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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.

The Cutt Family--John the First President of New-Hampshire--the Estates of John and Richard--their Wills--Murder of Ursula--Providential Escape of the Waldron Family.

See Also: Colonial Era

AMONG the settlers in this vicinity previous to 1646, were three brothers from Wales, John, Robert and Richard Cutt. (Their descendants bear the name of Cutts.) John settled at the Bank, and acquired much wealth from mercantile pursuits. Richard at first carried on the fisheries at the Shoals, and then removed to this place. Robert, after a short residence at Barbadoes, located on Great Island. He afterwards went to Kittery, where he carried on ship building.

In 1679, when New-Hampshire was separated from Massachusetts, the king appointed John Cutt as President. The royal charter then given was the only one ever granted to New-Hampshire. The first general assembly held in the State was convened by President Cutt in Portsmouth, on the 16th of March the next year. Portsmouth, Dover and Hampton sent each three representatives, and Exeter two. These were all the towns in the State. The whole number of voters in the four towns was 209.

On Green street, a few rods south of the railroad track, is an enclosure of fifty feet square, walled with brick, where repose the remains of John Cutt, the first President of New Hampshire, and his family. It will be seen by the last ramble that he and his brother Richard were the largest landholders in Portsmouth in 1660. They owned the principal portion of what is now the compact part of Portsmouth. At that time, the inhabitants principally resided in the vicinity of the "Great House," on Water street. In all other parts between the ponds were only about a dozen dwellings, and as many warehouses, half of which belonged to these two brothers. Richard Cutt's residence was at the "Great House." President John Cutt's mansion was situated on the spot near the C. & P. Railroad wharf, now occupied by the stone store of Joshua Brooks & Co. That of Capt. Samuel Cutts (whose son Edward had his mansion in the large house on Christian Shore, now James W. Emery's) was next south of the family seat of the late Alexander Ladd, on Market street. A well discovered beneath the street in that vicinity in 1858, probably belonged to his house before the street was made public.

The following last Will of Richard Cutt, made 1675, the year before his death, and the accompanying Will of President John Cutt, made in 1680, exhibit the way in which a large portion of the compact part of Portsmouth was parcelled out a century before the Revolution:

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"I, Richard Cutt, of Portsmouth, in Piscataqua, being in perfect memory and good health, yet considering that man's life is short and his end oftentimes sudden, and not knowing how the Lord may deal with me, I thought meet, as becomes a Christian man, to set my house in order before my death, and do therefore make and appoint this my last will and testament, thereby revoking all wills by [me] formally made.

Imp.--I commit my soul into the hands of God that gave it through Christ Jesus, who I hope hath redeemed it, and believe that he is able to keep what I have committed to him untill that day. I allso committ my body to a decent buriall in the earth, in hope of a joyful resurrection. My worldly estate I dispose of as followeth:

First.--I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Elenor Cutt, my now dwelling house, with the bake house, brew house, barn, and all houseing thereunto belonging; with the log ware house and wharfing, my stone ware house only excepted; together with my garden, orchard, and all the land in fence in the home field, adjoining to my house; as allso my corn mill, with my house and barn up at the creek, with all the upland and meadow thereunto belonging, so far as home, unto the land which I bought of Hughbertus Mattone, excepting the tanyard and building thereunto belonging and the land on that side of the floom. All which premises before mentioned, except what is excepted, I will shall be in the hands and to the use and behoof of my dearly beloved wife, aforesaid, during her natural life. And, after her death, I give and bequeath my whole estate, aforesaid, unto my grandson, Cutt Vaughan, with all the privileges and appurtanances thereunto belonging, to be to him and his heirs forever; and it shall come into his hands att the age of twenty-one years. But if he die before that age, then I give it to the next heir, male; and if there be no heirs, male, then to the next heir that shall survive. Furthermore, I give unto my said wife, all my plate, brass, pewter, iron, beding utensils belonging to the house, together with all my stock of cattle, to be absolutely at her disposal, when and to whome and where she pleases--and the five Negro servants.

2d. I give to my daughter Margaret Vaughan, my stone ware house, and that part of the woodfield joining unto that which was John Pickrins, and reaching home to Wm. Hart's on the west, with my brother, Jno. Cutt, on the west, the way that goes to the Creek on the north, and Christopher Jose on the east, together with the tanyard, houseing and the stock therein, and the little field on the south of the floom; always excepting and reserving the highway as it is now to the farm and to the other mill, which is to be kept free for the use of the mill and the house by it. All which I give to my daughter Margaret and her children. If they fail, then to my daughter Bridget and heirs after the decease of my said daughter Margaret.

3d. Unto my beloved daughter Bridget and her heirs for ever, I give the remainder of the field commonly called the grate field, to say all besides what is already given to her and her husband, and already sould to several persons, to be to her and her heirs for ever, with all the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging. I give allso unto my daughter Bridget, that part of the wood field on the south of the highway up to the Creek, as it is now fenced. The other part, between the highway and the Creek, her mother shall have the liberty to use during her natural life, and that part allso shall be Bridget's after her mother's decease. Likewise I give Bridget, my land in the long reach, next to that which was Capt. Pendleton's, being thirty-three pole broad front on the river, and so back the whole depth; which land afore said shall be Bridget's and her heirs for ever. If she die without heirs, then it shall fall to the heirs of her sister Margaret, after the decease of my said daughter Bridget.

4th. I give my son, William Vaughan, my land on the Grate Island, bought of Mr. Mason, and that acre given me by the town, which was laid out with an acre of Mr. Fryers. I allso give him two hundred pounds out of my estate, and all my houseing at the Isle of Shoals, on Star Island; together with that estate both in stock and debts that is in partnership with him there, provided he rest satisfied therewith upon the account of partnership in trading, betwixt us there. If he be not satisfied so, then, that the Island to be sould and the estate there valued and the balance to be given him out of my other estate, when our accounts are made up. And I do by these presents oblige my son, William Vaughan, not to expect any more out of my estate, for salary or anything done for me, at home or abroad, besides what he hath already received and is above expressed.

5th. I give my well beloved son, Thomas Daniel, two hundred pounds out of my estate.

6th. Furthermore, I give to my grandson Cutt Vaughan one hundred pound.

7th. I give to my grandchild, Elenor Vaughan, that house and land I bought of Mr. Mattoon, with that part of my land that comes from the Pulpit, the whole breadth of Mattoon's land, till it comes to my brother, John Cutt's land on the north, together with two hundred pounds, the legacies to be paid in money or equivalent.

8th. I give to my grandchild, Mary Vaughan, two hundred pounds in money, and the hundred and fifty acres of land and the meadow belonging to it, as I bought of Edward Hilton, as appears by bill of sale of Jno. Wegewood.

9th. Further, I will that what remains of my twenty pounds per annum subscribed to the college for myself and sons, be carefully discharged by my executors.

10th. I give to my brother Jno. Cutt ten pound to bie him mourning and ten pound to his wife and five pound to each of his children.

11th. I give to my sister Ann Shipway ten pound to bie mourning and five pound to my brother Shipway and five pound to his son Jno. Shipway.

12th. I give to my brother Robert Cutt's wid'r five pounds, and to each of his children five pound, as allso do I forgive the debt due on the book.

13th. I give Mr. Joshua Moody thirty pound and to his five children to say forty shillings to each of them.

14th. I give to my coz, Jno. Hale and his wife, five pound each of them.

15th. I give to the church of Portsmouth ten pound, to bie a piece of plate for the use of the church.

16th. I make my wife Elenor and my two daughters Margaret and Bridget my executors to whom I give the rest of my estate as well shipping or what else due to me in any part of the world, my debts and legacies paid and what remains to be divided in equal thirds between my wife and daughters. I make my brother Jno. Cutt, Mr. Joshua Moody, my son William Vaughan, and my son Thomas Daniel, my overseers, to see this my will performed. To the truth or this I have hereunto set my hand seal this tenth of May, 1675, Portsmo' in Piscataqua.

Per mee, RICH'D CUTT.[L.S.]

We whose names are under written do attest that Richard Cutt did own this to be his volentary act and deed.

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"I, John Cutt, being in perfect memory, but crazy and infirm in body thro' many weaknesses by reason of age and otherwise, do ordain and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other wills by me formerly made.

1st. I commit my soul into ye hands of God in Christ Jesus, trusting yt it shall be kept by him until that day; and my body unto a decent buryall in my orchard where I buried my wife and children that are deceased. And I will that there be a wall of lime and stone made about my grave and the rest there already buried, with room convenient for a burying place for the residue of my family relations.

2nd. I give unto my beloved son, John Cutt, my house and land where I now live, with the orchard, gardens, wharfing, ware-houses and other housing (except what is hereafter excepted, which I give unto my daughter Hannah,) with all the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging, together with my wood field lying upon the creek behind my house, and adjoining to ye land of John Hunking; and all my fresh marsh at ye head of the creek next to Richard Commins's marsh, with my share of ye land bought of Major Waldron and Capt'n Lake near Greenland; as also all the land I bought of Mr. Andrew Wiggin, being 160 pole, by ye water side, (more or less, according to bill of sale) and three miles back into ye woods, toogather with ye marsh or meadow abreast of it and my ten acres of land on ye Grt. island, (excepting out of it what is hereafter excepted for my daughter Mary,) and my warehouse on Star Island.

3d. I give unto my beloved son, Samuel Cutt, my house commonly called the grt. house, with the orchard and field adjoining, (excepting what is hereafter given to his sister Mary,) with all ye privileges thereunto belonging, together with my land near ye Pulpit, being 70 pole in breadth, by ye water side, and running up ye whole length into ye woods, according to the agreement between me and Bro. Richard Cutt, together with yt half of William Williams' plantation in Oyster river, which I bought of him; and ye farm lying near it, which I bought of Thos. Doughty, with ye fresh and salt marsh belonging to it; and my land at Spruce Creek, bought of Mr. Morgan and his wife and Eph'n Lynn, being 160 acres more or less, and yt part which is mine of ye house and land yt was Mr. Corbett, lying at Kittery Point; and my one acre of land lying on ye Great island, with ye warehouse on Smutty Nose island; as also a parcel of land purchased of Rich'd Abbott, lying near Mr. Wilson's it Newichawonit.

4th. I give unto my beloved daughter, Hannah Cutt, my new ware-house, with ye wharfing belonging to it, ye land and wharfe so far as ye smith's shop, with the smith's shop and so far as ye high way, with half an acre of land out of ye windmill field, at ye corner next Bro Richard's barn, fronting upon ye high way between yt and ye river, to run up ye lane between Bro. Richd's land and mine for ye depth of it, ye front to be so wide as yt ye double of ye front shall be in ye length to make ye half acre; and ye little field by William Hart's; and all my land in ye long reach, to say 50 pole breadth which I had at first, with ye addition afterwards laid to it, and ye land I had of Ralph Twamlin per execution; and ye land I had in Dover of Phillip Cromwell per execution, which was sometime belonging to Joseph Austin, to say eleven acres, with the free hold or commonage belonging to it; as also my farm at Wells, both upland and meadow, with ye housing and priviledges belonging thereunto; and that hundred acres of land which I had of Joseph Beard of Dover, lying in or near Cocheco.

5th. I give to my beloved daughter, Mary Cutt, the little field being part of that commonly called ye great field, lying next to ye highway going to ye meeting-house, with half an acre of land butting upon ye river on ye one side and ye creek yt goes up by ye great house on ye other, to take in ye point over and above, and so up toward the great house and the river; and a parcel of land out of that ten acres I gave to my son John upon ye Great island, to say that where my frame now lies or formerly did lye, from ye house that was Capt'n Pendleton's to that which was Otho Tuckerman's, and all below ye rock and so down to ye river; and ye land I bought of John Alt, and the land I bought of Will'm Williams, lying in ye woods at the head of Oyster river; and the 13 acres at Boyling Rock, bought of Jaffray Currier; and further, I will that her brother John shall summer two cows for her in his pasture at home freely during her natural life, and because her proportion of land is smaller than what the rest of my children have, I will that she shall pay nothing towards what I hereafter give to her mother out of her proportion of moveables.

6th. As to the remainder of my estate lying in moneys, plate, household goods, wares of any sort, stock, shipping, debts, or any estate whatsoever, anywise of right appertaining to me, and not already disposed of, I doe dispose of it as followeth, viz: one third part of the whole to my eldest son, John Cutt the other two-thirds shall be divided into four parts, of which my son Samuel Cutt shall have the one half the other half to be equally divided between my two daughters, Hannah and Mary Cutt, unto each of which daughters I give besides their portion a silver plate marked T. S.

7th. Provided always yt I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Ursula Cutt, the full sum of five hundred pounds, to be taken out of that portion which I have given to my sons, John and Samuel, and to my daughter Hannah, each of them to pay their proportions of the said five hundred pounds, according to ye quantity of goods yt falls to their shares when the whole is summed up and divided to them, and they shall pay it in each species yt they receive their portion in, whether money, goods, shipping or otherwise, according to ye value of what they receive--the moveables to be apprized at price currant.

Moreover I will that my beloved wife shall have liberty to dwell in my house till my son John come to age or marry if she continue a widow, whom I request to have respect to my children and be a mother to them. If my son John marry while my wife continues a widow, she shall have ye use of a couple of rooms in ye house, such as shall be judged most convenient by my executors and overseers together; and may be comfortable for her accommodation, or shee shall have liberty to build an house upon that piece of land which she hath lately taken in as an addition to ye orchard, and may therein dwell during her widowhood; and when she leaves it my son John shall have it with what is built upon it--or she shall have liberty to dwell in ye new warehouse, which shall be fitted up for her till my daughter Hannah comes to make use of it; moreover she shall have ye use of that land at ye Pulpit which I have given to my son Samuel, till he come to age, and may improve so much of it as shee sees meet, and build upon it if she pleases, and shall have ye benefit of it dureing her natural life, and then both ye land and all ye improvement and building shall return unto my son Samuel Cutt.

8th. Furthermore, I will that if any of my children die before they come to age or marry, the portion I have given them shall be equally divided between those of them yt survive; and if any of my children die without issue after marriage, I will yt the housing and land I have given them shall goe to the next kin; and with these provisos it is to be understood that I give the above mentioned houses and lands to my children and their heirs forever--provided also that it is to be judged meet for the peopleing of the place to sell any part of the grt. house field into house lots, and my overseers and execu'rs approve of it, may be done, and ye money for ye land so sold to redound to the behoofe of the person to whom I have given the lands; and if it may be done for the good of the whole, I advise that by the consent of my exec'rs and overseers, the shipping or part of them may be sold as soon as may be.

9th. For the good of the town where I dwell, I give and bequeath one hundred pounds towards the erecting of a free school--provided the town shall set it up within seven years after my decease. Unto the church in Portsmouth to which I belong I give fifteen pounds, and thirty pounds to the poor of the town, which said thirty pounds shall be disposed of at the direction of my overseers. Unto ye children of my bro. Robert Cutt, I give wt. was owing to me from their father, to be equally divided among them. Unto my cousin John Shipway I give ten pounds, and to my servant Bathiah Furber fivety shillings.

10th. Finally, I make my beloved son John and my daughter Hannah, execu'rs to this my last will and testament; and I request and appoint my good friends, Mr. Joshua Moody, Mr. Richard Martin and Mr. Reuben Hull of Portsm. and Capt. Thos. Brattle of Boston, to be my overseers; and unto ye sd. Moody I give as a legacy fivety pounds, and to the other three overseers thirty pounds a piece, whom I do earnestly desire to be careful for the concerns of my children, and to order matters so for them as may be to their best behoofe and for the maintaining and promoting love between them; and if there happen any difference among my wife and children about the interpretation of the will, or about any matter referring to these concernments therein, my will is that the partie or parties concerned shall chuse each of them a man to join with the overseers for the decision of any such controversy; and wt. they or the major part of them shall determine I will shall be the final issue of any such matter.

The management of my buriall I leave for the prudence of my beloved wife and my overseers; and do oblige my exec'rs with the advice of my overseers to see to the paying of the legacies above mentioned, and discharging of all my just debts and funeral charges out of my estate.

In testimony to all and singular ye premises, I set to my hand and seal this 6th day of May, in the year 1680--by the premises I mean wt. is written on ye side above and on ye other side. JOHN CUTT.[L.S.]

We whose names are und'rwritten, saw Mr. John Cutt, Sen'r, set his hand and seal to this instrument, and heard him declare it to be his last will and testam't, this 6th May, 1680.

The will contains a codicil, made Jan. 3, 1681, in which he says, "upon the consideration of ye grt. wasting of my estate by reason of long sickness and other bad Providences attending me," he gives his beloved wife L400 instead of L500.

The corn-mill at the Creek, to which reference is made in the will of Richard, was near the spot where the stocking factory was afterwards built. The wind- mill field was in front of the present locality of the jail. The windmill was on the site now occupied by Mr. Goodall's house. The foundation stones remained undisturbed until the erection of that house, in 1851.

Richard Cutt died in 1676, within one year after making his will. President John Cutt died in 1681. The place in his orchard where he was buried is the spot above referred to on Green street. This family burying ground is substantially enclosed by a wall of masonry, as directed.

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This ground has a tombstone inscribed to the President's first wife, Hannah Cutt, who died Nov. 19th, 1674. There is no stone however to tell the resting spot of President Cutt, or any other of the family, although it is probable that many of the relatives rest there. Among them his second wife, the beloved Ursula, with whom he could not have lived more than five or six years. He provides for her in his will, either rooms in his house, a residence in the warehouse, or a farm on the river, as her preference might dictate. Like a wise woman, after his death she preferred an independent residence, and therefore took the farm at "the Pulpit," about two or three miles up the river on the west side. The spot selected for her residence was the farm since owned by Ichabod Bartlett and now by Mark H. Wentworth. It is between the Freeman farm and that of John N. Sherburne. Here the lady of the first President of New Hampshire presided over the acres of her domain, and by her industry and good taste the beauty of her situation was developed. Thirteen years was she thus happily situated. But there came at length a day of sad calamity. It was in the summer of 1694--the year when the Indians from the East, instigated by the French, had committed many outrages on the settlements of the whites. There had been intelligence of their visit at Dover, but little apprehensions were had of a nearer approach to the Bank. Although friends had warned her of being in a dangerous position at her retired residence, she decided, as it was haying time, to do up that important business before leaving home; and while her three haymakers were improving a good day to the best advantage, Madam Ursula, with her maid at a wash tub or kettle, might be seen between the house and the shore, attending to some culinary process. "The Indians!" exclaims the lynx-eyed maiden--and with a rapidity which could only be produced by the terror of their deeds, she flew to a retreat, and soon on the shore a mile distant, she takes a skiff and passes to the Bank from Freeman's point, for there was no bridge then at the mouth of the North mill pond.

Here turn a moment from the dreadful scene she left, to another feature of Providential preservation.

Col. Richard Waldron (the successor of Cutt as President of New Hampshire) married President Cutt's daughter Hannah, who, it will be seen, was well provided for in his will. In about two years, in 1682, she with her only son, fourteen months old, were buried in that "Orchard" enclosure. Col. Waldron took a second wife; and on this day, with his wife and infant child, he had arranged to visit the Pulpit farm, and enjoy the company and hospitality of Madame Ursula. The boat and everything was in readiness, when--how they regretted the disappointment!--some friends arrived, and the visit was reluctantly abandoned. There were some sighs for the scent of new-mown hay--for a taste of the strawberries and cream, and for a sight of the flower- garden--but all had to be foregone, and at home they must stay. They sit down to dinner, the meal is partaken, and the disappointment is becoming less thought of.

"The Indians!--the Indians!"--exclaims a terrified girl, as she hastily enters in her working dress, almost exhausted by effort--"They are all killed!"

A visit to the farm proved the intelligence too true. The three men in the mowing field had all been shot down, Madam Ursula had shared the same fate, and their scalps had all been taken as Indian trophies! The savages finding some difficulty in removing the rings from her fingers, severed and bore away her hands!

Such is a picture, which we have gathered in part from history and in part from tradition, of a scene in our early local history. The providence which frustrated the intended visit to the Pulpit, saved three lives at least--that infant then preserved was afterwards Secretary Waldron, so distinguished in our State history.

Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by
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