The Memoirs of Captain Roger Clapp (1609 – 1690)

Roger Clapp is my 10th Great Grandfather.

Late in life he wrote his memoir, which I have attempted to publish complete in this post.  This text is taken directly from the book MEMOIRS of ROGER CLAPP published in 1844 by David Clapp.

This full text includes his religious motivations as well as stories of men roasted alive by Indians and having ears cut off by Puritans.

If you’d like a shortcut to Roger Clapp’s story, read this post:

If you want to know and feel the motivations of Roger Clapp and feel the tenor of the times, read on.

Thought good, my dear Children, to leave with you some Account of God’s remarkable Providences to me, in bringing me into this Land, and placing me here among his dear Servants, and in his House, who am most unworthy of the least of his Mercies.

The Scripture requireth us to tell God’s wondrous Works to our Children, that they may tell them to their Children, that God may have Glory throughout all Ages.


I was Born in England in Sallcom in Devonshire, in the Year of our Lord 1609.

My Father was a Man fearing God, and in good esteem among God’s faithful Servants: His outward Estate was not great; I think not above Eighty Pounds per Annum.

We were Five Brethren (of which I was the youngest) and Two Sisters.

God was graciously pleased to breathe by his holy Spirit (I hope) in all our Hearts, if in mine; which I am not altogether without hopes of.

Four of us Brethren lived at home: I did desire my dear Father (my dear Mother being dead) that I might live abroad, which he consented to: So I first went for tryal to live with a worthy Gentleman, Mr. William Southcot, who lived about Three Miles from the City of Exon.

He was careful to keep a Godly Family.

There being but a very mean Preacher in that Place, we went every Lord’s-Day into the City, where were many famous preachers of the Word of God.

I then took such a liking unto the Revd. Mr. John Warham, that I did desire to live near him: So I removed (with my Father’s Consent) into the City, and lived with one Mr. Mossiour, as Famous a Family for Religion as ever I knew: He kept Seven or Eight Men, and divers Maid Servants; and he had a Conference upon a Question propounded once a Week in his own Family: With him I Covenanted.

I never so much as heard of New-England until I heard of many godly Persons that were going there, and that Mr. Warham was to go also.

My Master asked me whether I would go?

I told him were I not engaged unto him I would willingly go: He answered me, that should be no hindrance, I might go for him or for myself which I would.

I then wrote to my Father who lived about Twelve Miles off, to Intreat his leave to go to New-England; who was so much displeased at first, that he wrote me no Answer, but told my Brethren that I should not go.

Having no Answer, I went and made my Request to him, and- God so Inclined his Heart, that he never said me Nay: For now God sent the Reverend Mr. Maverick, who lived Forty Miles off, a Man I never saw before: He having heard of me, came to my Father’s House, and my Father agreed that I should be with him and come under his Care, which I did accordingly.

Mind by what I have already expressed, That it was God that did draw me by his Providence out of my Father’s Family, and weaned me from it by degrees; It was God put it into my Heart to incline to Live abroad; and it was God that made my Father willing.

God by his Providence brought me near Mr. Warham, and inclined my Heart to his Ministry: God by his Providence moved the Heart of my Master Mossiour to ask me whether I would go to New-England: It was God by his Providence that made me willing to leave my dear Father, and dear Brethren and Sisters, my dear Friends and Country: It was God that made my Father willing on the first Motion I made in Person, to let me go: It was God that sent Mr. Maverick that pious Minister to me, who was unknown to him, to seek me out that I might come hither.

So God brought me out of Plymouth the 20th of March in the Year, 1629, 30, and landed me in Health at Nantasket on the 30th of May, 1630, I being then about the Age of Twenty one Years.

Blessed be God that brought me Here!

Now coming into this Country, I found it a vacant Wilderness, in respect of English.

There were indeed some English at Plymouth and Salem, and some few at Charlestown, who were very destitute when we came ashore; and Planting Time being past, shortly after Provision was not to be had for Money.

I wrote to my Friends, Friends, namely to my dear Father to send me some Provision, which accordingly he did; and also gave order to one of his Neighbours to supply me with what I needed (he being a Seaman) who coming hither supplied me with divers things.

But before this Supply came, yea and after too (that being spent) and the then unsubdued Wilderness yielding little Food, many a Time if I could have filled my Belly, tho’ with mean Victuals, it would have been sweet unto me.

Fish was a good help unto me, and others. Bread was so very scarce, that sometimes I tho’t the very Crusts of my Father’s Table would have been very sweet unto me.

And when I could have Meal & Water and Salt boiled together, it was so good, who could wish better?

I took notice of it, as a great Favour of God unto me, not only to preserve my Life, but to give me Contentedness in all these Straits; insomuch that I do not remember that ever I did wish in my Heart that I had not come into this Country, or wish myself back again to my Father’s House: Yea I was so far from that, that I wished and advised some of my dear Brethren to come hither also; which accordingly one of my Brothers and those two that married my two Sisters, sold their Means and came hither.

The Lord Jesus Christ was so plainly held out in the Preaching of the Gospel unto poor lost Sinners, and the absolute Necessity of the New Birth, and God’s holy Spirit in those Days was pleased to accompany the Word with such Efficacy upon the Hearts of many; that our Hearts were taken off from Old-England and set upon Heaven.

The Discourse, not only of the Aged, but of the Youth also, was not, How shall we go to England?

(tho’ some few did not only so Discourse, but also went back again) but How shall ive go to Heaven?

Have I true Grace wrought in my Heart? Have I Christ or no?

O how did Men and Women, young and old, Pray for Grace, beg for Christ in those Days; and it was not in vain: Many were Converted, and others established in Believing: many joined unto the several Churches where they lived, confessing their Faith publickly, and shewing before all the Assembly their Experiences of the Workings of God’s Spirit in their Hearts to bring them to Christ: which many Hearers found very much Good by, to help them to try their own Hearts, and to consider how it was with them; whether any work of God’s Spirit were wrought in their own Hearts or no?

Oh the many Tears that have been shed in Dorchester Meeting-House at such times, both by those that have declared God’s Work on their Souls, and also by those that heard them.

In those days, God, even our own God, did Bless New England.

I find by what I heard from those that have publicly declared what God had done for their Souls in bringing them unto Christ by Faith, that God doth work divers ways upon the Hearts of Men, even as it pleases Him; upon some more sensibly, and upon others more insensibly; verifying the Text in the 3d Chapter of John, 8th Verse,The Wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou nearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: So is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Tho’ we may hear the Sound of it, that is, be be sensible that the Spirit works, or has been at work; yet not know whence it comes, fyc.

If ever there were the Work of Grace wrought savingly in my Heart; the Time when, the Place where, the manner how, was never so apparent unto me, as some in their Relations say it hath been unto them.

I shall hint a little unto you what I have found.

I remember God did long ago convince me of my Sin, (I cannot tell you how) and also of a corrupt Nature, whereby I feel my self prone to Sin.

I had in my younger Days a love to Sin; and had it not been for the Fear of Hell, and of my Parents and Friends, I doubtless should have been as Vile as the worst of Men.

The Care and Counsel of my dear Friends, by the Restraining Grace of God, kept me from committing of those horrid Abominations that some fell into; yet am I not thereby Justified.

I had such a love to Play with Children and Youth, that I did too often Play with them upon the Lord’s-Day, if I could hide it from my dear Relatives.

But God was pleased to make my Conscience to be out of quiet, which made me Pray to God many Times in Secret; yet I had a Love to the Pleasure of Sin, and did love to see others Play though it were on the Lord’s Day.

But on a Time on the Lord’s Day, when I was standing by, and seeing some Youths Play, they gave me those Points which they played for, to hold for them until their Game was out; and my Conscience not being quiet, God brought that saying of Saul, afterwards Paul, to my Mind, who did acknowledge that he was guilty of the Death of Stephen; for he stood by, and kept the Garments of them that slew him: I then put down that which I had in keeping for them, and went away; and God did help me afterwards to delight more in Them that fear’d him.

I did often go to hear the Word of God preached, with my Brethren and others abroad, when we had no Preaching at home; and God inclined my Heart to love those that fear’d him.

That Text in 1 Joh. iii. 14.

I have often heard alledged, We know that we have passed from Death to Life, became we love the Brethren; tho’ I heard also it must be because the Image of God was on them.

Upon Examination of my self, whether I did love the Saints upon right grounds?

I did and do still hope that my Love to the Saints was and is rightly grounded; and that for these Reasons;

1. In former Times I do remember there was a Young Man came into the Congregation where I was, a Stranger to me, and a very hard favoured Man; I had no love to his Person ; but not long after I heard, that he feared God; and upon the very Report thereof my Heart was knit unto him, altho’ I never spake with him that I know of.

2. Because I find my Heart doth contemn vile Persons. I do not desire their Society: But when I am by God’s Providence called to be with such, so that I cannot avoid it, I say in my Heart, Wo is me that I am constrained to be with such Persons.

3. To this very Day if I perceive or do but hear of a Man or Woman that feareth God, let him be Rich or Poor, English or Indian, Portugal or Negro, my very Heart closeth with him.

4. Because my Heart doth most close with, and most highly prize those that are most excellent, most holy, most worthy Instruments of God’s Glory and his People’s Good. My earnest Desire and Prayer is, that God will help me to love his Graces more and more in all men wherever the Grace of God appears to be.

After God had brought me into this Country, He was pleased to give me Room in the Hearts of his Servants; so that I was admitted into the Church Fellowship at our first beginning in Dorchester, in the Year 1630.

Jesus Christ being clearly Preached, and the way of coming to him by Believing was plainly shown forth; yet because many in their Relations spake of their great Terrors and deep Sense of their lost Condition, and I could not so find as others did, the Time when God wrought the Work of Conversion in my Soul, nor in many respects the Manner thereof; it caused in me much Sadness of Heart, and Doubtings how it was with me, Whether the Work of Grace were ever savingly wrought in my Heart or no?

How to cast off all Hope, to say, and verily to Believe that there was no Work of Grace wrought by God in my Heart, this I could not do: yet how to be in some measure assured thereof was my great Concern: But hearing Mr. Cotton Preach out of the Revelations, that Christ’s Church did come out of great Tribulation, he had such a Passage as this in his Sermon, “That a small running Stream was “much better than a great Land Flood of Water, thai’ “the Flood mdketh the greatest Noise: So, saith he, A. “little constant Stream of godly Sorrow, is better than great great Harrow “: God spake to me by it, it was no little Support unto me.

And God helped me to hang on that Text (and thro’ his Grace I will continue so to do) viz. This is a faithful saying worthy of all Acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the World to save Sinners.

God has made me sensible that I am a Sinner, and Jesus Christ came to save Sinners, and why not me, tho’ a very sinful man: Thro’ the Grace of God I desire to rest alone upon Jesus Christ for Salvation.

In my saddest Troubles for want of a clear Evidence of my good Estate, I did on a Time Examine my self upon my Bed in the Night, concerning my spiritual Estate; putting my self upon this Trial, How my Heart stood affected to Sin 1 The Question to my Soul was this (pitching upon that Sin which I did confess my natural Corruption most inclined me to) The Question, I say, which by God’s help, I put to my very Heart and Soul was,Whether if God would assure me that I should be saved, although I should commit such a Sin, my Heart were willing to commit it or no?

And my very Heart and Soul answered, No, I would not Sin against God, though I should not be damned for sinning, because God has forbidden it.

At that Time my Conscience did witness to me that my State was good: And God’s holy Spirit did witness (I do believe) together with my Spirit, that I was a Child of God; and did fill my Heart and Soul with such a full Assurance that Christ was mine, that it did so transport me as to make me cry out upon my Bed with a loud Voice, He is come, He is come.

And God did melt my Heart at that time so that I could, and did 3 mourn and shed more Tears for Sin, than at other Times: Yea the Love of God, that he should Elect me, and save such a worthless one as I was, did break my very Heart.

I say again, When I had most Assurance of God’s Love, I could mourn most for my Sins.

Dear Children, Slight not serious Examination: It is good to commune with your own Hearts upon your Bed.

That Glimpse of God’s eternal Love which I had at that Time, was better to me than all the World ; yea far better than Life itself.

But Oh wretched Man that I am, I have a Body of Death that presseth me down, and hinders me from living always in such a heavenly Frame: But I do desire to devote my self unto God to be His; resting and relying upon Him alone for Grace and Glory.

If God shall be pleased to save me, such a poor Worm, from my Sins, and at last bring me to himself in Heaven at my Death, let Him have everlasting Honour, Glory and Praise, World without end.


The Scripture saith, He that Believeth shall be saved: I hope God has not only wrought Historical Faith in me, but also true Justifying Faith; Faith to receive Jesus Christ to be my King, Priest and Prophet: If my Heart do not deceive me, I do prize him above Kingdoms: I desire him more than Life, and to be made more and more like him in Holiness and Righteousness all the Days of my Life.

Oh the Riches of his free Grace to put any holy Desires in my Heart! I leave this with you, that you may plead God’s free Promises, which are, That He will circumcise our Hearts and the Hearts of our Seed.

God’s Covenant is unto the Faithful and to their Seed.

Pray earnestly that God will be pleased to circumcise your Hearts, and cause you to walk in his Ways; so shall you be serviceable to him here, and be everlastingly Happy in the World to come.

I also leave these my Experiences with you, not knowing but it may be some Support unto you, altho’ you cannot find that methodical Work in your Conversion, as some say they find in theirs.

Sure God works diversly on the Hearts of his Children in their Conversion.

If God works any manner of way for the bringing of you to Christ, to rest on Him alone, and fill your Hearts with Love to God and his People, and help you to be low in your own Esteem, and to hate all Sin in your selves and all Men; Bless God for such an unspeakable Gift, though you know not the Time, nor the manner of God’s working in you.

I now return to declare unto you some of the wonderful Works of God in bringing so many of his faithful Servants hither into this Wilderness, and Preserving us and ours unto this Day; notwithstanding our great Unworthiness, and notwithstanding the many Assaults and Stratagems of Satan and his Instruments against God’s People here.

I say wonderous Works!

For was it not a wonderous Work of God, to put it into the Hearts of so many Worthys to agree together, when Times were so bad in England, that they could not Worship God after the due manner prescribed in his most holy Word, but they must be Imprisoned, Excommunicated, Sic.

I say that so many should should agree to make humble Suit unto our Sovereign Lord the KING, to grant them and such as they should approve of, a Patent of a Tractof Land in this remote Wilderness, a Place not Inhabited but by very barbarous Nations!

And was it not a wonderous good Hand of God to incline the Heart of our KING so freely to grant it, with all the Priviledges which the Patent expresseth!

And what a wonderous Work of God was it, to stir up such Worthys to undertake such a difficult Work, as to remove themselves and their Wives and Children, from their Native Country, and to leave their gallant Scituations there, to come into this Wilderness, to set up the pure Worship of God here!

Men fit for Government in the Magistracy, and in Families; and sound, godly, learned Men for the Ministry, and others that were very precious Men and Women, who came in the Year 1630.

Them that came then were Magistrates; Men of Renown were:

Mr. Winthrop, Governour,
Mr. Dudley, Deputy Governour,
Sir Richard Saltonstall,
Mr. Johnson,
Mr. Rossiter,
Mr. Ludlow,
Mr. Nowel,
and Mr. Bradstreet: Mr. Endicott came before, and others came then, besides those named.

And there came famous Ministers in that Year, and afterwards: as to name some; Mr. Wilson, Mr. Warham, Mr. Maverick, and Mr. Phillips.

In our low Estate God did Chear our Hearts in sending good and holy Men and Women, and also famous Preachers of the Word of God; as:

Mr. Eliot,
Mr. Weld,
Mr. Cotton,
Mr. Hooker,
Mr. Bulkley,
Mr. Stoughton,
Mr. Nathanael Rogers,
and Mr. Ezekiel Rogers,
Mr. Shepard,
Mr. Mather,
Mr. Peters,
Mr. Davenport,
Mr. Whiting,
Mr. Cobbet,
Mr. Hubbard,
Mr. Brovm,
Mr. Flint,
Mr. Thomson,
Mr. Newman,
Mr. Prudden,
Mr. Norris,
Mr. Huit,
Mr. Street, and many others.

Thus did God work wonderfully for his poor People here.

Then in those Days did God manifest his Presence among us, in converting many Souls, in gathering his dear Ones into Church-Fellowship each with other, by solemn Covenants; wherein they gave up themselves and their Seed to the Lord, choosing Him to be their God, who hath freely promised so to be, and to our Seed for ever, if we & they do not forsake him.

But if any of you (dear Children) forsake the Lord, tho’ you were the Sons of David, he would cast you off for ever.

Cleave to God, and never, never depart from him; and He will never fail you nor forsake you.

In those Days great was the Tranquillity & Peace of this poor Country: And there was great Love one to another; very ready to help each other; not seeking their own, but every one another’s Wealth.

Then Sin did not so openly abound among us: Drunkenness, Adultery, Fornication, Oppression, and abominable Pride which now abounds among us, and threatens our Ruin, was then loathsome almost in every ones Eyes.

Then God did bless us in the Fruits of the Earth, but especially in spiritual Things: many Souls were converted to God, and very often many added to the Churches.

But this glorious Work of God towards his People here was soon maligned by Satan; and he cast into the minds of some corrupt Persons very erroneous Opinions, which did breed great Disturbance in the Churches.

And he puffed up his Instruments with horrible Pride, insomuch that they would oppose the Truth of God delivered Publickly: and some times, yea most times they would do it by way of Query, as if they desired to be informed: but they did indeed accuse our godly Ministers of not preaching Gospel, saying they were Legal Preachers, hut themselves were for free Grace, and Ministers did Preach a Covenant of Works; which was a false Aspersion on them.

 The Truth was, they would willingly have lived in Sin, and encouraged others so to do, &fc. And yet think to be saved by Christ, because his Grace is free; forgetting (it seems) that those whom Christ doth save from Hell, he also freely of his Grace doth save from Sin; for he came to save his People from their Sins, to give Repentance and Remission of Sins

In our beginning many were in great Straits for want of Provision for themselves and their little Ones.

Oh the Hunger that many suffered, and saw no hope in an Eye of Reason to be supplyed, only by Clams, and Muscles, and Fish. We did quickly build Boats, and some went a Fishing. But Bread was with many a very scarce thing; and Flesh of all kinds as scarce.

And in those Days, in our Straits, though I cannot say God sent a Raven to feed us, as He did the Prophet Elijah; yet this I can say to the Praise of God’s Glory, that He sent not only poor ravenous Indians, which came with their Baskets of Corn on their Backs, to Trade with us, which was a good Supply unto many; but also sent Ships from Holland and from Ireland with Provisions, and Indian Corn from Virginia, to supply the Wants of his dear Servants in this Wilderness, both for Food and Rayment.

And when Peoples Wants were great, not only in one Town but in divers Towns; such was the godly Wisdom, Care and Prudence (not Selfishness but Self-Denial) of our Governour Winthrop and his Assistants, that when a Ship came laden with Provisions, they did Order that the whole Cargo should be bought for a general Stock : And so accordingly it was, and Distribution was made to every Town, and to every Person in each Town, as every Man had need.

Thus God was pleased to care for his People in Times of Straits, and to fill his Servants with Food &t Gladness: Then did all the Servants of God bless his holy Name, and love one another with pure Hearts fervently.

Before I proceed any further, I will inform you that God stirred up his poor Servants to use Means in their beginning for their Preservation; though a low and weak People, yet a willing People to lay out their Estates for the Defence of themselves and others.

They having Friends in divers Places who thought it best for our safety to build a Fort upon the Island now called Castle-Island; at first they built a Castle with Mud-Walls, which stood divers Years: First Capt. Simpkins was Commander thereof, and after him, Lieut. Monish, for a little space.

When the Mud-Walls failed, it was built again with Pine Trees and Earth; and Capt. Davenport was Commander.

When that decayed, which was within a little Time, there was a small Castle built with Brick Walls, and had three Rooms in it; a dwelling Room below, a lodging Room over it, the Gun Room over that, wherein stood Sir very good Saker Guns, and over it upon the Top Three lesser Guns.

All the Time of our Weakness, God was pleased to give us Peace, until the Wars with the Dutch in Charles theIPs Time.

At that Time our Works were very weak, and Intelligence came to us that Durother (Or, De Ruither, a famous Dutch Admiral.) a Dutch Commander of a Squadron of Ships, was in the West-Indies, and did intend to visit us; whereupon our Battery also was repaired, wherein are Seven good Guns.

But in the very Time of this Report in July 1665, God was pleased to send a grievous Storm of Thunder &t Lightning, which did some hurt at Boston, and struck dead here at the Castle-Island, that worthy, renowned Captain Richard Davenport; upon which the General Court in Aug. 10th following, appointed another (It was Capt. Clap Himself) Captain in the Room of him that was slain.

But behold God wrought for us; for although Durother intended to come here, yet God by contrary Winds kept him out; so he went to Newfoundland, and did great spoil there.

And again when Danger grew on us by reason of the late Wars with Holland, God permitted our Castle at that very Time to be Burnt down; which was on the 21st Day of March 1672, 3: But still God was pleased to keep this Place in Safety: The Lord enlarge our Hearts unto Thankfulness.

I will now return unto what I began to hint unto you before; namely, that Satan and his instruments did malign us, and oppose our Godly Preachers, saying they were legal Preachers, but themselves were for free Grace, and for the Teachings of the Spirit: And they prevailed so by their Flatteries and fair Speeches, that they led away not only Silly Women laden with their Lusts, but many Men also, and some of strong Parts too; who were not ashamed to give out that our Ministers were but legal Preachers, and so endeavoured to bring up an evil Report upon our faithful Preachers, that they themselves might be in high Esteem.

And many of them would presume to Preach in private Houses, both Men and Women, much like the Quakers.

They would talk of the Spirit, and ofRevelations by the Spirit without the Word, as the Quakers do, talk of the Light within them, rejecting the holy Scriptures.

But God by his Servants assembled in a Synod at Cambridge in 1637, did discover his Truth most plainly, to the Establishment of his People, and the changing ofsome, and to the recovery of not a few, which had been drawn away with their Dissimulations.

Thus God delivered his People out of the Snare ofthe Devil at that Time.

Let Us, and do You in your Generations, Bless the holy Name of the Lord: the Snare is broken, and we and ours are delivered.

There were some that not only stood out obstinate against the Truth, but continually reviled both our godly Ministers and Magistrates, and greatly troubled our Israel: But by Order of the General Court they were Banished out of this Jurisdiction.

And then had the Churches Rest and were multiplied.

Many Years after this, Satan made another Assault upon God’s poor People here, by stirring up the Quakers to come amongst us, both Men & Women; who pretended Holiness and Perfection, saying they spake and acted by the Spirit fy Light within, which (as they say) is their Guide: And most Blasphemiously said, that the Light within is the Christ the Saviour; and deceived many to their Perswasion.

But, blessed be God, the Government and Churches both, did bear witness against them, and their loathsome and pernicious Doctrine; for which they were Banished out of this Jurisdiction, not to return without Licence, upon pain of Death.

The Reason of that Law was, because God’s People here, could not Worship the true and living God, astfHe hath appointed us in our publick Assemblies, without being disturbed by them: And other weighty Reasons; as the Dangerousness of their Opinions, &fc.

Some of them presumed to Return, to the loss of their Lives, for breaking that Law, whicl was made for our Peace and Safety.

Dear Children, Beware of False Teachers, tho’ the; come unto you in Sheep’s Cloathing as some of the Ana baptists do, yet they will prove manyof them (I doubt but as ravening Wolves; their Doctrine being so corrupt as appears in their printed Books.

One of them says “That it is an Article of his Faith, that the Miseries and “Death that came by Adam’s Fall, extendeth not unto all “Eternity.”

Another cryeth down all Learning of Sciences and Tongues to fit Men for the Work of the Ministry.

Others of them deny that the Magistrate hath any Power to Punish the Breach of the first Table of the Law; although the Scripture be plain, that the Magistrate ought to pull down the Groves, and overthrow the Images set up for Idolatry, yea though it were the brazen Serpent, and call it Nehushtan.

Now as Satan has been a lying Spirit to deceive and ensnare the Mind to draw us from God by Error, so hath He stirred up evil Men to seek the hurt of this Country; but God hath delivered his poor People here from Time to Time: Sometimes by putting Courage into our Magistrates to punish those that did Rebel; and sometimes God hath wrought for us by his Providence other-ways.

Here was one Ratcliff spake boldly and wickedly against the Government and Governours here, using such words, as some judged, deserved Death.

He was for his Wickedness Whipt, and had both his Ears cut off in Boston A.D. 1631; I saw it done.

There was one Morton that was a pestilent Fellow, a Troubler of the Country, who did not only seek our Hurt here, but went to England, and did his utmost there, by false Reports against our Governour; but God wrought for us, and saved us, and caused all his Designs to be of none Effect.

There arose up against us one Bull, who went to the Eastward a Trading, and turned Pirate and took a Vessel or two, and plundered some Planters thereabouts, and intended to return into the Bay, and do Mischief to our Magistrates here in Dorchester and other Places: But as they were weighing Anchor, one of Mr. Shorfs Men shot from the shore, and struck the principal Actor dead, and the Rest were filled with Fear and Horrour.

They having taken one Anthony Dicks a Master of a Vessel, did endeavour to perswade him to Pilot them unto Virginia; but he would not.

They told him that they were filled with such Fear and Horrour, that they were afraid of the very Rattling of the Ropes: This Mr. Dickstold me with his own Mouth.

These Men fled Eastward, and Bull himself got into England; but God destroyed this wretched Man.

Thus the Lord saved us at this time, from their wicked Device against us.

There was also one Capt. Stone about the Year 1633 or 1634 who carried himself very proudly, and spake contemptuously of our Magistrates, and carried it lewdly in his Conversation.

For his Misdemeanour, his Ship’ was stayed, but he fled and would not obey Authority; and there came Warrants to Dorchester to take him dead or alive; so all our Souldiers were in Arms, and Centinels were set in divers Places; and at length he was found in a great Corn-Field, where we took him and carried him to Boston; but for want of one Witness, when he came to his Trial, he escaped with his Life.

He was said to be a Man of great Relation, and had great Favour in England; and he gave out threatening Speeches. Tho’ he escaped with his Life, not being hanged for Adultery, there being but one Witness; yet for other Crimes he was fined, and payed it: And being dismissed he went towards Virginia; but by the way putting into the Pequot Country to Trade with them, the Pequots cut off both him and his Men, took his Goods and burnt his Ship.

Some of the Indians reported, That they Roasted him alive. Thus did God destroy him that so proudly threatened to ruin us by complaining against us when he came to England: Thus God destroyed him; and delivered us at that time also.

About that time, or not long after, God permitted Satan to stir up the Pequot Indians to kill divers English Men, as Mr. Oldham, Mr. Tilly and others: And when the Murtherers were demanded, instead of delivering them, they proceeded to destroy more of our English about Connecticut; which put us upon sending out Souldiers, once and again; whom God prospered in their Enterprizes, until the Pequot People were destroy’d.

See Mr. Increase Mather’s Relation of the Troubles which ha ve happened in New-England by reason of the Indians, from 1634 to 1675.

I say nothing to you of the late War, but refer you to the Histories in Print.

Thus was the Lord pleased to deliver us at that time also, and to put a Fear and Dread of Us into the Hearts of the Indians round about us: And many of them did voluntarily put themselves under the Government of the English.

It also pleased God to put it into the Hearts of some of our Worthies, to consider that one End of our coming hither was to Preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Indians, for the saving of God’s Elect, and for the bringing into Christ’s Kingdom those that were as in Highways and Hedges.

Some did therefore set themselves to learn the Indian Language, and so taught them to know GOD and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they never knew or heard of before, nor their Fathers before them; and to know Themselves, namely their Misery by Nature and by reason of Sin.

Among others, the principal was that Revd. Man of God Mr. John Eliot, Teacher of the Church of Christ at Roxbury; whose great Labour and Pains in Catechising, preaching the Word, and translating the BIBLE into the Indian Language, God has blessed, I doubt not, to the converting of many among them.

He that Converteth Souls shall shine as the Sun in the Firmament.

Oh how glorious will the shining of that Star be in Heaven!

I rejoice to think of it.

Furthermore, know ye, that God wrought wonderfully for our Preservation, when Men Abroad (and doubtless some at Home) endeavoured to overthrow our Government; and prevailed so far, that Commissioners were sent from England hither with such Power and Authority, that doubtless put themselves, (and too many among us) in Hopes that they had attained their Ends.

They proceeded so far that they set up a Court, appointed the Time and Place, and gave out their Summons; yea for our then Honoured Govemour & Company, Personally to appear before them: But the Lord our God was for us, tho’ Troubles were very near: He stirred up a mighty Spirit of Prayer in the Hearts of his People.

This poor Country cryed and the Lord heard and delivered them from all their Fears.

And the Lord put Wisdom and Courage into the Hearts of his Servants then sitting in the General Court, to give such Ansivers, and to make such a Declaration, published by a Man appointed on Horse-back, with the Trumpet sounding before the Proclamation to give the People notice that something was to be published, which was done in three several Places in Boston; that it put an End to their Court, and (through God’s Goodness) to our Troubles at that time about that matter.

And as our Court did assert our Privileges granted unto us by Patent, and did adhere thereto; so our God hath hitherto continued the same unto us: Blessed be his glorious Name!

I humbly beg of God that he will in Mercy continue those Privileges unto You and Yours in your Generations, for Jesus Christ’s sake.


I gave you a hint towards the beginning, that I came out of Plymouth in Devon, the 20th of March, and arrived at Nantasket (now Hull) the 30th of May 1630.

Now this is further to inform you, that there came many Godly Families in that Ship: We were of Passengers many in Number (besides Sea-men) of good Rank: Two of our Magistrates came with us, viz. Mr. Rossiter and Mr. Ludlow.

These godly People resolved to live together; and therefore as they had made choice of those two Revd. Servants of God, Mr. John Warham and Mr. John Maverick to be their Ministers, so they kept a solemn Day of Fasting in the New Hospital in Plymouth in England, spending it in Preaching and Praying: where that worthy Man of God, Mr. John White of Dorchester in Dorset was present, and Preached unto us the Word of God, in the fore-part of the Day; and in the latter part of the Day, as the People did solemnly make Choice of, and call those godly Ministers to be their Officers, so,also the Revd. Mr. Warham and Mr.Maverick did accept thereof, and expressed the same.

So we came, by the good Hand of the Lord, through the Deeps comfortably; having Preaching or Expounding of the Word of God every Day for Ten Weeks together, by our Ministers.

When we came to Nantasket, Capt. Squeb, who was Captain of that great Ship of Four Hundred Tons, would not bring us into Charles River, as he was bound to do; but, put us ashore and our Goods on Nantasket Point, and left us to shift for our selves in a forlorn Place in this Wilderness.

But as it pleased God, we got a Boat of some old Planters, and laded her with Goods; and some able Men well Armed went in her unto Charlestown: where we found some Wigwams and one House, and in the House there was a Man which had a boiled Bass, but no Bread that we see: but we did eat of his Bass, and then went up Charles River, until the River grew narrow and shallow, and there we landed our Goods with much Labour and Toil, the Bank being steep.

And Night coming on, we were informed that there were hard by us Three Hundred Indians: One English Man that could speak the Indian Language (an old Planter) went to them and advised them not to come near us in the Night; and they hearkened to his Counsel, and came not.

I my self was one of the Centinels that first Night: Our Captain was a Low Country Souldier, one Mr. Southcot, a brave Souldier.

In the Morning some of the Indians came and stood at a distance off, looking at us, but came not near us: but when they had been a while in view, some of them came and held out a great Bass towards us; so we sent a Man with a Bisket, and changed the Cake for the Bass.

Afterwards they supplied us with Bass, exchanging a Bass for a Bisket-Cake, and were very friendly unto us.

Oh Dear Children!

Forget not what Care God had over his dear Servants, to watch over us, and protect us in our weak beginnings.

Capt. Squeb turned ashore Us and our Goods, like a mercyless Man; but God, even our merciful God, took pity on us; so that we were supplied, first with a Boat, and then caused many Indians, (some Hundreds) to be ruled by the Advice of one Man, not to come near us: Alas had they come upon us, how soon might they have destroyed us!

I think We were not above Ten in Number.

But God caused the Indians to help us with Fish at very cheap Rates.

We had not been there many Days, (although by our Diligence we had got up a kind of Shelter, to save our Goods in) but we had Order to come away from that Place, (which was about Watertovm) unto a Place called Mattapan (now Dorchester) because there was a Neck of Land fit to keep our Cattle on: So we removed and came to Mattapan: The Indians there also were kind unto us.

Not long after, came our renowned fy blessed Governour, and divers of his Assistants with him.

Their Ships came into Charles River, and many Passengers landed at Charlestown, many of whom died the Winter following.

Governour Winthrop purposed to set down his Station about Cambridge, or somewhere on the River: but viewing the Place, liked that plain Neck that was called then Black-stones-Neck, now Boston.

But in the mean time, 4* before before they could build at Boston, they lived many of them in Tents and Wigwams at Charlestown; their Meeting-Placebeing abroad under a Tree; where I have heard Mr. Wilson and Mr. Phillips Preach many a good Sermon.

In those Days God did cause his People to trust in him, and to be contented with mean things.

It was not accounted a strange thing in those Days to drink Water, and to eat Samp or Homine without Butter or Milk.

Indeed it would have been a strange thing to see a piece of Roast Beef, Mutton or Veal; though it was not long before there was Roast Goat.

After the first Winter, we were very Healthy; though some of us had no great Store of Corn.

The Indians did sometimes bring Corn, and Truck with us for Cloathing and Knives; and once I had a Peck of Corn or thereabouts, for a little Puppy-Dog.

Frost-fish, Muscles and Clams were a Relief to many.

If our Provision be better now than it was then, let us not, (and do you Dear Children take heed that you do not) forget the Lord our God.

You have better Food and Raiment, than was in former Times; but have you betterHearts than your Fore-fathers had?

If so, Rejoice in that Mercy, and let New-England then shout for Joy.

Sure all the People of God in other parts of the World, that shall hear that the Children and Grand-Children of the first Planters of New-England, have better Hearts, and are more heavenly than their Predecessors; they will doubtless greatly Rejoice, and will say, This is the Generation whom the Lord hath Blessed.

And now, Dear Children, I know not the Time of my Death; my Time is in God’s Hands; but my Age shows me it cannot be far off.

Therefore, while I am in Health and Strength, I tho’t good to put into Writing and leave with you, what I have desired in my Heart, and oftentimes expressed to you with my Tongue.

I say, I do here charge you solemnly, and every one of you, as if I did Charge you every one by Name; Sons, Daughters and Grand-children, that now are capable of Understanding, and as you shall be capable from time to time; and Servants, or any other whom God hath placed within my Gates: I say, I Charge you that every one of you Fear the Lord our God, and obey his Commandments; which is the Duty of every Man, and much more Yours, whom He hath graciously taken into Covenant with Himself, and hath promised to be a God to you in your Generations.

The Promise made to Abraham and his Seed in their Generations, doth extend it self to the Believer and his Seed in the Gospel Times: for the Apostle saith, Acts 2. 39. For the Promise is to You, and to your Children.

He spake this in Gospel Times, after Christ was gone to Heaven: and he doth not say, The Promise was, but the Promise is, and shall be so hereafter, to those that are afar off also, yea to as many as the Lord our God shall call, to the end of the World; the Promise is to them and to their Seed.

Oh then, if God be your God, you are his People: Then see that you Fear him, and stand in awe and Sin not: See that you do Honour him; A Son Honoureth his Father: See that you Love Him with all your Souls and Strength. If you do truly Love God, you will keep all

his Commandments, and you will hate Evil: Ye that Love the Lord hate Evil.

You cannot Love the Lord, and Love Sin too: No Man can serve two contrary Masters.

If you Love the Lord, you will very often think of Him: How do Lovers think of one another, though far absent? but God is not far absent from a Believer.

I Charge you, Think often on God: Those that forget God, are wicked Men and Women, and shall be turned into Hell.

And if you truly Love God, you will Love the Word of God, and all his holy Appointments, the Habitation of his Holiness.

And if you Love God dearly, as you ought to do, it will grieve your Hearts to see Him dishonoured, and his Laws Transgressed: David’s Eyes ran down with Tears, because Men transgressed God’s Laws.

And if you Love God, you will delight to have Communion with Him, and to pour out your Hearts into his Bosom.

Beg of God, that He would put his Fear into your Hearts, and that He would cause you to Love Him.

Intreat Him to Love you freely. God must Love Us first, before we can Love Him: And I can tell you, The Love of God unto your Souls is better than all the World: His loving Kindness is abundantly better than Life.

Oh prize it: seek for it more than for earthly Treasure: Seek and you shall find: God will give his Holy Spirit to those that ask it.

If you ask the Spirit of God out of a deep Sense of the Want of it; if you ask it in Christ’s Name and for his sake; if you ask the Holy Spirit to Sanctify you, and cleanse you from your Sins; if you ask the Spirit to lead you into all Truth, and to guide you in all the Ways ofGod, and to enable you to do all that Duty God requires of you; Doubt not, but know assuredly, God will give his Holy Spirit unto you.

Oh my Dear Children and Grand Children! for the Lord’s-sake labour for better Hearts, and to live better Lives than your poor Parents have done before you! And that you may so do,

I. Study to Know your own Hearts, to know the Plague that there is in them.

There is a Plague in every Man’s Heart, the deadly Plague of Sin; which the Apostle Paul by study and diligent search found in himself, which made him cry out, Oh wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me from this Body of Death: And again, In me, that is, in my Flesh, dwelleth no good thing.

And blessed Job also by searching, found it out; which made him say, Behold I am vile: And again, I abhor my self and repent in Dust and Ashes.

Surely when Men see the Plague of Sin in their Hearts, and the Danger of Death thereby, (for the Plague is a deadly Disease) it will make them cry out, What shall we do to be saved?

II. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Come as the Woman of Canaan did for her Daughter, and say as she did, Lord, help me.

Oh come you to Jesus Christ the great Physician for Help!

He can help you, and He is willing to help: He said to the Leper, I will: He bids you Come to Him; and again, Whoever will, let him come, and, take freely.

And as He is able and willing, so if you come to Him for new Hearts and holy Lives, He will certainly bestow the same upon every one of you.

Those that come to me (saith Christ) I will in no wise cast out.

And And again, If you ask any thing according to his Will, He will give it.

III. Labour for true godly Sorrow, and Grief of Heart for Sin.

If Sin be a Plague, yea a deadly Plague, as in Truth it is, (for the Wages of Sin is Death) and Sin be in all your Hearts, as indeed it is; will you not Mourn and Lament your wretched State by reason thereof.

Yea, though you are through Grace enabled to come to Christ by Faith for the Pardon of your Sins, for his sake, through his Blood; (as I hope divers of you are) yet what cause is there of Sorrow and Mourning because of the Remainder of Sin divelling in you: which although it cannot Rule and bear sway in your gracious Hearts, yet it will make War with your Graces, and sometimes catch you at Disadvantage and strike a Dart that may deeply wound you.

Therefore mourn that you have such an Enemy within you.

IV. Watch over your Hearts, your Hands, your Eyes, your Ears and your Tongues.

For Sin will assault you in every part, by every Sense, and cast in some Infection, if possible, to destroy, or at least to wound you, and make your Names to stink. Satan, the great Enemy of all Mankind, labours by Sin to ruinate both Body and Soul.

(1.) Watch the Heart. God’s Counsel is, that we should keep the Heart with all Diligence.

You will find (if you will observe) when you are Praying, or Meditating on heavenly and spiritual Things, your Heart will be in Danger ger of being drawn away to think of carnal Things; or grow heavy and dull in the Duty, like Moses his Hands when they were lift up against Amalek.

Watch therefore; and when you perceive your Hearts falling downward and grow heavy, cry unto Jesus Christ to stay up your Hearts steady to the end of your Lives; that so Amalek (I mean Sin and Satan) may not prevail, but be at last utterly destroyed.

(2.) Watch over your Ears.

So Christ commands us, that we must Take heed how we hear. Watch therefore, Dear Children, and let not your Earsreceive false Doctrine.

Hearken to God’s Word, Hear that; that is, receive it, believe it, obey it, and your Souls shall live.

But as for those that bringanother Gospel, and serve not the true God, such as the Quakers; do not you hear them, not so much as with your outward Ears.

(3.) Watch over your Eyes.

That adulterous Lust got in David’s Heart through his Eyes.

So did Achan’s Covetousness, to his utter Ruin: He saw the Wedge of Gold with his Eye, then coveted it with his Heart, and then took it.

(4.) Watch over your Tongues.

The Tongue is an unruly Evil. Do not backbite or slander your Neighbours.

Speak not Evil of Dignities.

Do not Curse, Sware profanely, nor Lie.

Let no filthy corrupt Communication come out of your Mouths.

Do not you, my Dear Children, (nor suffer your Children to) speak the sinful Language guage of many wicked People, who commonly in their Discourse add, I Vow, or I Swear, when in Truth they do not know what a Vow or an Oath is.

Oh let your Words be gracious, always such words as may edify the Hearers. Remember, and forget not, that Christ our holy and just Judge hath himself told us, that for every idle Word that Men do speak, they must give an Account thereof at the Day of Judgment.

And again, By your Words you shall be Justified, and by your Words you shall be condemned.

V. Another Thing which I Charge you to observe, is, To Worship GOD in your Families.

Do not neglect Family Prayer, Morning and Evening.

And be sure to Read some part of the Word of God every day in your Families, in ordinary Course.

And be sure to Instruct your Families in the Grounds of Religion.

And be your selves Patterns, by your holy Lives and Conversations, unto your Children.

And as you ought to follow and imitate good Examples in any godly Men or Women, so especially in your Parents: you ought to follow them as they followed Christ, and in nothing else.

Where you have seen them missing the Rule, as doubtless you have often done: let them be your Warnings, not your Patterns.

I say where I missed the Rule, in Word or Deed, (for I am a weak imperfect Creature, one of the worst of Men) be you sure to avoid that Rock, and follow me not in any Evil, but avoid it.

And if you observed any Virtues in your Parents, (though they were but few) Imitate them in that which is Good, that God may be with you, as He was with your Fathers.

VI. And I lay it as a solemn Charge upon you, That you Pray to God in Secret; and that often too. Our Lord and Saviour bids us, Enter into our Closets, and shut the Door, and Pray to our Father in Secret.

There you may tell God your very Hearts, and lay open to Him your worst Plague-Sore, your vilest Sins, which no Man knoweth, neither is it meet they should know.

Yet all Men shall know your vilest, lewdest, most notorious Wickedness, both of Heart and Life that ever was committed by you, tho’ never so long ago, or never so secretly done; except you confess them to God, and make your Peace with Him, in and through Jesus Christ, by Repentance and Faith: Then the Blood of Jesus Christ the Righteous cleanseth us, and will you from all your sins: Otherwise God will bring every secret Thing into Judgment.

I say again, Pray in Secret, though you have not a Closet or Door to shut; you need none: You may Pray alone in the Woods, as Christ did in the Mountain: You may Pray as you walk in the Field, as Isaac did: When imployed in Business, you may lift up your Hearts in Prayer, as Nehemiah did.

And when you are alone at any Time, Think with your self, assuredly God is present tho’ none else; I will Confess my Sins, and I will beg God’s Favour and Grace, I will Wrestle with God by Faith and Prayer.

And you may every one of you prevail, if you Pray sincerely, and persevere in it: If Importunity prevailed with the unjust Judge, will it not much more prevail with God.

VII. And I do also Charge you, To live in Love and 5 Peace Peace among your selves.

Love is of God; but bitter Envy and Strife is of the Devil.Love as Brethren: Brethren must love another.

Oh! How amiable a Thing is it, for Brethren to dwell together in Unity!

It is like the precious Ointment that was poured on Aaron’s Head; and that Ointment was such, as none might be made like it for other Uses.

Doth not Love exceed other Graces?

Then strive after that which is most excellent. So strive to live in Love and Peace with all Men, as much as possible in you lies.

[Be at Peace with all Men:]

That is, if there be any Breach of Peace, let not the Fault be yours.

You must not partake of, delight in, nor connive at, the sinful, pernicious, wild Practices of Men, to be at Peace with these.

Those that are God’s Children and must dwell in God’s Tabernacle, a vile Person must be contemned in their Eyes.

Sure, his Vileness will make him loathsome; yet if it be possible, be at Peace with Him: Endeavour to Reclaim him from his Wickedness, by Reproving him plainly for sinful Practices; and if nothing else will do, complain to Authority; and if that will not do, complain to God, and mourn for him.

Finally, Be good Examples unto others.

Walk humbly with God. Be Holy in all manner of Conversation.

Be Courteous; be Sober; be Charitable; Ready to Distribute, given to Hospitality.

Be humble-minded. Set your Affections on Things above, not on Things below; not on Riches, Honours and Pleasures.

Prize highly the Word of God, and the Preachers of it. Labour to draw others to Love and Fear God.

Flee the Lusts of Uncleanness, and and the Occasions of it.

Abhor Drunkenness, and excessive Drinking.

Come not into a Tavern, but on just and weighty Occasions.

Choose God to be your Portion: Receive Christ by Believing on Him; so you shall be the Children of GOD.


2 thoughts on “The Memoirs of Captain Roger Clapp (1609 – 1690)

  1. Thank you posting this information, I am also a descendant of Roger Clapp. John Strong and Abigail Ford, parents of Jedediah Strong are my eighth great grandparents. I am descended from Ephraim Cushman and his wife Nancy Fields, thru their daughter, Rouanna Cushman who m. Morgan Larue Hart in Kentucky. I am a descendant of the Cushmans/Hollands/Twilleys/Allertons through the Fields/Frazee/Gatewood/Hart lines. My Mother is a Hart of this ilk. Through the Harts and Rush’s Benjamin Rush is my 3rd cousin, 6x removed. Curious if you are on any of these lines as well.

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