The Royal Charter and Laws of Massachusetts,
Owned by a Revolutionary Hero and Signed by Two Generals
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Signed Book. The Charter Granted by their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, to the Inhabitants of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, Boston, Mass., S. Kneeland, 1759, 14 pp., bound with Acts and Laws of His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, Boston, Mass., S. Kneeland, 1759, 396 pp., 7¼ x 12 in.
Bound in full calf, signed on the front pastedown by Captain Samuel Leighton (with heavy notations to rear endpapers in the hand of, and signed multiple times by, Andrew Pepperrell Fernald (1753-1821) and some by John Frost (1738-1810), both of Kittery, Maine (Massachusetts at the time), this volume prints the Charter of Massachusetts Bay as granted by William and Mary. It includes almost 400 pages of Massachusetts statutes that consider everything from laws against murdering bastard children to establishing a hospital on Rainsford Island to incorporating Harvard College.
After the April 19, 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord, Joseph Warren, chairman of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, sent out an urgent call to arms. Among the first to respond was Samuel Leighton, a prosperous, 35-year old farmer from the region then known as Piscataqua, (the watershed centered around Great Bay and its rivers) near Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine. (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time.) Leighton was commissioned as a captain and empowered to enlist a company of men “for the protection of American Liberty.” Leighton and his men joined the 30th Regiment commanded by Colonel James Scamman (or Scammon) and promptly marched south to Cambridge. There, they joined a growing cadre of Minutemen and militiamen sent to assist beleaguered Boston. Six months later they witnessed the end of the siege as the British sailed away, to regroup in Canada.
Biographies of Leighton frequently state that he fought at Bunker Hill, but the military record suggests that he and his men missed the June 17, 1775, battle. Due to a miscommunication, the 30th Regiment ended up on Cobble Hill at Lechmere’s Point, instead of at the action on Breed’s Hill.
Good. Bumped and chipped, calf worn, bookplate to pastedown, scattered foxing. Minor sections of pages 391-394 excised, but with copies provided.