1708, Tiverton, Rhode Island, Judge Nathaniel Byfield, Signed Bond , Wm. Briggs
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1708, Tiverton, Rhode Island, Judge Nathaniel Byfield, Signed Bond , Wm. Briggs:
This is a wonderful, original document dated 1708, Tiverton, Thode Island, where William Briggs had cut away some marsh hay, possibly on the land of Anthony Almy of Portsmouth,Rhode Island and must appear before the court to forward his plea that the land was his....written and signed by Judge Nathaniel Byfield. Document is 8x12, wrinkles, else in overall good condition.
Nathaniel Byfield(1653 – June 6, 1733) was an American jurist andSpeaker of the Massachusetts General Court.
Byfield, first judge of theCourt of Vice-Admiralty, was born in 1653, atLong Ditton,Surrey,England, the twenty-first child of Richard Byfield,rectorthere, and grandson of His father, as a member of theWestminster Assembly, helped to prepare theWestminster Shorter Catechism. His mother, Sarah Juxon, was, like many early New Englanders, 'nearly related' to anArchbishop of Canterbury.
Byfield arrived inBostonin 1674, and the next year married Deborah, daughter of Captain Thomas Clarke. Having been drafted to fight the Indians, he based a claim for exemption onXXIV Deuteronomy5. At the close ofKing Philip's Warhe invested heavily inRhode Islandlands, becoming a settler atBristol, Rhode Island, and living part of the time at Pappoosquaws Point better known in connection withNathanael Herreshoff, the famous yacht builder.
Byfield joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1679, was a member of theMassachusetts General Courtin 1696 and 1697, and served as speaker in 1698. He was commissioner for forming theexcise, and judge ofprobateforBristol County, as well as of theInferior Court of Common Pleasin Bristol andSuffolk. In June, 1710, he was suspended from the office of judge of probate 'for unmannerly and rude behaviour,' but resumed office in December, 1715. He was the first judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty from 9 June, 1699, to 20 May, 1700, whenWait Winthropobtained the place. Byfield threatened Winthrop and succeeded, throughGovernor Dudley, in securing his removal in 1701; he obtained the office for himself in December, 1703, holding it until 1715, and a third time from 1728 to 1733.
In earlier years the judge exercised much influence through his political alliance with Dudley and his marriage, in 1718, toGovernor Leverett's daughter Sarah, following the death of his first wife.Cotton Mather, in February, 1702 or 3, received a visit from Governor Dudley, whom Mather advised to allow no people to say that the governor's policies were dictated by Byfield and Leverett. Mather continues: 'The Wretch went unto those Men, and told them, that I had advised him, to be no ways advised by them: and inflamed them into an implacable Rage against me.'
Byfield was a man of positive traits, dictatorial and overbearing, ambitious and revengeful, yet so sound that no decision of his was ever, upon appeal, reversed by a higher court. He printed and gave away thousands of copies of theShorter Catechism; he strenuously opposed thewitchcraft delusion, gave hundreds of pounds yearly in charity, and devoted his eloquence freely to public affairs.
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