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  • Clark Linnekin of Boothbay, Maine

    Janet I. Delorey

    Published Date : August 1986
     For the genealogist who is unable to find family information through vital statistics, court records often provide not only family information but insight into the social and political conditions of any given time. The plight of Clark Linnekin of Boothbay, Maine, demonstrates this fact and provides a glimpse of conditions which prevailed during the  turmoil of the Revolutionary War.

    Clark Linnekin was part of the Linnekin family that settled at Boothbay in the mid-eighteenth century and whose name is memorialized there by “Linekin’s Bay.”  He married, at South Church, Ipswich, Massachusetts, on 12 December 1758 Sarah Burnham (Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts to the End of the Year 1849 [Salem, Mass., 1910] 2:276).  She was born 30 August 1730 at Ipswich, a daughter of Solomon and Mehetabel (Emerson) Burnham; the relationship is confirmed by the will of Solomon Burnham (Essex County  [Mass.] Probate #4169).  On the marriage intentions, Clark was “of Townsend” (the early name of Boothbay) and Sarah was “of Chebaco” (the early name of Essex, Massachusetts).

    The plight of Linnekin during the Revolutionary War was preceded, and undoubtedly brought about, by his failure to repay a loan due his uncle, Benjamin Linnekin, in 1766.  Evidently unable to repay the loan, Clark simply made up a note for repayment and forged the mark of Benjamin as well as those of the witnesses.  For that offense, Clark was brought before the Court on the charge that he “foreadvisedly, wickedly & corruptly forge & make a false & counterfeit of the tenor….and, at Falmouth published the same false & conterfeit writing as a true receipt….offered [in] evidence as aforesaid, in evil & pernicious example to others..”  The records show that Clark eventually pleaded guilty and, for the offense, was “set in the Pillory for the space of [    ] with a paper affixed on his [170] breast having the word FORGERY wrote in capitals, that he suffer one months imprisonment & that he pay prosecution” (Lincoln County [Me.] Court of Common Pleas, Vol. 1761-68).

    On 5 September 1777, Clark Linnekin was arrested on suspicion of having traded with the enemy.  The witnesses to that charge included Benjamin Lenniken (sic) of Boothbay and Lydia Lenniken of Boothbay, daughter of Benjamin (Suffolk Files, Maine Counties, 1734-1797, #139741).  Benjamin had obviously not forgotten nor forgiven his nephew for the forged note.

    Clark was remanded to the jail at Pownalborough, Maine, from where he submitted at least two petitions to the General Court of Massachusetts (Massachusetts State Archives).

    The first, dated 18 October 1777, is excerpted as follows:

    "That your Distressed Humble Petitioner, Clark Linniken, lived upon Townsend Neck within the Town of Boothbay which Runs about three miles into the Sea….where the men of War went into and lay about the beginning of September 1777.…and where I was afishing a little therefrom in my Cannoo and the Man of War’s Boat came & took me and Carried me aboard and threatened to Keep me &c. - at length, they offered to let me go, if I would fetch them some Turnips & other Vegitables &c upon which I promised to do, they asked me what Cattle I had, I told them I had a pair of three Years Old Steers, but I could not part with them for it was all I had to do my work with, and that I was a poor man &c., they asked me what they was worth, I told them that they was worth Fifty Dollars.  I went a Shore and they followed me with two Boats and part of them, came to my House and Said they must have my Cattle, & that they would give me Forty dollars and I should have the Hides and Ruff Tallow and that would purchase another pair; I being in their Power & no body to assist me, and being taken by them, I was afraid to Contradict or oppose them in any Degree for fear they would Carry me away & Strip my Family of everything….Then, on the fourth or 5th day of September 1777 I was taken by a Warrant from Wm McCobb for Trading with the Men of War.  And on the 6th day of September 1777 I was Committed to Pownalboro Gaol, and my Wife a very weakly Woman and four small children left to save & get what we had on & in the Ground for the Winter, and they depended much on the Fish I ketched in my Cannoo for the Support of my Family - for we had but little Bread or Meat and often without any -I am a Very Poor man and have a poor distressed Family.…and to lay Here in Gaol Confined upon charge for a Cold & Tedious winter is Cruel & Hard which I never can pay….& to lay here in Goal all winter & till next June for doing that which I could not help nor no other man if in such as I was…"

    Accompanying that petition was a well executed map of Townsend Harbor and the position of the Men-of-War in relation to his canoe.

    On the 24th of October, 1777, the Council agreed that William McCobb should be served with a copy of the petition requesting that he answer why Clark should not be admitted to bail.

    Another petition from Clark Linnekin on the 9th of December, 1777, gave testimony to his continued failure to be released from jail. That petition is excerpted as follows:

    "[I] have not had any releaf from Said McCobb excepting I can rase money to pay all the Charges arison & to arise which is out of my Power to do, if I should die in Gaol.  William McCobb Esqr liveing in BoothBay, about -twenty five miles from Pownalborough Gaol, as the Road  Goes, it was with the utmost Difficulty I gott any person to serve him with a copy of the petition, & order thereon [Captain James Fullerton finally served it on the 11th of-November]…Fullerton….gave [McCobb] a copy thereof, upon which Said William McCobb….Decleared he would not admitt him Said Linneken to Bail except he  would pay all the charges arison & to arise & give Bond for 100 li. lawful money, the Bond I am willing to give if I could Get Bond men for I am honest & mean to be & but the Charges am unable to pay, Except I could Come out & work to earn the money to pay them.  For I have but one cow [that gives milk for my wife & children.  Said -McCobb would do nothing about it; and here I am Left in Gaol in the most Distressed manner, having Little Cloathes only a short & a Thin Jaccot to ware & poor britches & no Shews & Stockins.  Only one pair of shews & Stockins Gave me Since I have beeen in Gaol & no blankett to Cover me, only to lay down in this extreem Cold weather on some hay given me, without any Coveren which is to hard for Human Natur to Bare and to Receive Such punishment in a Christian land and for no Crime, is Cruel; - if there had not been an old Gruge, I believe Said McCobb would never Issued a warrant against me for tradeing with men of wars people, when I had nothing to Trade with but wanted Charity for my Selfe & family, for I had Little or no breed, for three months together only what I gott now & then from a Neighbour, but Never no breed to Carry home, only to Eat there.

    Within days of that petition, 12 December 1777, Clark Linnekin did post a bond of 200 pounds, with his Sureties, Solomon Burnham and Daniel Knight, Jr., each posting 100 pounds.  Those monies were to guarantee the presence of Clark in Court “June next following” to answer the charges of trading with the enemy (ibid.).  However, it was not until the 14th of February, 1778, that a Resolve was passed by the Court of General Sessions directing the Sheriff of Lincoln County to “liberate & discharge” Clark from confinement without demanding any costs of the prisoner.  It further directed the Court to pay the County Treasury “all such legal costs as have arisen” (Massachusetts Archives, 183:244-252).  Clark Linnekin was absolved of allegations which resulted in a five-month imprisonment.

    Although the plight of Clark is well documented through his petitions, nothing has survived to acquaint us with the corresponding plight of his family during his incarceration.

    By Janet I. Delorey
    Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

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