Boston: Printed and Sold by S. Kneeland, 1753.
First edition. iv, 182pp. Uncut. 1 vols. 4to. A Remarkable Copy of this Cornerstone Rarity of Colonial Americana. Later tree calf by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, gilt with red morocco label, title page and first leaf expertly remargined, with a few characters shaved from the outer margin of the title page. Final two leaves chipped and soiled, though only bring the page number from the corner of the final leaf, some minor scattered foxing. Provenance: Elizabeth Williams (signature dated 1763) Evans 7023; Sabin 32945; Church 986; Streeter Sale 679; Howes H623 (‘b’); Reese & Osborn, Struggle for North America 15. Item #319625
The present copy has the ownership signature of Elizabeth Williams, dated 1763. Elizabeth Williams (b. 1730) was the first cousin, once removed, of John Williams, who wrote the "REDEEMED CAPTIVE." Elizabeth Williams (1731-1804) was the daughter of Ephraim and Abigail Williams, who were amongst the first four English families brought in to colonise the ‘Indian Town’ settlement which is the subject of this work. Elizabeth was just seven years old when her family moved from Boston to the Massachusetts frontier mission, which would become the town of Stockbridge. These white families intended to help Anglicise and ‘civilise’ the local Mahican inhabitants, and to set an example to which they might assimilate. The mission was headed by John Sargeant, an American-born Yale-educated minister, selected for the role by the author Samuel Hopkins. Sargeant married Elizabeth Williams’ sister Abigail. After Sargeant’s death from illness at the age of thirty-nine in 1749, the mission was briefly headed by the famed theologian Jonathan Edwards. The next preacher appointed to the role was Rev. Dr. Stephen West, to whom Elizabeth Williams was married. The Williams family hold a renowned place in Massachusetts history. Her half brother Col. Ephraim Williams would go on to found Williams College
"The HISTORICAL MEMOIRS are regarded as one of the foundation stones in the relation between the Whites and Indians in the 18th century..." - Streeter. Hopkins describes the mission near the intersection of the upper Housatonic River and the Connecticut-Massachusetts line, and its activities from 1734 to 1749. He gives an intimate and detailed picture, often on a day-by-day basis. The mission was conducted by the Rev. John Sergeant, originally recruited for the job by Stephen Williams, son of the "Redeemed Captive," and long active in Indian-white relations in western Massachusetts. There is no better picture of the relationships between the two groups during this transitional period on the frontier of New England.
This is an extremely rare book. The Streeter copy lacked the title-leaf and two leaves, as apparently do a number of other copies located. "One of the rarest books relating to New England" - Sabin.
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