reasons that Europeans ended up  fleeing Europe was because the wanted to be left alone. By Alone  I mean to  stretch the chains of the social/religious chains to the point of breaking them. This chain was manifest in the “Charters” of the “Dominion”.

These words although innocent looking at first are in fact rather loaded with theological and political assumptions.  The Political Control of the eastern seaboard, English North America was placed in the hands of Sir Edmund Andros, who by inheritance was Named the Colional administrator of North America . 610GWP-4He was also appointed by the Duke of York to be the first proprietary governor of the Province of New York. The province’s territory included the former territories of New Netherland, ceded to England by the Treaty of Westminster, including all of present-day New Jersey, the Dutch holdings on the Hudson River from New Amsterdam (renamed New York City) to Albany, as well as Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. In 1664 Charles II had granted James all of this territory, as well as all of the land in present-day Maine between the Kennebec and St. Croix Rivers, but with the intervening Dutch retaking of the territory, Charles issued a new patent to James. Andros arrived in New York harbor in late October, and negotiated the handover of the Dutch territories with local representatives and Dutch Governor Anthony Colve, which took place on 10 November 1674. Andros agreed to confirm the existing property holdings and to allow the Dutch inhabitants of the territory to maintain their Protestant religion.

In July 1676 Andros established a haven for the Mahicans and other Indian war refugees at Schaghticoke. Although the conflict came to an end in southern New England in 1676, there continued to be friction between the Abenakis of northern New England and English settlers. These prompted Andros to send a force to the duke’s territory in Maine, where they established a fort at Pemaquid (present-day Bristol). Andros annoyed Massachusetts fishermen by restricting their use of the duke’s land for drying fish.

In November 1677 Andros departed for England,] where he would spend the next year. During this visit he was knighted as a reward for his performance as governor, and he sat in on meetings of the Lords of Trade in which agents for Massachusetts Bay defended its charter, and gave detailed accounts of the state of his colony. This is where it becomes Quite interesting.

In 1686 he was appointed governor of the Dominion of New England. He arrived in Boston on 20 December 1686, and immediately assumed the reins of power.

His commission called for governance by himself, with a council. The initial composition of the council included representatives from each of the colonies the dominion absorbed, but because of the inconvenience of travel and the fact that travel costs were not reimbursed, the council’s quorums were dominated by representatives from Massachusetts and Plymouth. The Lords of Trade had insisted that he govern without an assembly, something he expressed concern over while his commission was being drafted.

The Dominion initially consisted of the territories of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (including present-day Maine), Plymouth Colony, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire, and was extended to include New York, and East and West Jersey in 1688.

Shortly after his arrival, Andros asked each of the Puritan churches in Boston if its meetinghouse could be used for services of the Church of England. When he was rebuffed, he demanded and was given keys to Samuel Willard’s Third Church in 1687.

Services were held there under the auspices of Reverend Robert Ratcliff until 1688, when King’s Chapel was built. These actions highlighted him as pro-Anglican in the eyes of local Puritans.

His council engaged in a lengthy process to harmonize dominion and English laws. This work consumed such a great amount of time that Andros in March 1687 issued a proclamation stating that pre-existing laws would remain in effect until they were revised. Since Massachusetts had no pre-existing tax laws, a scheme of taxation was created that would apply to the entire dominion. Developed by a committee of landowners, the first proposal derived its revenues from import duties, principally alcohol. After much debate, a different proposal was abruptly proposed and adopted, essentially reviving previous Massachusetts tax laws. These laws had been unpopular with farmers who felt the taxes on livestock were too high. In order to bring in immediate revenue, Andros also received approval to increase the import duties on alcohol.

The first attempts to enforce the revenue laws were met by stiff resistance from a number of Massachusetts communities. Several towns refused to choose commissioners to assess the town population and estates, and officials from a number of them were consequently arrested and brought to Boston. Some were fined and released, while others were imprisoned until they promised to perform their duties. The leaders of Ipswich, who had been most vocal in their opposition to the law, were tried and convicted of misdemeanor offenses.

The other provinces did not resist the imposition of the new law, even though, at least in Rhode Island, the rates were higher than they had been under the previous colonial administration. Plymouth’s relatively poor landowners were hard hit because of the high rates on livestock, and funds derived from whaling, once sources of profit for the individual towns, were now directed to the dominion government.
One consequence of the tax protest was that Andros sought to restrict town meetings, since these were where that protest had begun. He therefore introduced a law that limited meetings to a single annual meeting, solely for the purpose of electing officials, and explicitly banning meetings at other times for any reason. This loss of local power was widely hated. Many protests were made that the town meeting and tax laws were violations of the Magna Carta, which guaranteed taxation by representatives of the people. It has been observed that those who made this complaint had, during the colonial charter, excluded large numbers of voters through the requirement of church membership, and then taxed them.[65]
Andros had been instructed to bring colonial land title practices more in line with those in England, and introduce quit-rents as a means of raising colonial revenues.[66] Titles previously issued in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine under the colonial administration often suffered from defects of form (for example, lacking an imprint of the colonial seal), and most of them did not include a quit-rent payment.

Since all of the existing land titles in Massachusetts had been granted under the now-vacated colonial charter, Andros essentially declared them to be void, and required landowners to recertify their ownership, paying fees to the dominion and becoming subject to the charging of a quit-rent.

Andros attempted to compel the certification of ownership by issuing writs of intrusion, but large landowners who owned many parcels contested these individually, rather than recertifying all of their lands.

And this brings us to The miseries of New-England:


610G  Mather , Increase. 1639-1723

A narrative of the miseries of New-England, by reason of an arbitrary government erected there. 

(Bound as part X of)

A collection of papers relating to the present juncture of affairs in England

London, printed, for Richard Janeway in Queen╒s-Head-Court, in Pater Noster-Row;1689                       $7,500

Quarto,7 ? X 6 inches .   A1,B-E4 This copy is bound in 19th century quarter calf.


Here “we have Increase Mather’s account of his actions as Agent for the Colony, and by the course of public feeling here, this account was made as a vindication of himself. Notwithstanding the great service he had rendered in obtaining a new Charter, so disappointed and unreasonable were the colonists, that Mather was violently censured for not achieving impossibilities, by obtaining a renewal of the old Charter. In this pamphlet we find a clear and frank statement of the difficulties he encountered, and it is evident to the readers at the present time, that the very important successes obtained by the Agents were chiefly due to the ability of Mather. The wonder is not that he obtained so little, but that he secured such favorable terms for his constituents.

A great portion of this tract has been embodied by Cotton Mather in his “Remarkables of Dr. Increase Mather.” The additions are chiefly in the reports of the interviews between William and Mary and Mather.

It will be noticed, that though it was not advisable to mention many names at the time, Cotton Mather afterwards revealed them. Prominent among those who aided Mather at William’s court, were Lord Wharton, Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Burnet, Lady Sutherland, and Somers.

As an interesting evidence of Burnet’s sympathy with the colonists, and his belief that they had been greatly oppressed, we transcribe the following from his Sermon preached before the House of Commons on the 31st of January, 1688-9. His text was, “That there be no breaking in, nor going out, nor complaining in our Streets.”

“Injustices; when no Man’s Fence was strong enough to resist precarious Judges and suborned Juries; when adhering to Law and Religion was become a Crime, and when prerogative which is only a power to preserve the People on extraordinary occasions, was made the great Engine to destroy them: in a word, when no man was false in his innocence, nor secure in his Property ; and when the owning the concerns of the Nation in this great Body, was accounted a Crime to be expiated by the best Blood that was in it; when I say all these things were done, then was our Fence not only broken down, but,╤as if it were not enough to pluck up Park-pales without knocking down the Owners with them,╤so Laws, Justice and Trials were become the Words of Form, to be made use of for destroying us by Rule and Method, and were only the Solemnities and Ceremonies of cur Ruin.” . [William Henry Whitmore,]

Holms Increase Mather No.79-B; Church 714;Sabin 81492; JCB 1675-1700,page 215; Wing C5169B  








Ferguson, Henry (1894). Essays in American History: Sir Edmund Andros. New York: J. Pott. OCLC 3916490.

Lustig, Mary Lou (2002). The Imperial Executive in America: Sir Edmund Andros, 1637–1714. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-3936-8. OCLC 470360764.

Whitmore, William Henry (ed). The Andros Tracts: Being a Collection of Pamphlets and Official Papers Issued During the Period Between the Overthrow of the Andros Government and the Establishment of the Second Charter of Massachusetts (1868–1874). Boston: The Prince Society. OCLC 1842576.