Maj. Richard Waldron

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Richard Waldron

Also Known As: "Walderne", "Walden"
Birthplace: Alcester, Warwickshire, England
Death: Died in Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire, United States
Cause of death: Tortured to death by Indians
Immediate Family:

Son of William (Walderne) Waldron and Catherine (Raven) Waldron
Husband of Ann Walderne
Father of Elizabeth Gerrish; Richard Waldron; Mary Waldron; Timothy Waldron; Paul Waldron and 3 others
Brother of William Waldron, II; Foulke Waldron; John Waldron (Walderne); Humphrey (Walderne Walden) Waldron; George Waldron (Walderne) and 5 others

Occupation: Major, Predident of Colonial NH, merechant, Magerstrate, Councillor, Mill Owner, Speaker of Colonial Mass. Assembly. Major
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Maj. Richard Waldron

  • 'Major Richard Waldron (or Richard Walderne) (1615 - 1689) dominated the society and economy of early colonial Dover, New Hampshire and had a substantial presence in greater New Hampshire and in neighbouring Massachusetts. He was the second president of the colonial New Hampshire Royal Council after it was first separated from Massachusetts. [1]
  • 'An "immensely able, forceful and ambitious"[2] member of a well-off Puritan family, he left his English home and moved to what is now Dover, New Hampshire. He first came about 1635. He built mills on the Cocheco River, amassed local land holdings that endured in his family for over 170 years,[3][4] controlled much of the local native trade, and was prominent in local politics and as deputy to the Massachusetts General Court for twenty five years from 1654. He was speaker several times. When the first president of the colonial New Hampshire council, John Cutt, died suddenly, council member Walderne became the acting president or governor until Edward Cranfield arrived from England. "By the 1670s the portion of Dover known as Cocheco had become something like Waldron's personal fiefdom, and citizens in the other areas of settlement rarely challenged his social authority."[2]
  • Birth and family
  • 'Waldron (or Walderne)[5] was born in Alcester, Warwickshire, England. One of many children of William Walderne and Catherine Raven, he was christened on 6 January 1615.[6] Little is known of his early life. The name of his first wife is unknown. He married second Ann Scammon. He had several children.[7]
  • Masonian property dispute
  • 'Perhaps because he was a prominent landholder, he was singled out for a lawsuit which was part of a plan seeking to overturn all land titles in colonial New Hampshire in favour of the descendants of John Mason, the adventurer who had named New Hampshire and planted the first British colonists.[8]
  • Whipping of Quaker women
  • 'Walderne was the local magistrate whose stern Puritan action in 1662 toward three persistent Quaker women proselytisers became the stuff of condemnatory poetry by Whittier. He ordered them to be marched behind a cart through eleven townships and stripped to the waist and whipped in each. When released in the third township they were marched into, the women left for Maine.[9]
  • Cocheco Massacre
  • 'Richard Walderne may be most famous for the way he died. Local native women were allowed into the garrisoned homes of the settlers when they requested to stay the night of 27 June 1689, and, after all was still, stealthily opened the doors to waiting armed native warriors. "In one bloody afternoon, a quarter of the colonists in what is now downtown Dover, NH were gone – 23 killed, 29 captured in a revenge attack by native warriors. In one afternoon, 50 years of peaceful co-existence between the Pennacook tribe and European colonists ended. The massacre of 1689 entered the history books ...."[10] The sword-wielding elderly Walderne, once disarmed, was singled out for special torture and mutilation.[11][12]
  • "Sham" battle
  • 'Could he have escaped his death? The historian Reverend Jeremy Belknap notes that Walderne was placed in a dilemma about 13 years before his death when as leader of the New Hampshire militia he was required to bring some Massachusetts fugitive natives into custody at the end of King Philip's War. They were sheltered by the peaceful Penacooks, who had recently signed a peace treaty with Walderne. Either Major Walderne and the militia would attack to retrieve the "strange Indians" at some risk to local natives and to the militia members, or would not and would fail to carry out orders from his Boston superiors.
  • He chose what seemed a third way - invite the natives for a friendly wargame, dupe them into discharging their single-shot weapons, and apprehend the Massachusetts native fugitives at gunpoint. This "sham" or play battle that he envisioned did preserve the local natives and satisfy his Massachusetts masters but, as Belknap tells us, the humiliation and the execution or enslaving[13] of some of the native fugitives once back in Massachusetts also stoked within the local Penacooks an implacable fury and thirst for revenge which culminated in the summer slaughter of 1689.[14]
  • Family legacy
  • His son Richard, grandson Richard, and great grandson Thomas Westbrook Waldron were successively members of the Royal Council for the Province of New Hampshire.[15] The influence of this branch of the Waldron family in New Hampshire declined after the American Revolution, and though Thomas Westbrook Waldron gave his qualified support[16] to the new United States. This decline came despite the combining of families of influence within the Waldrons: President John Cutt's daughter Hannah married the second Richard Waldron and, and after her death, Cutt's grandniece Elinor Vaughan also married the second Richard Waldron. The third Richard III counted two more governors among his family connections; an uncle George Vaughan and Vaughan's brother-in-law Jonathan Belcher. Richard III in turn married the only daughter of Colonel Thomas Westbrook, leader of the eastern militia and a one-time councillor, grand daughter of a successful Portsmouth sea merchant, Captain John Sherburne, and great-granddaughter of one of the Laconia Company factors and "assistant governor"[17] Ambrose Gibbins. *However, "With the disappearance of an old and illustrious family, the release of a third of our central territory to the uses of a new population and the whirl of machinery, old Dover passed away and new Dover began its life."[18]
  • The family did not entirely disappear with the passing away of the extensive Waldron lands, however. A Thomas Westbrook Waldron, grandson of Colonel Thomas Westbrook Waldron, moved north to found a Canadian branch of the family in Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Two other grandsons, Richard Russell Waldron and Thomas Westbrook Waldron (consul) became members of the Wilkes Expedition and lent the family name to a Cape in the Antarctic, a landmark in Hawaii, and an island in the San Juan Islands of present-day Washington state. Another was an early Major of US Marines, and yet another a college principal.
  • References
  • 1.^ "Richard Waldron" in: "Brief Notices of Councilors", Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, Volume 8 By New Hampshire Historical Society, pp.337-338.
  • 2.^ a b Colonial New Hampshire - A History, by Jere Daniell, p. 60
  • 3.^ Historical Memoranda Concerning Persons and Places in Old Dover, New Hampshire By Rev. Alonzo H. Quint, p.407 as found at Google Books
  • 4.^ Cutts Genealogy, pp 536-7, which quotes Historical Memoranda by Rev. A.H. Quint
  • 5.^ He and his ancestors spelled his name as Walderne but subsequent generations wrote it as Waldron. See for example The New England Magazine Volume 0023 Issue 1 (Sept 1897) "Old Dover, New Hampshire" Garland, Caroline Harwood, In: New England Magazine, p.99 as found at;cc=newe;idno=newe0023-1;node=newe0023-1%3A1;frm=frameset;view=image;seq=107;page=root;size=s
  • 6.^ "Pedigree of Waldron from parish registers", H.G. Somerby, New England historical and genealogical register, viii 78.
  • 7.^ A Genealogical Dictionary of The First Settlers of New England, Before 1692, by James Savage, Volume #4, at s.htm but also as found at
  • 8.^ "Richard Waldron" in: "Brief Notices of Councilors", Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, Volume 8 By New Hampshire Historical Society, pp..338-9
  • 9.^ "Whipping of the Quaker Women", Dover Library,
  • 10.^ "Cocheco Massacre",
  • 11.^ "Cocheco Massacre", Dover Library,
  • 12.^ Garland, Caroline Harwood, "Old Dover, New Hampshire", The New England Magazine Volume 0023 Issue 1 (Sept 1897) p.103, as found at
  • 13.^ Everett S. Stackpole and Lucien Thompson, History of the town of Durham, New Hampshire (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes, (1913?) vol. 1, p.249 at: accessed 6 September 2010
  • 14.^ Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, volume 1, Source of Science Series [reprint], pp. 75-6.
  • 15.^ "Pepperrell Manuscripts" New England historical and genealogical register, (1865) Volume 19, p.223, footnote In:
  • 16.^ "Letter from Thomas W. Waldron to Meshech Weare" Dover, N. H., 19 August 1776, In:
  • 17.^ Rambles about Portsmouth: Sketches of persons, localities, and ..., Volume 2 By Charles Warren Brewster, William Henry Young Hackett, Lawerence Shorey, p. 51 at:
  • Works consulted
  • "Richard Waldron" in: "Brief Notices of Councilors", Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, Volume 8 By New Hampshire Historical Society, pp. 332–341 gives a comprehensive biography, in Google Books (
  • ____________________________
  • 'New England families, genealogical and memorial: a record of the ..., Volume 1 edited by William Richard Cutter
  • Pg. 170
  • The Waldron family has been traced for several centuries in England. The ancient seat of the family in in Warwickshire.
  • (I) Edward Waldron or Walderne lived at Alcester, Warwickshire, England, and was buried there January 13, 1590. He married Joan ___. Children: George, mentioned below Edward, buried February 11, 1619; William, baptized April 18, 1581.
    • (II) George Waldron, son of Edward Waldron, was buried at Alcester, April 12, 1588. He married, July 3, 1576, Joan Shollard, who was buried July 27, 1627.
      • (III) William Waldron, son of George Waldron, was baptized at Alcester, July 25, 1577, and was buried there December 25, 1636. He married, November 26, 1600, at Alcester, Catherine Raven. Children, born at Alcester: 1. William, mentioned below, 2. George, baptized April 26, 1603. 3. John, baptized October 25, 1606. 4. Thomas, baptized October 29, 1608, died in 1633. 5. Foulke, baptized March 3, 1610. 6. Robert, baptized April 8, 1612. 7. Elizabeth, baptized October 10, 1613. 8. 'Major Richard, baptized January 6, 1615; was one of the most prominent pioneers of New Hampshire, settled at Dover, New Hampshire, 1636; treasurer, commissioner to hear small causes, selectman, deputy to the general court and speaker of the house at Boston for six years; president of the province, 1681; tortured to death by Indians in 1689'. 9. Katherine, baptized February 7, 1618. 10. Alexander, baptized April 6, 1620. 11. Humphrey, baptized August 4, 1622. 12. Edward.
  • ________________
  • 'Full text of "Notable events in the history of Dover, New Hampshire, from the first settlement in 1623 to 1865"
  • A Trucking House was built at Penacook (Concord) this year by Capt. Waldron, which was enclosed by a fort, and was probably the first house ever erected there. Waldron with Peter Coffin and others designed making a settlement and had ground broken up to be improved, but in June one Thomas Dickinson was murdered by an Indian, which caused great excitement. It appeared on investigation that liquor had been sold to the Indians, which was contrary to law. Waldron and his son Paul were charged with the deed, but both denied it under oath and were acquitted. Peter Coffin was also charged with the offence, and was obliged to confess that the liquor came from his store, and was sold to the Indians by his agent, though without his knowledge. He was accordingly fined 50 Pounds and all charges. This affair appears to have broken up the Penacook settlement at this time, and no other was made there until 1726, more than half a century after.
  • ......
  • The Assembly met at Portsmouth on the i6th of March. The members from Dover were Peter Coffin, Anthony Nutter and Richard Waldron, jr.
  • ...
  • Another attempt of Mason to revive his claims was successfully resisted. Having come over from England with a mandamus, requiring the council to admit him to a seat at the board, he soon endeavored to persuade some of the people to take leases from him, threatening others if they did not, forbidding them to cut firewood and timber, asserting his right to the province and assuming the title of Lord protector. The council having prohibited these proceedings, Mason refused to hold his seat with them, and a warrant being issued for his apprehension, he suddenly returned to England. During these transactions President Cutt died, and Major Waldron, as vice president, succeeded him. The vacancy made in the council by the death of President Cutt was filled by Richard Waldron, jr.
  • .........
  • Thirteen years had almost elapsed since the seizure of the 400 Indians, by 'Major Waldron. During all this time an inextinguishable thirst of revenge had been cherished by them which never till now found opportunity for gratification. Wonolaucet, one of the sachems of Penacook, who was dismissed with his people at the time of the seizure, always observed his father's dying charge not to quarrel with the English; but Hagkins, another sachem, with some of those Indians who were seized and sold into slavery abroad and had now found their way home, could not rest till they had revenge. There were five garrisoned houses at the time around the falls where are now situated the works of the Cocheco Manufacturing Co. three on the north side, viz. Waldron's, Otis' and Heard's, and two on the south side, viz. Peter Coffin's and his son's. These houses were surrounded with timber walls, the gates of which, as well as the house doors, were secured with bolts and bars. The neighboring families, living in houses not fortified, retired to these houses by night, " but by an unaccountable negligence, no watch was kept. The Indians, who were daily passing through the town, visiting and trading with the inhabitants, as usual in time of peace, viewed their situation with an attentive eye. Some hints of a mischievous design had been given out by their squaws, but in such dark and ambiguous terms that no one could comprehend their meaning. Some of the people were uneasy, but Waldron, who from a long course of experience, was intimately acquainted with the Indians, and on other occasions had been ready enough to suspect them, was now so thoroughly secure, that when some of the people hinted their fears to him, he merrily bade them go and plant their pumpkins, saying that he would tell them when the Indians would break out. The very evening before the mischief was done, being told by a young man that the town was full of Indians and the people were much concerned ; he answered that he knew the Indians very well and there was no danger."
  • The plan which the Indians had formed was, that two squaws should go to each of the garrisoned houses, in the evening, and ask leave to lodge by the fire ; that in the night when the people were asleep, they should open the doors and gates, and give the signal by a whistle ; upon which the strange Indians, who were to be within hearing, should rush in and take their long meditated revenge. On the evening of Thursday, the 27th of June, two squaws accordingly applied to each of the garrisons for lodgings, as they frequently did in time of peace. They were admitted into all but the younger Coffin's, and the people at their request, showed them how to open the doors, in case they should have occasion to go out in the night. Mesandowit, one of their chiefs, went to Waldron's garrison, and was kindly entertained, as he had often been before. The squaws told the Major that a number of Indians were coming to trade with him the next day, and Mesandowit while at supper, with his usual familiarity, said, "Brother Waldron, what would you do if the strange Indians should come ? " The Major carelessly answered, that he could assemble an hundred men, by lifting up his finger. In this unsuspecting confidence the family retired to rest.
  • When all was quiet the gates were opened and the signal was given. The Indians entered, set a guard at the door, and rushed into the 'major's apartment, which was an inner room. Awakened by the noise, he jumped out of bed, and though now advanced in life to the age of eighty years, he retained so much vigor as to drive them with his sword through two or three doors, but as he was returning for his other arms they came behind him, stunned him with a hatchet, drew him into his hall, and seating him in an elbow chair, on a long table, insultingly asked him, " Who shall judge Indians now ?" They then obliged the people in the house to get them some victuals, and when they had done eating they cut the major across the breast and belly with knives, each one with a stroke saying, "I cross out my account." They then cut off his nose and ears, forcing them into his mouth; and when spent with the loss of blood, he was falling down from the table, one of them held his own sword under him, which put an end to his misery. They also killed his son-in-law Abraham Lee, but took his daughter Lee with several others, and having pillaged the house, set it on fire'. Otis's garrison, which was next to the Major's met with the same fate ; he was killed with several others, and his wife and children made prisoners. Heard's was saved by the barking of a dog, just as the Indians were entering. Elder Wentworth, who was awakened by the noise, pushed them out, and falling on his back, set his feet against the gate and held it till he had alarmed the people. Two balls were fired through it, but both missed him. Coffin's house was surprised, but as the Indians had no particular emnity to him, they spared his life and the lives of his family and contented themselves with pillaging the house. Finding a bag of money, they made him throw it by handfuls on the floor, while they amused themselves by scrambling for it. They then went to the house of his son, who would not admit the squaws in the evening, and summoned him to surrender, promising him quarter. He declined their offer, and determined to defend his house, till they brought out his father and threatened to kill him before his eyes. Filial affection then overcame his resolution and he surrendered. They put both families together into a deserted house, intending to reserve them for prisoners, but while the Indians were busy in plundering, they all escaped. Twenty-three people were killed in this surprisal, and twenty-nine made prisoners. Five or six houses with the mills were burned. So expeditious were the Indians in the execution of their plot, that before the people could be collected from the other parts of the town to oppose them, they fled with their prisoners and booty. As they passed Heard's garrison in their retreat, they fired upon it, but the people being prepared and resolved to defend it, and the enemy being in haste, it was preserved. The preservation of its owner was more remarkable.
  • Elizabeth Heard, with her three sons and a daughter, and some others, were returning in the night from Portsmouth. They passed up the river in their boat unperceived by the Indians, who were then in possession of the houses ; but suspecting danger by the noise they heard, after they had landed they betook themselves to Waldron's garrison, where they saw lights, which they imagined were set up for direction to those who might be seeking a refuge. They knocked and begged earnestly for admission, but no answer being given a young man of the company climbed up the wall and saw to his inexpressible surprise, an luiliau standing in the door of the house with his gun. The woman was so overcome with the fright that she was unable to fly, but begged her children to shift for themselves, and they with heavy hearts left her. When she had a little recovered, she crawled into some bushes and lay there till daylight. She then perceived an Indian coming toward her with a pistol in his hand ; he looked at her and went away ; returning he looked at her again, and she asked him what he would have; he made no answer, but ran yelling to the house, and she saw him no more. She kept her place till the house was burned and the Indians were gone, and then returning home found her own house safe. Her preservation in these dangerous circumstances was more remarkable, if, as is supposed, it was an instance of justice and gratitude in the Indians. At the time when the four hundred were seized in 1676, a yoving Indian escaped and took refuge in her house, where she concealed him ; in return for which kindness he promised her that he would never kill her, nor any of her family in any future war, and that he would use his influence with the other Indians to the same purpose. This Indian was one of the party who surprised the place and she was well known to the most of them.
  • The same day, after the mischief was done, a letter from Secretary Addington, written by order of the government, directed to 'Major Waldron', giving him notice of the intention of the Indians to surprise him under pretence of trade, fell into the hands of his son. This design was communicated to Governor Bradstreet by Major Hinchman of Chelmsford, who had learned it of the Indians. The letter was despatched from Boston, the day before, by Mr. Weare ; but some delay which he met with at Newbury ferry prevented its arrival in season.
  • The prisoners taken at this time were mostly carried to Canada, and sold to the French, being the first that were ever carried there. One of these prisoners was 'Sarah Gerrish, a remarkably fine child of seven years, and grand-daughter of Major Waldron, in whose house she lodged that fatal night. Some circumstances attending her captivity are truly-affecting. When she was awakened by the noise of the Indians in the house, she crept into another bed and hid herself under the clothes to escape their search. She remained in their hands till the next winter and was sold from one to another for several times. An Indian girl once pushed her into the river, but catching hold by the bushes, she escaped drowning, yet durst not tell how she came to be wet. Once she was so weary with travelling that she did not awake in the morning till the Indians were gone and then found herself alone in the woods, covered with snow and without any food. Having found their tracks she went crying after them till they heard her and took her with them. At another time they kindled a great fire and the young Indians told her she was to be roasted. She burst into tears, threw her arms around her master's neck and begged him to save her, which he promised to do if she would behave well. In Canada, she was bought by the Intendant's lady, who treated her well and sent her to a nunnery for her education. But when Sir William Phipps was at Quebec she was exchanged and returned to her friends, with whom she lived till she was sixteen years old.
  • _________________________
  • 'Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, Volume 8 By New Hampshire Historical Society
  • Pg. 348
  • Col. Richard Waldron, of Portsmouth, was the oldest son of 'Maj. Richard Waldron, of Cochecho'; was born in 1650 and was bred a merchant under Lt. Gov. Willoughby, of Charlestown. He settled in business at Dover, but after some years became an inhabitatant of Portsmouth, where he resided at the death of his father, in 1689.
  • _______________________

-------------------- Birth: 1614 in Alcester, Warwickshire, England. Death: 1689 in Dover, NH, USA.

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Maj. Richard Waldron's Timeline

January 6, 1615
Alcester, Warwickshire, England
September 2, 1615
Alcester, Warwickshire, England
Age 19
October 8, 1645
Age 30
Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire, United States
Age 29
Age 30
Age 32
Age 34
Age 36
Age 49