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Petition of Inhabitants of Wellfleet to the Massachusetts Council



At a meeting of the Freeholders and other inhabitants of the Town of Welifleet, legally warned and held on Tuesday, the 28th of May, A˙ D˙ 1776:

Voted, That Messrs˙ John Greenough, Samuel Smith, and Winslow Lewis, be a Committee to draft a Petition to the Great and General Court, praying for an easement of their Province Tax; and report at the adjournment of this meeting on Thursday, the 30th instant.

The inhabitants being met according to adjournment, the Report of said Committee was read and voted, and was as follows:


"To the Honourable the Council and House of Representatives of the Colony of MASSACHUSETTS-BAY:

"The petition of the Freeholders and other inhabitants of the Town of Wellfeet humbly showeth, That your Petitioners are situate on the most barren soil of any part of the Province; the whole lands that can be tilled will not afford corn for more than one quarter part of the inhabitants; and the harbour, which is convenient for small vessels, is the only advantage they have had, in carrying on the whale fishery, in which they have employed about two thousand tons of shipping; and nine-tenths of the inhabitants got their whole subsistence thereby; that the other tenth part of the inhabitants got their livelihood by the oyster fishery; that ever since the 1st of June, A˙ D˙ 1775, they have not been able to send out one vessel on the whaling business, there being constantly men-of-war and cruisers in Cape-Cod Harbour; and most of their vessels are now hauled up and perishing; the few that have attempted to go out on mercantile business, or to fetch provisions, have most of them been taken, so that your Petitioners have suffered the total loss of the greatest part of their employment. Their property, mostly consisting of vessels and whale craft, which is very costly, is perishing, and they themselves in fear of being put to the necessity of living without bread corn; and they are humbly of opinion that no town in this Colony hath, in proportion, suffered so much in their business and employment since the commencement of hostilities by the Ministerial troops as your Petitioners have, except only the towns of Boston and Charlestons. They therefore humbly pray, that as the principal means whereby they were enabled to pay their taxes is now quite destroyed, that you will take the same into your wise consideration, and order that they be eased of at least a part or whole of their Colony tax, or otherwise grant them relief as you in your wisdom shall see meet; and your Petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray.



A true copy from the Record.


Wellfleet, May 30, 1776.