Single sheet, folded. 31 cm. 3 pp. of text, docketted on the fourth page, "Concerning Town Common Land 1709." A manuscript report, approx. 540 words. Old fold lines, splitting along one fold (not affecting any text), some ink blots and corrections to text, a legible copy.
The committee reports its several attempts at making "a Division of the Town Commons... and cannot Effect it as yet and find it will be very Troublesome...." The difficulties include obtaining boundary information from the property owners whose lands border the commons, paying the surveyors and committee members for their efforts, and concerns about the problems surveying the site, "w'ch will be very Troublesome Through Swamps & Thick woods." The report is signed by [Maj.] Wm. Vaughan, John Pirkdom (sp?), Wm. Cotton, and Tobias Langdon. The response of the town selectman follows, allowing for "Maj. Wm. Vaughan to draw from the town books the copies of all the bounds of the outmost Lotts butting on the Commons where there is occupation for the dividing the Commons & that he be [receipted?] out of the town stock for his [card?] & labour...." The Selectman affix their signatures: Saml. Penhallow, Thom. Phipps, Edward Ayers, and Saml. Weeks. Signed at Portsmouth, 7th Novem.r 1709. Item #64764
According to Charles Brewster's book "Rambles about Portsmouth," [Portsmouth, NH: 1873, second ed.], p.42-3, in 1705 the town of Portsmouth elected to use the 'minister's field' or glebe land which had been "formerly given for the use of the ministry," but unused, for division into house lots to encourage the peopling of the town. By 1709, as this document indicates, the town was still struggling with the process.
Samuel Penhallow, one of the selectmen, was a well known figure in New Hampshire politics. He was a magistrate and deacon of the North Church in Portsmouth, and in 1726 penned a history of New England. Maj. William Vaughan (1640-1719) was a member of the Royal Council, 1679, and 1692-98, and President 1706-15. He commanded the Provincial Militia in 1690 [see: Publication No. 8. Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, (Boston: 1906), p.386].