Ebenezer Mudgett

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Ebenezer Mudgett
Born about in Haverhill, Massachusettsmap
Brother of
Husband of — married in Hampstead, Rockingham, New Hampshiremap
Died [date unknown] in Weare, Hillsborough, New Hampshiremap
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Contents

Biography

-Ebenezer Mudgett, son of William & Dinah (Davis) Mudgett. Bought land in Weare in 1764, two years after his brother John had bought land there. [1] In 1771, licensed as retailers of spirit- uous liquors [2]; also kept an inn that was the site of some town meetings [3]. signed the Association Test in Weare, June 1776; he hired Daniel Bayley as his replacement (for 5 months) in 1776; Went to Ticonderoga for 4 months and 24 days in 1776. On 13 Dec 1764 he bought of Jeremiah Allen, lot thirty-six range one. Ebenezer came from Hampstead, and was called “merchant.” In 1766 Ebenezer’s house was designated in the town records as the place where preaching would be held. He had married 10 Oct 1752 in Hampstead, Rockingham Co NH to Miriam Johnson. They had 11 children, the first generation descendants of whom resided in Weare NH, and Lamoille Co VT. [4]

Role in the Pine Tree Riot, 1772

In the early 1700s the towns along the coast of New Hampshire were developing into trading centers. One of the most abundant resources colonists sent to England was trees. Tall, straight white pines were particularly needed for ships' masts. In 1772 the British Parliament and King George III made a law protecting "any white pine tree of the growth of twelve inches in diameter." No matter who owned or cleared the land, the white pines on the land belonged to the King of England. The fine for cutting a tree twelve inches through was five pounds; twelve to eighteen inches, ten pounds; eighteen to twenty-four, twenty pounds; and twenty-four and more, fifty pounds; and all lumber made from such trees was forfeited to the king.
In the mid- 1700s Governor Benning Wentworth granted huge parcels of land to many of his friends and granted charters for incorporation to newly developing towns west of the Merrimack River. He did little to enforce the pine tree laws, particularly in the new towns, like Dunbarton, Weare, and Henniker, that were far away from Portsmouth. The passage of this law was not just an inconvenience, it was an impediment to essential building construction by the colonists, causing more anguish and anger than the Stamp Act or tea tax. The result of the law caused a patriotic backlash of sentiment, making it unfashionable to have floorboards less than 12 inches wide.
Benning's nephew, John Wentworth. became governor in 1766. John Wentworth soon saw how much money was being lost by not enforcing the license fees and fines for the pine tree laws in the new towns, so he instructed the Deputy Surveyors to attend to their duties. If the Surveyor or his deputies found any white pine logs, the owner was issued a summons to appear in court. He could go to court or pay a “settlement.” If he refused to do either, he was fined and his logs were auctioned off. Tensions built as the colonists found themselves forced to comply with a law that placed outside controls on their property and cost them time and money.
In the winter of 1771-72, John Sherburn, a Deputy Surveyor of the King's Woods, visited the sawmills in the towns of the Piscataquog Valley. Sherburn found just what he hoped he would discover - white pine logs at six different mills in Goffstown and Weare. (In Weare he found two hundred and seventy logs, from seventeen to thirty-six inches in diameter, in Clement's mill yard at Oil Mill village, brought there by Ebenezer Mudgett.) The deputy claimed them as "The King's White Pine Trees" and chopped the mark of the broad arrow in every log. The owners of the mills were warned not to touch the logs and to appear before the Court of Vice Admiralty in Portsmouth on February 7, 1772 to pay their fines.
The sawmill owners hired Samuel Blodget, a lawyer from Goffstown, to represent them at court in Portsmouth, but the governor offered him a job as a Surveyor of the King's Woods. He wrote to the men informing them of his new status and instructed them to pay a “settlement” that he and the Governor had decided upon.
The mill owners from Goffstown paid their fines at once and had their logs returned to them. But the sawmill owners from Weare did not. On April 13, Benjamin Whiting, the unpopular Sheriff of the County, and his deputy, John Quigly, rode to South Weare. They came with a warrant for the arrest of Ebenezer Mudgett, who was owner of the Oil Mill in south Weare, and considered to be the leader of the group of lawbreakers refusing to pay the settlement. Whiting arrested Mudget, who agreed to give bail in the morning. They decided to spend the night at Aaron Quimby’s inn, the Pine Tree Tavern. News that they were in town spread quickly. That night scores of men gathered at Mudgett's house to work out a plan.
At dawn on April 14, 1772, Mudgett rode to Quimby's Inn and burst in on the sheriff, who was still in bed, and told him his bail was ready. Whiting jumped out of bed, chided Mudget for coming so early and went to dress. Then more than twenty townsmen, with their faces blackened for disguise, rushed into the sheriffs room and began to beat him with tree branch switches – one lash for each tree to cancel out the debt. Men grabbed him by his arms and legs, hoisted him up, face to the floor, while others continued to switch him mercilessly. Whiting later reported that he thought the men would surely kill him. Deputy Quigly was pulled from his room and received the same treatment from another group of townsmen.
In a further effort to disgrace the King’s men, the Weare men forced sheriff Whiting and deputy Quigly to ride out of town through a gauntlet of jeering townspeople. Their horses had been rendered valueless because the townsmen had cropped their ears and shorn their manes and tails.
The sheriff went to Colonel John Goffe and Colonel Edward Goldstone Lutwytche and arranged for them to bring a posse of soldiers to Weare to arrest Mudgett and the other rioters. By the time the posse arrived, the rioters were long gone. They had disappeared into the woods without a trace. Later in the spring he was able to capture one of the rioters. The rest of the men, including Ebenezer Mudgett, agreed to pay the bail money and appear in court to accept their punishment.
In September, eight men from Weare were brought before His Majesty's Superior Court. They were Timothy Worthley, Jonathan Worthley, Caleb Atwood, William Dustin, Abraham Johnson, Jotham Tuttle, William Quimby, and Ebenezer Mudgett. They were charged with being "rioters, router, disturbers of the peace" and with "making an assault upon the body of Benjamin Whiting, Esq., Sheriff, and that they beat, wounded and evilly intreated him and other injuries did so that his life was despaired of." They were also charged with going "against the peace of our Lord the King, his crown and dignity."
They plead guilty and were fined 20 shillings each plus the payment of court costs. This punishment was an extremely lenient one. Apparently, the four judges Amherst -- Theodore Atkinson, Meshech Weare, Leverett Hubbard and William Parker -- were sympathetic to the men from Weare. The pine tree laws were just another way of making the colonists pay taxes to the British king. Meshech Weare, one of the judges, assisted in framing the New Hampshire constitution adopted in 1776, establishing its own government, and becoming the first colony to declare its independence; Weare became the first President of New Hampshire.

Pine trees were a symbol used on some of the first flags flown in the American Revolution.[5]

Revolutionary War

In 1777, Ebenezer was one of fifteen men sent to Vermont to help the militia there under Stark. On August 16 the hastily raised troops attacked and defeated British and Hessian detachments at the Battle of Bennington. The British loss was two hundred and seven killed upon the field of battle, seven hundred and fifty prisoners, seven hundred stands of arms, eight brass drums, four brass cannon and a great amount of plunder. Stark's loss was thirty killed and forty wounded. Some consider this battle a turning point of the American Revolution. [6]

After the War

Ebenezer is listed as one of the first members of the Universalist church in Weare, around 1803. [7]


Sources

Marriage record: [8] birth record:[9] On the Pine Tree Riot:[10][11] [12] [13]



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