Sale 22BP01 | Lot 41

[MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY] Plat map for Mount Wollaston Farm, Braintree, Massachusetts-Bay Colony, dated 1669.

Catalogue: Rare Books, Autographs & Maps
[MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY]  Plat map for Mount Wollaston Farm, Braintree, Massachusetts-Bay Colony, dated 1669.

Lot Details

Lot 41
[MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY] Plat map for Mount Wollaston Farm, Braintree, Massachusetts-Bay Colony, dated 1669.
[Mount Wollaston:] 1 December 1669. Ink on thick vellum, the map and text set within a triple-rule border, the sheet overall 12 1/8 x 23 1/2 inches (30.5 x 59 cm). The map with a central image depicting Quincy's Brook to the west, Halfe Moon Island to the north, and notations of various properties to the east, with two large blocks of manuscript text in a neat secretary hand; with a scale, the North-South orientation, and the notation "finished the 1 December 1669" and signed with initials "J. ff." i.e. "J.F." The text on the left side begins "The land represented by this plott belonging to Thomas Shepard. Town of Brantry" and continues mentioning the lands of Edmund Quincy (1602-1636) and Gregory Belcher (1606-1674). The text on the right mentions again the lands of Gregory Belcher, and also those of Samuel Belcher (b. 1637), "Sirgent" [Thomas] Matson (1602-1674), William Hollbrooke and others that are unidentified. Folds, lightly soiled, some areas rubbed obscuring some text, two holes about one inch each affects the lower border and the center of the map away from the image, short split along one fold, small pinholes to corners, well preserved overall with dark, legible ink.

A remarkable survival and discovery: an original 1669 boundary map for Mount Wollaston Farm in Braintree, Massachusetts, an area first settled in 1625 and later the home of the Quincy and Adams families.

First visited by Myles Standish and Squanto in 1621, by 1625 Thomas Morton and Captain Richard Wollaston removed from Plymouth Colony and settled with 40-50 colonists on land they named Mount Wollaston. Along with William Coddington, Edmund Quincy, progenitor of the Quincy family, acquired approximately 400 acres in 1635 on land that would later be known as the Quincy Homestead. William and Anne Hutchinson lived at Mount Wollaston following their emigration from England in 1636 and it was at Mount Wollaston that Anne began preaching. The Hutchinsons left for Exeter, New Hampshire in 1637 as did Coddington and several others, commencing the religious diaspora brought on by the Antinomian Controversy. Edmund Quincy died in 1636 and much of his land was acquired by William Tyng, passing back to the Quincy family through marriage. The present map is dated 1669, a time when Braintree had a population of about 550.

The text on the left side of the map begins: "The land represented by this plott... belonging to Thomas Shepard... Town of Brantry." Thomas Shepard (d. 1672), Reverend at Cambridge, had married a daughter of William Tyng, merchant of Boston, who had begun amassing land in the Mount Wollaston area from William Coddington following the Antinomian Controversy in 1638-39. Tyng had also bought land from William Cheseborough in 1640 (see previous lot). According to Charles Francis Adams' History of Braintree: "Thomas Shepard had married a daughter of this William Tyng, and the farm at Mount Wollaston, in 1661, passed into by inheritance into Mrs. Shepard's hands." Thomas and Mrs. Shepard's daughter, Anna Shepard, married Daniel Quincy, the eldest son of Edmund Quincy, in 1682. In 1709, Mrs. Shepard, who outlived her daughter Anna, passed Wollaston Farm to her grandson John Quincy, grandfather of Abigail Adams. In 1792, when Braintree was subdivided, the town of Quincy was named for John Quincy. Thus, Wollaston Farm as depicted in this plat of 1669 is richly connected to first settlers of the area as well as the Quincy and Adams families, who rose to national prominence in the late colonial, revolutionary and federal periods.

This history was also offered a few generations earlier, in an 1826 letter on family lineage written by Thomas Boylston Adams, youngest son of John and Abigail Adams: "William Tyng, who was one of the Original proprietors of Boston, which at that early period included Mount Wollaston & Braintree is the first Ancestor of the maternal line. Mrs. Anna Shepard, Wife of the Revd Thomas Shepard Minister of Charlestown; was a daughter of William Tyng, proprietor of Mount Wollaston, who, being a Widow, by her last Will & Testament devised to her Grandson, then a Student at Harvard College, the Mount Wollaston Farm; now owned by John Quincy Adams, for which Grandson of Anna Shepard, afterwards the Honble John Quincy, Thirty Years Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts and a Colonel of the Militia, the present proprietor was named and was baptised on the day of his Ancestor's decease at Braintree, July, 1767."

Should it have been present at the time, the present boundary map may have been of some assistance to John Quincy Adams, who recorded in his diary on 21 September 1819: "On looking over my father's papers this Morning, for his Deeds, relating to the Mount Wollaston Farm, for the purpose of taking from them the Description of the Boundaries, they were not to be found, and he had no recollection where they were. I sent my son George over to Dedham, to enquire if they were there. He returned in the afternoon, with a copy of the deed from Cotton Tufts junr. and minutes of the rest. I was employed the day and Evening, in retrieving the arrears of Diary which I at length completed, and in drafting the form of a Bond, and the descriptions of the deed of the Mount Wollaston Farm. Towards Evening I strolled over the hills, and visited the Sepulchres of my fathers, and the tomb of my Mother. I remembered what she had for more than half a century been to me, to my father, to her family and to the world."

In 1669, the population of Braintree was about 550 people. We trace few examples of boundary maps such as the present example. Such documents are scarce with most extant examples held institutionally.

See:
Charles Francis Adams. History of Braintree, Massachusetts (1639-1708) The North Precinct of Braintree (1708-1792) and the Town of Quincy (1792-1889). Cambridge: 1891.

For the letter from Thomas Adams see:
https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-03-02-4813

For the diary entry by John Quincy Adams see:
https://www.masshist.org/publications/jqadiaries/index.php/document/jqadiaries-v31-1819-09-21-p165


Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Sold for $6,930 (includes buyer's premium)

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Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Sold for $6,930 (includes buyer's premium)

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Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

Tue, Mar 22, 2022 at 10am EDT