Sutton Massachusetts and Nipmuc Indians / Native Americans
In 1646, John Wampas' father, "Old Woampas" asked for his sons to be trained as English. John was educated well and on May 21 1661 married Anne Praske, an "Indian Princess", daughter of Romanock, a sachem of Mohegan. They had a house on Boston Common.
John then began selling off parcels of land which he said had come to him on his father's death. Two other inheritors - brother Anthony nad a person named Piambow - complained about the division. John was thrown into jail, ran off to England, was jailed there, and petitioned to have more land sold to pay his debts. He got into many legal battles about the lands he "owned" and was selling, and died in 1679.
In John's will, he (like his father) divided his properties up 3 ways. One set went to 3 native kinsmen, one set went to a doctor in London, and one set went to two English men - Pratt and Blake.
Now there was a huge legal mess for the courts to figure out. Did John Wampas really own rights to this land he'd been selling and giving to others? Did they now have the right to sell it? The Nipmucs did not feel John ever had rights to that land. As sachem, he had *control* over the common land, as far as enforcing laws - but he did not have the right to completely give it to others without having a council agree to this.
The courts finally hammered out an agreement where the Nipmucs would be allowed to keep Hassanamesit - their praying town - and a four mile square block of land around it. Blake, Pratt and the rest would get 2 square miles on each of the 4 sides around this square as their claim. However, figuring out what land was "free" in this region - not already sold - became incredibly difficult. Finally, a lawyer named Paul Dudley took an interest in the case and plowed through the problems. On March 21, 1703, they mapped out 8 square miles - 40,960 acres - to give to the various claimants, which was in fact twice as much as they were initially supposed to get, in order to finally end the arguing. Also, while the initial discussions involved Hassanamesit being "in the middle" of all the inheritors' lands, in the final layout, it was more to the northeast of the land block.
The lesiglature agreed on this on May 15, 1704. This was "for a township the same to be called Sutton". I'm not a great artist, but I have tried to overlay the grant that was done in 1704 with a current map of Sutton and nearby towns.
The thin yellow lines (and the 01590 zip code) is modern day Sutton. The square that is Hassanamisco has a lower left third in modern Sutton, a top right third in Grafton and a lower right third in Northbridge. As you can see, that initial grant of "Sutton" has changed quite a bit over the years since then.
By 1728 the Nipmucs sold their rights to the square of Hassanamisco back to the state in return for money (put into a trust) plus home lots for each of the 9 families remaining, and 100 acres of common land. That has since whittled down to their current 2.5 acre reservation, located completely within Grafton.
Nipmuc Indian main page
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