Benjamin Swett (1624 - 1677) MP

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Birthplace: England
Death: Died in (Present Scarborough), Cumberland County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Cause of death: Killed in the Battle of Moore's Brook
Occupation: CAPTAIN, soldier
Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Benjamin Swett

Captain Benjamin Swett (John1), born in England as early as 1626, married, 1 Nov. 1647, Hester, dau. of Hon. Nathaniel Weare of Hampton, N.H. He lived seven years in Newbury, on the Woodbridge farm, just east of the upper green and about where the Woodbridge School now stands. Removed to Hampton Falls, N.H. The Gove house, where the poet Whittier died, stands very near the site of Capt. Benjamin Swett's house, and the enormous elm tree close by is said to have been brought from England by Swett's brother-in-law, Nathaniel Weare. He was Captain in the militia and commanded the expedition to Black Point, Scarborough, where he was killed in battle with the Indians, 29 June 1677. His widow married Ensign Stephen Greenleaf, 31 March 1679. She died in Hampton, N.H, 16 Jan. 1718, aged 89. Mr. Swett was one of the leading men of Hampton and a brave military officer. For sketch of him see Bodge's Soldiers of King Phillip's War. Seven children recorded in Newbury and four in Hampton:

Hester b. 17 June 1648; m. Abraham Green 5 Sept. 1668.

Sarah b. 7 Nov. 1650; m. Morris Hobbs, 1678.

Mary b. 7 Jan. 1651; died young.

Mary b. 2 May 1654; m. Richard Waterhouse 3 Dec. 1701.

[8] Joseph b. 21 Jan. 1658; m. (1) Hannah ____, (2) Sarah Andrews.

[9] Moses b. 16 April 1661; m. Mary Hussey.

[10] Benjamin b. 20 May 1664; m. Theodate Hussey.

Hannah b. 16 March 1665; m. John Rust, 12 May 1682.

Elizabeth b. 2 May 1667; m. 8 Dec. 1709, John French?

North Hampton records:

[11] John b. 17 March 1670; m. Bethiah Page.

[12] Stephen b. 13 July 1672; m. Mary Kent.

1624. Benjamin Swett, son of John Swett, was baptized 12 May 1624 in Wymondham Parish, Norfolk, England. [Parish records: LDS Film # 1911510] [Stackpole #5]

1642 March 12: A pasture agreement at Newbury, Massachusetts, called "The Stint of the Ox and Cow Common" is the first record we have of this family in New England. [Newbury VR, Vol. 1, p. 55] Benjamin Swett was 18 years old.

1647 November 1: Benjamin Swett married Hester Weare, daughter of Nathaniel Weare of Hampton, in the northern part of Massachusetts that later became New Hampshire. [Stackpole and several other sources. Newbury VR has Nov. _ 164-?]

1648 June 17: Hester Swett was born in Newbury, daughter of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR] She married Abraham Green, 5 September 1688.

1650 September 7: "Ben. Swet of Newbery was made freeman at court at Ipswich." And in a list of the freemen of Newbury: "Benjamin Swet, admitted 7 Sep 1650." [Essex County Court Records, cited by Rolfe, p. 25] [Ipswich Court Records, Book I, leaf 21, cited in Coffin's Newbury, p. 100]

1650 November 7: Sarah Swett was born in Newbury, daughter of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR] She married Morris Hobbs in 1678.

1650 December 11: "[---]ra Swett" died in Newbury. [Newbury VR] The assumption that she was Benjamin's mother, wife of John Swett of Newbury, is not supported.

1651 The General Court passed the following orders:

May 23: In ansr to the request of the towne of Newbury itt is ordered that Mr. Wm. Gerrish shall be their Captaine, and John Pike their leftennant and that the said towne shall goe to a new eleccon for an ensigne when they see meete. [Mass. Colony Records, vol. iv, part i, p 47]

October 14: Whereas it was ordered, the last session of this Court, that the towne of Newbury should goe to a newe election for theire ensigne, in respect the last choyce was not cleare, which accordingly they haue done & haue legally made choyce of Benjamin Sweate, which uppon theire request, this Court doth aproue of for yt place & hereby confirms him therin. [Mass. Colony Records, vol. iii, p. 254. Currier, p. 495]

1652 January 7: Mary Swett was born in Newbury, daughter of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR] She died young. [Stackpole has January 1651, but her next younger sister was born in November 1650.]

1652 January 13: Died at Newbury, "old" John Swett. [Newbury Records, Vol. 2, p. 732. Quotation marks in the original.] He was Benjamin's father, John Swett of Newbury.

1653 June 8: At the court at Hampton, Benjamin Sweat was one of the jury in the Hampton case. At the same court: "Nat Winsley v. Benjamin Sweat. Debt for a runlet of sack worth about three pounds. No action." [Rolfe, p. 25]

1653 May 18:

The General Court passed an order declaring it unlawful for any person to preach in any town in the colony without the consent of the elders of four neighboring churches or by the approval of the county court. Lt. Robert Pike of Salisbury boldly denounced this act as an unjustifiable interference with the personal rights and privileges of freemen, and further said "several churches had called theire members to accompt which did not act in that lawe making, and that some places were about to show theire mends to the General Court about it." On 30 August he was ordered to appear at the General Court and answer for his intemperate zeal and seditious speech. He was disfranchized 7 September 1653, and prohibited from holding public office in the town or in the colony. A fine of twenty marks, equal to thirteen pounds, six shillings, eightpence, was imposed as an additional penalty, and he was required to give bonds for his good behavior during the court's pleasure. [Mass. Colony Records, vol. iv, part I, p 156. Currier, p. 162]

1654 May 2: Mary Swett was born in Newbury, daughter of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR] She married Richard Waterhouse, 3 December 1701.

1654: The Lieutenant Robert Pike petition:

The measures adopted by the General Court against Lt. Robert Pike aroused a strong feeling of indignation among the inhabitants of Newbury, Haverhill, Andover, Hampton and Salisbury. Petitions were prepared and circulated in these towns asking that the fine and punishment imposed upon him be remitted. The petition from Newbury, presented to the General Court May 14, 1654, was signed by 58 men including Joseph Swett, Stephen Swett, and Benj. Swett. [Mass. Archives, vol. x, p 299. Currier, p. 162-164]

The court was displeased, and established a commission to investigate those who signed the petition. [Mass. Colony Records, vol. iv, part I, p. 194]

In October 1654, Captain William Gerrish and Nicholas Noyes reported to the General Court the reasons given for signing the petition by the men of Newbury: "Benjamin Swett saith, 'Every free subject hath liberty to petition for any that had been in esteem, without offense to any.' John Emery demanded our Commission and the sight of the petition, and then he would answer. Being produced, he answered we had no power to demand who brought him the petition; and hearing John Bond make answer, told him he was a wise man in a bold, flouting manner. His carriage we conceive was insulting." [Mass. Archives, vol. x, p. 299]

On 1 November 1654, the General Court ordered the petitioners whose answers were not satisfactory to appear at the county court and give bonds in the sum of ten pounds to answer for their several offences. The names of the Newbury men "to be summoned by warrant from the clark of the court" were "Jno Emery, Sen, Jno Hull, Jno Bishop, Benjamin Swett, Daniell Thirston, Jun., Joseph Plomer, Daniell Cheny, Jno Wilcott." [Mass. Colony Records, vol iv, part I, p. 215]

The objectionable order relating to public preaching in the colony was repealed 30 August 1655; but at the same time it was enacted that "every person that shall publish and maintain any hetrodoxe and erronjous doctrine shal be lyable to be questioned and censured by the county court where he liveth according to the meritt of his offence." [Mass. Colony Records, vol. iv, part I, p 151]

The sentence imposed on Lieutenant Pike was not revoked until 23 October 1657: "In ansr to the peticon of Robert Pike, humbly desiring ye courts favor his fine being paid, to remitt to him & release him from the other pte of the Courts former sentence against him. Mr. Worcester ye pastor of ye church at Salisbury appearing on ye behalfe of the peticoner and acknowledging himself much bound to the court if they would be pleased to grant ye said Pikes request, the court grants his request." [Mass. Colony Records, vol. iv, part I, p. 313. Currier, p. 165. Newbury Records, Vol. 1, p. 162-164]

1656 August 5: Benjamin [10] Swett was born in Newbury, son of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR. Stackpole doesn't have this date of birth; instead, he has 20 May 1664, which was the birth of Benjamin son of Stephen.] Benjamin [10] Swett married Theodate Hussey in 1682 (aged 26) and moved to New Castle, Delaware.

1657 March 31: Thomas Davis v. Benjamin Swett, for taking away plaintiff's servant, Stephen Dow. Ipswich court ordered the boy returned. [Rolfe, p. 25]

1657 November 19: Ipswich: "In the case of John Cheater presented for detaining a beast, William Morse deposed that the beast was appraised by Anthony Morse and Bengemine Sweate." [Rolfe, p. 25]

1658/59 January 21: Joseph [8] Swett was born in Newbury son of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR] He lived in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, and married (1) Hannah Ward. They had five children, Hannah [died young], Margaret, Abigail, Esther, and Joseph [17]. His wife Hannah died 14 August 1701. He married (2) Sarah Andrews 20 November 1701. They had six children: Lydia, Hannah, Benjamin [18], Jonathan [19], Moses [died young], and David [20]. [Stackpole, plus RootsWeb]

1659 February: A petition to the court at Ipswich asked that "one John godfrey resydent at Andover or else whear at his plesure" might be called before the court to explain sundry offences, one of which was "Benjamin Swet in the case of his child." [Rolfe, p. 25-26]

1659 A petition for permission to establish a town at a place called Pennacook, now Concord, New Hampshire, was signed by 22 men including "Benja. Swett." On 18 May 1659, a committee reported in favor of granting the petitioners a plantation 8 miles square, provided they report to the General Court in October 1660, their resolution to carry on the work, "and that within two years then next ensyuing there be 20 families there settled." The deputies and magistrates accepted this report "and consented thereunto" but the conditions imposed on the petitioners were not complied with, and the grant was subsequently declared forfeited. Concord was not settled until nearly seventy years later. [Mass. Archives, vol. cxii, pp. 117-118. Currier, p. 168-170]

1660 September 25: "Benjamen Swett and Nathaniell Weare deposed that being at Nantukett Iland last May at the house of Thomas Macy, they heard the agreement that Goodman Bishop made about the squaw, Mall Indian." [Rolfe, p. 26]

1661 April 16: Moses [9] Swett was born in Newbury, son of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Newbury VR has "Swet"] He married Mary Hussey 12 May 1687. They were Quakers, and lived in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, but may have lived elsewhere for awhile, probably Nantucket Island. They had eleven children: Mary, Esther, Elizabeth, Daniel [21], Deliverance, Theodate, Stephen [22], Phebe, Huldah, Patience, and Benjamin [23].

1663: Rev. John Woodbridge, who came to New England in the ship Mary and John with his uncle, Rev. Thomas Parker, returned to England in 1647 with his wife and family and remained there for 16 years. On 26 July 1663, he came again to New England and was elected assistant pastor of the church at Newbury. His farm in Newbury was on the easterly side of "trayneing green." Benjamin Swett and his brother-in-law Nathaniel Weare had a lease on this farm for seven years, from 1655 to 1662. [Register vol. vi, p. 50. Currier, p. 316. Coffin's Newbury, p. 68]

1664 April 12: Salisbury: "Lt. Benj. Swett foreman of jury of trials." [Rolfe, p. 26]

1664 October 11: Hampton, NH: "Lt. Benjamin Sweat foreman of grand jury." [Rolfe, p. 26]

1665 March 16: Hannah Swett was born in Hampton, daughter of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Not in Newbury VR. Stackpole has her listed with children of Benjamin Swett born in Newbury, but says the last four were born in Hampton.] She married John Rust 12 May 1682.

1667 May 2: Elizabeth Swett was born in Hampton, daughter of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Not in Newbury VR. Stackpole has her listed with children of Benjamin Swett born in Newbury, but says the last four were born in Hampton.] She married John French (?) on 8 December 1709.

1665 May 6: "Phebe Swett, widow" died. [Newbury VR, Vol. 2, p. 733.] She probably was Benjamin's mother, wife of John Swett of Newbury.

1670 March 17: John [11] Swett was born in North Hampton son of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Stackpole] He married (1) Bethiah Page on 3 October 1696, (2) Mrs. Sarah Brown on 10 November 1736.

1671 May 31: Benjamin Swett wrote, on behalf of himself and twelve other men, a petition to the General Court in Boston, objecting to their arbitrary appointment of Capt. Robert Pike as Sergeant-Major to oversee the militia of Norfolk County, when no such appointment was requested and without leaving it to the choice of the people. [Mass. Archives, Vol. 67, p. 57] [Thornton's "Mementos of the Swett Family" has this petition with a facsimile of Benjamin Swett's signature; and, yes, he did spell his name "Swett" although various clerks spelled it other ways.]

1671 October 10: Capt. Walter Barefoot and Dr. Henry Greenland were involved in a law-suit with Abraham Drake, Benjamin Swett, and Henry Green. The court, held at Hampton, ordered the marshall to levy on the "goods, chattels and land owned by Capt. Walter Barefoot, at Kittery Point over against ye great island," and also upon two thousand feet of pine boards owned by Dr. Greenland. [Norfolk County Deeds, vol. ii, p. 342 , 228, 229, cited by Currier, p. 143]

1672 July 13: Stephen [12] Swett was born in North Hampton, son of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare. [Stackpole] He married Mary Kent of Kent's Island, Newbury, daughter of John Kent and Sarah Woodman, intentions 7 December 1695. [Newbury VR. Stackpole has 27 December which may be when they were married.] They lived in Newbury, and had 13 children: Sarah, Benjamin [28], Stephen [29], Mary, Joseph [30], John [31], Moses [32], Judith, Esther [died], Abigail, Esther, Joshua [33], and Elizabeth.

King Phillip's War [direct quotations]

Late in 1674, a converted Indian named John Sausaman acquainted the governor of Plymouth that the profane Indians were plotting mischief against the English, and expressed his apprehension that they would murder him. This apprehension was realized, as, before the close of the winter, he was murdered by three Indians, who were afterward tried and executed. [Coffin's Newbury, p. 115]

In June, 1675, the three Indians were executed, who murdered John Sausaman. On the 24th of June was shed the first English blood, in what was afterward called Philip's war. On that day, nine Englishmen were murdered in Swanzy by the Indians as they were returning from the meeting house. Being thus unexpectedly involved in trouble, the inhabitants of Plymouth sent to the other colonies for assistance. On June 26th, soldiers marched from Boston to Plymouth. On the 29th, a day of humiliation and prayer was appointed on account of the war. [Coffin's Newbury, p. 116-117]

Although it only lasted about a year, six hundred of the inhabitants, the greatest part of whom were the flower of the country, fell in battle or were murdered. Twelve towns in Massachusetts, Plymouth and Rhode Island were utterly destroyed, and many more greatly injured. Six hundred buildings, mostly dwelling houses, are known to have been burned, and, according to doctor Trumbull's calculation, one man in eleven of the arms bearing population was killed, and one house in eleven laid in ashes. [Coffin's Newbury, p. 389. Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip's War, 2nd edition, pp. 153-154. Currier, pp. 506-507]

Hubbard, after relating many tragedies of the dreadful year 1675, says, "Much about this time [September] one Goodman Robinson of Exeter, with his son, were travelling toward Hampton, when, as they were going along, they were way-laid by three Indians, viz. John Sampson, Cromwel, and John Linde, who shot down the old man, whom they left dead upon the place; his son, hearing the guns, escaped their hands by running into a swamp wither the Indians pursued him, but could not overtake him, so as he got safe into Hampton about midnight, where he declared what befell him by the way, and how narrowly he avoided the danger; intimating likewise that he feared that his father was killed, which was proved too true, by Lieut. Swet, who the next day with a dozen soldiers of the town went to search those woods, where they found the poor old man, shot through at his back, the bullet having pierced through his body and was stopped by the skin on the other side. [Hubbard's "Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians" London, 1677, p. 12-19, quoted by Thornton "Mementos of the Swett Family" 1851]

An expedition against the Indian fort at Narragansett was decided upon, and Major Samuel Appleton was appointed to the command of the Massachusetts forces. The town of Newbury was called upon to furnish its proportion of the men needed. December 6, 1675, 24 men were impressed for service in that expedition, including Steven Sweet. [This was Stephen Swett, Jr., son of Stephen Swett]. On the 9th the troops mustered on Dedham plain; and the next day took up their line of march for Rhode Island, arriving on the evening of the 12th. [Bodge, "Soldiers in King Philip's War" second edition, pp. 153-154. Currier, p. 506-507]

(Apparently Lieutenant Benjamin Swett did not go to Narragansett. Orders of the Council dated 17 January, 1 February, and 29 February 1676 show that he was in charge of the recruits then being sent to Narragansett.) [Bodge, p. 342]

The Indian, King Philip, with a few of his faithful followers, was surprised by a scouting party under the command of Benjamin Church, and shot through the breast 12 August 1676. He was instantly killed; but the war was continued for several months in a desultory way by hostile Indians in the vicinity of the Connecticut river, and for a year or more by the Eastern tribes under the command of their skillful chieftan, Mugg, otherwise known as Mogg Megone, on the banks of the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. [Currier, p. 508]

The Indians on the Kennebec were not deterred from hostilities, which were renewed by the killing of nine of the garrison left the year before, at that place. So the Massachusetts Court at once called upon the other colonies to assist them in raising a new force to send to those parts. Up to that time, Massachusetts had borne the whole expense of the Eastern wars, but now called them to raise their proportional part of one hundred English, and two hundred Indian soldiers, to rendezvous at Black Point. But in the meantime Massachusetts had acted with promptness by sending Capt. Hunting to bring in the remaining garrison at Kennebec, and by strengthening the garrisons at Wells with a company under Lieut. Benjamin Swett, and at Black Point with another under Lieut. Tippin. [Bodge, p. 42, has "Captain Benjamin Swett" although he was still a Lieutenant.]

In 1677, the savages seemed to have marked out the town of Wells, in Maine, for early and utter destruction. From their first entering it, April 6th, when they killed three, to the end of the month, they made attacks upon the people and their garrison several times. On the 13th, [or 29th] John Weld and Benjamin Storer were killed by them. Two or three, approaching a man and boy who were fowling in the marshes, were first espied by the boy, when the man was half sitting and fixing his flint. Springing up as the boy spoke, he aimed his gun directly at them, crying out, "Ah, you rogues, I've been looking for you;" when they, being startled by his bold rebuff, turned and fled. The fort was commanded by Lieut. Swett, a brave and vigilant officer, always alert and active for the safety of the inhabitants. Seeing a strolling Indian, who was in fact a decoy, Swett despatched eleven of his men towards the place, to make discoveries. By venturing too far, they fell into an ambush, when two were shot dead and one mortally wounded. Hearing the report of the guns, Swett sent out auxiliaries, who killed five or six, and would have done thorough execution, had not an Irishman sung out, "Here they be! here they be!" which so alarmed them, that they withdrew and sheltered themselves among the thick trees and bushes. [Hubbard's History of New England, p. 632, Harris' edition, quoted by Thornton, p. 14]

In May, the Eastern tribes, elated by their success in driving the English out of their country, gathered all their forces against the above garrisons. Indian leaders in this campaign were Symon, a renegade Christian Indian, and Mugg, above mentioned, both wary and skilful, and well acquainted with the country around, and with the English people and their habits. The Indian forces under these leaders at this time were well-tried men from the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Ammoscoggin tribes of the Tarratines, ranking as fighters next to the Pequods and Mohawks. They were well equipped and supplied, probably by the French in Canada. It does not appear that either of the other colonies sent men to assist in this campaign, and the force that was raised by Massachusetts was too small, and the English part of it was mostly of young and untried men and boys who had seen no service except in garrisons. They also seem to have entirely underrated the numbers and temper of the enemy. On the 13th of May, the Black Point garrison beat off a large body of Indians after a fierce assault of three days, on the last day of which Lieut. Tippin shot and killed the leader, Mugg. After that, the Indians went away towards Wells and York. [Bodge, p. 42]

The governor and council of the Massachusetts Bay Colony decided to send a force of two or three hundred men to strengthen the garrisons at Winter Harbor, York Harbor, and Wells, Maine. On 22 June 1677, Lieutenant Benjamin Swett was appointed captain, and placed in charge of the expedition.

Ordered that Leiftenant Benjamin Swett have a Commission for a Captains place & that he be the Conduct & chiefe of Commanders of the English & Indian forces now raysed & to Goe forth on the Service of the Country agt the Eastern Indian Ennemy as also to order and dispose of the masters & marines & vessels now Going to said service for the better management of that affayre.

Capt. Swett, You are ordered with the forces now raysed & by your Commission put under your Command to repayr to Blackpoynt & there use all possible diligence by searching & otherwise to understand the state & motions of the enemy & with your force to assayle & annoy them as much as in you lyeth. If ye Headquarters of the Enemy by advice of Major Clark & those upon the place be possible to be assaulted you are ordered to march thither with all your force; if any other small quarter of the enemy lye near & your force be in any Measure Capable in a short time to visit and fall upon them you are accordingly with all ye force Indians & English to make your march thither & assalt them; if otherwise no service against the enemy offer advising with Major Clark to whom the Councill doth refer you for advice, you shall with your whole force march down towards Pascataq, on the Backside of winter Harbor, wels, york &c, if possible to discover the lurking places of ye enemy & fall upon them after which you shall supply, out of your company ye places of ye old garrison soldiers which went out under C. Swayne or other dismissing them home & lodge ye remayners in most convenient and necessary places for the Countryes Service & in such Companyes that upon prime exigent or order you may call ym again forth on further excursion or expedition keeping good correspondence giving account to ye Governor & Council of all occurrences. [Mass. Archives, vol. 69, p. 132. Bodge, p. 343]

The forces were embarked in vessels which came to an anchor off Black Point, in Scarboro, on the 28th of June, where Captain Swett, being informed that some Indians had been seen, went on shore with a party, confident in his strength, and began to try the valor and courage of his company before he had disciplined them, or had any experience of their ability to fight. They were joined by some of the inhabitants, so as to make ninety in all. [Thornton, p. 14]

In Major Daniel Gookin's "History of the Christian Indians," he says: "In June, 1677, another expedition into the Eastern parts, among whom were about 36 of our Christian Indians, who were in a fight near Black Point; the English lost about forty men whereof were eight of our friendly Indians, the greatest loss our [Christian] Indians sustained all the war." This seems to imply that the eight Indians are a part of the forty that were slain, and also that but thirty-six Indians were in the command. The instructions given in making up the force of his Lieutenant also give additional light:

Order of the Council, June 15th, 1677: It is reffered to Major Gookin forthwith to Supply Leift. Richardson & his pty at Chelmsford with provision Ammunition & appl necessary & to order him to scout & range ye woods between Merrimack & Pascatawq River & endeavour to kill and sease ye Lurking enemy in those parts for wch the Major is ordered to encourage ym wth a reward of twenty shillings for every scalpe & forty shillings for every prisoner or ye prisoner. And also to make up in number 25 men, & to order ym after some time spent there, to mrch to Blackpoint garison & Their to bee at ye ordering of Liftenant Tipping until further order from the Council the time of Randevous at Blackpoint is to bee the 26 of this Instant June if possible. [Mass. Archives, vol. 69, p. 129]

If these instructions were carried out, Lieut. Richardson and his Indians from Chelmsford marched overland to Black Point, and evidently arrived there before the hostile Indians had come from the Kennebec and Androscoggin. The vessels were a day behind the appointed time in arriving. In making up his force for scouting the woods from Black Point to Saco, and in the vicinity, Capt. Swett had no thought of the large numbers of the enemy that were actually near them; so that when he had drawn out his English to the number of forty, and his Lieutenant's force of thirty-six, and some of the Black Point men of Lieutenant Tippen's command joined, he mustered in all a company of ninety.

The very next morning after he had landed his men, understanding by his scouts that many of the enemies were up and down upon the place, he made too much haste to fall upon them, and not mistrusting their number while he was marching up the edge of an hill with one party, and his Lieutenant with another, the Indians, that had hid themselves in the swamp on each side of the hill, suddenly fired upon the English on both sides, which not a little discouraged his young and undisciplined company, so as they could not, or did not keep their ranks, but while some were ready to run and shift for themselves, the Captain strived to keep them together, to bring off the dead and wounded men, so long that he brought himself and all the company in danger of an utter overthrow, which soon after took place; for the poor unskilful soldiers, being scattered, were shifting for themselves, while a few resolute men of courage bore the brunt of the service till they were in a manner all knocked down. The Lieutenant was killed soon after the first onset; the Captain having received near twenty wounds, yet still held out defending and encouraging his men, till he was surrounded with more of his enemies than he was able to grapple with, and so was at the last barbarously murdered by them within a little of the garrison-house. There were slain at this time somewhat above forty of the English, and twelve of the friendly Indians that assisted, very few escaping but were either killed right out or dangerously wounded. [Hubbard, quoted by Bodge, p. 344]

[The composition of the English and Indian forces, and what happened to several of Captain Swett's men who survived, is presented in a very well researched paper by Sumner Hunnewell entitled "A Doleful Slaughter Near Black Point: The Battle of Moore's Brook, Scarborough, Maine, June 29, 1677." It was published in The Maine Genealogist: Journal of the Maine Genealogical Society, Vol. 25, No. 2, May 2003, and Vol. 25, No. 3, August 2003, and made available online by the Lane Memorial Library, Hampton, New Hampshire.]

Williamson's description of the fight is that "though the ranks were broken, the engagement was sharp and protracted, Richardson was presently slain and many on both sides soon shared the same fate. Swett fought the enemy hand to hand; displaying upon the spot and in a retreat of two miles, great presence of mind as well as personal courage, in repeated rallies of his men, in his exertions to bring off the dead and wounded, and in defence of his rear, upon which the savages hung with destructive fury. At last, wounded in twenty places, and exhausted by loss of blood and by fatigue, he was grappled, thrown to the ground, and barbarously cut in pieces at the gates of the garrison. With this intrepid officer, fell sixty of his men, forty English and twenty Indians, being two thirds of the whole number in the engagement. Seldom is the merit of a military officer more genuine, seldom is the death of one more deeply lamented." [Williamson's "Maine", quoted by Thornton, p. 15]

He was a Captain for seven days.

Because those who were in the garrison house were afraid to venture forth, the bodies of men killed in this battle were not buried until the next November; then the remains of friend and foe were buried near where they fell. [Scarborough Becomes a Town by Dorothy Shaw Libby, Bond Wheelwright Company, Publisher, 1955, page 76].

Garrison Lane and Massacre Lane go east from Black Point Road (Maine highway 207) about 1/3 mile north of Prouts Neck, which is the narrowest part of the Black Point penninsula, and Massacre Pond lies along the east side of Black Point Road a little farther north of Prouts Neck.

His widow married Ensign Steven Greenleaf of Newbury 31 March 1679. They had no children. She died in Hampton, New Hampshire, 16 January 1718, aged 89 years.

Summary

The life of Captain Benjamin Swett is well documented. He had five sons, Joseph [8], Moses [9], Benjamin [10], John [11] and Stephen [12]. They all established families, and many of the Swetts in America descended from them.

Newbury vital records provide two corrections to Stackpole's account: Benjamin [10] Swett, son of Benjamin Swett and Hester Weare, was born 5 August 1656 instead of 20 May 1664, and the Benjamin Swett born 20 May 1664 was a son of Stephen Swett and Rebecca Smith.

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Benjamin was great friends with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Weare. It is noted that both "lived on the most intimate terms of friendship, the more delightful, that each was a man of marked independence of character, calculated to lead others than to follow, and their life-long brotherly intercourse begun in this matrimonial alliance, had no bond in any relation of dependance [sic], but in the union of brave hearts and the congeniality of open minds."

In the NEHGR [1/1852], p. 51 - it is noted that both "though not addicting themselves to taverns, were not averse to a draught of sack. There is record of Ensign Benjamin on or about the '27th of ye 7th month 1653 paid to Nath. Winsley, £3 in current money for a 'rundlett of sack'."

Benjamin and Nathaniel were signatories of a petition along with other men of Dover and Newbury in 1649: "to the Honred Generale Courte now assembled in Boston," they prayed for the "grant of a trackte of land at Pennecooke of 12 miles square which being granted the petitioners will be at the cost and charge of viewinge of it, and consider fully about wheather to proceed on for the settlinge of a towne or noe, and for that end shall crave the liberty of three yeares to give in their decision."

They later abandoned this scheme and when their lease of the Woodbridge farm expired (around 1662-1663) they removed with their families to Hampton in New Hampshire.

Benjamin, along with his brother-in-law Peter Weare, was a signer of the Oath of Allegiance for Hampton - his name appearing on a list entitled "Hampton. A list of ye names of those psons yet took ye oath of Aleagance ye 4th of ye 10th mo 1648 (error for 1678) & some after 16, 10th mom 1678." [as appears in "Old Norfolk County Oaths of Allegiance &c. in NEHGR April, 1852, p. 204].

He is also known in history as "the Indian Fighter." He was a member of the militia being elected ensign, lieutenant and chaplain before becoming Captain. In one court session, it was noted that "Whereas it was ordered the last session of this court that the towne of Newbury should goe to a new election for there Ensigne in respect the last choyce was not cleare which accordingly they have done and have legally made choyce of Benjamin Swet to be their ensigne and they desire the approbation of this honored Court of what is done and that he may be confirmed in that place, the Deputies have granted their request and desire the consent of our Governor and magistrates thereunto."

Benjamin was made commander of a force of 90 men and about 200 Indians from friendly tribes in 6/1677 (he was a commander of a fort in Wells, ME). He is famous for his leadership in the Battle of Black Point which occurred in Maine during King Philip's War where he was killed.

A full account of the battle of Black Point during King Philip's War where Benjamin was killed is given also in NEHGR Vol. 6, p. 55.; pp. 49-82 of Vol. 6 give Swett family information: "From this time, the Indians continued their attacks...the government having had good experience of the faithfulness and valor of the Christian Indians about Natick, armed 200 of them and order a recruit of 40 English soldiers, and all such able bodied men to be enlisted or impressed as could be found in the province of Maine, to be under the command of Capt. Benjamin Swett of Hampton and Lt. Richardson, to march to the falls of Taconick on Kennebeck river, where it was said, the Indians had 6 forts well furnished with ammunition. The forces embarked in vessels which came to anchor off Black Point in Scarboro on 6/28, where Capt. Swett, being informed that some Indians had been seen, went on shore with a party confident in his strength, and began to try the valor and courage of his company before he had disciplined then or had any experience in their ability to fight. They were joined by some of the area's inhabitants so as to make 90 in all. The next morning, 6/29, the enemy shewed themselves on a plain in 3 parties. A large decoy, supposed to be the main body of the Indians, feigned a retreat, and were pursued a distance of 2 miles from the fort, when the English found themselves in a most exposed situation, between a thicket and a swamp, upon the declivity of a hill, and instantly from an ambush on each side great numbers of Indians, rising with a war whoop, fired at once upon the two divisions, and turning so violently and suddenly upon them, threw the young and undisciplined soldiers into confusion. Swett, with a few of the more resolute, fought bravely on the retreat, till he came near the fort, when he was killed; 60 more were left dead or wounded, and the rest got into the fort (manuscript letter of Rev. Nathaniel Gookin of Hampton). Hubbard's account (Hubbard's History of New England) was that "while some were ready to run and shift for themselves, the Captain strived so long to keep them together, to bring off the dead and wounded men, that he brought himself and company into danger of an utter overthrow, which soon after took place; for the poor unskilful soldiers, being scattered, were shifting for themselves, while a few resolute men of courage bore the brunt of the service till they were in a manner all knocked down. Lt. Richardson was killed soon after the first onset; the Captain, having received near 20 wounds, yet still held out, defending and encouraging his men, till he was surrounded with more of his enemies that he was able to grapple with, and so was at the last barbarously murdered by them within a little of the garrison house. There were slain at this time, somewhat above 40 of the English and 12 of the friendly Indians that assisted, very few escaping, but were either killed outright or dangerously wounded."


Vol. 43, p. 193 of the NEHGR (4/1889) gives an account of his war record.

In The History of Maine by Williamson, it is noted : "Tho the ranks were broken, the engagement was sharp and protracted. Capt. Swett fought the enemy hand to hand, displaying on the spot, and in the retreat of 2 miles, great presence of mind, as well as personal courage in repeated rallies of his men, in his exertions to bring off dead and wounded, and in the defense of his rear, upon which the savages hung with destructive fury. At last, wounded in 20 places and exhausted from loss of blood and by fatigue, he was grappled, thrown to the ground and cut into pieces at the gates of the garrison." Sixty of his men were killed; the Indians in his force abandoned the field very soon after the fighting began. His death was greatly lamented in Hampton Falls, NH [History of Hampton (MA) by Dow, Vol. 1, p. 223].

After the battle, the Boston authorities were criticized greatly for sending Capt. Swett against such a large band of hostile Indians with such a small army of fresh recruits.

A long document in his "own elegant handwriting" is preserved in the Massachusetts Archives. His estate (as recorded in Vol. 1, p. 199 of NH Wills) was valued at £558, 19s. with a standing debt of £2. It was administered by his wife Hester in the fall of the same year he died.

From the Norfolk County Records (NEGHS, April, 1847, p. 192) - ""Capt. Benjamin Swett of Hampton slain at Black Point by the barbarous Indians the 29th June, 1677."

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Capt. Benjamin Swett, the Indian Fighter's Timeline

1624
May 12, 1624
England
May 12, 1624
Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts
1647
November 1, 1647
Age 23
Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
1648
June 7, 1648
Age 24
Newbury, Essex, Mass.
1650
November 7, 1650
Age 26
Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
1651
January 21, 1651
Age 26
Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire
1656
March 25, 1656
Age 31
Hampton, NH
1658
January 21, 1658
Age 33
Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire
1661
September 16, 1661
Age 37
Of, Hampton, Rockingham, Nh
1664
May 16, 1664
Age 40
Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire