Militia Pay Record Under Stevens 1747-1748

Research into history is never a straight forward endeavor.  No, research seems to follow a path more akin to a tangled, messy pile that you pick up in the morning after the cats have gotten into a bag of yarn!   A document is found here, it leads to and touches another document.  The second document probably isn’t of the same time frame, or on the same topic as the first document.  And so on until … ah-ha!

While digging into a box of records from the 1820’s and 1830’s, there came to light a historical treasure.  An 18th century pay record directly connected to Plantation Number 4 during the time of King George’s War.

King George’s War (1744-1748), also known as the Third Intercolonial War, was the name given to the North American portion of the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748).

Usually the museum would have a copy of such a record for perusal within Stevens House.  However, like the days of George’s War, we are living in unbalanced times (“stay safe/stay home”…), therefore we thought we would share some of this fabulous document.

Our thanks to Wendalyn Truax Baker for finding and transcribing this pay record.

The document begins “From Massachusetts to Phineas Stevens & Men … [as voted by]… the Great and General Court,” and is laid out as a list similar to one which might be done today within a spreadsheet:  first name; last name; length of service; pay in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence.

A word about money.  Don’t confuse “old money” with 21st century money.  Between 1066 (the Norman conquest of Britain) and 1971 (the decimalization of the British currency), the British Pound (£) was divided into 240 pence, or 20 shillings. On “Decimal Day” (February 15, 1971) a pence became 1/100 of a Pound, and the shilling disappeared.

In 1747-1748:
£1=240 pence (d for denarii)
£1=20 shillings (s for solidi)
s1=12 pence (d for denarii–we can assign this naming scheme to the Romans, for more information see British Money)

What is your money worth in 1748?  Try this convertor:  Currency Convertor: 1270-2017

The longest length of service recorded on the pay record is one year and the pay is shown as 2/13/4 (£2, 13s, 4d).  Nine months service pay is shown as 2/0/0.  Three months service pay as 0/13/4.  There appears to be no pay differential for officers.  Everyone’s’ pay appears to be based solely upon time in service.

A few of the men who received pay as part of the militia under Stevens during 1747 and 1748:

  • Phineas Stevens.  Militia Captain at Number 4. For one year of service he received £2/13/4.
  • John Burk (Burke/Bark).  For one year of service he received £2/13/4.  Burk was the nephew of John Hastings (often referred to as Dr. Hastings). Burk was part of a group of settlers who established Falls Fight Township now known as Barnardston, MA.
  • Caleb Howe of Dummerston, now Vernon, VT.  For one year of service he received £2/13/4.
  • Joseph Parker; most likely a nephew of Isaac Parker, the son of Joseph and Abigail (Sawtell) Parker, b. 1721.  For three months service he received £0/13/4.
  • Moses Willard of Plantation Number 4 received £2/0/0 for nine months of militia duties.
  • Ebenezer Putnam received £2/13/4 for one year of service under Stevens.  Putnam was one of the several of the children of Seth, Sr. and Ruth Putnam to establish homesteads at Number 4.
  • David Farnsworth of Plantation Number 4 received £0/13/4 for three months service.
  • Isaac Parker [Sr.] of Plantation Number 4 received £2/0/0 for nine months of militia duties.  When Stevens joined the 1757 Expedition to Louisbourg, Parker took over as captain of the town militia.