Swansea, Massachusetts

Founded 1667.
In 1667 Thomas Willett, who was completing his last yea as mayor of Manhattan, was given permission to purchase additional lands in the neighborhood of his longtime home in Wannamoisett and create the township of Swansea contiguous with the Pokanoket lands at Mount Hope. Philip had begun with the best of intentions, but by the end of the 1660s he was on his way to a prodigious sell-off of Native land, aided and abetted by his brother's former friend Thomas Willett. From 1650 to 1659, there had been a total of fourteen Indian deeds registered in Plymouth Court; between 1665 and 1675, there would be seventy-six deeds." Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower, 213-14.


"In the spring of 1667 Hugh Cole, Constant Southworth, Josias Winslow, Captain James Cudworth, and seventeen others, all of Plymouth, Mass., purchased of Phillip, the Indian chief, all the marsh and meadow land of Mettapoisett.
"Phillip conveyed to Hugh Cole, Constant Southworth, Josias Winslow, James Cudworth, and John Coggshall five hundred acres of land, 'Beginning at a great rock close by the path in the middle of the brook named Wegantanquest north one mile west north west to brook to Willets land at the head of Mettapoisett to a creek and by it to the brook.' The river on the east side of Swansea was named Coles River, and is still [1908] known by that name.
"'Elder John Myles of Swansea, Wales, rector of the Baptist Church at that place, came to America with a number of his followers. They settled in Rehobeth. A prosecution was brought against Mr. Myles and his followers, and the court fined each of them five pounds, and the court further found that continuance of their meetings was prejudicial to the peace of the church and that town, and that they be not allowed, and all persons concerned therein were ordered to wholly desist from said meeting in that place or township. Yet in case they shall remove their meeting to some other place where they shall not prejudice any other church, and shall give any reasonable satisfaction respecting their teaching, we know not but they may be granted by this court liberty to do so." (Plymouth Colony Records, vol. 4, page 163).
"In accordance with this plain intimation that there would be no objection to the organization of a Baptist church, outside the jurisdiction of any other church, the town of Swansea was organized.
"In March, 1667, at the request of Captain Thomas Willetts, Reverend John Myles, and their neighbors, the general court of New Plymouth passed an order, called the grant of Swansea, authorizing them to form a township to be called by the name of Swansea.
"Swansea comprised within its limits the present town of Swansea, with Somerset in Massachusetts and Barrington and the greater part of Warren in Rhode Island.
"'Thomas Willets, noted as an organizer and the first English mayor of New York, is said to have drawn up the articles of agreement under which the town was organized, and gave to Plymouth Colony a town distinctly Baptist for more than one hundred and sixty years. For it was not until 1832, or later, that there was any other organized sect within the town.
"'James Brown, who was an assistant of the court of Plymouth and a man of considerable learning, Hugh Cole, and others, with those before mentioned, contributed to form a group of remarkable men, whose influence was to extend over many generations, and to have an effect upon the destinies of the nation almost as marked as the character of the men themselves.' (A.H. Mason, Sampson Mason Genealogy.)
"Throughout the colonies of Plymouth taxation for the church was general, and no person was exempt. But it was the custom of the pastors of the Swansea Church to waive this right and claim support only from those who sat under their teaching. This was the first Baptist Church organized in Massachusetts.
"Eight years after the organization of Swansea the war with King Phillip, the Indian chief, began, and Swansea was almost depopulated. Most of the homes were burned and scores of its inhabitants slain, and all the others forced to find some other place of refuge."

Ernest Byron Cole, The Descendants of James Cole of Plymouth 1633, 11-12.