John Fearing of Hingham sells four-year old boy named Prince to Hawkes Fearing, and in 1735, Hawkes Fearing sells Prince, now seven years old, to Benjamin Jones. Eighteenth century records record the sale of adults and children by and to Hingham families.
Captain Francis Barker opened Hingham’s first shipyard at Hingham Harbor, building schooners for coastal trade. Hingham’s trade in lumber and its mackerel fleet remained active in the triangular trade supporting slavery in the West Indies into the first half of the 19th century, after slavery was abolished in Massachusetts.
1758: Hingham raises a militia unit that included Black soldiers to fight against the French in Quebec
Black soldiers Flanders, Domine, and Primus Cobb were in this militia. Only Cobb survived to return to Hingham.
Hingham’s response to the 1764 colonial census reported 77 enslaved persons in Hingham. This was above average for a new England town at that time.
Pompey Barnes, a free Black man, is reported to own a house, 2 cows, 6 sheep, 8 acres of pasture, 1 acre of tillage, 3 acres of mowing land, and 2 tons of fresh hay. He and his wife and sons were among the several free Black families in 18th century Hingham.
During the Revolutionary War, free and enslaved Black men fought in militia units raised in Hingham. Among the Black men who fought in Hingham militia units were Winsor Barker, Caesar Blake, Squire Cushing, Joseph Dunbar, Joseph Falmouth, Asher Freeman, Jack Freeman, Jubal Freeman, and Caesar Scott. Cromwell Barnes a free Black man from Hingham, enlisted in a Boston militia unit in 1779.
Slavery was abolished by judicial decision in Massachusetts when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled, in a freedom suit brought by Quock Walker, that slavery was inconsistent with the newly adopted Massachusetts state constitution. Two years earlier, Elizabeth Freeman, known as Mumbet, had won her freedom, on the same grounds, from a western Massachusetts jury.
Sarah Derby’s bequest of funds for the founding and operation of Derby School was conditioned upon its paying for the support of “Phebe, a negro woman now living with me, during her natural life.”
James Tuttle married Rebecca Humphrey in Hingham. Tuttle (ca 1780-1847) was a pillar of the small neighborhood of Tuttleville, which existed at the intersection of High and Ward Streets. His son John Tuttle is credited with leading the effort to build a small church in Tuttleville in the 1870s. Watch Harbor Media's interviews with descendants of the Tuttles.
Frederick Douglass gave one of his first recorded anti-slavery speeches in Hingham on November 4, 1841, before the Plymouth County Anti-Slavery Society. Titled “The Church and Prejudice,” it criticized ministers who used the Bible to defend slavery.