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EZEKIEL CHEEVER AND SOME OF HIS
ZEKIEL CHEEVER was born in London, Jan: Ezekiel Cheever He came to Boston in New England in June, 1637, went,
1631. probably the next spring, to New Haven, there married and taught school.
Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, who went in October, 1638, when he was about seven years old, with his father, to New Haven, says :
6 When yo next sụmmer was come I was sent to school to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever who at that time taught school in his own house, and under him in a year or two I profited so much through ye blessing of God, that I began to make
* Sewall's Diary. Cotton Mather's Corderius Americanus.
+ It has been said that his father was a linen draper, but the clerk of the Draper's Company finds no record in the books of that company, prior to the year 1637, of the admission of any person bearing the name of Cheever.
There is a tradition that he was when a boy at St. Paul's school. The high-master of St. Paul's informs me that the early registers of that school were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It is possible, however, that much of what is now supposed to be lost may even yet be recovered from other sources; but the antiquities of the school have been strangely neglected.
While in London in 1873-4, I had, through the kindness of Col. Joseph L. Chester, the privilege of consulting his transcript of the Matriculation Register of the University of Oxford," but did not find in it the name of Ezekiel Cheever. This transcript is comprised in seven MS. folio volumes, containing about two thousand five hundred pages, and extends from early in 1565 to the end of the year 1869. In these seven volumes there are the names of about one hundred thousand students, being all who matriculated during that period, with the dates of their matriculation, the College or Hall to which they were attached, their respective ages at their last birthday, the places of their birth, and the names and rank of their fathers. Col. Chester first transcribed personally the original registers, contained in twelve volumes of folio and quarto, then collated the names and dates, with the signatures of the students in the subscription book (all being required to subscribe to the “Thirty Nine Articles”), and so got every man's name as he actually wrote it himself, thus correcting many flagrant errors in the original registers due to the carelessness of the bedels who made the entries. The transcript is thus made perfect and strictly accurate, while the original registers are not. This work alone occupied Col. Chester twelve months. He then had the names transcribed on slips, then arranged alphabetically and chronologically, and then again transcribed into the present volumes. An index thus becomes unnecessary, and one can turn to any name of any date in an instant. The importance of the work thus accomplished can hardly be over-estimated. In case of the loss or destruction of the originals by fire or otherwise, this transcript would be priceless.
No such general matriculation register exists at Cambridge. The same facts can there be obtained only by examining the records of each College separately, and even then the details are not so fúll as at Oxford. The parents' names are rarely given. The entries usually merely give the student's name, age, county, and the school from which he went to Cambridge. It is to be hoped, however, that the University, or some antiquarian or historical society, or public spirited individual, will at some future time cause such a general register to be made. Ezekiel Cheever may have been at Cambridge, but if so, it is strange that Cotton Mather has not mentioned it.
As to the name of Cheever in New England, a word may here be said. Administration on the estate of Abraham Cheever, of Boston, was granted to Mr. Joshua Atwater, 12: 11: 1669– 70, his brother Bartholomew Cheever declining the same. The will of Bartholomew Cheever, of Boston, cordwainer, dated Oct. 21, 1693, was probated Dec. 28, 1693. In it he mentions his brother Daniel Cheever, and his cousins Ezekiel Cheever, schoolmaster, and Richard Cheever. Daniel Cheever, of Cambridge, husbandman, in his will dated April 30, 1698, probated June 21, 1704, mentions his brother Bartholomew Cheever, of Boston, deceased. Administration on the estate of Richard Cheever, of Boston, cordwainer, was granted Aug. 8, 1709, to Abigail his widow. Peter Cheever, of Salem, glover, in his will dated July 15, 1699, probated Aug. 7, 1699, mentions his cousin Samuel Cheever, of Marblehead. Their relationship is thus clearly established and their common ancestry proved. It is probable that all who now bear the name of Cheever in New England are lineal descendants of those above named.
Latin & to get forward apace.'
In the list of the names of all the freemen of the Courte of Newhaven,”+ made by Thomas Fugill, the first secretary of the plantation, that of “Mr. Eze: Cheu's” stands ninth.
He was one of the twelve men chosen as “ fitt for the foundaco worke of the church” at the general meeting held on the 4th of June, 1639,6 and was one of the signers of the “ foundamentall agreem” made at that meeting.Ş Oct. 25, 1639, “ Mr. Nathaniell Turner, Will Andrewes and Mr. Cheeu's, members of this church,” and others, were admitted members of the Court.|| At a meeting about casting lots for the East Meadows and the meadows in the Mill River, 17th 1st mo. 1641, he was one of those who are to have their meadow in Mil-meadow and the Iland in the East River.”T. At a general court held the 25th of 12th mo. 1641, “ Itt is ordered thatt a free schoole shall be sett vp in this towne, and of pastor Mr. Davenport, together wth the magistrates shall consider whatt yearly allowance is meete to be given to itt out of the como stock of the towne, and allso whatt rules and orders are meet to be observed in and about the
In the list of planters and their estates for 1643, his name stands sixth, although his estate was estimated at £20 only. His family consisted at that time of three persons, and the number of acres of land owned by him was, in the first division 8.1, in the neck 1132, meadow 27, and in the second division 10. The rates yearly paid by him for Jand were 5s. 11d.ft At a court held at New Haven, Feb. 8, 1643, “Mr. Cheevers desired 4-3-6 out of the estate of Mr. Trobridge, woh is justly due to him for teaching ye children.”If
He took the oath of fidelity at a court held at New Haven, July 1, 1644.$$ At a General Court held Dec. 8, 1645, "the Governo', magistrates, deputies w'h elder Newman, the 2 deacons, Mr. Cheevers, bro: Miles, bro: Clarke, bro: Anthony Thompson & bro: Munson,” were made a committee to consider the subject of taxation. # " For the better trayning vpp of youth in this towne, that through Gods blessinge they may be fitted for publique service hereafter, either in church or comonweale, it is ordered, that a free schoole be sett vpp, & the magistrates wth the teaching elders are intreated to consider what rules & orders are meete to be observed & what allowance may be convenient for the schoolema's care & pajnes, woh shalbe paid out of the townes stocke. According to woh order, 20 a yeare was paid to Mr. Ezekiell Cheevers, the present schoolema" for? or 3 yeares at first, but that not proueing a competent majntenance, in August, 1644, it was inlardged to 301 a yeare & soe contineweth.”TT This was in 1645. He was present at a General Court held at New Haven, March 16, 1645, which ordered the removal of Thomas Fugill from the office of secretary for the Plantation.*** At the same court "
Bro: Wackman & bro : Cheevers were chosen deputies for the jurisdiction court in Aprill next.”+tt At a General Court held at New Haven, Oct. 26, 1646, “Mr. Jno Wackman, Mr. Ezekiell Cheev's wer chos" deputyes for the jurisdiçon geñerall court.”Iff Besides teaching school, he seems to have preached ocasionally, for at a court held at New Haven, May 4, 1647, “ Richard Smoolt, servant to Mrs. Turner, was chardged by his Mrs. for sundry grosse miscariadges, as for scoffing at the word of God woh was preached by Mr. Cheevers, for other rebellious carriadges in the famylye."* At a court held Feb. 1, 1647, “Ezechiel Cheveres passeth ouer to John Cooper 5 acrs 2 thirds of vpland w'hin the two myle, on halfe of it lying in Mr. Fatton quartr, betwixt the land of Mris Turner & William Tuttill, the other halfe lying by the mill highwaye, at the end of Mr. Eatons pasture, next the land of William Tuttill." +
* Memoir of Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, author of the Day of Doom, by John Ward Dean. Second Edition. Albany, N. Y. : Joel Munsell, 1871. Appendix, p. 137. See also REGISTER, xvii. 137.
+ New Haven Colonial Records, i. 9.
| Ibid. i. 20.
His trialf before the church at New Haven on the 20th of 3d mo. 1649, was upon charges of which the following is a brief synopsis. On the Lord's day, being the 13th 3d mo. 1649, W. Thorpe retracted the charges he had made against the elders of partiality and usurpation. The church then agreed to clear the elders by vote, but three brethren withdrew and voted neither in the affirmative nor negative. Brother Cheever being desired to give his reason for not voting, said that “ he apprehended the Elders had walked faithfully according to their light, but refused to clear them of partiality, and so left the Elders under an unjust suspicion, as if they were guilty; at which carriage the brethren were offended, and since the Lord's day, sundry of them have delivered a writing to the ruling Elder, manifesting their offence against Mr. Cheever, out which he hath drawn some particulars." Two of the principal charges brought against him were: “1. His uncomely gestures and carriage before the Church, in the mixed assembly, were offensive both to the Ch., and to some that are not of the Ch.” “ 2. That when the Ch. did agree to clear the Elders by vote of those two charges, (namely of usurpation and partiality,) he did not give his vote either to the affirmative or to the negative." Among the minor charges brought against him were that he “did maintain that if three persons hearing one and the same thing from one and the same man at three several times, they are all but one witness, and so no competent testimony to prove it,” and that “ Another time W. Thorpe and br: Cheever speaking together about the Elders preparing matters for the ch: br: Cheever said, We have nothing to do now but to say Amen, we are all Clerks now.”
To support the first charge, “ Br: H. Lindall and br: W. Basset affirmed, that his carriage was to them very offensive, they were ashamed that it should be such in so public an assembly, one while holding down his head into the seat, then laughing or smiling. Br: F. Newman said one while he wrapped his handkerchief about his face, and then pulled it off again. Br: Morris affirmed his carriage was offensively uncomely: three of them affirmed that he rather carried it as one acting a play, than as one in the presence of God, in an ordinance."
“ Br: Cheever (being desired to answer) said, that his holding down his head might be from the pain of headache, with which he is often troubled ; he was asked if his head did then ache, and how his smiling or laughing could agree with such a pain; but he could answer to neither, but said, he took no notice of his own gestures, nor of any levity of spirit, nor of any carriage suiting a stage-play. But for the gestures or outward actions mentioned, by which men must judge, himself judged them as neither suiting his person, nor work in hand, and he should account it a mercy from God, if he had more command of his outward gestures; his objecting the aching of his head, which he could not affirm to be at that season, nor could tell how to make it suit with his smiling or laughing, did rather increase the offense.”
* New Haven Colonial Records, i. 308. + Ibid. i. 363.
I Coll. Conn. Hist. Soc. i. 22-51. “ Trial of Ezekiel Cheever before the Church at New Haven," printed from a contemporary manuscript in the possession of Charles H. Morse, Esq., then of Cambridge, Mass., now of Washington, D. Č.
“ To the 2d, br: Cheever answered, that being loth to disturb the peace of the Ch: he held up his hand to neither vote; had he that light in the case which Mr. Davenport this day beld forth, he could have held up both his hands to clear the Elders of partiality.”
Brother Cheever“ was told that this charge of the brethren, being Clerks, and that they have nothing to do now but to say Amen, imports two things, first, that the Elders usurp a lordly power over the Ch:, which is neither granted, nor allowed by Christ. Secondly, that the brethren are weak and childish, either wanting light, or wanting courage to improve their light, about the affairs of Christ, in his Ch:, and in both respects the charge is great and heavy, he was therefore wished either to instance and prove, or to let fall and clear, but he refused to do either.”
“ Br: Cheever was again desired to give some satisfying reason, why he could not clear the Elders of usurpation ; he answered, he thought the brethren had not their due liberty to act according to the light of their own consciences, and to dissent when they wanted light. The Ruling Elder asked him, who hindered them of their due liberty, and told him that his speeches applied to the case import that the Ch. is brought into bondage, whereas the brethren have ever had their full liberty to speak according to the rules of order and edification, and more can neither safely be expected nor granted in a church. Br: Cheever neither retracting, nor giving any answer, our Teacher and sundry of the brethren told him, they had been often and long grieved by, and for him, his offensive carriages, both in the private meetings of the Ch. and in the public assembly, as himself well knew, had been afflictingly burdensome to them, they had for a long time observed and witnessed against his contradicting, stiff, and proud frame of spirit, they feared God had a controversy with him, wondered what it would come to, and what God would do with him. After a long debate without any fruit appearing in the spirit and carriage of br: Cheever, when he could neither be drawn to take off the charge, nor to instance in any particulars, which being opened might have been cleared before the assembly, but did obstinately persist in fastening a slanderous reproach upon the officers and brethren, the Ch. proceeded to censure, and upon a serious consideration of his miscarriages, in the nature and compass of them, this last making the rest full, and heaped measure, by vote ordered, that he be cast out of the body, till the proud flesh be destroyed, and he be brought into a more member-like frame.”
Ezekiel Cheever in his answer says: “To the gesture of holding down my head and wrapping my handkerchief about it, I did then, and do still impute it to the aching of my head as the cause of it, though I cannot clearly remember it, upon these grounds. 1. I know no other cause of it. 2. I do know I am constantly troubled with violent pain in my head in hot weather, when my mind and intentions are seriously fixed, as I have observed most usual on the Lord's day in the evening, and after church meetings, and to mitigate my pain I have been wont to hold my head straight with my handkerchief, as a fillet, finding some little ease by it, and yet have purposely avoided holding down my head long, but have oft looked up, that I might not seem to sleep. 3. When I came home that Sabbath in the evening, (when these gestures are testified to be acted, viz, 13th of 3d month, when I did not join with the vote to clear the Elders,) my wife tells me I
complained of pain in my head, nor is the smiling after objected so unsuitable, but it may well consist with that, and greater pain also. For the smiling or laughing, I know neither the thing, nor any cause of it, nor whether there was any more than a natural ordinary cheerfulness of countenance seeming to smile, which whether it be sinful, or avoidable by me, I know not, yet upon certain clear testimony, I shall judge myself for any such unseemly gestures, as having appearance of that evil charged, though I know they arise, not from lightness, but over-seriousness and vehemency of spirit, and too much activity, at other times discovering itself in unseemly motions of body, somewhat whereof might appear at this time, though I remember no such, nor occasion of them. I desire to be humbled for the least appearance of evil, and occasion of offence, and to watch against it. Yet notwithstanding that there was such excess that way, as the charge seems to carry, I cannot be convinced upon these grounds. 1. Many, (more than witness against me,) that were near me on both sides, and before me, and did observe me, took no notice of any uncomely gestures, and are unsatisfied, and troubled at the carriage of the thing. 2. None have manifested openly their taking notice of, or offence at any such gestures in me, only those 4 that witness, though it be said, they were offensive to the Church. 3. One alone, viz, William Basset, did publicly affirm, my carriage was like a stage-player, (and that to the grief and offence of sundry, though not publicly manifested) though it be said, 3 affirmed it. I have spoken to the other 3 witnesses, and they all deny it."
my backwardness to produce instance and proof on my behalf, I was indeed slow to it, as not seeing any likelihood of good effect by it, nor so prepared for it as I might have been, being suddenly without forewarning called forth as if so conceiving it would be apt to multiply offence. Yet being pressed somewhat I did speak, naming the head of what I have with grief apprehended to be true in some particular, viz, that the brethren had not their due liberty to act according to the light of their own consciences; and the answer given is, that they have ever had their full liberty to speak according to the rules of order and edification ; but that must be understood in the Elders' judgment, for if they think contrary, though amiss, the brethren are rebuked, which doth impeach their true liberty, and makes them afraid to speak when they apprehend they have just cause.”
“ Whereas in the close, I am charged with a stiff, proud, contradicting frame of spirit, I humbly entreat the particulars wherein I have differed may be produced and offered to the judgment of the godly, I spoke not but out of conscience in a righteous cause (as I think) when I could not be silent; I must act with the Church, and (which is uncomfortable) I must either act with their light, or may expect to suffer, as I have done, and do at this day for conscience sake; but I had rather suffer any thing from men, than make shipwreck of a good conscience, or go against my present light though erroneous, when it is not discovered. And I look upon it as a mercy, and answer of many prayers, that notwithstanding many temptations I have conflicted with in that kind upon such occasions, the fear of men hath not prevailed above the fear of God. I do not go about wholly to free myself from blame in my carriage, and in these particulars, human frailty and infirmity I do see and bewail, as too much lightness, in that word Clerks, want of wisdom and coolness in ordering and uttering my speeches, but for that slander, or grossness in it to be equal to Miriam's sin, or to deserve such a censure, I cannot yet see it, and though the Ch: by the major part, (a considerable part, near half as I am informed, dissenting,) hath inflicted