When the British won new territory at the end of Lovewell’s War, they lauded and rewarded three key players who rid the British of two enemies, Wabanaki leader Obomsawin and Frenchman Father Sebastien Rale. Two of the heroes were Captains Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton, leaders of the 1724 charge at Norridgewock.. The third was Lt. Richard Jaques, who had killed the infamous Rale.
Each British soldier at Norridgewock received a part of the bounty for their victims’ scalps. Capt. Harmon’s commanding officer, Col. Thomas Westbrook, gave Harmon a further monetary reward of £100 ($19,000 in 2017 dollars), and presented him with a beautiful sword.
Though Jaques was publically cheered for his role, his own family was angered by his impetuous execution of Rale. Unfortunately for Jaques, his in-laws were also his superior officers. Capt. Johnson Harmon was his father-in-law. Even worse, Capt. Jeremiah Moulton was Harmon’s father-in-law, and therefore Jaques’ grandfather-in-law. Richard Jaques’ disobedience of Moulton’s direct order to take Rale alive resulted in the priest becoming a martyr in the eyes of French Catholics and Wabanaki alike.
The Col. Westbrook who commanded the entire Norridgewock campaign, not so coincidently, was one of the Pejepscot Proprietors. Now that the war was over, the Proprietors were anxious to settle more of their land grant and recoup their investment. In particular, they were ready to develop the area south of Brunswick known as Merriconeag Neck and Sebascodegan Island. In 1727, Westbrook convinced Harmon not only to lease almost the entire two-thousand-acre Neck from the Proprietors, but also to use his prize money to buy 83 acres of it.
Jaques, in the meantime, left the military–at the encouragement of Capt. Harmon.
Family tradition claims that Richard Jaques and his wife, Mary, moved to Merriconeag Neck in 1727, along with his brother- and sister-in-law, John and Miriam (Harmon) Stover. The paper trail, however, tells another tale.
When Richard Jaques wed Mary Harmon, her father gave his “loving Son Richard Jaques” a half-acre of land on the York River. In 1727, Jaques was still there, making his living as a fisherman. Or, at least, trying to.
Commercial fishing was and is an expensive undertaking requiring a vessel, specialized equipment, and a place to process the catch. The labor intensive job was best done with a crew, so Jaques worked with a partner, John Carlisle. The two either bought supplies on credit, or borrowed money to finance their equipment or to get through a seasonal lull. By 1729, they were heavily in debt to merchant Samuel Waldo of Boston, owing nearly £800 ($150,000). When Waldo sued both men, the Inferior Court of Common Pleas order the sheriff to seize their “goods chattels or land” for payment, or “to take the Bodys of ye sd Richard Jaquese [sic] & John Carlesel [sic]…unto our Gaol* in Salem or York…”
By the turn of the decade, both men seem to have paid their debts. A 1730 York deed details Jaques’ purchase of a half-acre of land on Harmon’s Point from shipwrights Daniel Paul Jr and his brother Josiah. Jaques, it would seem, was expanding his reach in York.
Just seven years later, though, Richard and Mary Jaques finally left York for Merriconeag Neck*—after his father-in-law had left the Neck to return to York.
Other York families soon followed the Jaques and Stovers. The relative peace of the 1730s allowed Merriconeag, Sebascodegan, Brunswick, and Topsham to continue growing. Soon, Brunswick would gain enough settlers to petition Massachusetts for incorporation as a full-fledged town.
After a century of trying to settle Pejepscot, the British seemed to have won the land they so desperately sought.
- Gaol (pronounced “jail”)
- Today Merriconeag Neck and Sebascodegan Island are more commonly known as Harpswell Neck and Great Island.
Next Blog: A Slave to Money
- Ancestry.com, vital records, family histories, family trees, and databases.
- Harmon, A. C. (Artemas Canfield), The Harmon genealogy, comprising all branches in New England. Printed by Gibson bros., inc. Washington, D.C., 1920. https://archive.org/details/harmongenealogyc00harm Accessed Aug. 25, 2017.
- Jaques, Roger A. Jaques Family Genealogy, edited by Roger Jaques and Patricia Jacques for the Jaques Family Association. c1995, Decorah, Iowa. Anundsen Pub. Co. Library of Congress 9580955. Notes from this book posted by Crazyjake118 on Ancestry.com accessed July 21, 2018.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce. NOAA chart 13290. http://www.charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/13290.pdf. Accessed Aug. 26, 2017.
- Thomas, Miriam Stover. Flotsam & Jetsam. 1973. Maine State Library, call no. 974.1 T459F.
- Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. (Wheelers’) Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878. http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/wheeler/index.html, accessed July 30, 2016.
- York County (Me.). Register of Deeds. York deeds Book XVII, by Maine Historical Society; Maine Genealogical Society (1884- ); Publisher Portland Brown Thurston Company. 1894. https://archive.org/stream/yorkdeeds09main#page/590/mode/2up/. Accessed Aug. 18, 2017.