was born in 1604 at Norwich, Norfolk, England. He was the son of William Nickerson
. William Nickerson was baptized on 16 October 1604. He married Anne Busby
, daughter of Nicholas Busby
and Bridget Cocke
, circa 1627 at Norwich, Norfolk, England. On 8 April 1637 On account of the persecution of Bishop Wren, of Norfolk, whose zealous efforts against non-conformists drove over 3000 craftsman out of the country, William decided to go to America with his family, and their examination just before their departure from England reads thus: "The examination of William Nickerson of Norwicch, in Norfolk, weaver, aged 33, and Anne, his wife, aged 28, with four children, Nicho, Robartt, Elizabeth, Anne, are desirous to go to Boston in New England there to inhabit."
William Nickerson and Anne Busby
emigrated on 15 April 1637 from Yarmouth, England. William Nickerson and Anne Busby
immigrated on 20 June 1637 to Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts; aboard the 'John and Dorothy', Captain William Andrews, Master. On 2 May 1638 William Nickerson took the oath of a freeman at Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was proposed as a free-man at the Plymouth Colony Court, evidently planning to settle in the jurisdiction of the Old Colony rather in that of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He took the oath of fidlity Jun 1, 1641, and on the same date he was on the grand jury and was propounded to be a free man at the next court, being described as of Yarmouth. With others he was complained of March 1, 1641, as a "Scoffer and jeere of religion." On 1643/44 he was among those 16 and 60 able to bear arms in Yarmouth. He was chosen on the committee headed by Captain Miles Standish to settle disputes of land boundaries which had becom acute in Yarmouth.
In the final allotment of lands at Yarmouth by the Standish Land Court, 10 acres of upland and 6 acres of meadow were laid out to him at Little Bass Pond ("toward the South Sea", the record reads) on 14 May 1648. Prior to or early in 1656, he had bought of the Indian Chief Mattaquasons and John Quason, his son, a tract of land at Monomoy without the consent of the authorities, which was contrary to a law of Jun. 6, 1643, and hea had obtained no deed thereof.
"Whereas it is holden very unlawful and of dangerous consequience and it hath beene the constnad custom from our first beginning That no person or persons have or ever did purchase Rent of hire any lands herbage wood or tymber of the Natives but by the Magistrates consent. It is therefore enacted by the court that if any person or persons do here-after purchase rent of hyre any land herbage wood or tymber of any of the Natives in any place within this Government without the consent & assent of the Court Every such person or persons shall forfeit five pounds for every acre wch shallbe so purchased hyred rented and taken And for wood & tymber to pay five tymes the value thereof to be levyed to the Colonies use." (II Plyrn. Col. REcs. 41.)
June 3, 1656, this matter was brought before the court:
"Att this court William Nicarson appeered, being summoned to answare for his buying of land of the Indians, contrary to order of the Court, and for selling of a boat to the Indians, against a warrant directed to Yarmouth strictly prohibiting the same, haveing left the boate to bee the Indians; concerning his breach of order in buying of land, hee lyeth under the fine and penalty expressed in the order of the breach thereof; and for his contempt of the warrent', he is disfranchised his freedom." His purchase was again before the Court June 3, 1657:
"In answare unto a petition preferred to the court by William Nicarson, desiring to have liberty to enjoy the land hee purchased att Mannamoiett,--
The court have ordered, that the said land shall be viewed by some that shall be deputed; and afterwards, unpon their report to the court, he is to have a conpetency of propotion out of it allowed unto him, and then to resigne up the remainder unto the court."' William Nickerson, giving the facts about their return and stay in Boston: "My wife cameto Boston the 1st of March 1657 and my wife did sarves to hur father and mother till the later end of August following, and then hur father departed this life. And since their fathers death, my wife have done sarves to her mother daily and watching with them in the night, as their necessities called for untell hur mother departed this life; which was in July last 1660. All which time my wife did sarve to her father and mother, and the time being somed up it contains three years and four months or there aboute". Prior to January 5, 1661/2 William Nickerson was back in Yarmouth with his family. Probably his older sons had been keeping his farm going for him in his absence. On November 27, he sold his Boston property to Phillip Gibbs for 150£. Apparently William did not thrive in the environment of a city, and I think he passed this reaction along to his descendants in full measure.
He acted on the assumption that he had right to the land, as appears by the deed to his daughter Elizabeth--"Elizabeth Eldred"-- forty acres of upland and ten acres of meadow at the "Oyster Pond Furlong", out of the purchase he had made in 1656 of Sagamore Mattaquason at Monomoy. This was probably the first deed ever executed of land in Chatham, Massachusetts. On 4 July 1663 William Nickerson presented a petition to the Plymouth Colony Court for permission to settle a township at Monomoyick, now Chatham.
In the spring of 1664, William Nickerson, The Immigrant, being then about sixty years old but still physically and mentally rugged, left the comparatively settled community of Yarmouth and with his wife, all of his children except Nicholas, and his goods and cattle, struck out into the then unbroken wilderness of Monomoick. His house spot is the valley northwest of the head of Ryder's Cove in Chathamport, just above the Spring-hole notheast of the electric light transformer.
Although the title of his land ws in dispute with the Colonial Authorities and continued to be for many years longer----,he must of have been reasonably confident that eventually it would come clear, because his sons and daughters cleared farms and built homes of their own on his purchase. There were Robert, Anne, Elizabeth, Samuel, John, Sarah and William and possibly others. These were the first settlers there. He and Anne Busby
removed to at Chatham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, in 1664. In 1665 he purchased a large tract of land on the west side of Pleasant Bay (the Old Monomoyick Bay of the Indian), where I was born and where my father, grandfather and great grandfather were born and lived out their lives. Because of his trouble at the particular time, he never secured title to this tract except from the Indians. Josiah Cooke purchased the same land of other Indians and his title was cleared, but by the marriage of Cooke's grandchildren to those of Nickerson, it came into the Nickerson family finally. My Nick Shack on the west shore of Pleasant Bay stands on this land today. "Jun. 3, 1668: In reference unto a complaint of Thomas Howes, the late constable of Yarmouth, against William Nickerson, Jr., Nathaniel Covell, Samuel Nickerson, Joseph Nickerson, and Wiilliam Nickerson, Sr., for affronting him in the execution of his office, the court sentences them all to sitt in the stocks during the pleasure of the court." This was accordingly performed ---"butr whereas William Nickerson, Sr. was the leader he was to find securities and was released upon good behavior until next court in October." In 1672, in order to obtain clear title to thel ands he had purchased from the Quason Indians, William finally brought suit in the March Court against Sagamore Mattaquason for withholding the deeds. The Old Sagamore and the Immigrant lived peaceably side by side, the chief's wigwam standing only a short distance from the cabin of the settle, and apparently this suite made no change in their amicable relation. Evidently it brought thel ong standing misunderstanding to ahead, because soon afterward not only were the Indian deeds secured, but a payment of 90£ to the Royal Grantees, the clouded title became clear, and he was free to dispose of it as he saw fit. 1674, Now that the Indian title to the land was extinguished to his title from the British Crown was legally established, he transferred the title of forty acres of upland and ten acres of meadow to each of his children, undoubtedly they having already built and lived on their farms, all throu the Court proceedings, and helped to defray the expenses and costs of securing the titles. His daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Robert Eldred, had her farm just north of the Oyster Pond, Anne, the wife of Tristram Hedges, was located at Harding's Beach Neck, then known as Ragged Neck. Sarah who married Nathaniel Covell, built near the Spring at the head of Crow's Pond, while Samuel's house stood just north of it. Jospeh's farm was where the late Osborn Nickerson place is, and John's was south of the Old Chatham Burial Ground near the late Stephen Emery's place. It is not clear where Robert located but I believe somewhere around the Head of Oyster Pond. My direct ancestor, William the Second, the namesake of the Immigrant, settled first near Samuel's, but soon removed to Cotch-pin-coote, now Old Harbor, where his descendants may still be found. Thus for over 20 years. William, the Immigrant, and his good wife, Anne, lived on their farm at Monomoyick, with all their children around them (except Nicholas who lived and died in Yarmouth). The Rev. Jospeh Lord, early minister at Chatham, wrote in his diary that the Immigrant "in his lifetime, was ye father of ye place and ye inhabitants of it were his children, either by consanguinity or affinity, and he exercised as a teacher (i.e. religious teacher) among them." For nearly twenty years hardly another family entered this domain and their settlement was more like a Clan than a New England township.
He had trouble about his boundaries, which was brought before the Court June 1, 1675. March 29, 1678/9, and Aug. 16, 1681, he obtained other deeds of the Indians. With these he had purchased in all a domain of 4,000 acres within the present bounds of Chatham. THE FIRST DEED OF MONOMOIT LANDS EVER EXECUTED
To all Christian people to whom this present writing shall come, know ye that I, William Nickerson of Yarmouth in ye jurisdicition of New Plymoouth in New England for divers good causes and considerations, here unto moving have given and granted and by these presents do give and grant unto my daughter Elizabeth Eldred fourty acres of upland and ten acres of meadow lands out of ye lands that I purchased by ye Indian Sagamore Mattaquason of Monomoy and there about, part of ye lands lying and being by a swamp near to ye Oyster pond forlonge: And ye rest of ye lands to be laid out as convenient as may be for their use. To have and to hold to them and their heirs for ever by these presents have given and granted, aliened, enfoeffed, set over and confirmed unto ye sd Elizabeth Eldred, her heirs and assigns for ever, all that prt of upland and meadow lands lying and being as above sd with all ye privileges and appeerces unto ye same above sd meadows and uplands belonging and all ye estate, right, title, interest properties, use, possessions, claim and demandent soever of him ye said William Nickerson in or to ye same or any part of pcel therof. To have and to hold ye sd pcels of uplands and meadow parts modities in and by these presents given and granted in and by these presents expressed to be given and granted unto ye sd Elizabeth Eldred and her heirs for ever
I witness whereof ye sd William Nickerson has herunto set his hand and seal ye fiftheenth day of January in ye thirteenth year of ye Reign of out Sovereign Lord King Charles the Second and in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and sixty one.
Signed sealed and delivered William Nickerson
In ye presents of us and his (seal) seal
William Nickerson, Junr
The 17 January 1682 ye above named William Nickerson senr made his appearance and acknowledged this above written to be his act and deed.
And likewise hath given unto ye sd Elizabeth Eldred, to her and her heirs and assigns forever liberty to feed cattel in ye other of his lands according to proportions before me.
John Freeman assistan
Examined and duly compared with ye origianl and entered ye 25thJuly 1695.
The above and wthin written is a true copy as appears of record compared. 2nd book foli 14
Pr me John Thacher, Regr.
The land deed to Elizabeth Eldred, daughter of William Nickerson, was only a part of the thousands of acres be bad purchased, beginning about 1656, from the Indian Sagamore Mattaquason, who had accepted in pay cows, cloth, wampum, and other trade goods. Together they staked out the meters and bounds, some of which are landmarks to this day; but the Sagamore could give no written deed because the Plymouth real estate operators had passed a law that no Indian could sell property without the consent of the Colony. Nickerson claimed that the land was the Indian's to do with as he saw fit, but it took him twenty years and a substantial kick-back to the speculators before Mattaquason was allowed to set his hand to a deed.
Regardless of the law, the settler moved in a built his cabin in the field across the highway to the south of the present Christopher Ryder House in Chathamport. According to tradition, the Old Sagmore's lodge stood a short distance to the north. They were about of an age; and here these two old men, the red man and the white, lived out their days as good friends and neighbors, always carrying out their word-of-mouth agreements as man to man despite the shenanigans of the political landsharks in Plymouth.
The Old Sagamore went to his Happy Hunting Ground during the winter of 1682/3, followed in a few years by the old pioneer. Mattaquason left a son Towsowet, alias John Quason, and three daughters known to our forefathers as Cussen's Squaw, Old Skinnicut's Wife, and Sarah. He had already deeded the Neck where Chatham Light stands to Cussen's Squaw, Old Skinnicut's Wife, a large tract in South Harwich around the pond which still bers the name of her husband, and to Sarah what is known as Old Harbor, in Chatham. The remainder of his land fell to Towsowet. My father, Warren Jensen Nickerson, was born on the north side of Round Cove in East Harwich in the original Wequassett House which stands on land that has never been out of our family since it was bought of Towsowet.
On February 12, 1686 William the Immigrant conveyed to his daughter Sarah Covell, whose husband had died about four years previously, all his remaining property of every name and description. Evidently, the widow Covell, after her husband's death, had come to live with her father and mother, who were getting well along in years, and apparently this arrangement was made in repayment for an agreement that Sarah would live with and care for them during their remaining days. Probably her mother was already very poorly, because she passed away very soon after this time, apparently in the same year---about seventy-five years old. After his wife's death, the old man, realizing, that his own days would be few in the land, and deeming that the management of his farm and large land holdings would be quite a task for his daughter Sarah who had a large family of children of her own, they jointly conveyed to his son William (the Second) an interest in all the lands purchased or improved, sae only his home farm to wich Sarah retained sole title. The Neck of Land known as Monomesset, where the Naval Station stood in World War I, including Great Point up as far as Crow's Pond was deeded in fee simple to William (Second). Having set his house in order, the sturdy old pioneer passed away sometime between August 30, 1689, and September 8, 1690, the exact date being, so far, unknown. He was about 86 years old, and ws buried on the little hill just south of his house, by the side of his beloved wife. This burial plot, as laid out by William Nickerson, the Immigrant, himself, was later deeded to the town of Chatham by his daughter Sarah.
Thus passed a man of intelligence, education and great energy and strength of will. The difficulties of planting a frontier settlement in the wilderness would have appeared isuperable to most men of sixty. His indomitable will and perseverance were exemplified in the spirit with which he fought through the Courts to final victory to acquire undisputed title to his lands. His expressed principle was "For I desire not to wrong any man of his just rights, nor would I be wronged myself."
"A record of the bounds that was laid out by Mr. William Nickerson, Sr. deceasced for a burying place, sd percall of land was alowed for the purpose forevery and accordingly set out and allowed by Mrs. Sarah Covell, widow, the bounds as followeth: Bounded easterly upon a hay way that parts theland of Joseph Covell and the land that was Jeremiah Nickersons, the north bound is upon Josph Covell tell it coms to the decnt of brow of a hill as sd Joseph Covell dich now runs the wester bounds is upon the land that was emphriam Covell from dich to a rack lying on the Southers side of sd hill, the Souther bounds is upon sd empbraim land to the first specified hay way which is sd emphraims known bounds. The reng is one the brow of the hill as sd Joseph Covells renges one the other side." (Town Records 1715). When William Sr. died his daughter Sarah Covell was the sole owner of his home farm.