Item 111719 - Kennebec Purchase Deed, October 27, 1661

Item 111719 - Kennebec Purchase Deed, October 27, 1661
Contributed by Maine Historical Society
Item 111719
Kennebec Purchase Deed, October 27, 1661
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In 1661, four Boston merchants, Thomas Brattle, Antipas Boyes, Edward Tyng, and John Winslow, purchased the Kennebec patent from the Plymouth Colony for £400. The Plymouth Colony secured the patent from the Council for New England in 1630 and used it exclusively for trapping and trading fur. Because they had no intention of settlement, the boundaries were vague. The colony set up a truck house in the Cushnoc area (modern-day Augusta,) with limited success in the fur business. In 1660, once the costs of the operation became a financial burden on the Plymouth Colony, they sold to the highest bidder.

Although the new merchant owners tried to reinvigorate the fur trade, their attempts also failed, largely due to the dwindling animal populations and a change in the relationship with Indigenous communities. By 1669, the merchants leased their trading post at Arrowsic for £60 annually, and by 1675 the Maine frontier was embroiled in King Phillip’s War.

After years of war and regional unrest, Tyng, Brattle, Boyes, and Winslow splintered their shares and sold into fractions, and the patent lay dormant until the mid-18th century. In the early 1740s ambitious owners, some heirs of the original Boston merchants and some new shareholders, revitalized the company, then only known casually as the Plymouth Company. In 1753, what was once a large and vague land grant for trapping fur, became an incorporated company whose main goal was to encourage settlement. At this time, they were known officially as “The Proprietors of the Kennebeck Purchase from the late Colony of New Plymouth.”

This document reflects the Plymouth Colony’s 1661 sale to the Boston merchants. Reportedly, this parchment includes the most intact surviving Plymouth Company seal.

This item is part of a larger archival collection (Coll. 60), which is completely digitized. To search the entire collection visit our Beyond Borders search page.

To learn more about the history of the Plymouth Company or MHS's Beyond Borders project, please visit our project website.

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