Camden-Rockport, the early years

By Sandy Delano | Jan 14, 2015

I'm sure all Camden/Rockport residents already know how we came to be a town but, just in case someone may have forgotten I've compiled a brief tutorial as a reminder below.

It seems that King James of England, who believed in the doctrine of the divine right of kings and the monarch's duty to reign according to God's law and the public good, and in spite of any claims the native inhabitants may have had gave away large amounts of lands on the Maine coast. One of the recipient of the Kings 1622 largesse was "The Plymouth Council of New England" whose members were English Merchants interested in developing the area to make money. These lands became known as the Muscongus Patent and included the now towns of Camden and Rockport.

Seven years later a small portion of these lands containing now Camden/Rockport were deeded by the Council of Plymouth in England to John Beauchamp of London and Thomas Leverett of Boston. It included all of what is now Knox County, nearly all of Waldo County and a portion of Lincoln County. When Beauchamp died his share of this so called Muscongus Patent became the property of Leverett and his heirs and only the Beauchamp name remains as a part of Rockport.

Conflicting claims arose and in 1719 Leverett's great-grandson John Leverett deeded portions of the patent into 10 shares to the "Ten Proprietors." One share to a son of governor Bradford of the Plymouth colony, another to Spencer Phipps, adopted son of Sir William, Elisha Cook had two shares and a share apiece went to descendants of John Leverett: Nathaniel Hubbard, Hannah Davis, Rebecca Lloyd and Sarah Byefield. John Leverett kept two shares for himself. Trying to figure out who owned what became a problem as this was still Indian country and un-surveyed.

Along came Jahleel Brenton and a few others who became associated with the "Ten Proprietors" and they collectively became “The Thirty Proprietors” who in turn deeded other portions to "The Twenty Associates of the Lincolnshire Company."

Because claims to the Muscongus patent overlapped with other proprietary claims, the Thirty Proprietors sent Brigadier Samuel Waldo, grandfather-in-law to Thomaston's Henry Knox, to England on their behalf. Waldo returned in 1731 with clarification of ownership of the lands claimed by the Leverett heirs and their assigns. For his efforts Waldo received roughly 300,000 acres or approximately one half of the Muscongus Patent, since called the Waldo Patent.

The Twenty Associates of the Lincolnshire Company or so called "Lincolnshire Proprietors" as a result of negotiations with the Brigadiers heirs in 1768 received 100,000 acres of the Waldo Patent, which included the now towns of Appleton, Camden, Hope, Montville, and a part of Liberty described as beginning at the easternmost end of an island in Negunticook Harbor and running NW by N course 29 miles into the country then turning to the westward 5 1/4 mile then run down to the ocean keeping 5 1/4 mile in width all the way.

The original boundaries of Megunticook or Negunticook Plantation, as Camden was then called, were marked by XX and XXX on rocks on the shore. The XX mark was located on the site of the old Steamboat wharf on the east side of Camden Harbor and it has been lost. The Rock marked XXX may be found on a large rock at low tide on the seaward side of the Rockland Breakwater. The original Bounds of Megunticook Plantation did not include the mountains Betty (Battie) and Megunticook..

The Twenty Associates hired Ebenezer Thorndike as their agent and he had the land in Camden/Rockport surveyed. The first settlers arrived in 1769 with the appearance of the Thorndike family at Goose River Harbor and the Richards families at Negunticook Harbor. Members of these families still argue as to which were the 1st settlers of Camden/Rockport.

By 1778 there were 18 families in the town and in 1800 we had 69 families appearing in the U.S. Census.

More on who some of these families were and where they came from later.

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