The American Connection (Hingham Massachusetts)

Hingham (UK) has had links to the USA since the earliest days of the American colonisation. One driver of this emigration was the friction between the established church and the Puritans. One story that exemplifies this, is that of the Rev. Robert Peck for whom a brief timeline is shown below. These early emigrations led to the founding of Hingham (Massachusetts). One of these Hingham emigrants was a direct forefather of President Abraham Lincoln and this fact is proudly celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic.

The association between the two Hinghams has continued ever since. Gifts have been exchanged, monuments erected and commemoration events held. These are briefly covered in the following text.

On significant dates throughout the year it is not unusual to see the thought provoking sight of the American Stars and Stripes flying from the top of St Andrews church in celebration of our American links.

 

Reverend Robert Peck – timeline

1605

Robert Peck (age 25) appointed to be rector of Hingham (UK).  For 33 years his puritan leanings were a great influence on his parishioners but led to friction with the established church.

1633

“Elizabeth Bonaventure” departs Great Yarmouth and settles Bare Cove (America)

1635

A second party arrives and Bare Cove is renamed to Hingham (Massachusetts)

1636

Some of Rev. Peck’s flock break into Hingham (UK) church and destroy altar rails, throw them into the parson’s pit and lower the “high” altar.   Peck was held to be responsible by the church authorities   and was eventually excommunicated.

1638

Rev. Peck, his family and some of the more influential residents of Hingham (UK)  sailed on the “Diligent” and joined the settlement of Hingham (Massachusetts).

1645

After Hingham (UK) residents successfully petitioned the, now puritan, parliament; Rev. Peck and some of his family, returned to Hingham (UK) and resumed as rector until his death in 1656.

 

The early Emigrants (with links to Hingham (UK)).

1630

John Hawke

1633

Thomas & Alice Chubbock
Theophilus Cushing
Henry Gibbs
John Haynes * NOTE 1
Edmund & Margaret Hobart + 7 children
Nicholas & Mary Jacob + 2 children
Daniel Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln
Ralph Smith

1635

Anthony Cooper & wife + 4 sons , 4 daughters & 4 servants
John & Frances Farrow + daughter
Rev. Peter Hobart & wife + 4 children
William Large
George Ludkinge& wife + son
George & Elizabeth Marsh + 4 children
John Page

1636

Robert Cutler

1637

Thomas & Anna Barnes
James Buck
Henry & Grace Chamberlain + 2 sons and his mother Christian
John & Mary Cutler + 7 children & 1 servant
Adam Foulsham
Samuel Lincoln *NOTE 2
Edmund & Ann Pitts + daughter
Leonard Pitts
John Tower

1638

Richard Baxter
John & Nazareth Beale + 5 sons, 3 daughters & 2 servants
Thomas Cooper & wife + 2 daughters
Matthew & Nazareth Cushing + 5 children
John & Mary Foulsham (or Folsom) (alias Smith) +1 child
Stephen & Anne Gates + 2 children
Edward & Mary Gilman + 3 sons, 2 daughters & 3 servants
Francis & Elizabeth James + 2 servants
Edward Mitchell
John Morfield
Joseph Peck & wife + 4 children & 5 servants
Robert & Anne Peck + children & 2 servants
William Pitts
Frances Ricroft (or Rycraft) widow of John
William Ripley & wife + 2 sons, 2 daughters
Judith Smith
Thomas Suclin
John Tufts

1639

Esther Hunting

1640

Peter Hallock & wife + 2 children
James White

*NOTE 1:  John Haynes later became the Governor of Connecticut
*NOTE 2:  Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the USA was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Samuel Lincoln.

 

Bust of Abraham Lincoln

In the Hingham (UK) parish church of St Andrews  is displayed a bust of Abraham Lincoln which was unveiled by the American ambassador, Mr John Davis, in 1919. The bust was funded by subscriptions from many people in America and is a copy of the sculpture made in 1860 by the American Leonard Wells Folk.

Underneath the bust is an inscription in stone which states:

In this parish for many generations
lived the Lincolns
ancestors of the American Abraham Lincoln
To him greatest of that lineage
many citizens of the United States
have erected this memorial
in the hope that for all ages
between that land and
this land and all lands
there shall be
malice towards none
with charity for all

 

 The 275th Anniversary of the founding of Hingham (Mass) and an exchange of stones

text extracted directly from  “Hingham – The American Connection from the earliest settlers to the present day” by the Hingham History Group published in 1999 ( see our publications page).
Old Hingham = Hingham (UK)
New Hingham = Hingham (Massachusetts)

To mark this anniversary the people of Hingham, Mass., stimulated by the efforts of Rev. Louis Cornish, erected a Memorial Tower by public subscription at the entrance to the Old Burying Ground, adjacent to the Old Ship Church. It was visualised that a stone from old Hingham should be used as a corner stone of the tower. William L. Gifford came to old Hingham to find a suitable stone but discovered that there was no stone bigger than a hand in the area. Canon Upcher, the rector, proposed that, to mark the anniversary, new Hingham should be presented with the old mounting block (a glacial erratic) which stood by Mr Houchin’s pork butcher’s shop (now the post office), as that was the only stone that we ever had. Mr Gifford replied: ‘Well, if that is the only one you ever had, it is the only one we shall ever want.‘ The block was thus sent to new Hingham. – There was a Formal presentation on 9th October, 1911, by the Rt Hon. James Bryce, D.C.L., the British ambassador, who said: ‘Stones are the most permanent and enduring things of man‘ and that this stone ‘represents a continuity of language and blood which maintains the institutions and traditions of old England . . .’ It was accepted for new Hingham by Walter Hersey, chairman of the Selectmen. However its shape was not suitable for its use as a cornerstone and so it was placed on a brick plinth just inside the tower where there is the following inscription:

The Hingham Stone
long used as a mounting block
is believed to have stood
for centuries on the Village Green
and to‘ have been known
to the Forefathers before the migration.
It was given by Hingham, Norfolk
to Hingham, Massachusetts
for this Memorial
and was presented to the Town
on October 9, 1911 by the
Right Hon. James Bryce, D.C.l_.
Ambassador for Great Britain
to the United States.

On the first floor of the tower is the Hobart room. A panel over the mantlepiece states in part: To the Memory of the Revd. Peter Hobart, M.A. Born in Old Hingham 1602. Died in new Hingham 1678. Educated in Cambridge University, Lecturer and Preacher in English Parishes, he emigrated to America in 1635, and became one of the Founders and the First Minister of this free Plantation.‘

….
….

In contrast to old Hingham, new Hingham, according to Mr Gifford, ‘was so full of stones‘. Tom McSweeny was instrumental in getting the annual town meeting to vote unanimously to send a stone to old Hingham to replace the mounting block. Mr Isaac Sprague and the Rev. Louis Craig Cornish, minister of the Old Ship Church, were appointed to lead the delegation to present the stone. They were joined by their wives and Mr Isaac Sprague, junior.

The stone, a 2-ton block of granite, duly arrived in Hingham in 1913 and was temporarily left on the green near the position of the present bus shelter. It became a source of amusement for the local children who had many games round it. The Parish Council formed a committee, consisting of Messrs- Barcham, Blackwell, Cordy, Gooch and Harwood, to arrange for the presentation of the stone.

Mr Cornish recorded his impressions of the journey to this Hingham, The final part reads: “A little further on, a stone by the roadside shows him (i.e. the traveller) he is at last in old Hingham, and near his journey’s end. A bend in the road discloses a few brick houses. The road passes the tall hedges of the manor park, the iron gates of fine Italian workmanship which open to the rectory grounds, and the noble and imposing church. Then the road turns sharply to the left, passes a row of shops and the old burying ground, and enters the market place, or green, the centre and heart of Old Hingham. “Around the market place are a number of shops, the White Hart Inn, an ancient and excellent hostelry, some of the best of the residences, and above the roofs looking benignly down on the square the pilgrim sees the neat church tower giving him welcome.”

The presentation ceremony was described as follows:

“At present the stone is a rough boulder, but the expressed wish of our American cousins is that it shall be inscribed, and, if possible, replace the old stone.  It was the formal presentation of this stone that occupied the attention of Old Hingham on Monday. The bells in the church tower rang out a merry peal, the Attleborough Town Band was in attendance and played English and American airs. Boy Scouts and members of the Church Lads‘ Brigade were also present, and from every position of vantage flags and bunting were displayed. The ceremony was performed on the open space in front of the Post Office. The centre of attraction, of course, was the stone, placed upon a lorry draped with blue muslin. Overhead the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack waved side by side in the breeze, and connecting them were the white-lettered mottoes, on a red background; ‘Old Hingham shakes hands with New Hingham, and ‘1637 – Welcome -1913’ ”

 

WW2 – 452 Bomb Group (Station 142 at Deopham Green)

Approximately one quarter of the WW2 airfield at Deopham Green (Station 142) was situated in the parish of Hingham. It was used by the 452nd Bomber Group of the USAAF from January 1944 until June 1945. The 2900 personnel stationed their supported and flew the B17G Flying Fortresses.  Hingham also had associations with Station 115 at nearby Shipdham.

There were many interactions between the local population and the air base including some of the local lads helping out on-base and being rewarded with trips on practice flights. Three Hingham ladies married American airforcemen soon after the war. Mary George married Henry Williams, Beryl Ryder married Harold Treet and Blance Tufts wed Joe Dommer.

In May 1979 members of the 452 Bomb Group unveiled a plaque dedicated to the memory of those who died while flying from Deopham Green. The plaque is set in a plinth placed adjacent to the war memorial in Hingham. Further visits took place in 1985, 1989, 1992 and 1995. During the 1992 visit a small monument was unveiled on the former airfield in the neighbouring parish of Great Ellingham.

 

Some of the Gifts exchanged

1900

From Hingham (UK), a fragment of the of the old font, part of the shaft of the original 14th century baptismal font, was presented to America where it was restored and incorporated in the font of St Stephens Church (built 1899 – 1900) in the parish of Cohasset which split from Hingham (Massachusetts) in 1770.

1911

to Hingham (Massachusetts) the “old mounting block” stone

1913

to Hingham (UK)  a replacement stone, a 2 ton block of granite.

1914 -18

£300 to Hingham (UK) and used for education and assistance for those crippled during the war.

1919

The bust of Abraham Lincoln was presented to Hingham (UK) and is displayed in St Andrews church.

1950

$515 donated to the St Andrews (UK) restoration fund.

1985

On occasion of Hingham (Massachusetts) 350th anniversary from Hingham (UK) a replica of the Hingham (UK) old town sign.

 

Bibliography

The Heyday of their Strength” by M. E. Lonsdale published 1979 by Geo R Reeve Ltd
Hingham – The American Connection from the earliest settlers to the present day” by the Hingham History Group published in 1999 ( see our publications page).