A Petition to the Court of Assistants to Expel Henry Sherlott, a Dancing Master, signed by Anthony Stoddard; Tho[mas] Brattle; John Joyliffe; Elisha Hutchinson; John Saffin; John Fayerweather; John Walley; Henry Alline (Allen); Theophilus Frary; Daniel Turell; Nathaniel Greenwood; John Maryon. Henry Sherlott was a Frenchman recently arrived from Ireland. His crime was being a “meer Incendicat” and probably to have given dancing lessons to mixed couples. Henry Sherlott is believed to be the first dancing master to be prosecuted for teaching dance in America.
Manuscript, ink on laid paper, written in a vernacular cursive hand, possibly that of Thomas Brattle, with a watermark fleur-de-lis, one folio sheet folded once, 29 cm x 19 cm, with vertical chain lines, a 4.5 cm fold separation. Brown lines indicate the document was at one time folded up on acidic paper. The verso is blank.
To the Hon. Court of Assistants now Assembled in Boston this 10th day of September 1681
Wee the Commissioners and Selectmen of the Town of Boston haveing in our Respective places Endeavoured to discharge our Duty according to the laws for the Suppressing of vice And keeping out of the town any person or persons as may be Noxious or prejudicial to the same; and in Particular that Frenchman Named Henry Sherlott who goes under the title of A Dancing Master whom we (upon Examination and Enquiry) find as to be very Insolent, a person of ill fame (having been accused and prosecuted for committing a Rape in Ireland) one that Raves or Scoffs at Religion here of a turbulent Spirit, or is already a meer Incendicat, in this place; who by his many falsehoods & misrepresentations of matters, hath Endeavoured to make a party, there by to obtrude himself upon the Town, contrary to ye Or[dinance?] both of Town and Country; these things being of such Dangerous Consequence Doth Incite us in the Discharge of our Duty to God, or the trust Com[m]itted to us, to informe this Hon[orable] Court hereof; Humbly praying yo[ur] Hon[or]s Assistance herein, that according to yo[ur] Wisdomes you will be pleased to take such Order that the said Sherlott may be forthwith sent out not only of the Town but Colony as a person not with saf[e]ty to be Admitted amongst us; which in all Humility is offered by Your Most Humble Servants Anthony Stoddard Tho[mas] Brattle John Joyliffe Elisha Hutchinson John Saffin John Fayerweather John Walley Henry Alline Theophilus Frary Daniel Turell Nathaniel Greenwood John Maryon
“Anthony Stoddard, the senior member, was probably as much respected as any man in Boston. Judge Sewall calls him “the Antientist Shop Keeper in Boston.” He was a linen draper, was made a Freeman in 1640 and was elected to almost every office in the gift of the inhabitants: a Constable (1641), Selectman many years from 1649, Deputy to the General Court in 1650, 1659-60, 1665-84, Recorder of Boston, Commissioner, Magistrate[,] a Puritan ingrained. Thomas Brattle, the Treasurer of Boston, Moderator at Town Meetings, Commissioner, Deputy to General Court (1671-72), (1678-9), one of the founders of Old South Church. John Joyliffe, Selectman for many years, Commissioner (1674-91), Recorder of Boston (1656), Councillor, and took an active part in the Revolution of 1689. Elisha Hutchinson, Chief Justice of Court of Common Pleas, member of Artillery Company (1660), Captain (1676), Representative (1680-83), and Councillor (1684-1717). John Saffin, Selectman (1653), Representative (1684-86), Speaker of House (1686), Councillor (1693), and judge of the Massachusetts Supreme Court (1701). John Walley, judge of Supreme Court (1700-1711), one of the so called “Witch Judges,” a general in the Massachusetts Army, commanding the expedition against the French and Indians in 1689, and second in command under Phips in 1690, Member of the Council (1689), Captain of Ancient and Honorable Artillery (1671), and Colonel of Suffolk Regiment. Henry Alline or Allen, a joiner, a Freeman in 1648, Select man, Deacon, and Representative (1674). Theophilus Frary, a cordwainer, Representative (1689-95 and 1699), Selectman, Moderator, Captain of Ancient and Honorable Artillery, Deacon and a founder of Old South Church. John Fayerweather, Freeman (1673), Captain of Militia, Constable and Commissioner, Representative (1684), and in command of the Castle in the Revolution of 1689. Daniel Turell, a blacksmith, Selectman, Member of Artillery Company, and Freeman (1669). Nathaniel Greenwood and John Marion, Selectmen and Freemen, and business men of Boston.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Vol. 49.