Rare 1700 Deed to Land on Georges Island in Boston Harbor

Rare 1700 Deed to Land on Georges Island in Boston Harbor

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A rare, original handwritten deed dated 27 December, 1700, in Boston, Massachusetts, and signed by Isaac Addington and Adam Winthrop. This deed covers historically significant land on Georges Island in Boston Harbor where Fort Warren sits. 

On offer is a superb and important piece of Americana specifically a handwritten deed concerning the very important geographic area of Fort Warren which defends the harbor in Boston, Massachusetts, and has done so from 1861 through the end of World War II. To buffs of the Civil War, it was also the location where the famous Union marching anthem 'John Brown' was written using a tune from an old Methodist camp song 'Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!' and signed by Isaac Addington, who served on the Salem Witch Trial Grand Jury and Adam Winthrop, the son of John Winthrop, First Governor of Massachusetts. John Winthrop (1588-1649) is perhaps best remembered for the famous sermon in which he likened the Massachusetts Bay Colony to a 'city upon a hill' a model to the world of social and religious order." (Ref: Wikipedia). This manuscript document is dated Boston 27 Dec, 1700. Folded into thirds, Calligraphic initials. SIGNED BY ADAM WINTHROP, son of John Winthrop, First Governor of Massachusetts and ISAAC ADDINGTON, clerk of the Grand Jury during the Salem Witch Trials. This is the original deed referenced by Holmes, Abiel, 1763-1837. Cambridge : Hilliard and Brown, 1829. from the Coll. Mass. HiM. Soc. iii. 299., which states: "In 1700, Adam, conveyed the island to his son-in-law and daughter, to be transmitted to their descendants. The Indenture, handsomely written on parchment, is now before me. It covenants and grants the island to "John Wainwright and to Ann his wife during the term of their natural lives, and afterward to the use and behoof of the heires of their two body., begotten or to be begotten, forever." The island was next owned by their son, John Winthrop, Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy In Harvard College; and next, by his sons, Hines and William of Cambridge, lately deceased. James purchased of William his share, and, a few years since, sold to the United States about five acres, in two parcels, at the east and west end of the island, with a passage way (rota the one to the other, for the purpose of fortifications. On the west end has been erected Fort Warren, which defends the entrance of the harbour." CONDITION: signatures are strong and legible, majority of the deed legible, though with age-wear, sometimes serious rubbing and fading, discoloration, some holes; certainly not in the presumed fine condition when Abiel Holmes held the document in 1829, but certainly very presentable with the red wax seal still intact. This document is a wonderful tapestry, comprised of the strands of early Colonial history. Inherited by his son Adam, it links the famous Winthrop name from his namesake Grandfather, Adam Winthrop (1548-1623), an English lawyer and famous Puritan reformer in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods through his great grandson, Professor John Winthrop, who was intimately connected to Harvard University's early history. The document is also witnessed and signed by Isaac Addington, the first Secretary of the Mass. Bay Colony from 1692 to 1714 who additionally served on the grand jury in the Salem witch trials. The trials famously resulted in the executions of 20 people (14 women, 6 men). PROVENANCE: Most recently from a private collector the present condition suggests this deed has long been in private hands and not an institutional archive. While in the 1820s, the deed was possibly present in the archives of the Mass Historical Society, it did not remain in the archives long thereafter and entered less protected private circulation. That stated, Mr. Jeremy B. Dibbell of the Massachusetts Historical Society has kindly confirmed that this document, like others that have entered private hands, is not the property of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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