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Joseph Pallate, died in December, 1823, aged 106. He was believed to be a native of Spain ; came to England, as he said, in his youth ; from thence sailed to America, as a servant of Lord Montagu, when 16 or 17 years



Provincial Taxes in New Hampshire. 1753--1300 Louisbourgh. 1759—1300 Louisbourgh. 2500 Act of 1753,

6000 Crown Point.

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1755—1300 Louisbourgh. 1763-1000 Louisb, £6000 act 2500 Act of 1753.

2000 Louisb. £8000 act 800 Aci June, 1755, to pay soldiers.

£3000 6000 Act, 1755, for

Crown Point. 1764-1000 Louisb. £6000 act £10,600

2000 Louisb. £8000 act

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Delivered before the New Hampshire Historical

Society, at their Annual Meeting, June 8, 1831, by CHARLES H. ATHERTON.

Mr. President, and

Gentlemen of the Historical Society, I APPEAR at your request to discharge a duty, which no member of the Society should feel himself at liberty to decline-the duty of not withholding our efforts, however individually humble they may be, towards illustrating the natural, civil, literary or ecclesiastical history of our State, and by that means to manifest our approval, at least, of the important and praiseworthy purposes of its Historical Society. You cannot however be insensible that New Hampshire is peculiarly fortunate in her Historian. All the topics, that come within the scope of general history, have been treated with 'a diligence of research, a minuteness and accuracy of detail, a perspicuity, elegance and impartiality, that ought ever to endear to the people of this State the name of BelKNAP. And it is a subject of sincere congratulation, that by a new edition of his work now coming from the press, under the auspices of a most deserving member of our Society, it may, as it should, find a place on the shelf of every family library in the State. Rash and fruitless would be the attempt, to enter and glean in any part of the field which Belknap has reapt.

I propose therefore to occupy a short period of your leisure,irksomely, I fear, to my audience, upon a subject too frequently passed over by the his. torian with a neglectful silence,-a subject never

theless, in my apprehension, most intimately connected with the moral condition, the social harmony, the comfort, prosperity and happiness of a community. I refer to the tenure by which real estate is holden, and those laws and the administration of them, by which the soil constituting the territory of a State, however subdivided among its citizens, with their money and personal effects, however vast in amount or diversified in kind, are transmitted from one generation to another under the title of heirs, devisees, or creditors.

Our subject has little to do with the heroic achievements of a State, with the magnificence of its public works, or the celebrity of its literature. It has little concern with that external grandeur of a people, which, while it dazzles the eyes of mankind, too often, like the whited sepulchre, serves only to conceal the poverty and rottenness within. But if the question be as to the real soundness of a community ; if the question be as to the aggregate of the comforts and enjoyments of the individuals who compose it, then has our subject a near relation to its freedom and happiness. With less invention than is often employed by the historian, the government, spirit and condition of a people may be described from a knowledge only of their statutes of descent and distribution. Ву these we are led into the interior of the mansion, in order to judge of its accommodations and the comforts of its inmates, instead of forming our estimate of them by an outside view.

This succession of the living to the property and rights of the dying by uniform rules, it should be recollected, is the creature of positive law; and while it has proved the most difficult, it is at the same time among the greatest and most beneficent achievements of civilized man. Taking the usual estimate of time for one generation, it follows that in every thirty-four years, the whole amount of

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every thing among men and upon the earth, wherein right and property can be claimed by the myri. ads of human beings that are placed upon it, undergoes this transfer. And if a country can be found, where this immense operation is carried on by laws founded on the broad basis of expediency and justice, adequate to all the exigencies that can happen, so that nothing is left without a rightful proprietor, securing and protecting alike the rights of all, the strong and the weak, the adult and the infant, even though it may not yet have seen the light ; if, I say, a community can be found, where this intricate and wonderful operation is continually going on, and almost unobserved, because it is without waste, without fraud, without litigation and nearly without expense, we need go no further for proof of the wisdom of its legislation; we need make no other appeal to satisfy us of the intelligence and moral condition of such a people.

Indulging the belief that the object of legislation in this important branch of civil polity was never more nearly attained than it is in this State, can it be without its interest, may we not even find it useful, to contemplate the origin, and trace the progress of those principles and views which from time to time have been recognized and sanctioned by the legislative power, and are now embodied into a system commonly known as our Probate Law ?

At the time of the emigration of our ancestors, the feudal system pervaded Europe. A more gigantic or cunningly devised engine to make lords of the few and vassals of the many could not be imagined. Indeed this was the heart and life blood of it. All grants of territory in the western hemisphere by the European sovereigns, had hitherto been made to the adventurers, as their vassals, upon the principles of this system. But most fortunately for mankind, there still remained in Eng


land some vestiges of liberty and of the freedom of the Saxon institutions. In the county of Kent in particular, the tenure of free and common soccage had been preserved. The peculiarities of this tenure were, that the duties of the holder to his superior were limited and certain, and might be only that of allegiance to the sovereign which, belongs to our fee simple estates. It was devisable by will, and not forfeited by crime. Although, as an inheritance, it was generally subject to the rule of primogeniture in the male line according to what then was, and now is the English common law, it nevertheless admitted of various modifications by custom, among which were found what is called gavelkind, or an equal distribution among all the male children. This tenure survived the general wreck of Saxon liberty. It resisted the torrent of the Norman invasion, and stood like a beacon amidst the surrounding desolation, to rally the lovers of freedom in a future


In the fermentations of the spirit of liberty in England, efforts had often been made to resolve the feudal tenures into that of free and common soccage, as the most free and desirable of all. These efforts were unsuccessful until their operation was generally suspended during the usurpation of the Parliament and of Cromwell, and they were finally abolished by law on the restoration of Charles II., in 1660. But this was forty or fifty years after the colonization of New-England.

It was however among the whims of that whimsical monarch, James I., in 1620, when he issued his patent to the council established at Plymouth, in the county of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering and governing New-England in America, inat he, of his own mere motion and certain knowledge, was pleased to make the grant to them, their successors and assigns, to be holden of him and his successors, as of his manor of East Green

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