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Fundamental Orders of 1639

  For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed as followeth:

  1. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that there shall be yearly two General Assemblies or Courts, the one the second Thursday in April, the other the second Thursday in September following; the first shall be called the Court of Election, wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time, so many Magistrates and other public Officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor for the year ensuing and until another be chosen, and no other Magistrate to be chosen for more than one year: provided always there be six chosen besides the Governor, which being chosen and sworn according to an Oath recorded for that purpose, shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God; which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity, and do cohabit within this Jurisdiction having been admitted Inhabitants by the major part of the Town wherein they live or the major part of such as shall be then present.

  2. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the election of the aforesaid Magistrates shall be in this manner: every person present and qualified for choice shall bring in (to the person deputed to receive them) one single paper with the name of him written in it whom he desires to have Governor, and that he that hath the greatest number of papers shall be Governor for that year. And the rest of the Magistrates or public officers to be chosen in this manner: the Secretary for the time being shall first read the names of all that are to be put to choice and then shall severally nominate them distinctly, and every one that would have the person nominated to be chosen shall bring in one single paper written upon, and he that would not have him chosen shall bring in a blank; and every one that hath more written papers than blanks shall be a Magistrate for that year; which papers shall be received and told by one or more that shall be then chosen by the court and sworn to be faithful therein; but in case there should not be six chosen as aforesaid, besides the Governor, out of those which are nominated, than he or they which have the most written papers shall be a Magistrate or Magistrates for the ensuing year, to make up the aforesaid number.

  3. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magistracy which was not propounded in some General Court before, to be nominated the next election; and to that end it shall be lawful for each of the Towns aforesaid by their deputies to nominate any two whom they conceive fit to be put to election; and the Court may add so many more as they judge requisite.

  4. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that no person be chosen Governor above once in two years, and that the Governor be always a member of some approved Congregation, and formerly of the Magistracy within this Jurisdiction; and that all the Magistrates, Freemen of this Commonwealth; and that no Magistrate or other public officer shall execute any part of his or their office before they are severally sworn, which shall be done in the face of the court if they be present, and in case of absence by some deputed for that purpose.

  5. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that to the aforesaid Court of Election the several Towns shall send their deputies, and when the Elections are ended they may proceed in any public service as at other Courts. Also the other General Court in September shall be for making of laws, and any other public occasion, which concerns the good of the Commonwealth.

  6. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Governor shall, either by himself or by the Secretary, send out summons to the Constables of every Town for the calling of these two standing Courts one month at least before their several times: And also if the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates see cause upon any special occasion to call a General Court, they may give order to the Secretary so to do within fourteen days' warning: And if urgent necessity so required, upon a shorter notice, giving sufficient grounds for it to the deputies when they meet, or else be questioned for the same; And if the Governor and major part of Magistrates shall either neglect or refuse to call the two General standing Courts or either of them, as also at other times when the occasions of the Commonwealth require, the Freemen thereof, or the major part of them, shall petition to them so to do; if then it be either denied or neglected, the said Freemen, or the major part of them, shall have the power to give order to the Constables of the several Towns to do the same, and so may meet together, and choose to themselves a Moderator, and may proceed to do any act of power which any other General Courts may.

  7. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that after there are warrants given out for any of the said General Courts, the Constable or Constables of each Town, shall forthwith give notice distinctly to the inhabitants of the same, in some public assembly or by going or sending from house to house, that at a place and time by him or them limited and set, they meet and assemble themselves together to elect and choose certain deputies to be at the General Court then following to agitate the affairs of the Commonwealth; which said deputies shall be chosen by all that are admitted Inhabitants in the several Towns and have taken the oath of fidelity; provided that none be chosen a Deputy for any General Court which is not a Freeman of this Commonwealth.

  The aforesaid deputies shall be chosen in manner following: every person that is present and qualified as before expressed, shall bring the names of such, written in several papers, as they desire to have chosen for that employment, and these three or four, more or less, being the number agreed on to be chosen for that time, that have the greatest number of papers written for them shall be deputies for that Court; whose names shall be endorsed on the back side of the warrant and returned into the Court, with the Constable or Constables' hand unto the same.

  8. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield shall have power, each Town, to send four of their Freemen as their deputies to every General Court; and Whatsoever other Town shall be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputies as the Court shall judge meet, a reasonable proportion to the number of Freemen that are in the said Towns being to be attended therein; which deputies shall have the power of the whole Town to give their votes and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the public good, and unto which the said Towns are to be bound.

  9. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoint a time and a place of meeting together before any General Court, to advise and consult of all such things as may concern the good of the public, as also to examine their own Elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the greatest part of them find any election to be illegal they may seclude such for present from their meeting, and return the same and their reasons to the Court; and if it be proved true, the Court may fine the party or parties so intruding, and the Town, if they see cause, and give out a warrant to go to a new election in a legal way, either in part or in whole. Also the said deputies shall have power to fine any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due time or place according to appointment; and they may return the said fines into the Court if it be refused to be paid, and the Treasurer to take notice of it, and to escheat or levy the same as he does other fines.

  10. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that every General Court, except such as through neglect of the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates the Freemen themselves do call, shall consist of the Governor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and four other Magistrates at least, with the major part of the deputies of the several Towns legally chosen; and in case the Freemen, or major part of them, through neglect or refusal of the Governor and major part of the Magistrates, shall call a Court, it shall consist of the major part of Freemen that are present or their deputiues, with a Moderator chosen by them: In which said General Courts shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grant levies, to admit of Freemen, dispose of lands undisposed of, to several Towns or persons, and also shall have power to call either Court or Magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or deal otherwise according to the nature of the offense; and also may deal in any other matter that concerns the good of this Commonwealth, except election of Magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of Freemen.

  In which Court the Governor or Moderator shall have power to order the Court, to give liberty of speech, and silence unseasonable and disorderly speakings, to put all things to vote, and in case the vote be equal to have the casting voice. But none of these Courts shall be adjourned or dissolved without the consent of the major part of the Court.

  11. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that when any General Court upon the occasions of the Commonwealth have agreed upon any sum, or sums of money to be levied upon the several Towns within this Jurisdiction, that a committee be chosen to set out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every Town to pay of the said levy, provided the committee be made up of an equal number out of each Town.

  14th January 1639 the 11 Orders above said are voted. 


Thirty men went from Windsor to join in the fight against the Pequot Indians in May 1637.  Among them was Walter Fyler, afterwards known as Lieutenant Walter Fyler. 


This year the trouble, which had been some time brewing, broke out between the settlers of the Bay and the Pequot Indians. This tribe never assimilated with their white neighbors-neither with the English on the North East nor the Dutch on the West. About July, of this year, Capt. John Oldham was murdered by the Indians at Block Island; and as he was a man universally known both in the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies, it was resolved to put a stop to such proceedings, and punish the aggressors. For this purpose, four companies were raised…This was the first serious warfare that occurred after the settlement of the colony, and the whole vicinity was deeply interested in the event. 

This story starts before the English people arrive in Massachusetts. During the 1620’s the Dutch Trading Post “House of Good Hope” (Hartford) traded with the Indians of the area. The River Indians were given preference, due to their location near the post. The Pequots were taxed more and given lesser quality goods. This caused the Pequots to raid the River Indians who came to the post, and demand a tax from them to make things fair. They soon lost fear of the traders and would raid the trading post as well.  
In 1622, The Dutch West Indian trader, Jacques Elekens, seized a Pequot sachem named Tatobem the Tyrant near the Dutch Trading Post “House of Good Hope” on the Connecticut River in retaliation for Pequot raids on the trading post. Elekens threatened to kill Tatobem unless he, Elekens, received a "heavy ransom". The Pequots responded with a tribute of one-hundred-forty fathoms of purple and white beads. Since one fathom equals 240 to 260 beads, the total received by the Dutch trader was approximately thirty-five thousand beads. Elekens killed Tatobem anyway.  
In autumn of 1636 the Pequots became bolder. The raids increased on the settlers and Indians in the area. When chasing a local Indian they used to stop at the door of a white man's house, not willing to anger the settlers. But now they started raiding homes and killing lone travelers, like Butterfield and Tilly. Mr. Tilly was master of a fishing barque sailing upriver. He and Mr. Butterfield went ashore to shoot fowl when several Pequots rose up and killed Mr. Butterfield. They took Tilly and tortured him for three days until he died. In another incident, John Oldham’s Pinnace was spotted off Block Island with fourteen Indians on deck. When boarded, Oldham was found murdered in his cabin. This caused John Endicott, (Salem Governor, and Mr. Ludlow’s brother-in-law) to wipe out the Indian settlement on Block Island. This in turn caused the Pequots to lay siege to
Fort Saybrook at the mouth of the river. In February, Captain Gardiner, the fort’s commander, and a logging party were ambushed. Two were killed and several injured including Gardiner. Two others threw down their weapons and ran away. These two were almost hanged for cowardice.  
On April 23, 1637 Sessacus, the Pequot Sachem, ordered a raid on Wethersfield in retaliation for the raid on Pequot villages by John Endicott, who was not even from Connecticut. There were two hundred Pequot warriors who attacked Wethersfield and killed six men, three women, and twenty cows. Two young girls were kidnapped and later spotted by Gardiner as they passed Fort Saybrook. A Dutch boat was able to negotiate for the return of the two girls with help from the Sachem’s squaw. Fort Saybrook was then reinforced with eighteen soldiers from Massachusetts Bay in the command of Captain John Underhill.  
The Windsor settlers had built a palisade around some houses on the high ground of the north bank of the "Little River". This was a stockade fence to protect the houses from attack by Pequots. Just north of the Palisade outside the fence is where the "Lords and Gentlemen" of the Saltonstall party settled. It was their intention to build large stately houses in the area thereby making it a civilized English colony. But they were vulnerable to attack and so built a fort on the Stoughton property where all could gather in an attack. The large oaken door of the "Old Stone Fort" bore the scars of Pequot axes for 200 years hence until it fell in ruins.  
On May 1, 1637, the ninth meeting of the Connecticut General Court convened to discuss the Pequots. The first line of the court record says, “It is ordered that there shall be an offensive war against the Pequots.” They discussed gear for the soldiers, and what each town would supply for the effort. They appointed John Mason to lead the Army, Reverend Stone of Hartford was the Chaplin, Dr. Thomas Pell of Saybrook would be the Field Surgeon.  
As a result of the meeting, ninety soldiers were gathered; forty-two from Hartford, eighteen from Wethersfield, and thirty from Windsor. The three towns could not be left unguarded so thirteen of the ninety men were assigned to guard the Colony. Seventy-seven soldiers mustered at Hartford on May 10th 1637 by the River. Uncas the Mohegan offered seventy more Warriors to our ranks. More soldiers would be gathered at Saybrook. On the morning of May 11th, the new Army sailed south in three ships, a Pink, a Pinnace, and a Shallop. Many Indian canoes went along side and the whole armada made their way toward Saybrook. Uncas and his men left the canoes and made the trip overland down to Saybrook to secure the riverbank and keep the Pequots from seeing the army. They killed seven Pequots and burned a spy who had been living among the colonists.  
Captain Gardiner was in command of the fort at Saybrook.
They had been besieged by the Pequots for two months and had reinforced their group with soldiers from Massachusetts Bay. They lent a fresh troop of eighteen seasoned soldiers to Capt. John Mason to let some of the less able boys and old men to go back to Windsor. Captain Underhill was commander of this troop of soldiers.  
Captain Mason standing in the open at the fort decided that they were watched by Pequots in the woods, and so changed the plan. He sailed for Narragansett instead of attacking them from the Pequot river. When the ships passed the Pequot territory, the Indians were on the shore laughing and jeering at them as they sailed past. They assumed Mason was going on to Block Island to punish some other Indians. When the ships arrived in Narragansett Bay, they had unfavorable winds and had to wait two days to come ashore. They visited the Narragansett Chief Miantonomoh to ask for help. He would only give permission to go through his territory. However, Uncas gave a speech to the tribe and convinced about 200 warriors to follow as auxiliaries.  
It was dawn on May 26th 1637, and after a two day hike through the woods Captain Mason and his troops sneaked up the eastern side of the hill while Captain Underhill and his troops sneaked up the western side. On the crest of the hill stands
the Pequot fort, a palisade about half an acre around with an opening on each side. The openings were blocked with brush and bushes. The Pequots were inside still asleep, unaware that the English who passed them by last week were at their doorstep. They got within twenty feet when a dog started barking. A Pequot was awakened and started shouting “Owanux! Owanux!”, the Pequot word for Englishmen.  
A volley was fired into the fort from all around it. Captain Mason and his men came to the fortified entrance. Mason hopped over the brush, while Lt. Seeley delayed to removed it. Mason saw rows of wigwams and broke into the first one. In the small space he was beset with arrows and close fighting. He held them off with his sword, and was relieved by William Hayden. They both killed several Indians and leapt back outside, following more Indians. Mason met Pattison and Barbour who killed several more Indians. It was becoming difficult to fight in each of fifty wigwams. The Pequots were shooting from the closed doors.  
Mason had originally wanted to “take the fort and save the plunder”. But now he saw that they were outnumbered and there was not enough space for swords and muskets. He met Lt. Bull and Nicholas Olmstead out of breath and bloodied. He decided on the spur of the moment that they should burn the fort rather than lose many men in hand to hand combat inside wigwams. The three took fire from a wigwam and set the thatch roofs ablaze. They ran out of the fort but the Indians behind them were not allowed to leave.  
Mason’s men surrounded the fort and killed anyone who tried to leave. About forty warriors rallied and gave fight with arrows, but they were cut down by English muskets. Some surrendered but were killed. Those that escaped were killed by Uncas’s men.  
In half an hour the fort was burned down and 500 Pequots were burned to death or killed while escaping the flames at the hands of the English soldiers. Most of them were women and children. Only about 180 were warriors. Seven were taken prisoner, and seven escaped. Underhill wrote, ”Great and Doleful was the bloody sight to the view of young soldiers that never before had been in war, to see so many souls lie gasping on the ground, so thick in some places that you could hardly pass along.” Even Uncas’s warriors could not believe the slaughter. They were glad that their enemies were gone but not with such tragedy of the women and children.  
Two English soldiers were killed and twenty wounded. The Pequot’s Mystick fort was gone and all the inhabitants dead. The Pequots at the other fort at the mouth of the river came and were chased off by muskets. When they found the ruined fort and piles of bodies they were in extreme rage. They chased the soldiers who were almost to their ships, but were fought off by the rear guard of about fourteen men and their muskets. They continued to harass and ambush the soldiers, but their arrows were of little effect.  
The ships were supposed to meet them at the mouth of the Pequot river but were delayed by unfavorable winds. They were nearby in a cove two miles down the coast. From the Sloop came Captain Daniel Patrick with a fresh company of soldiers from Massachusetts Bay. They came to rescue Mason’s men from pursuit but were told there was no need. Mason wanted Captain Patrick to use the barque to help the Narragansetts return home under protection. Underhill would take the Pink and return the wounded to Saybrook. Mason and his men would march to Fort Saybrook. Captain Patrick wanted to walk to Saybrook with Mason’s company which was unpopular. The soldiers didn’t want him to share in their triumphant return. Patrick marched with them anyway.  
Before they got to Saybrook they overran a small village of western Niantics and ran them into a swamp. It was late Saturday and they wanted to get to Saybrook before the Sabbath, so they didn’t pursue them. At sunset they spotted the fort across the estuary and camped for the night. On Sunday morning Captain Gardiner sent a ferry to bring the men to the fort. There was a great feast of the remaining food stores and celebration of the fight. On Monday morning, they set sail up the river to return home. On Friday June 3rd the men put in first at Wethersfield, then Hartford, then found the old trading post at the mouth of their little river and poled up to the ferry landing by the palisade. They were glad to be home.  
Captain Israel Stoughton brought a new force of 120 men from Massachusetts Bay to mop up the remaining Pequots. Captain John Gallop, who had found John Oldham’s body in his boat a year before, took Stoughton’s prisoners out to the sound and pitched them overboard. Mason nicknamed Gallop’s sloop “Charon’s Ferry”.  
May 27th was the last Pequot tribal council at the site of the burned fort. They decided to burn their crops and villages and head back to the Hudson River valley where they came from generations ago. About eighty surviving warriors and their families followed Chief Sachem Sessacus and Sachem Mononotto on a journey toward the Hudson. But thirty men with eighty women stayed to try and survive. Stoughton’s men found them and put twenty eight of the thirty men to death. Thirty three women were given to the Narragansetts, and the rest were sold as slaves to Massachusetts Bay.  
Lt. Seeley and thirty men were ordered to “set down in the Pequot country and river” as an occupation force. This became the town of Norwich where Mason later retired after his command at Fort Saybrook.  
Sessacus and his band crossed the river at Saybrook. Three white men in a canoe were killed and hung in the trees, which prompted Mason to extinguish them entirely.  
While Mason’s men returned home, Mason took Underhill’s men and Patrick’s men, and went with Israel Stoughton’s men along the sound in a boat, giving chase to the survivors. Sessacus had to take the shore route to dig shellfish. Uncas and his men tracked them all the way. Near Guilford, Mononotto was found with some warriors. They were routed out of the eastern side of the harbor and swam across to the west side. Here, Uncas killed them and put Mononotto’s head in an old oak tree. This cape is still known as
Sachems Head. 
Sessacus, a local sachem, and the main body had taken refuge in a swamp near Greenfield Hill  Mason
had found their location by capturing a Pequot near where Fairfield is now. Hiking a few miles northward, the men surrounded the swamp. A call for surrender was sent in and the local tribe accepted it. Many Pequot women and children also surrendered. The swamp was now down to less then a hundred warriors who would rather die than give up.  
At dawn in the fog they rushed one corner of the swamp where Captain Patrick’s men were. About seventy broke through before reinforcements could muster. Sessacus was not found. He had been exiled by his own men the day before. He and about thirty followers went for refuge in Mohawk territory. The Mohawks knew they had been exiled by their tribe and so killed them all and sent their scalps and Sessacus’s head to Hartford to prove their alliance with the English.  
All the Pequots were disbanded and sold as slaves. They were not allowed to call themselves Pequots. The Mohegans and Narragansetts took most into their tribe as slaves, where they were not allowed to have children. The seventy that escaped the swamp fight were reported to have gone south to the Carolinas. Forty years later they were gathering an army to return and help King Philip,
but when he was killed they did not return to New England. The Paucatuck eastern Pequots and the Mashantucket western Pequots eventually regrouped and returned 350 years later.   From The First Church in Windsor History 

The Indian village in this case was so completely destroyed that for many years the settlers had no further trouble with the Indians. Some years later, the participants were given land grants. To quote from Dr. Styles’ records in speaking of the first Indian war in New England: “The danger was Imminent, and so complete the victory that is caused universal rejoicing throughout New England, and a grant of land was given each soldier and officer, and to this day the memory of and ancestor who was in the Pequot fight, is and honorable heirloom in every Connecticut family.        -Benson J. Lossing, LL.D       


Lieutenant Walter Fyler received his rank and a plot of land in Windsor, Connecticut for his service in the Pequot War.