Ten Men of Saugus Plaque Back in Town Hall

(photo credit: Kathy Coggeshall)

After being in storage for an unknown number of years the plaque commemorating the founders of Sandwich, the “Ten Men of Saugus,” is now back up in Town Hall. It graces the second floor landing just outside the door to the main meeting hall.

In a note posted on the Historical Commission website, J. Dillingham wrote: “Where is the red sign with the founding fathers? It is important to have THAT sign in city [sic] hall. Where would the town be without them? We HAVE the sign. Put it up.”

Former Historical Commission member Don Bayley determined that indeed the plaque did hang in Town Hall in the past.


He found this photo on the internet. Note the caption: “This Plaque of The Ten Men from Saugus, who were the Founders of Sandwich, is on the wall of the Selectmans’s office in City Hall, Town of Sandwich, Massachusetts.” (It looks like the Selectmen had an office with a brick wall back then.)

Don then found the actual plaque in storage at the Deacon-Eldred Building (AKA Sand Hill School). He notified the Historical Commission and member Bill Daley was  instrumental in getting Ted Hamilton from the town to get the plaque out of storage and to re-hang it.

We thank Bill Daley and Ted Hamilton for their work and we thank Mr. Dillingham for making us aware that it was indeed missing.

All of this has spurred this writer to do a bit more research on the Ten Men. Who exactly were they? When did they found Sandwich and why?

For starters, the public record of the Plymouth Court dated April 3, 1637 states:
“it is agreed by the Court that these ten men of Saugus, viz., Edmund Freeman, Henry Feake, Thomas Dexter, Edward Dillingham, William Wood, John Carman, Richard Chadwell, William Almy, Thomas Tupper, and George Knott shall have liberty to view a place to sit down, and have sufficient lands for threescore families, upon the conditions propounded to them by the governor and Mr. Winslow.”

Note that at the time Saugus (today’s Lynn) was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; Cape Cod was part of the Plymouth Colony.

In History of Barnstable County, edited by Simeon Deyo, we find this:
“Historians assert, that religious considerations led the ten Saugus (Lynn) pioneers to seek this first plantation of the Cape. (This also confirms that Sandwich was the first English settlement on the Cape.)

What were these “religious considerations?” Why were the Ten Men not happy in Saugus?

We get some clues from Vincent Virga and Dan Spinella in Massachusetts: Mapping the Bay State Through History:
“While the Pilgrims (in Plymouth Colony) were occupied with the problems of survival, the better organized and provisioned Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony came with a mission, to establish their own shining ‘citty [sic] upon a Hill,’ free of the sin and corruption of the land and society they were leaving. They moved quickly to establish their political and religious – and eventually, geographical – authority, with confidence based on their religious faith and the later economic success that they took as a sign of divine consent.”

Historian Rebecca Beatrice Brooks adds this:
“Religion and government were deeply intertwined in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and only the most devout Puritans could participate in governmental affairs, according to the book Politics and Religion in the United States:
“While everyone in the community was a member of a congregation and was expected to attend services and support the church, only those who went through the arduous process of demonstrating their spiritual regeneration could become full-covenant members, thus gaining a say in both ecclesiastical and secular government. The civil government had authority over everyone in the community, but was controlled by the minority of the population that had achieved full church membership.”

And so this is most likely why our Ten Men wanted out.

“Whatever their motives, after deliberation they concluded that the Plymouth colony could be no more stringent than the Massachusetts, nor present more obstacles to their aspirations; so they sought and obtained permission from the colony of Plymouth to locate a plantation at Shaume, now Sandwich.” (History of Barnstable County)

“The settlement at Sandwich was projected by Mr. Edmund Freeman and others who, April 3 of this year, obtained a grant from the Colony of Plymouth and at once with a large number of families from Lynn, Duxbury and Plymouth but chiefly from Lynn, the ancient Saugus, removed to the location designated. The settlement was begun this year under very favorable auspices although it was not regularly incorporated as a town until about two years after.” (Frederick Freeman, History of Cape Cod: The Annals of Barnstable County)

Who were the Ten Men? Read about them here:

Edmund Freeman

Edward Dillingham

Thomas Tupper

Thomas Dexter

and HERE