• 1771 Early Watermark Document Protects John Hancock From Legal Claims

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    Offering a wonderful property document, 1 1/3 pp, 8 x 12 ¾, dated December 13, 1771, tying together several historic figures, including John Hancock, who this document specifically protects from future claims made against property he once owned and sold.  Though Hancock has not signed the document, he is mentioned five times in the text and once on the docket page.  Other signers on the document include Justice of the Peace Belcher Noyes, who also took testimony regarding the behavior of British soldiers in the Boston Massacre.


    The property involves a dwelling house and land located on the corner between Ann and Union streets in Boston.  Ann Street was later to become a seedy red-light district and officials changed the name to North Street to help clean up its reputation.


    The document reads, in small part, “Whereas Caleb Blanchard…sold & conveyed unto John Hancock of said Boston a certain tenement or dwelling house & land…which deed was not signed & executed by Mary, the wife of said Caleb Blanchard…If she survives him, claims her dower or third in said premises…And whereas John Hancock…on the twenty third day of said July, sold & conveyed unto the said John Timmins…[who] knew…Mary had not released her dower…Now this writing witnesses that…John Timmins…doth agree that the said John Hancock…In case…Mary…shall claim or recover her dower…he will not return to or make any claim upon…John Hancock…”


    The document is signed by John Timmins as the purchaser and by Richard J. Boylston and William Timmins as witnesses.  Noyes has signed as Justice of the Peace and Ezekiel Goldthwait as Registrar.


    HANCOCK (1737 – 1793) was an American merchant, statesman and prominent Patriot of the Revolutionary War.  He served as President of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of Massachusetts.  Hancock’s stylish signature is one of 56 that grace the Declaration of Independence. Prior to the Revolution, he was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable mercantile business from his uncle.  He became very popular after the British seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling, charges that were eventually dropped.


    GOLDTHWAIT (1710 – 1782) was born in the North End of Boston to a merchant family originally from Salem. Goldthwait owned houses on State Street and Ann Street.  He spent most of his life in public office, including that of Suffolk County registrar of deeds from 1740 to 1776 and for two decades the town clerk of Boston. At various times, he was selectman, town auditor and Town Meeting moderator.


    NOYES (1709 – 1785) graduated from Harvard in 1727.  His Uncle Jonathan became Governor of Massachusetts and appointed his nephew to the posts of chaplain and surgeon. Noyes served on the committee to preserve Beacon Hill and as auditor of the Faneuil Hall lottery. He was regularly elected assessor. In 1758, he was appointed justice of the peace for Suffolk County.


    Expected toning, folds with some archival tape support. Wafer seal intact.  Beautiful early watermark. A great piece of Americana with specific reference to one of America’s Founding Fathers.



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