d.19 Apr 1680 Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
m. bef 1633
Facts and Events
Phineas Pratt was a member of Thomas Weston’s Wessagusset company. Thomas Weston was one of the original investors in Plymouth Colony, but he quarreled with the company, sold out his interests and struck out on his own. He sent three ships (first, the Sparrow, followed by the Charity and the Swan) to New England in 1622, intending to establish his own colony.
The Sparrow sailed to Maine and then sent their ship’s boat down the coast to Plymouth. William Bradford describes the arrival of the Sparrow’s boat in Plymouth at the end of May 1622 as “This boat brought seven passengers and some letters, but no victuals nor any hope of any.”  (Phineas himself refers to 10 men in his narrative, but he may have been including ship’s crew.)
An account of this journey by Phineas himself survives:
The Sparrow sailed for Massachusetts Bay, "but wanting a pilote," writes Phineas, "we Ariued att Damor alls Cove. The men yt belong to ye ship, ther fishing, had newly set up a may pole & weare ve ry mery. We maed hast to prepare a boat fit for costing. Then said Mr. Rodgers, Master of ou r ship, 'heare ar Many ships & at Munhigin, but no man yt does vndertake to be yor pilate; fo r they say yt an Indian Caled Rumhigin vndertook to pilot a boat to Plimoth, but thay all los t thar Lives.' Then said Mr. Gibbs, Mastrs Mate of our ship, "I will venter my Liue wth ym. ' At this Time of our discouery, we first Ariued att Smithe's Ilands, first soe Caled by Capt . Smith, att the Time of his discouery of New Eingland, . . . . fterwards Caled Ilands of Sho les; ffrom thence to Cape Ann . . . . so Caled by Capt Mason; from thence to ye Mathechusit s Bay. Ther we continued 4 or 5 days. Then we pseaued, yt on the south part of the Bay, wear e fewest of the natives of the Cuntry Dwelling ther. We thought best to begine our plantation , but fearing A great Company of Salvages, we being but 10 men, thought it best to see if ou r friends weare Living at Plimoth. Then sayling Along the Cost, not knowing the harber, tha y shot of a peece of Ardinance, and at our coming Ashore, they entertaned vs wth 3 vally of s hotts."
The few men sent ahead stayed at Plymouth until the rest of Weston’s company, some 60 men, later arrived.
Weston’s company settled north at what is now Weymouth. They were ill-prepared for New England winter and concentrated on building a fort rather than farming. They relied on Plymouth for provisions, but eventually their numbers dwindled from starvation. The isolation and small numbers placed them completely in the power of the n atives. Late in 1622 (old style) Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoags, informed the Plymouth colonists that there was a conspiracy among the Natives of the Wessagusset area “they were resolved to cut off Mr. Weston’s people for the continual injuries they did them, and would not take opportunity of their weakness to do it, and for that end had conspired with other Indians their neighbors thereabout.” Massasoit then “advised them therefore to prevent it, and that speedily, by taking some of the chief of them [the Wessagusset Natives] before it was too late.” 
The same message was also delivered by Phineas, who came to Plymouth in March of 1623 “from the Massachusetts with a small pack at his back, and though he knew not a foot of the way, yet he got safe hither but lost his way; which was well for him for he was pursued, and so was missed. He told them here, how all things stood amongst them, and they he durst stay no longer; he apprehended they (by what he observed) would be all knocked in the head shortly."  Phineas had hidden his intention to travel to Plymouth and snuck out of the Wessagusset settlement, traveling for several days without food through a snowy landscape on his 25-mile journey.
The story is also related in Good Newes from New England (p. 44): “On the next day, before he [Captain Standish] could go, came one of Mr. Weston’s company [Phineas Pratt] by land unto us, with his pack at his back, who made a pitiful narration of their lamentable and weak estate, and of the Indians’ carriages, whose boldness increased abundantly; insomuch as the victuals they got, they would take it out of their pots, and eat before their faces; yea, if in any thing they gainsaid them, they were ready to hold a knife at their breasts.” Myles Standish and a small contingent (minus Phineas, who was still recovering from his arduous journey) headed to Wessagusset. The Plymouth contingent killed several Native Americans in the process (for which, they were roundly scolded by their pastor, John Robinson). Soon afterwards, Weston’s group abandoned Wessagusset and rejoined the English fishing settlement at Piscataqua.
Sometime in late 1623, Phineas traveled down the coast again and joined the Plymouth settlement. His name appears in the 1623 Division of Land.
Phineas Pratt and the 1623 Division of Land
Plymouth Colony Records, Deeds, &c., Vol. I 1627-1651 is the oldest record book of the Plymouth settlement. It begins with the 1623 Division of Land, recorded in the handwriting of Governor William Bradford. The names of “Josuah Pratt” and “Phineas Prat,” jointly receiving 2 acres, are the last names listed, ranking their claim to land below those who were passengers on the Mayflower (1620), the Fortune (1621), and the Anne and Little James (1623). [Note: There is no proof of any blood relationship between Joshua and Phineas Pratt but circumstantial evidence points in that direction.] 
1627 Division of Cattle
Plymouth Colony Records, Deeds, &c., Vol I 1627-1651 also tells of the 1627 Division of Cattle: "At a publique court held the 22th of May it was concluded by the whole Companie, that the cattell wch were the Companies, to wit, the Cowes & the Goates should be equally devided to all the psonts of the same company ... & so the lotts fell as followeth, thirteene psonts being pportioned to one lot ... "The first lot fell to ffrancis Cooke & his Companie Joyned to him his wife Hester Cooke (3) John Cooke (4) Jacob Cooke (5) Jane Cooke (6) Hester Cooke (7) Mary Cooke (8) Moses Simonson (9) Phillip Delanoy (10) Experience Michaell (11) John ffance (12) Joshua Pratt (13) Phinihas Pratt. To his lot fell the least of the 4 black heyfers Came in the Jacob, and two shee goats."
Phineas Pratt in the Records of Plymouth Colony
As an inhabitant of Plymouth Phineas' name occurs frequently in the colony records during his residence there and after he went to Charlestown. It appears that he wa s a joiner, and he so calls himself in various deeds and in his will.
“The Names of the Freemen of the Incorporacion of Plymoth in New England, An:1633… Phineas Prat.” Phineas Pratt was also listed among the freemen in the list of 1636-7 and 1658. 
25 March 1633 : "According to an order in Court held the 2d of January, in the seaventh yeare of the raigne of o'r soveraigne lord, Charles, by the grace of God King of Engl., Scotl., France, & Irel., defendor of the faith, &c, the psons heere under menconed were rated for publike use by the Gov'r, Mr Will Bradford ...to be brought in by each pson as they are heere under written, rated in corne at vi s[hillings] p bushell, at or before the last of November next ensuing... Phineas Pratt ... 00 : 09 [shillings] : 00." Phineas Pratt was also rated 9 shillings in March 1634. 
28 October 1633 [When a resident of Plymouth Colony died, an inventory of their estate was taken by a designated member of the community]: “Phineas Pratt referred to further hearing at the same time [11 November 1633] about the goods of Godbert Godbertson & Zara, his wife.” 
11 November 1633 : “At this Court, Phineas Prat appointed to take into his possession all the goods & chattels of Godbert Godbertson & Zarah, his wife, & safely to preserve them, according to an inentory presented upon oath to be true & just by Mr. Joh. Done & mr. Steph. Hopkins.” 
25 November 1633: “An inventory of the goods & Chattels of ffr Eaton Carpenter of Plymouth as it was taken by James Hurst, ffrancs Cooke & Phineas Prat the 8th of November and presented in Court upon Oath the 25th of the same.” 
10 March 1633-4 : “Whereas Phineas Prat, joyner, in the behalfe of Marah, his wife, is possessed of thirty acres of land neer unto the high cliffe, the said Phineas & Marah have exchanged the fee simple thereof wth Mr Thomas Prence for other thirty acres of land at Wynslows stand, and next adjoyning to another portion of land belonging to the said Phineas. But whereas there is a brooke, wthin the said thirty acres thus exchanged & acknowledged by mutuall consent, whereat John Come, gent, may freely make use of, it is granted to him, his heires or assignes, provided he so make use of the said water, as the said Phineas be not annoyed thereby, but either by convenient inclosure, at the cost of the said Joh. or otherwise, shall save harmeles the said Phineas & his heires from any detrit or annoyance that shall or may befall them, the said Phines & Marah, their heires & Assignes.” 
2 March 1635-6 : “At the same Court, a jury of twelve being impaniled and charged, in the moneth of Febr. foregoing, to enquire after the death of Jhn Deacon, in the behalfe of our soveraigne lord, the King, gave in their verdict as followeth, in their owne words, under their hands, vizt : - Having searched the dead body, we finde not any blowes or wounds, or any other bodily hurt. We finde that bodily weakenes, caused by long fasting & wearines, by going to & fro, wth the extream cold of the season, were the causes of his death. Their names were John Jenny, John Cooke, Will Basset, Joseph Rogers, William Hoskins, Thomas Cushman, George Partridge, Stephen Tracy, Abraham Peirce, Richard Cluffe, Tho. Clarke, Phineas Pratt.” 
14 March 1635/6 : “At a Generall Meeting the 14th of march, concerning the Hey Grownds for Plymouth & Duxburrough. The places heerafter menciond were assigned to the severall psons, for their prnt use in the yeare 1636… That Phineas Pratt have between Fr. Billington and his owne howse.” 
7 November 1636 : “Tristram Clarke appointed to have eight acres of land, fowr in breadth & two in length on the south side, a porcion allotted formerly to mr John Coome between Phineas Pratt & widow Billington.” 
14 January 1636-7 : “There is graunted this day, by the Court of Assistants, to James Skiffe, tenn acres of lands, lying next unto the lands graunted to Triston Clarke, five in length & two in breadth, betweene the lands of Phineas Pratt & widdow BIllington.” 
20 March 1636/7 : “At a Genall meeting the xxth of March, 1636, according to the order of the Court, these Hey Grownds were assigned to the Inhabitants of Plymouth, Eele River, & Ducksbury. To eich pson as followeth, for theire use this prnte yeare following, vizt, 1637… To Phineas Pratt and Mr. Coomes, the hey ground they had the last yeare.” 
12 July 1637 : “The said Edward Dotey for and in consideracion of the sume of one hundred and fifty pounds of lawfull money of England to be payd in manner and forme following Hath freely and absolutely bargained sould allienated enfeoffed and confirmed unto the said Richard Derby his heires and assignes All those his Messuages houses and tennements at the heigh Cliffe or Skeart hill together wth the foure lotts of lands and three other acres purchased of Josuah Pratt Phineas Pratt & John Shawe All which sd prmisses are now in the tenure or occupacion of the said Edward Dotey and his Assigned and all his right title interrest clayme and demaund of and into the said prmisses and every part and pcell thereof …” 
2 October 1637 : “George Clark compaynes agst Edward Dotey in an action upon the case for denying him liberty to hold land for the terme he had taken yt for, to the damnage of xx [li]. The jury found for the pltiff, and assessed xx [s] damnage, and the charges of the Court. Execucion graunted. “Georg Clarke complaines agst Edward Dotey, in an action of assault and battery, for strikeing the plt, to the damnage of v [li]. The jury found for the pltiff, and assessed xii [d] damnage, and the charges of the Court. Execucion graunted. the jury names were these : Mr. Stephen Hopkins, Mr John Done, Josias Winslowe, James Hurst, Phineas Pratt… P
1 June 1640 : “At a Court of Assistants held at Plym aforesd, the first day of June… Phineas Pratt [is granted] five acres.” 
3 August 1640 : “Forasmuch as it appeareth by the testymony of Josuah Pratt & otherwise, that the two acrees of upland lying at Wellingsly Brook, on the north side of the lotts given to Godbert Godbertson, were given by the said Godbert godbertson to John Combe, gent, & Phineas Pratt, in marriage wth their wives, his daughters, the Court doth confirme the said two acrees unto the said John Combe & Phineas Pratt, their heirest & assignes for evr.” 
5 August 1640 : “Memorand the fift day of August 1640 That John Combe gent and Phineas Pratt joyner do acknowledg that for and in consideracion of the sum of three pounds sterl to them in hand payd by John Barnes of new Plymouth have freely and absolutely bargained and sould unto the said John Barnes his heires & Assignes all those two acres of upland wch they had ot Goodbert Godbertson in marryage wth their wives lyinge at the North side next to the Towneward of that parcell of upland at Wellingsley brooke wch fell to him by lott in the first divisions, and all their right title and interrest of and into the said two acrees of upland wth all and singuler thapprtences thereto belonging To have & to hold the said two acrees of upland wth all & singuler their apprtences unto the said John Barnes his heires Assignes forever To the only pper use & behoof of him the said John Barnes his heires & Assignes for ever.” 
2 November 1640 : “These sevall psons following are graunted meddowing in the North meddow by Joanes river … To Phineas Pratt six acres.” 
5 April 1642 : “Memorand That Mr John Combe doth acknowledg That for & in consideration of the sum of fourty shilllinges whereof vj bushells of Rye at 3 [s] 6 [d] p bushell is payd in hand and the remaynder to be paid in July next hath freely and absolutely bargained and sold unvo Mr Thomas Prence all those his two acrees of marsh meddow lying before the house of the said Thom Prence at Joanes River next to the Marsh meddow of Phineas Pratt wth all & singuler thapprtences thereunto belonging and all his Right title & Interest of and into the said prmisses & every pt thereof To have and to hold the said two acrees of Marsh meddow wth all thapprtences thereunto belonging unto the said Thomas Prence his heires and Assignes forev to the onely pp use & behoofe of him the said Thomas Prence his heires & Asss forev.” 
7 May 1642 : “Memorand That Josuah Pratt doth acknowledg that for & in consideracion of the sum of fourty shilings to him in hand payd by Edward Dotey hath freely & absolutely bargained and sold unto Edward Dotey one acre of upland lying at the heigh Cliff betwist the lands of Phineas Pratt & John Shawe and all his right title & interrest thereunto To have and to hold the said acree of land unto the said Edward Dotey his heires & Assignes forever to the onely pper use and behoofe of him the said Edward Dotey his heires & assignes forever.” 
31 December 1642 : “Memorand That John Barnes for and in consideracion of the sum of sixteene pounds to be payd by Edward Edwards in manner & forme following that is to say five pounds six shilling & eight pence at or upon the sixteenth day of June next following and five pounds six shillings & eight pence that day twelve months after and thother five pounds six shillings & eight penc the xvjth day of June wch shalbe in the yeare of or Lord one thousand six hundred fourty & five wch said payments are to be made in money stockings shooes or other merchantable commodytes that the said John Barnes shall accept of at the days of payment Hath freely & absolutely bargained & sold unto the said Edward Edwards all that his house & lands lying at Wellingly brooke wch was lately purchased of mr Thomas Hill wth the two acrees of upland lying at Wellingsly brooke lately purchased of Mr John Combe & Phineas Pratt wth all & & singuler thapprtences thereunto belonging and all his Right title & interrest of & into the said prmisses & every part & pcell therof To have & to hold the said house and lands wth all and every their appurtenances unto the said Edward Edwards his heires and Assignes for ever to the onely pper use and behoofe of him the said Edward Edwards his heires & assignes for evr.” 
August 1643 : “The Names of all the males that are able to beare Armes from xvj Yeares old to 60 Yeares, wthin the sevrall Towneshipps. “Plymouth… Phineas Pratt.” 
22 June 1644 : “At a Townes meeting the xxii June 1644 In case of alarume in tyme of warr or danger these divisions of the Towneship are to be observed and these companys to repaire together. At Joanes River : Mr Bradfords famyly one, Mr Prences one, Mr Hanbury one, Mr Howland one, ffrancis Cooke one, Phineas Pratt, Gregory Armestrong, John WInslow, Mr Lee.” 
5 November 1644 : “The fift of Novembr, 1644. Memorand: that Thomas Bunting, dwelling wth Phineas Pratt, hat, wth and by the consent of the said Phineas, put himself as a servant to dwell wth John Cooke, Junir, from the fifteenth day of this instant Novembr, for and during the terme of eight yeares now next ensuing, and fully to be compleate and ended, the said John Cooke fynding unto his said servant meate, drink, and apparell, during the said terms, and in thend thereof double to apparel him throughout, and to pay him twelve bushells of Indian corne, the said John Cooke having payd the said Phineas for him one melch cowe, valued at v [li], and fourty shillings in money, and is to lead the said Phineas two loads of hey yearely during the terme of seaven yeares now next ensuinge.” 
17 July 1646 : “The 17 of ye 7 month 1646. Phineas Prate came before ye Gover and acknowledged the sale of his house & land, with all ye appurtenances thertoo belonging; to John Cooke, according to a deed then exhibited which they desired might be recorded Also his wife came before ye Govr and gave her consente to ye same sale. Allso Samuell Cudberte did ye same day & year above writen, freely relinquish all ye claime, title, or Intrest, that he ever had, or might pretend to have, to any parte, or parcell of ye lands afforsaid and did freely give, grante, and make over all ye right, and Intreste that he ever had, or hereafter should have, or at any time might pretend to have, to any parte or parcell of ye lands aforesaid, and those mentioned in ye deede Insuing; to Phineas Prate, & his heires, & assignes for ever; for his, & their onely proper use & behoofe.” 
26 August 1646 : “These presents doe witnes that Phineas Prate of Plimoth Joyner, for & in considertion of ye sume of twenty pounds sterl: to be payed by John Cooke Jun of plimoth afforesaid planter, in maner & forme following, that is to ssay five pounds to be payed in cloathing within one month nexte after ye date hearof five pounds in march next, either in wheat, or comodities, five pounds in a milch cowe as shee shall be prised by 2 Indifferent men chosen by either party one, and ye last 5 [li] this time twelfe months. Hath freely and absolutly barganined and sould, & by these presents doth bargaine & sell unto the said John Cooke, all yt his house, & howsing, and gardine place and orchard 9excepting ye fruite trees now growing therin, or so many of them to be delvred to the said Phineas, or his assignes when he shall demande them, so it be in due time) and fiftie acres of upland tow acres of meadow at Joanes river, and all and singular the appurtenances therunto belonging, and all his right, title, & Interest of & into ye same, & every parte, & parcell therof; to have & to hold the said house, housing, garden, and orchard (excepting before excepted) the fiftie Acers of upland, and ye 2 Acres of meadow
September 17, 1646; "The 17 of ye 7 mont h 1646 Phineas prate came before ye Gouer and acknowledged the sale of his house & land, wit h all ye appurtenances thertoo belonging; to John Cooke, according to a deed then exhibited w hich they desired might be recorded Also his wife came before ye Gour and gaue her consente t o ye same sale. "Allso Samuell Cudberte did ye same day & year aboue writen, freely relinquis h all ye claime, title, or Intrest, that he euer had, or might pretend to haue, to any parte , or parcell of ye lands afforsaid As also from those for which they were exchanged with mr p rence. And did freely giue, grante, and make ouer all ye right, and Intreste that he euer had , or hereafter, should haue, or at any time might pretend to haue, to any parte or parcell o f ye lands aforesaid, and those mentioned in ye deede Insuing to Phineas Prate, & his heires , & assignes for euer; for his, & their onely proper vse & behoofe. William Bradford Gour"
26 of August 1646 These presents doe witnes that Phineas Prate of Plimoth Joyner, for & i n consideration of ye sume of twenty pounds sterl: to be payed by John Cooke Jun of plimoth a fforesaid planter, in maner & forme following, that is to say fiue pounds to be payed in cloa thing within one month nexte after ye date hearof fiue pounds in march next, either in wheat , or comodities, fiue pounds in a milch cowe as shee shall be prised by 2 Indifferent men cho sen by either party one, and ye last 5li this time twelfe months. Hath freely and absolutly b arganined and sould, & by these presents doth bargaine & sell vnto the said John Cooke, all y t his house, & howsing, and gardine place and orchard (excepting ye fruite trees now growin g therin, or so many of them to be deliured to the said Phineas, or his assignes when he shal l demande them, so it be in due time) and fiftie acres of vpland tow acres of meadow at Joane s riuer, and all and singuler the appurtenances thervnto belonging, and all his right, title , & Interest of & into ye same, & euery parte, & parcell thereof; to haue & to hold the sai d house, housing, garden, and orchard (excepting before excepted) the fiftie Acers of vpland , and ye 2 Acres of meadow at Joans riuer, with the sixe Acres of vpland meadow, at the grea t meadow with all, & euery their appurtenances, vnto the said John Cooke, his heirs, & assign es, for euer, and to the onely proper vse, & behofe of him the said John Cooke, his heires an d assignes for euer, and with warranties against all people, from by or vnder him, claiming a ny righte, title, or Interest of, & into the said premises or any parte or parcell therof, an d espetially against Samuell Cudberte his heirs, & assignes for euer by these presents; And t he said Phineas Prate doth further Couenante and grant by these presents, that it shall & ma y be lawfull too, & for the said John Cooke either by him selfe, or his Atturney to enrole, o r recorde the title or tenure of these before the Gouernour for ye time being, according to y e vsuall order & manor of enrolling & recording deeds, & euidences in his Maties Court at pli moth in shuch case made, & prouided In witnes wherof the said Phineas Prate hath herevnto set t his hand & seale the day & year first aboue writen Phineas Prate In ye presence of Ralfe Wh oory William Pady Thomas Willet Nathanell Sowther And in consideration of ye sume of 2s6d t o ye said Phineas Prate in hand paid hath freely, & absolutly bargained & sould vnto ye sai d John Cooke all his right title & Interest, of & into any lands lying at the head or ende, o f ye afforesaid bargained premises before the sealing and delivery of these presents.
May 20 , 1648; From Plymouth he removed to Charlestown, where, on May 20, 1648, he bought a house an d garden from George Bunker. It is impossible to say just when he left Plymouth. He sold hi s home there August 26, 1646, and is described in the deed as being "of Plimoth." On September 17, three weeks later, he and his wife appeared before the Governor, he to ask to have the deed recorded and she to give her consent to the sale, so they were no doubt still livin g there at that time. He is described in the Charlestown deed as being an inhabitant "in the same towne" as the grantor, i. e., Charlestown. He must, therefore, have left Plymouth in the interval between the recording of the Plymouth deed September 17, 1646, and the purchase o f the Charlestown property May 20, 1648.
The entry made in the records by John Greene, town clerk, concerning the transfer of the Charlestown house and land is as follows:-- A sale of a House and a garden in Charltowne By George Bunker vnto Phinias Prat the 20th of the 3d mo nth 1648. Know all men by these presents That I George Bunker Inhabitant in Charltowne have sould assigned and set over, and by this declare that I doe sell assign and set over unto Phinias Prat Inhabitant in the same towne A House or Tenement with a garden to it adioyning: whic h house and garden stands and is scituate in Charltowne in the great through fare street whic h goes from the Neck of land into the market place, this hous and garden stands right over ag ainst the way that goes up to the windmill hill, and that way which goes intoo elbow lane, th e house is bounded on the front by the street way, or by the west, and the hous and garden i s bounded East by the back street which goes to the pitt where the Beasts drinke, and where the Creek begins wch runs on the back syde of the maiors garden into Charls River, and it is bounded Northward by samuell Howard, and south ward by Thomas Carter senior: Alsoe I Georg Bun er doe acknowledg my selfe to bee fully payd and satisfied for this sayd hous and garden, An d I doe heer by resigne all my Right, Titell, and interest vnto the sayd house and garden vnt o the sayd Phinias Prat to be his and his heigres for ever. John Greene. This property was so ld April 10, 1711, to Benjamin Lawrence by Phineas' son Joseph who inherited it.
October 24 , 1650; Thomas Prence sells to John Cooke, Jr., "two acars of mersh meddow bee it more or les se lying before the house and land of the Elder Cushman at Joaneses riuer next vnto a prcel l of meddow which was samtimes Phenias Prats;" The same year (no minor dates given) in record ing the bounds of a grant of land in 1641 to John Cooke, Jr., at "Rockey nooke," reference i s made to "the lots adioyning which the said John Cook hath bought of Phenias Prat;"
March 1 , 1657/8; a division of land in accordance with "The Returne of the Committee, Apoynted by th e Inhabitants of Charltowne, for the division, of the wood and Commons one Mistick syde," and Phineas drew lot No. 54 containing 2 1/2 commons and a certain proportion of woodland. Ma y 7, 1658; The following record appears in the General Court records on this date; "In answer to the petition of Phineas Pratt of Charlestown, who presented this Court with a narrativ e of the straits and hardships that the first planters of this Colony under went, in their en deavors to plant themselves at Plymouth and since, whereof he was one, the Court judge it mee t to grant him three hundred acres of land, where it is to be had, not hindering a plantation ." This land was laid out in the wilderness on the east of the Merrimack River near the uppe r end of Nacooke Brook." 
June 5, 1658;"June the fift 1658 liberty was graunted by the Court vnto Phenias Prat or any for him to looke out a prcell o r tract of land to accomodate him and his Posterite withall together with other ffreemen; or alone as hee shall think meet and to make reporte of the same vnto the Court; that soe a Considerable proportion thereof may bee Confeirmed vnto him;"
THE NARRATIVE OF PHINEAS PRATT
In 1662, Pratt presented to the General Court of Massachusetts a narrative entitled “A declaration of the affairs of the English people that first inhabited New England” to support his request for financial assistance. The extraordinary document is Phineas Pratt’s own account of the Wessagusset settlement and its downfall.
The manuscript for many years was lost in state archives, but was found and published by Richard Frothingham in 1858. It consists of 3 folio sheets sewed together, one half of which appears to have been torn off after they were thus arranged - so a portion is lost. It is torn at the edges, and some of the writing is no longer legible.
Following is the text of Pratt’s narrative, taken from the pages of the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 4th series, Volume 4, 1858, with regularized spelling and punctuation [there are missing pieces, indicated by … ]:
A DECLARATION OF THE AFFAIRS OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE THAT FIRST INHABITED NEW ENGLAND
In the time of spiritual darkness, when the state [ecclesiasti…] Rome ruled and over ruled most of the nations of Europe, it [plea…] to give wisdom to many, kings and people, in breaking that spiritual [yo…]; yet, not withstanding, there arose great strife among such people that are known by the name of Protestants, in many cases concerning the worship of God; but the greatest & strongest number of men commonly prevailed against the smaller and lesser number. At this time the honored Estates of Holland gave more liberty in cases of religion that could be enjoyed in some other places. Upon which divers good Christians removed [the…] dwellings into the Low Countries.
Then one company that dwelt in the city of Leiden, being no well able outwardly to subsist, took counsel & agreed to remove into America, into some port northward of Virginia. The Dutch people offered them divers conditions to supply them with things necessary if they would live under the government of their state, but they refused it. This they did that all men might know the entire love they bore to their king & country; for in them there was never found any lack of lawful obedience. They sent to their friends in England to let them understand what they intended to do. Then divers [fr…] disbursed some monies for the furthering of so good a work.
It is [f…] to be understood that, in the year 1618, there appeared a blazing star over Germany that made the wise men of Europe astonished their […]
Speedily after, near about that time, these people began to propose removal. They agreed that their strongest & ablest men should go […] to provide for their wives & children. Then coming in England, they set forward in two ships, but their lesser ship sprung a leak & returned […] England; the bigger ship arrived at Cape Cod, 1620, it being winter, then called New England but formerly called Canada. They sent forth their boat upon discovery. Their boat being returned to their ship, they removed into the bay of Plymouth & began their [planta…] by the river of Patuxet. Their ship being returned & safely arrived in England, those gentlemen & merchants, that had undertaken to supply them with things necessary, understanding that many of them were sick & some dead, made haste to send a ship with many things necessary; but some indiscreet men, hoping to encourage their friends to come to them, wrote letters concerning the great plenty of fish, fowl and deer, not considering that the wild savages were many times hungry, yet have a better skill to catch such things than English men have. The Adventurers, willing to save their monies, sent them weakly provided of victuals, as many more after them did the like; and that was the great cause of famine.
At the same time, Mr. Thomas Weston, a merchant of good credit in London, that was then their treasurer, that had disbursed much of his money for the good of New England, sent forth a ship for the settling a plantation in the Massachusetts Bay, but wanting (lacking) a pilot we arrived at Damerill’s Cove. The men that belonged to the ship, there fishing, had newly set up a Maypole and were very merry. We made haste to prepare a boat fit for coasting. Then said Mr. Rogers, Master of our ship, ‘here are many ships & at Monhegan, but no man that does undertake to be your pilot; for they say that an Indian called Rumhigin undertook to pilot a boat to Plymouth, but they all lost their lives.’ Then said Mr. Gibbs, Master’s Mate of our ship, ‘I will venture my life with them.’ At this time of our discovery, we first arrived at Smith’s Islands, first so called by Captain Smith, at the time of his discovery of New England, […fterwards] called Isles of Shoals; from then to Cape Ann […] so called by Captain Mason; from thence to the Massachusetts Bay. There we continued 4 or 5 days.
Then we perceived, that on the south part of the Bay, were fewest of the Natives of the country dwelling there. We thought best to begin our plantation, but fearing a great company of savages, we being but 10 men, thought it best to see if our friends were living at Plymouth. Then sailing along the coast, not knowing the harbor, they shot off a piece of ordinance, and at our coming ashore, they entertained us with 3 volleys of shot. Their second ship was returned for England before we came to them. We asked them where the rest of our friends were that came in the first ship. They said that God had taken them away by death, & that before their second ship came, they were so distressed with sickness that they, fearing the savages should know it, had set up their sick men with their muskets upon their rests & their backs leaning against trees. At this time, one or two of them went with us in our vessel to the place of fishing to buy victuals. 8 or 9 weeks after this, two of our ships arrived at Plymouth - the lesser of our 3 ships continued in the country with us. Then we made haste to settle our plantation in the Massachusetts Bay - our number being near sixty men. At the same time, there was a great plague among the savages &, as themselves told us, half their people died thereof. The Natives called the place of our plantation Wessagusset. Near unto it is a town of later time called Weymouth.
The savages seemed to be good friends with us while they feared us, but when they saw famine prevail, they began to insult, as appears by the sequel; for one of their Pineses, or chief men, called Pecksuot, employed himself to learn to speak English, observing all things for his bloody ends. He told me he loved English men very well, but he loved me best of all. Then he said, ‘you say French men do not love you, but I will tell you what we have done to them. There was a ship broken by a storm. They saved most of their goods & hid it in the ground. We made them tell us where it was. Then we made them our servants. They wept much. When we parted them, we gave them such meat as our dogs eat. One of them had a book he would often read in. We asked him what his book said. He answered, it says, there will a people, like Frenchmen, come into this country and drive you all away, & now we think you are they. We took away their clothes. They lived but a little while. One of them lived longer than the rest, for he had a good master & gave him a wife. He is now dead, but has a son alive. Another ship came into the bay with much goods to truck (trade), then I said to the Sachem, I will tell you how you shall have all for nothing. Bring all our canoes & all our beaver & a great many men, but no bows nor arrows, clubs nor hatchets, but knives under the skins that abut our lines. Throw up much beaver upon their deck; sell it very cheap & when I give the word, thrust your knives in the Frenchmen’s bellies. Thus we killed them all. But Monsieur Finch, Master of their ship, being wounded, leaped into the hold. We bid him come up, but he would not. Then we cut their cable & the ship went ashore & lay upon her side & slept there. Finch came up & we killed him. Then our Sachem divided their goods & fired their ship & made a very great fire.’ Some of our company asked him ‘how long it was ago since they first see ships?’ They said they could not tell, but they had heard men say the first ship that they see, seemed to be a floating island, as they supposed, broken off from the mainland, wrapped together with the roots of trees, with some trees upon it. They went to it with their canoes, but seeing men & hearing guns, they made haste to be gone.
But after this, when they saw famine prevail, Pecksuot said, ‘Why do your men & your dogs die?’ I said, ‘I had corn for a time of need. Then I filled a chest, but not with corn & spread corn on […him] come opened the cover and when I was sure he had seen it, I put [dow…] as if I would not have him see it.’ Then he said ‘No Indian [so…] You have much corn & English men die for want.’ Then they [h…] intent to make war, they removed some of their houses to [th…] a great swamp near to the pale (palisade) of our plantation. After this [yer…] a morning, I saw a man going into one of their houses, weary with traveling & galled on his feet. Then I said to Mr. Salisbury, our Chirurgeon, surely their Sachem has employed him for some intent to make war upon us. Then I took a bag with gunpowder and put it in my pocket, with the top of the bag hanging out, & went to the house where the man was laid upon a mat. The woman of the house took hold of the bag, saying, what is this so big? I said it is good for savages to eat, and struck her on the arm as hard as I could. Then she said, Matchet powder English men, much matchet. By and by Aberdikes bring much men, much sannups, & kill you & all English men at Wessagusset & Patuxet (Plymouth). The man that lay upon the mats, seeing this, was angry and in a great rage, and the woman seemed to be sore afraid. Then I went out of the house and said to a young man that could best understand their language, go ask the woman, but not in the man’s hearing, why the man was angry, & she afraid? Our interpreter, coming to me, said ‘these are the words of the woman - the man will […] Aberdikes what I said & he & all Indians will be angry with me […] This Pecksuot said, ‘I love you.’ I said ‘I love you.’ I said ‘I love you as well as you love me.’ Then he said, in broken English, ‘Me hear you can make the likeness of men & of women, dogs & deer, in wood & stone. Can you make […]’ I said, ‘I can see a knife in your hand, with an ill-favored face upon the haft.’ Then he gave it into my hand to see his workmanship & said, ‘This knife cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot speak, but by & by it can eat. I have another knife at home with a face upon the haft as like a man as this is like a woman. That knife cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot speak, but It can eat. It has killed much, Frenchmen, & by & by this knife & that knife shall marry & you shall be there […] knife at home he had kept for a monument, from the time they had killed Monsieur Finch;’ but as the word went out of his mouth, I had a good will to thrust it in his belly. He said, ‘I see you are much angry.’ I said, ‘Guns are longer than knives.’
Some time after this their Sachem came suddenly upon us with a great number of armed men; but their spies seeing us in readiness, he & some of his chief men turned into one of their houses a quarter of an hour. Then we met them outside the pale of our plantation & brought them it. Then said I to a young man that could best speak their language, ‘Ask Pecksuot why they come thus armed.’ He answered, ‘Our Sachem is angry with you.’ I said, ‘Tell him if he be angry with us, we be angry with him.’ Then said their Sachem, ‘English men, when you came into the country, we gave you gifts and you gave us gifts; we bought and sold with you and we were friends; and now tell me if I or any of my men have done you wrong.’ We answered, ‘First tell us if we have done you any wrong.’ He answered, ‘Some of you steal our corn & I have sent you word times without number & yet our corn is stolen. I come to see what you will do.’ We answered, ‘It is one man which has done it. Your men have seen us whip him divers time, besides other manner of punishments, & now hear he is, bound. We give him unto you to do with him what you please.’ He answered, ‘That is not just dealing. If my men wrong my neighbor Sachem or his men, he sends me word & I beat or kill my men, according to the offense. If his men wrong me or my men, I send him word & he beats or kills his men according to the offense. All Sachems do justice by their own men. If not, we say they are all agreed & then we fight, & now I say you all steal my corn.’
At this time, some of them, seeing some of our men upon our fort, began to start, saying ‘Machit Pesconk,’ that is ‘Naughty Guns.’ Then looking round about then, went away in a great rage. at this time we strengthened our watch until we had no food left. In these times, the savages oftentimes did creep upon the snow, starting behind bushes & trees to see whether we kept watch or not […times] I having rounded on our plantation until I had no longer […nth]; then in the night, going into our Court of Guard, I see one man dead before me & another at my right hand & another at my left for want of food. O, all the people in New England, that shall hear of these times of our weak beginning, consider what was the strength of the arm of flesh or the wit of man; therefore in the times of your greatest distress put your trust in God.
The offender being bound, we let him loose, because we had no food to give him, charging him to gather ground nuts, clams & mussels, as other men did, & steal no more. One or two days after this, the savages brought him, leading him by the arms, saying ‘Here is the corn. Come see the place where he stole it.’ Then we kept him bound some few days. After this, two of our company said, ‘We have been at the Sachem’s house and they have near finished their last canoe that they may encounter with our ship. Their greatest care is how to send their armies to Plymouth because of the snow.’ Then we prepared to meet them there. One of our company said, ‘They have killed one of our hogs.’ Another said, ‘One of them strikes at me with his knife;’ & others say ‘They threw dust in our faces.’ Then said Pecksuot to me, ‘Give me powder & guns & I will give you much corn.’ I said ‘By & by men bring ships & victuals.’ But when we understood that their plot was to kill all English people in one day when the snow was gone, I would have sent a man to Plymouth, but none were willing to go. Then I said if Plymouth men know not of this treacherous plot, they & we are all dead men; therefore, if God willing, tomorrow I will go. That night a young man, wanting wit, told Pecksuot early in the morning. Pecksuot came to me & said in English, ‘Me hear you go to Patuxet; you will lose yourself; the bears and the wolves will eat you; but because I love you I will send my boy Nahamit with you; & I will give you victuals to eat by the way & to be merry with your friends when you come there.’ I said, ‘Who told you so great a lie, that I may kill him.’ he said, ‘It is no lie, you shall not know.’ Then he went home to his house. Then came 5 men armed. We said, ‘Why come you thus armed.’ They said ‘We are friends; you carry guns where we dwell & we carry bow & arrows where you dwell.’ These attended me 7 or 8 days & nights. Then they supposing it was a lie, were careless of their watch near two hours in the morning. Then said I to our company, ‘Now is the time to run to Plymouth. Is there any compass to be found.’ They said, ‘None but them that belong to the ship.’ I said, ‘They are too big. I have born no arms of defense this 7 or 8 days. Now if I take my arms they will mistrust me.’ Then they said, ‘The savages will pursue after you & kill you & we shall never see you again.’ Thus with other words of great lamentation, we parted. Then I took a hoe & went to the long swamp nearby their houses & dug on the edge thereof as if I had been looking for ground nuts, but seeing no man, I went in & ran through it. Then looking round about me, I ran southward til 3 o’clock, but the snow being in many places, I was the more distressed because of my footsteps. The sun being clouded, I wandered, not knowing my way; but at the going down of the sun, it appeared red; then hearing a great howling of wolves, I came to a river; the water being deep & cold & many rocks, I passed through with much ado. Then was I in great distress - faint for want of food, weary with running, fearing to make a fire because of them that pursued me. Then I came to a deep dell or hole, there being much wood fallen into it. Then I said in my thoughts, this is God’s providence that here I may make a fire. Then having made a fire, the stars began to appear and I saw Ursa Major & the […] pole yet fearing […] clouded. The day following I began to travel […] but being unable, I went back to the fire the day […] sun shone & about three o’clock I came to that part […] Plymouth Bay where there is a town of later time […] Duxbury. Then passing by the water on my left hand […] came to a brook & there was a path. Having but a short time to consider […] fearing to go beyond the plantation, I kept running in the path; then passing through James river I said in my thoughts, now am I as a deer chased […] the wolves. If I perish, what will be the [condit…] of distressed English men. Then finding a piece of a […] I took it up & carried it in my hand. Then finding a […] of a jerkin, I carried them under my arm. Then said I in my […] God has given me these two tokens for my comfort; that now he will give me my life for a prayer. Then running down a hill [J…] an English man coming in the path before me. Then I said down on a tree & rising up to salute him said, ‘Mr. Hamden, I am glad to see you alive.’ he said, ‘I am glad & full of wonder to see you alive: let us sit down, I see you are weary.’ I said, ‘Let […] eat some parched corn.’ ;Then he said, ’I know the [caus…]. Come. Massasoit has sent word to the Governor to let him […] that Aberdikes & his confederates have contrived a plot hoping […] all English people in one day here as men hard by making [canoe…] stay & we will go with you. The next day a young […] named Hugh Stacy went forth to fell at tree & saw two […] rising from the ground. They said Aberdikes had sent […] the Governor that he might send men to truck for much beaver, but they would not go, but said, ‘Was not there an English […] come from Wessagusset.’ He answered, ‘He came,’ […] They said he was their friend and said come and see who […] But they turned another way. He said, ‘You come to let us […]’ Providence to us was great in those times as appears […] after the time of the arrival of the first ship at [Pl…] forenamed Massasoit came to Plymouth & their made a [co…] peace, for an Indian called Tisquantum came to them & spoke English […] They asked him, how he learned to speak English? He said that an Englishman called Captain Hunt came into the harbor pretending to trade for beaver & stole 24 men & their beaver & carried & sold them in Spain. & from thence with much ado, he went into England & from England with much ado, he got into his own country. This man told Massasoit what wonders he had seen in England & that if he could make the English his friends then […] enemies that were too strong for him would be constrained to bow to him; but being prevented by some that came in the first ship that […] recorded that which concerned them, I leave it.
Two or 3 days after my coming to Plymouth, 10 or 11 men went in a boat to our plantation, but I being faint was not able to go with them. They first gave warning to the Master of the ship & then contrived how to make sure of the lives of two of their chief men, Wattawamat, of whom they boasted no gun would kill, and Pecksuot, a subtle man. These being slain, they fell upon others where they could find them. Then Abordikes, hearing that some of his men were killed, came to try his manhood, but as they were starting behind bushes & trees, one of them was shot in the arm. At this time an Indian called Hobbamock, that formerly had fled for his life from his Sachem to Plymouth, proved himself a valiant man in fighting & pursuing after them. Two of our men were kill that they took in their houses at an advantage […] this time [pl…] were instruments in the […nds] of God for […] their own lives and ours. They took the head of […] & set it on their fort at Plymouth at […] 9 of our men were dead with famine and one died in the ship before they came to the place where at that time of year ships came to fish - it being in March. At this time, ships began to fish at the Isles of Shoals and I having recovered a little of my […th] went to my company near about this time […] the first plantation at Piscataqua the […] thereof was Mr. David Tomsen at the time of my arrival at Piscataqua. Two of Abordike’s men came there & seeing me said ‘When we killed your men, they cried and made ill-favored faces.’ I said, ‘When we killed your men, we did not torment them to make ourselves merry.’ Then we went with our ship into the bay & took from them two shallops loading of corn & of their men prisoners there as a town of later time called Dorchester. The third and last time was in the bay of Agawam. At this time they took for their castle a thick swamp. At this time one of our ablest men was shot in the shoulder. Whether any of them were killed or wounded we could not tell. There is a town of later time, near unto that place, called Ipswich. Thus […] plantation being deserted, Captain Robert Gore [cam…] the country with six gentlemen. Attending him & divers men to do his labor & other men with their families. They took possession of our plantation, but their ship’s supply from England came too late. Thus was famine their final overthrow. Most of them that lived returned to England. The overseers of the third plantation in the bay was Captain Wolleston & Mr. Rosell. These seeing the ruin of the former plantation said, we will not pitch our tents here, lest we should do as they have done. Notwithstanding these gentlemen were wise men, they seemed to blame the overseers of the former companies, not considering that God plants & pulls up, builds & pulls down, & turns the wisdom of wise men into foolishness. These called the name of their place Mount Wolleston. They continued near a year as others had done before them; but famine was their final overthrow. Near unto that place is a town of later time called Braintree. Not long after the overthrow of the first plantation in the bay, Captain Louis came to their country. At the time of his being at Piscataqua a Sachem or Sagamore gave two of his men, one to Captain Louis & another to Mr. Tomsen, but on that was there said, ‘How can you trust these savages. Call the name of one Watt Tyler & the other Jack Straw, after the names of the two greatest rebels that ever were in England.’ Watt Tyler said, ‘When he was a boy, Captain Dormer found him upon an island in great distress.’
The Will of Phineas Pratt I, Phinias Pratt of Charlstown in the Countie of Midellsex Joyner being very aged and Crazye of body yett in my pfect memory and understanding doe make This my last will and Teastamoen. Item I give unto my belovid wife Mary Pratt all my movabl goods and fortie Shillings a year to be payed oute of my land in Charlstowne and the use of the gardon for term of hir life: this fortie Shillings is to be payed by my sonn Joseph Pratt for and in consideration of the having of my land and my wif is to have a convenient room of my sonn Joseph with a chimny in it to hir content to lie in for term of hir life. Wthout molestation or trubl; but If my sonn Joseph doeth not perform this will that then my wif Mary Prat shall have the one half of the land to hir Dispossing for his vest comfort: it is to be understod that the one half wch the new hous standeth one is given to Joseph upon the condistion of providing of a convenient room for me and my wife for term of our lives and this other half for the paying of the fortie Shillings a year paying it quartterly that is to say ten shllig a quarter in mony and fier wood at mony price and If ther be any thing left at the death of my wife it shalbe equally devided a mung all my children. this eight of Jeneary 1677 Phinehas Pratt Sealed and deliverd in the presents of Use Walter alen, the marke of Rebeack Alen