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Letter about the death of 'King Philip'


Metacomet (c.1639–1676), also known as King Philip , was a war chief or sachem of the Wampanoag Indians and their leader in King Philip's War, a widespread Native American uprising against English colonists in New England. The portrait below is a portrait of King Philip, by Paul Revere, 1772, which is a hundred years after Philip died.

This letter describes the death of Philip in the Great Swamp fight. Near the end, it asks for help for Widow Dibble. Her husband (who is Ebenezer Dibble was killed in the swamp fight, and she is left destitute. The letter is dated "19: 5: 1676", which would be 19th July 1676 (see discussion of dates). But this must be a mistake. Metacomet died on 12 Aug 1676. This letter is in Public Records of Connecticut 1665-1678 page 470.


[Letter from Mr. Jones, at New Haven, to Governor Leete. Doc. 110.] Honord Sir. Yore of ye 15th inst. reced, wch according to the direccon I have comunicated to ye otr magisrts heere, who say they cannot possibly goe vp att this tyme being full of busines, especially about theire hay. I am not wthout the like occasion needing my oversight & being att home ; but indeed am soe often ill & crazy this hot season, yt I have not bin a grt while fitt to travaile; yet if any other had gon vp, I should prbably have ventured, though I might contribute but little in ye affaire vndr consideracon, being of soe much difficulty what may be best. Howeuer, (though of little vse) I shall make bold to suggest ye Magistrats' prsent thoughts heare, & my owne, — whethr some course might not be taken for ye prsent securing of ye Surrendered Indians, especially if you should incline to disperse them into ye several countyes, &c. vntill ye Genll Court meet, or called on purpose if ye case require hast, or at least, all ye members of ye Councill called togathr, to have as much of ye Court as may be, for deliberacon & concurrence in a busines of soe grt import & genll concernmt. On wt tearmes ye Indeans are surrendered, & wt claimes Vncus, Oneko or ye Pequotts may make vpon ym or any of them, we know not. And whether it might not be of vse to know what the Bay doe in like case, wth theire Indians. Also, How to cary to Mohegins, Pequats & other frend Indians soe as to keep them within bounds, that they prove not dangerous to the English, and yet soe as neither to provoke nor discourage them. Alsoe, what further to be don about the reliques of the enemy, fled as I heare to Sepers Indians, and by them entertained, and into Albany or other parts vndr York least a new gust fall on or Colony unexpectedly from those quarters. These and such like matters incident to the present state of things, may deserve yor most serious & seasonable consideration; and ye good Lord who hath soe gratiously wrought or deliverance & prservation, for his owne name's sake, guide you by his Counsell.
I know not whether you yet heare of ye surprisall & killing of Philip, wch is credibly informed & affirmed by one James Shore, come in this week to Fairfield, in a vessell from Rhod Island; wch was don on this day sennight, 12th instant. One of Phillip's Indians a little before, on discontent, came from him to Rhode Iseland and told ye authority, yt now or never was theire season to meet wth him, and offered his service for guide to ye swamp where he lay. Whereupon Capt. Samfort wth a pickt company of stout and able men, Engl: and Indians, hastened away and being com to ye place wch ye Indian had described to ym, by his direccon laid som Engl: and Ind: in ambush at ye passage out, and ye rest brake in vpon ym on ye other side. Philip in labouring to escape was shot at 1st by ye English, but missed, and then shot downe by an Indian. All ye rest but one more killd and one or two wounded escaping. They cut off Philip's head and hands and brought ym away: the said Shore saith yt he might have seene the head could he have staid one hour longer there, but was forced to com away. There are sundry circumstances of ye story which I have not tyme to mencon. I am glad to heare of ye success of or forces in this last expedition, and of there safe returne. Wch wth service to yorselfe prsented and due respts to ye Honord Assts, rests, Sr, Your servt to his powr, Wm. Jones. Portrait of King Philip, by Paul Revere 1772
19: 5: 1676.

I suppose you wilt soone heere of ye sad burning about 8 or 9 weeks agoe in Southerick, about 1000 houses burnt downe and 3 or 4 score blowne vp to save ye rest; one of ye instrumts found wth fireworks about him; this hell work goes on still.

Sr, I pray be pleased wt you can to favour and further ye bearer Wid: Dibble, yt her husband's estate may be setled. He was killed at ye swamp fight; died in debt more than his estate. 'Twere a work of mersy to consider ye poore wid: and fatherles children.

Sr, if it would suite to com up towards the middle of next week, occasions wilbe well over. Please to send yor mind by the post.

[Superscribed,] To ye Honord Wm. Leet Esq. Govr att Hartford, These Present.