Nathaniel Howland (1657 - 1723)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Death: Died in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA
Occupation: minister
Managed by: Kenneth J Burgos
Last Updated:

About Nathaniel Howland

Nathaniel Howland was "one of the remarkable men of the day," according to Franklyn Howland . The records show that he was one of the foremost men in social, religious, business and political affairs. He severed the town of Dartmouth as selectman as early as 1699, and was subsequently chosen to that office several times. He served on the grande jury in 1702, was chosen moderator of the town meeting in 1721, and appointed tithingman* in 1726. He frequently appeared on committees of different descriptions. He was equally active and respected in the Quaker meeting. He almost never missed monthly meeting. He was approved and gifted minister** of the society, and the town showed its great respect for him and its confidence in his Christian integrity, by electing him minister of the town. His sons were all prominent in town affairs, and were Quakers.

It appears the he and his uncle Samuel owned the sixth lot of Freetown. They divided this lot between them 16 2nd month 1678. Samuel was to have "the part whereon the house stands and the meadows, whatsoever and wheresoever to be equally divided, Sam to have also 32 acres on the Swansea side of the river." In this division Samuel also received 20 acres of land in Swnsey. On Dec 8, 1691, Nathaniel sold the southerly half of the sixth lot in Freetown to Hanry Brightman, of Portsmouth, R.I. for 60 pounds and also half a freeman's share of the meadows at Sippican.

Nathaniel's home and land in Dartmouth, Mass. were on the north side of the road leading from New Bedford to Russell's Mills, Dartmouth, on the west bank of a brook that crosses this road, and a few hundred yards east of Slocum Road. The ruins were still discernible in 1885.

  • The office of tithingman is referred to in laws of 1682 for the first time. It was called into existence "with reference to the Indians for their better regulating and that they may be brought to live orderly, soberly and Diligently." The court assistances appointed white overseers and Indian tithingmen who looked after the interests of the natives, and together formed a petty court for the trial of Indian cases. The tithingman had placed under his oversight ten families of Indians, and it is said that for this reason he was called tithing or tenth man. The General Court in 1692 required tithingmen to be chosen by the towns, and specified their duties as follows:

"All and every person and persons whatever shall, on the Lord's day, carefully apply themselves to duties of religion and piety publicly and privately, and no tradesman, artificer, laborer, or other person whatever shall upon the land or otherwise do or exercise any labor, business, or work of their ordinary calling, nor engage in any games, sport, play or recreation on the Lord's day, or any part thereof (works of necessity and charity only excepted) upon penalty that every person so offending shall forfeit five shillings.

"No traveller, drover, horse courser, wagoner, butcher, higler, or any of their servants shall travel on that day, or any part thereof except by some adversity they were belated and forced to lodge in the woods, wilderness, or highways the night before, and in such case to travel no further than the next inn, or place of shelter, upon the penalty of twenty shillings.

"No vintner, inn holder, or other person keeping any public house of entertainment shall encourage, or suffer any of the inhabitants of the respective towns where they dwell, or other not being strangers or lodgers in such houses to abide or remain in their houses, yards, orchards, or fields drinking or idly spending their time on Saturday night after the sun is set, or on the Lord's day, or the evening following.

"All and every justice of the peace, constable, and tithingman are required to take care that this act, in all the particulars thereof, be duly observed, as also to restrain all persons from swimming in the water, and unnecessary and unseasonable walking in the streets or fields."

An additional duty prescribed later was to "diligently look after such as sleep or play about the meeting-house in times of public worship of God on the Lord's day."

The badge of office was "A Black staff tipped with Brass, which as he hath opportunity, hee shall take with him when he goeth to discharge any part of his office."

For refusing to serve when elected, there was a fine of four pounds. Service was required but one year in seven.

Prof. Adams of Johns Hopkins University said that in some towns the tithingman's rod had a squirrel's tail at one end for the purpose of awakening women sleeping in church, and a deer's foot at the other to be applied to the heads of the sterner sex.

  • * The Friends' ministers received no salary, and the Dartmouth people apparently took advantage of this fact. Each town elected its own minister, and for his support the tax was levied. At a town meeting held on 28 Jun 1723, "Nathaniel Howland was chosen minister for said town, 55 votes for Nathaniel Howland, 12 votes for Samuel Hunt." Samuel Hunt was the Presbyterian minister, and preached at the "precinct Meeting House," which stood just east of Acushnet village, in the same town. The Dartmouth people then could claim that they had no salaried minister, which justified them in not paying the church rates. But this did not satisfy the Plymouth dignitaries, and they continued to forcibly collect the tax. Dartmouth voted squarely the next year not to raise the 100 pound church rates, but promptly raised 700 pounds to pay the expenses of resisting the collecting of them by the Plymouth authorities, the selectmen to be allowed a per diem for the time they were in jail for refusing to comply with the Court Order. Two of them were in the Bristol county jail eighteen months, and were released then by an order from the King of England annulling the act of the General Court. This was the crisis, and the practice was soon ended.
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Nathaniel Howland's Timeline

1657
August 5, 1657
Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
1685
August 12, 1685
Age 28
Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts
1687
April 14, 1687
Age 29
Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts
1689
February 18, 1689
Age 31
Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts, U S A
1690
November 15, 1690
Age 33
Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, U S A
December 11, 1690
Age 33
Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts
1699
April 23, 1699
Age 41
Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts
1702
October 20, 1702
Age 45
Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, U S A
1723
March 3, 1723
Age 65
Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA
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Dartmouth?