from History of Sanford, Maine by Edwin Emery

The Province of Maine – Fluellin’s Deed to Major William Phillips, 1661 – Tract of Nineteen Thousand Acres Given to Nineteen Heirs – Survey of 1720 – Action of Proprietors – Efforts at Colonization – Grants – Life and Character of Major Phillips.

          The name “Province or Countie of Maine” was first used by King Charles I of England, in 1639, in chartering the territory lying between Kennebec and Piscataqua Rivers to Sir Ferdidando Gorges, a leading spirit in Plymouth Company. This tract was claimed, in 1652, by the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, as a part of that colony, and the Province of Maine was thereupon erected into a county called Yorkshire, most of the inhabitants acknowledging themselves as subject to Massachusetts. Sir Ferdidando had meanwhile died, and after the Restoration, his grandson and heir, Ferdinando Gorges, began to agitate his claim to the territory of his grandfather. In 1664 Charles II recognized the claimant, and ordered the colony to make restitution of his lands, or to “show us reasons to the contrary.” Troubles arose between the adherents of the two parties, two governments were established, and a bitter contest was waged. The party of Gorges was obliged to yield, though he did not relinquish his claim until 1677, when Massachusetts purchased his right for twelve hundred and fifty pounds sterling. The indenture transferred all the territories granted by charter to Gorges in 1639, “excepting all leases, grants and conveyances made by the original proprietor or his agents, engaged in planting the Province, especially all grants to William Phillips.”

          The Province of Maine constituted one county, York, until 1760, when the counties of Cumberland and Lincoln were established. These three counties formed the northern district of Massachusetts, when the state was divided into three districts, in 1778, acquired a distinctive name, and was thereafter, until the separation, known as the District of Maine.

          William Phillips, in whose favor exception was made by Gorges, was a prominent man in the early history of Saco and Biddeford. He owned extensive mills at Saco, and large tracts of land inland, which he had purchased of the native chiefs. One of these was deeded to Lieutenant Phillips, then residing in Boston, by Hombinowitt, alias John Rogomock, Indian, of Saco, and lay west side of the Saco River, from Salmon Falls to Captain Sunday’s Rocks, and “so upward in ye country to his furthest extent.” Another tract was purchased of Fluellin, son of Sosowen, and particularly concerns us, since it embraced the territory about which we are writing. His deed recorded according to the original, July 31, 1717, by Joseph Hammond, Register, volume eight, folio two hundred and twenty, registry of deeds, Alfred, is as follows:


          Know All men by these presents that these oresents that I Fluellin Sometimes residing at Saco, Indian, for & in Consideration of Satisfaction have & by these presents do sell all my land from Saco Pattent bounds Southward beyond Cape porpus river for breadth & from ye head of Wells and Cap porpus Townships hed, up into the Countrey to his furthest Extent with all ye appurtenances & priviledges whatever Excepting four miles Square Sold to bush, Sanders & Turbut, to Lieut. W Phillips of Boston in ye County of Suffolk his heirs & Assigns forever To have & To hold & peacably to Enjoy from any other Indians as witness my hand this thirtieth day of March in ye year of Our Lord 1661.


Captain Sunday, alias Meeksombe, was an Indian chief of Newichewanack. The rocks referred to were described as “three hills of rocks,” and from their shining appearance were supposed to be impregnated with silver. It is supposed that they contained mica, and were situated in Limington.

          Whatever may have been the price of this land deeded by Fluellin, it is evident that the grantee recognized the claim of the natives, and that the Indians, through their chief, received satisfaction therefore. In fact, Fluellin is, in various instruments, acknowledged to be “the true Indian proprietor,” whose rights were paramount to those of the crown. Among these is the confirmation of Gorges, in 1670, to Nathaniel Philips, of the several tracts of land purchased of the Indians. Nathaniel Philips, a merchant of Saco, was the oldest son and heir of Lieutenant William Philips. Early in 1670 Gorges confirmed to him, “for and in consideration of Several good & acceptable service & mutch time which the sd Nathaniel Phillips hath done & spent for the sd Ferdinando Gorges in England and for other good causes,” the tracts of land embraced in the original Phillips purchase. Four years later Nathaniel mortgaged these lands to Sir Francis Watson of Jamaica for thirty pounds. This sum, with twenty-four pounds for interest, was paid in 1689, by Elisha Hutchinson of Boston, to Thomas Betterton, the agent of Watson, and the mortgage was transferred to him, he making a release in 1716, to Eliphal Stretton, only surviving daughter and child of Bridget, widow of William Phillips.

          As early as 1676 a project was formed of laying out a township within the Fluellin grant. It was designed to be eight miles square on the westernmost side of Kennebunk River, and eight miles from the sea, adjoining the inland head of Wells. Major Phillips, by deed having date June 15 1676, conveyed nineteen thousand acres of the proposed township to nineteen persons, one thousand acres to each, reserving the remainder for his disposal. This land was given, granted, bequeathed, and enfeoffed, “For diverse good causes,” as he says “Ad Considerations mee thereunto moving, ad espetially for the love Ad tender affection which I beare unto my children unto my chidren, Ad the children of my now beloved wife,” to the following : Samuel Phillips, his eldest son, William Phillips, his youngest son; Mary Field, eldest daughter; Martha Thurston, second daughter; Rebecca Lord, third daughter; Elizabeth Alden, fourth daughter; Zachary Gillum, son-in-law; Sarah Turner, youngest daughter; Eliphal Stretton, daughter of his wife, formerly Bridget Sanford; Peleg Sanford, her eldest son; John Sanford, second son; Elisha Sanford, third son; Robert Lord, London, mariner, son-in-law; John Jollife, Boston, merchant; John Woodmansy, Boston, merchant; Elisha Hutchinson, Boston, merchant; Theodore Atkinson, Boston, felt-maker; John Sanford, Boston, writing-school master; and William Hudson, Boston, vinter. It was a provision of the deed that this land should be taken up in the most convenient place for settling a town, and the donors were to have and to hold the said parts “with all the woods & underwood trees timber mines quarries rivers & water courses with all rights privlleges and advantages of fishing fowling hawking and hunting within the limits of the sd Tracts of Lands.” None of the donees were to take up their parts or portions without the consent of a majority of the parties, “that so the Intent of Settling a town may not be frustrated.”

          By his will of February, 1682, Major Phillips gave his lands in Maine to his wife and two sons, Samuel and William, the latter of whom was then a captive among the Spaniards. Mrs. Phillips outlived her husband, and by her wukk if the Spetember 29, 1696, bequeathed to Peleg Sanford, Samuel Phillips, William Phillips and Eliphal Stretton, one-fourth part of her lands in the tract of eight miles square. The other three-fourths were reserved for the payments o the debts of her husband, deceased. If there were no debts, then that part was to be divided among her four children (presumably those before mentioned in her will) with the exception of one thousand acres given to her grandson, William, son of William and Eliphal (Sanford) Stretton.

          It would appear that, during the lifetime of Phillips and his immediate heirs, no steps were taken toward the laying out of the proposed township – it had an imaginary existence far away in the “forest primeval,” but had not even been projected on paper. It was not until several years after the death of the principal and his sons, that any definite action was taken in regard to the matter. On the 15th of June, 1720, however, Samuel Tyley of Boston, and Theodore Atkinson were appointed attorney and assistant attorney, respectively, of the proprietors, the major part, at least, of the heirs of the Phillips, of nineteen thousand acres above Wells, with power “to survey and make a division of the land belonging thereto.” That they might avail themselves of any advantage arising from such a division, and that their lands might be offered for sale under more favorable conditions, the following parties were interested in the survey and division:

          Theodore Atkinson, owner of one thousand acres; Simeon Stoddard, Boston, assignee of John and Elizabeth Alden, whose share was mortgaged to Stoddard, January 19 1690; Samuel Adams master, for himself, Edward Bromfield, Junior, merchant, and Thomas Salter, cordwainer, all of Boston, assigness of the heirs of Samuel Phillips, deceased, by whom, viz., Sarah Phillips, widow, John Merryfield, cordwainer, and Bridget, his wife, and Anne Phillips, single woman, of Boston, the right and title to Samuel Phillips’s thousand acres was sold December 1 1718, to Bromfield and his co-partners; Thomas Hutchinson, for himself and the rest of the heirs of Elisha Hutchinson; W. Allen, attorney to Edward and Mary Muckett, only child of Martha Thurston, deceased; John Jenkins, attorney to Mary Newell and Susanah (Flegg) Flagg the two only surviving heirs of William Hudson, deceased; Margaret Claxton, only child of John Woodsmay; Samuel Tyley, in behalf of William Sanford, only son and heir of Peleg Sanford, deceased, and also in behalf of Eliphal Stretton; Martha Balston, as heir of John Jollife (Joyliffe).

          Peleg Sanford died in 1701, having bequeathed by will all the lands which he had received from his mother, Bridget Phillips, to his son Peleg. He left two sons and three daughters. By the provisions of the will, probated September 1, 1701, the surviving son, if one should die, was to have the other son’s property by paying his sisters or their heirs by three hundred pounds. Peleg died under age and unmarried, in consequence of which, William, the surviving son, became heir to a part of the eight miles square.

          Acting under the authority of the proprietors’ attorney, Abraham Preble surveyed their land, and made a plan thereof. His report, entered at the registry of deeds, May 12, 1722, was recorded by himself, at that time serving as register:

          “November ye 1th 1720 by the desire of Mr. Sam Tyley jnr of Boston for him selfe and attorney for the Major Part f the Propriators of a Tract of Land of Eight Miles Square; Joyning upon the Northwest End or Inland head of Wells Township upon the Southwest side of Kennebunk river Clamed by Said Tyley and Partnors by vertue of Will of Major William Phillips decd as by his deed bareing date June the 15th 1676: on Record in the County of York With Sundry Other Pappers and writings Referance thereunto being had may more at larg appear and is butted and bounded as followeth viz: beginning at a small Pine Tree Standing upon ye North corner of said Wells Township and on the Southwest side of said Kennebunk river upon the north end of a rockey hill which tree is Marked on four sids and from thence Southwest by Wells Bounds (being assisted by the selectmen of Wells) eight miles: to a pitch Pine tree marked on four sides & markt with : N upon the North Side: which Tree standeth upon the west side of a Marsh or fresh Meadow called Meriland Meadow; and Runs from thence northwest Eight Miles to a Greate hemlock tree marked on four sids standing three Miles to the northward of Bonnebeag hills and runs from thence Northeast eigt Miles to a Great white oak tree Marked on four Sids and Runs from thence South East Eight Miles to the Pine Tree Began at: Justly Measured by two men sworn for that Purpose: the bounds hereof being More Pericarally set forth in the Platt on the Other side Laid out.

                    “p me Abram Preble Suruat

          “I have also taken Possession of above said land by cutting and felling Trees and Bulding Tents and Lodging therein &c.

                    “p me Abram Preble above sd.”

          The “Platt on the other side” is not found on the records at Alfred, but another copy shows that the eastern boundary of nineteen thousand acres began where the Mousam crosses the head-line of Wells, and extended northwest eighteen hundred and ten rods; and that the southern boundary extended southwest from the river five and a quarter miles along the head-line of Wells.

          In a letter to the proprietors dated at York, Nov. 10, 1720, Preble reports on his unpleasant experiences in surveying the land. “I have spent eight days myself & five men with me; the Beaver have so drowned the low ground and damned the rivers that we have bin forced to wade every day while in the woods above the knees, which hath satisfied my rambling ambition at present.” Regarding the expense of the survey, Preble reports that he paid the five men who were with him “forty shillings apiece & two shillings each in Rum,” and he says in the letter at its close: “I should be glad that you will send the Balance of this Accompt by our representative Mr. Samuel Came, for I am something considerable out of pocket.” The expense of this survey was about nineteen pounds, and at a meeting of the proprietors, held at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, December 1, 1720, the proprietors present subscribed a sum of money to settle Preble’s claim.

          Two years before this survey and three years after, three transfers of land were made, but the names of the grantees do not appear upon the earliest plan in our possession, which must have been made, about 1730, or subsequently thereto. Eliphal Stretton deeded to Anne Atkins, Bridget Ladd, Boston, and Katherine Liron, wife of Lewis Liron, Milford, her daughters, one thousand acres in Yorkshire, and her right in one thousand acres of Elisha Sanford, deceased, August 11, 1718. John Wheelwright, Junior, Boston, bought one thousand acres of Margaret Claxton, widow and daughter of John Woodmansy, April 8, 1723; and two thousand acres of William and Sarah Phillips, children of William, son of Major William Phillips, April 18, 1723. In June of that year, Wheelwright sold one-half of both tracts to his father, John Wheelwright, Senior, of Wells.

          In 1727, the General Court proposed to survey a back tier or second line of townships, from the Salmon Falls River to the Androscoggin, and to offer them to settlers upon the most favorable terms. A committee was directed to lay out the aforesaid townships six miles square, but it was several years before the work was accomplished. Towwoh (Lebanon), Phillipstown (Sanford), Coxhall (Lyman), Narraganset Number One (Buxton), and Narraganset Number Seven (Gorham) were in this second tier, all of which, except Coxhall, were surveyed in 1733 and 1734.

          Hunters and trappers, induced by the abundance of game and fish in the forests, streams, and ponds, had, undoubtedly, taken up temporary abodes within the limits of the township at an early date. But it was desirable that settlers should move in, occupy the land, and improve it. As a preliminary to bringing this about, a meeting of the proprietors was held at the Royal Exchange Tavern, Boston, June 21, 1729, at which there was a large attendance, nearly all being heirs or assigns of the original proprietors. John Wheelwright  of Wells, Jeremiah Moulton of York, and John Jones of Hopkinton were chosen a committee to lay out the nineteen thousand acres of land in the most convenient place for settling a town, and to report how the proprietors’ “proportional parts for houselots, arable & meadow land,” may be best laid out. On the 27th of January following, a meeting was called for the purpose, among other things, of doing whatever may seem advisable to encourage a settlement for a township, “also to agree upon and determine what quantity or parcels of the said land shall be given to any of His Majesty’s good subjects who are well inclined to make speedy settlement thereof.” At this meeting committee made the following report, which was accepted, so far as laying out the nineteen thousand acres was concerned:

          “Agreeable to the Proprietors we have Laid out nineteen thousand acres of Land in the most convenient place for making a Township, Beginning on the Easterly Side of Mousam River, and so running on a northwest point five miles and three quarters to a popular tree markt on the northeast of a great hill & then running Southwest five miles & a quarter to a great hemlock tree markt & then running Southwest down to a Pine tree mark’d on the westerly Side of merryland marshes, & then running on a northeast Point  on Wells line to Mousam River to an Elm tree markt where we first began and as for laying out the Lots we think it will be best to lay out a four rod way thro Sd Land & butt one home lot upon each Side of Sd way; and we are of opinion that the land is very good & capable of makeing of a very good Settlement, as may more plainly appear by the plans.

                             “John Wheelwright      }

                             “Jer Moulton               }          Comite”

                             “John Jones           }

          It was voted that Moulton and Jones, with Charles Frost of Kittery, be a committee to adjust the boundary lines with surrounding towns; to lay out highways four rods wide through the nineteen thousand acres; to lay out lots with meadows for each of the proprietors; to lay out two one hundred acre lots, “one for the Minister and the other for the ministry, and a commodious tract of land for a meeting house;” and also to lay out forty settlers’ lots of one hundred acres each. The latter were to include a house lot of fifty acres, and fifty acres besides, with five acres of meadow, and were to be granted “to forty able bodied men,” provided, under penalty of forfeiture, that each should build a house eighteen feet long, sixteen feet wide, and seven feet stud, and break up and fence in four acres of land within three years, and live upon and improve the land for ten years. The settlers were also to have the use of the proprietors’ meadow land. At the same meeting the proprietors voted to pay twenty pounds per annum for seven years towards building a meeting house, and supporting the first orthodox Gospel minister. The proprietors also granted to Edward Bromfield, Junior, in consideration of one hundred pounds, one twentieth part of their land, and subsequently, as will appear later, Jeremiah Moulton received a proportional part one twenty-first.

          It seemed necessary to have men of character and enterprise, like Bromfield and Moulton, to aid in the work of settling a wilderness. Bromfield was an eminent merchant of Boston, “distinguished for frankness of disposition, urbanity of manners, undeviating rectitude, and for great benevolence.” He died in 1756. Moulton was born in York, in 1688. He was taken by Indians when they attacked York, in 1692, but was returned shortly after to one of the garrison-houses with others, women and children, - an instance of Indian gratefulness. He was one of the four captains in the successful expedition against the Indians at Norridgewock, and twenty years later served as colonel – the third in command – in the expedition against Louisburg. He was representative two or three years, county treasurer, sheriff, a justice of the Common Pleas, a member of the Provincial Council, 1735-1752, and Judge of Probate, 1745-1765. As a military commander, he was prudent, skilful, and brave; as a man, unassuming in disposition and manners, of sound judgment, and of uncommon excellence of character. Though “never a restless aspirant for office,” few men of his time “had greater share of public confidence, or were called to fill so many places of official trust and responsibility.” Having become an extensive landowner, he was interested in the early settlement of the town, and helped build the mills known as Moulton’s Mills. He died July 20, 1765.

          On the 23d of September, 1729, Edward Muckett and Mary, his wife, formerly Mary Thurston, daughter of Martha Thurston, deeded the one thousand acres to which she became heir, to Nathaniel Alden and Mary, his wife, late Mary Smith, granddaughter of Mary Muckett.

          December 22, 1730, the proprietors made an allotment of their land, drawing lots for the same. Without being officially so designated, the territory gradually came to be “commonly called” Phillipstown, as appears by the first mention of the name in the record of proprietors’ meeting of November 23, 1733.

          At a meeting held February 22, 1736, Sir William Pepperrell, of Kittery, and Jeremiah Moulton, of York, were granted five hundred acres each of undivided land, in consideration for undertaking to secure forty settlers within six years. Colonization being slow, however, the proprietors finally decided to increase the settlers’ lots to one hundred and thirty acres each, the grantee to dwell thereon seven years, except in case of war with Indians, when a return within three years after conclusion of a peace was required. Another inducement was held out in the offer of concessions for the construction of a sawmill and a gristmill.

          The proprietors granted to Dr. David Bennett, of York, January 23, 1738, a mill privilege and fifty acres of land on both sides of the Mousam in the southern part of the town, and in 1742, another tract in the same vicinity, as appears from their vote at an adjourned meeting held at the Exchange Tavern, Boston, December 16:

          “Voted unanimously that there be and hereby is granted unto Dr. David Bennett of York, and his heirs forever one hundred acres of timber land in Phillipstown in a square body adjoining to the grant to him made of the mill privilege between the branches of Mousam River where Jeremiah Moulton, Esquire, shall judge most convenient to supply him with timber for building a meeting-house and the accommodation of the inhabitants with boards at a reasonable rate, so as not to interfere with the proprietors’ or settlers’ lots: and the clerk is hereby empowered to pass a deed to him for the same, he paying giving bond to pay twenty shillings an acre old tenor for the same to the clerk, sixty pounds whereof to be applied in purchasing glass and nails for the meeting-house intended to be built in the said town and the remainder as the proprietors shall order.”

          This lot began t the head and the northerly corner of the mill privilege about two hundred rods from the mill.

          Inasmuch as Pepperrell and Moulton had met with but little success in colonizing, their grant was, on June 18, 1739, declared null and void. Moulton, however, was at once admitted as a proprietor, on condition of procuring forty settlers. He was also given leave to “remove the meeting house lot, as he shall think most convenient.” Within twenty months all but twelve of the settlers’ lots had been disposed of. From time to time, the proprietors granted the rights of cutting trees on their land, first to Dr. Bennett, for supplying inhabitants with boards; later to Moulton, who was to sell the trees for the proprietors; and finally to colonel John Storer. Among the grants to Moulton was one of a water privilege, for a grist mill; and, in December, 1740, another of two lots whereon to erect “a good substantial Garrison.” A year later, two hundred acres were granted to Sir William Pepperrell, who was to build thereon, within two years, “a good block-house, and carry to and keep in it two great Guns, with powder and ball at his own charge.”

          Various grants of land within the present limits of the town were made by the General Court. December 6, 1734, a tract of four hundred acres near Phillipstown and the new settlement above Berwick, for his fours sons, was granted to Captain Joseph Bean. The grant was confirmed some twenty years later, as appears from the Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 46, pp. 393-6. Joseph Bean was born about 1675. He was taken captive by Indians, and lived several years among them, learning their language, and becoming acquainted with their customs. He lost a hand in the service of the government and was pensioned. The following is a copy of an order which came into possession of the author:


            “I do hereby direct you to proceed forthwith in the Transport Sloop Massachusetts to the Truck House upon St Georges River under the Command of Cpt Andrew Robinson where you are to officiate as Interpreter to the Indians & the Said Cpt Robinson is directed to receive you accordingly.

          “Boston April 20, 1742.             “Your Servant

          “To Mr. Joseph Bane.                               “W. Shirley.”


          It was for this and similar service that the land above mentioned was granted. His sons surviving in 1755 were John, husbandman, and James, mariner, of York, and David, gentleman, of St. George’s. The last name moved to Sanford and settled upon his inherited lands. In 1792, a portion of his lot, two hundred and one acres, was set off by a committee in answer to his petition to the General Court.

          Another similar grant was made to Jonathan Bean in June, 1743. He obtained three hundred acres from the province, in consideration for the services of his father in raising companies of soldiers yearly, and marching with them and helping kill about fifty Indians during the ten-year war. He first applied in 1736, but the council did not concur with the house in granting the land. The elder Bean was probably Captain Jonathan Bean, whose company of scouts in 1747-48 contained ten or twelve Phillipstown men.

          In December, 1736, Samuel Green received two hundred acres between Phillipstown and Bauneg Beg Pond and about this time Tobias Leighton had two hundred acres near the same pond.

          In November, 1792, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts granted to Solomon Allen two hundred acres near Oak Hill, formerly belonging to Sir William Pepperrell.

          The Lydston grant, of three hundred and twenty-four acres, was in the west part of town. It was granted to John Lydston, in 1744, for his services in the Indian wars, and especially because his thigh was broken in the War of 1693. Within the grant was a pond, the Indian name of which was Tombegewoc, now known as Deering’s Pond, and from which flows one branch of the Salmon Falls River.

          In July, 1784, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts granted to Samuel Dennett six hundred acres between Lydston’s grant and Shapleigh town line.

          William Frost, Junior, purchased a part of the Lydston grant, and also about three hundred and sixty acres from the Commonwealth, which with several other grants, among them Joseph Bean’s, were set off from Sanford in 1785, and annexed to Shapleigh. Subsequently they must have been re-annexed, in part, at least, for they now lie within the present bounds of Sanford.

          Major William Phillips, for whom Phillipstown was named, was a resident of Charlestown, but removed to Boston in 1646, where he was a vintner. Moving to Saco he became a large land proprietor and engaged extensively in lumbering operations. He owned mills upon the Saco, at Saco Falls, which were on what was then considered frontier, and were exposed to attacks of the Indians. Phillips fortified these, and in 1675 defended them with a courage and valor that gave him his well-earned title. His mills were burned and he removed to Boston soon after. In Hubbard’s “Indian Wars,” a graphic description of the fight is given, in which Phillips received a wound in his heroic defence. He was an officer and magistrate in 1663 and was confirmed by royal commissioners in 1665. At one time a lieutenant, he was promoted to a major in 1675. He died in Boston in 1683. Major Phillips had three wives: Mary, by whom he had one son and two daughters; Susanna, widow of Chris. Stanley, by whom he also had one son and two daughters, probably; and Bridget, widow of John Sanford, by whom he had three sons. His third wife survived him. At the time of the marriage to Phillips she had three sons and one daughter. One of Phillips’s daughters, Elizabeth, married for her first husband Abiel Everill, and second in 1660, son of the famed John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden, of the old Plymouth Colony.


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