Metacomet "King Philip"

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King Metacomet "King Phillip"

Also Known As: "Philip", "King Phillip", "Pometacomet", "Pometacom", "Philip of Pokanoket"
Birthplace: Sowans, Mount Hope, Bristol, Rhode Island
Death: August 12, 1676 (32-41)
Mt Hope, Mt. Hope, Bristol County , Rhode Island, Colonial America (Gun Shot in King Philip's War then Quartered. Head went to Boston)
Place of Burial: Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Ousamequin (Massasoit), sachem of the Pokanoket and mother of Massasoit’s children
Husband of Wootonckuaske
Father of son of Metacomet
Brother of Wamsutta / Alexander, sachem of the Pokanoket; Amie, daughter of Ousamequin (Massasoit) and unknown daughter of Massasoit

Occupation: Chief of Wampanoag, Sachem (Chief) of 31 Tribe Wampanoag Conferdacy
Managed by: Douglas Laurance Saunders
Last Updated:

About Metacomet "King Philip"

1. Metacom's name was changed at the Plymouth Colony Court on June 13, 1660 at the request of his brother Wamsutta:

"Att the earnest request of Wamsutta desiring that in record his father is lately deceased, and he being desirous . . . to change his name, that the Court would confer an English name of Alexander Pokanoket; and desiring the same in behalf of his brother, they have named him Philip."

Philip became a great Sachem for the Wampanoag Indians following the 1662 death of his brother Wamsutta (Alexander). He caused the brutal Indian war "King Philip's War", between the Algonquin Indians and the New England settlers. King Philip's War was the bloodiest war in per capita terms - New England at the time had a total population Indians and Colonists, of 80 thousand of which 6 thousand Indians and 3 thousand Colonists were killed, Thousands of settlers became wards of the colonies and refugees on public relief. Other thousands of Indians were enslaved. Indian leaders were killed in battle or executed after King Philip's War. Indian land was usurped and the Wampanoag nation was destroyed. King Philip's War constituted a massive and tragic breakdown of colonial civilization. New England stood still for 100 years.

2. While still young the authorities, to gain family favor, voted to gi ve Metacom and his older brother, Wamsutta, Christian names - Philip (refe rred to as such in the following notes) and Alexander respectively. Phili p, in his early days, was noted as a Prince Philip who was well known f or his friendship with the Colonists. Later, Philip's princely presence b rought him the title "King Philip."

3. Philip, with his dazzling figure of physical strength, was a show-of f. It was simple for him to incite envy or speculation as he strode the s treets of Massachusetts Bay with his followers or hangers-on. The histori an Samuel Morison complained that Philip "ran up bills" in Boston. He w as considered royalty.

4. Philip was accused of the death of John Sassamon (or Sausaman), a Chri stian Indian, Philip killed John because John alarmed Josiah Winslow, o ne time governor, with the news Philip was preparing his forces for a lar ge scale attack on Swanse (Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts). Sassa mon was a well established Indian working both sides between the Indians a nd the Colonists. He had retired between Pokanoket, Bristol, formerly M t. Hope, Bristol, County, Rhode Island and Plymouth, Plymouth County, Mass achusetts and spent his time fishing and exchanging intelligence with pass ersby. He was found lodged beneath the ice with his neck broken after fai ling to return from his last fishing trip, apparently having gossiped on ce too often.

Philip was charged with Sassamon's death but released from further acti on as the trial was recognized by English authorities as a lynching part y. Two witnesses had been hanged and a third shot. The authorities were c oncerned the reaction of the Indians would be disastrous. Even so, the pr ocess was infuriating to Philip and, with 40 warriors, when attending an i nvited meeting with the authorities in Providence to settle wrongs, he l et it be known that he would be trouble in the near future ending a spee ch with "I am determined not to live until I have no country."

5. King Philip's War began during the Summer of 1675 - the end of a lo ng period of peace formed by his father, Massasoit. Swanse was the fir st settlement attacked by Philip who had created a formidable force of mo re than one thousand warriors from six tribes. The town of 40 new homes w as burned to the ground. There were murders, rapes, torture and lootin g. Brookfield, Lancaster, and Worcester in Worcester County; Medfiel d, in Norfolk County; and Chelmsford and Groton, in Middlesex County, Mass achusetts attacks soon followed. Some Colonists were flayed alive, some i mpaled on sharp stakes, or roasted alive over slow fires. The Indian's at rocities were ferocious as they vent their rage.

King Philip's War was coming to and end by the Summer of 1676. Benjamin C hurch, an English officer new to the War, soon caught-up with Philp and h is sister-in-law Weetamoo. His brother had been killed, his wife and ni ne year old son captured and sent to the West Indies. Weetamoo drowned du ring a skirmish. Philip's mood was then such that he killed one of his co unselors with his bare hands when the counselor suggested peace. Alderma n, brother of the killed counselor, offered to take Church directly to Phi lip's hideout near Mt. Hope.

Philip was killed near Mt. Hope when guided there by Alderman whose gun mi sfired when Philip was confronted. He was shot in the heart by a Englishm an. Indian tradition called for a man of Philip's stature to be behead ed by an Indian which was done. English tradition called for Phil ip to be cut into four pieces which was also done. Philip's head and o ne hand were saved while the four body sections were put in trees for t he turkey vultures to feast on because a burial was forbidden to make su re Philip was not venerated.

Alderman was given Philp's hand who, for years, proudly displayed to tho se willing to pay his price, mostly in drinks. Philip's lower jaw bone w as considered a trophy in Boston where it was displayed. His head was mounted on a post and kept in Plymouth for many years.


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Metacomet "King Philip"'s Timeline

Sowans, Mount Hope, Bristol, Rhode Island
August 12, 1676
Age 37
Mt Hope, Mt. Hope, Bristol County , Rhode Island, Colonial America
Head on Pole, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States