Minute Book 3: 1727-March, Pt. 2: Albany Reaches out to Wawanolewat (Gray Lock)

Colonel Samuel Partridge wrote to the Albany Commissioners for Indian Affairs with a request from Massachusetts Governor William Dummer. Dummer wanted to negotiate peace with the Abenaki leader Gray Lock (Wawanolewat) and with the Indians at the French mission community at Saint Francis, who were still at war with New England in the long conflict known variously as Dummer’s War, Father Rale’s War, and Gray Lock’s War.  The commissioners responded in a letter addressed to Partridge and another Massachusetts official, John Stoddard. They agreed to send a message to Gray Lock and the “Chief of St. Francois,” but since Massachusetts had not sent a belt “as is Required on Such Occasions,” the commissioners would do it in their own name and not reveal that the message came from Massachusetts.

The commissioners said that the previous January they had sent Gray Lock a message by way of his brother Malalement to invite him to come to Albany along with other native leaders who were hunting on the New York frontier. Gray Lock was gone before the message was delivered, but three of the Saint Francis Indians came to Albany for a meeting on “the first instant,” i.e. March 1.  The commissioners told them about the peace treaty that New England had already concluded with several of the “Eastern Indian” groups involved in the war, including the Penobscot and “namywalk” (probably meaning Norridgewalk). They asked that St. Francis ratify the treaty, assuring them that when they did they would be welcome to hunt on New York’s frontiers. The Saint Francis Indians took this proposition back to their leaders along with gifts and a wampum belt, promising to work towards peace.

The commissioners told Partridge and Stoddard that they would make themselves guarantees that the messengers sent to Gray Lock would be treated civilly by New England and would be able to return safely, thus putting New England authorities on notice that they needed to protect the messengers against potential English attacks. But the commissioners doubted that Gray Lock could be persuaded to come to a meeting, since he had done “Much Mischief on ye. fronteers & has doubtless a Guilty Consience.” They also anticipated that the French would undermine any attempts at peace, but they believed that the messengers were sincere and that the Eastern Indians wanted peace. They explained that the previous fall some of the St. Francis leaders had started out on a trip to negotiate in response to an invitation from Albany, but turned back at Crown Point after hearing “false reports.”

The commissioners passed on all of this information to Governor Burnet.

There are no entries in the minutes for January 1727 or for March 1 1727, suggesting that the commissioners did not record all of their interactions, even those that involved sending belts, or that some records have been lost.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, these entries start here. The transcription is below.

[0358] 177a

Att A Meeting of ye Com.es of Indian

Affairs in Albany ye 26 March 1727

Present

Philip Livingston

Myndert Schuyler

Hendrick Renselaer

Ryer Gerritse

Stephanus Groesb.k

Nicolaes Bleecker

This day Recd. a letter Coll.o Samuel Patridge

dated at hatfield of ye. 22 Instant & Copy of a letter from

Gov. Dummer to this board

Albany 27 March 1727

Gentlemen

Your Letters of ye. 22th Instant with Coppy to you,

from Gov.r Dummer we Rec.d desireing our Assistance yt. Gray

Lock Should be Made a frind to Come into ye treaty of peace as

also ye Cheifs of ye St. francois Indians we Could wish yt it was

Effected to the end we have not been Wanting in Sending a

Message Janu.ry Last by Malalement Brother of Sd. Gray Lock

Inviteing him and other Chiefs who were hunting on our fron=

=teers Come hither, but Unfortunately missd him being gone home

but brought on ye. first Instant three St. francios Indians to

this place to whom we thought fitt to Communicate that

his hon.r Gov. Dummer had Confirmd & Ractifyd ye. peace with

  1. penabscutt & namywalk tribes yt. Much blood had been on

both Sides Lost in this Last War and Excepted yt. these

Indians In behalf of St. francios Should Ractify & Confirm

the Sd. treaty of peace that for ye. future none of their

tribe Should go to Molest or any of our N: England

Brethren or Else where: wh. if they do fathfully

perform they Should at all times be well Come to hunt

on these

 

[0359] 178

On these fronteers & Civil Tracted at this place on this we

gave ym. a present a belt am.s £11÷÷ promisd to use their unmo=

=st Endeavour to prevail on their Chiefs to Come hither on

our Invitation what success we Shall have in our under=

=takeing is Uncertain & precurious as soon as an Oppertunity

Shall Ofter we Shall Send such a massage to Gray Lock &

ye Chief of St. Francois as you desire but you have no belt as

is Required on Such Occasion we think proper to do it in

Our Name yt. your Governmt. may not be Seen in this Message

for fear it Might Miscarry not to give ye. Indians ye Opper=

=tunity to Suppoes it Comes from you we Shall not Scru=

=ple to make our Selves Garrantees for ye. Indians Sivil

Treatmt. with you & their Safe return tho Suspect they

had hardly be prevaild on Especially ye. Gray lock to go into ye.

Country for ye. letter has done Much Mischief on ye. fronteers

& has doubtless a Guilty Consience We Shall at Altimes be

ready to do any thing wh. may Contribute towards Esta=

=blishing a firm & lasting peace between ye. Governmt. & ye Indi=

=ans Could with it was Already Accoplishd. we fear yt. ye fren-

=ch priests & their Govern.r will if possible Oversett all amicable

Measures yt. May be Sett on foot to Confirm or Conclude any

treaty with you

These Indians Seem to be Sincere they told us yt. last fall on invi=

=tation of Some of our number while at Canada Severall Sachims

of Sd. In.ian were in their way hither as far a[s] the Crown point with an

intent to make treaty of peace wt. your Gov.mt were prevented

by false reports Spread among wh. made ym. desist yt. design

  1. Sd. Indians have fathfully promissd us to use their best

Indeavors to prevent ye. Sd. Indians from going to do Mischief

on ye. fronteers tho the but litle depandance on wt. hey come to

promise is ye. Needfull at psent from who are with Esteem

Your very Humble Serv.ts

Ph: Livingston             Reyer Gerritse

Myn: Schuyler                        St: Groesbeeck

Hen: Renselaer            N: Bleecker

To Mr. Saml Patridge &

John Stoddard Esq.s

 

[0360] 178a

Albany 28th March 1727

May it please your Ex.cy

Your has here Inclosed a letter from Coll. Samuel

Patridge proposeing our Intercession for bringing ye. Indians

of St. francois to an a micable disposition & Inclination

of ratefying ye. peace with N: England wh. we have done

already without their Knowledge as may Appear, by the

Inclosed wh. we hope yr. Ex.cy will be pleased to approve of

the Necessaries p oothout we Rec.d we are in Expectation

of yr. Ex.cys directions about ye. Workmen &c. is Needfull at psent

from

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About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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