Description: First judge of the Court of Vice-Admirality of Dartmouth, MA, Nathaniel Byfield (1653-1733), signed this 1707 manuscript document which appoints Matthew Wing guardian of Timothy Ricketson (1689-c. 1711), his step-son.
Timothy Ricketson was the son of William Ricketson (1658-1691) and Elizabeth Mott (1659-1723). After William’s death, Elizabeth Mott married Matthew Wing (1674-1724) who in turn became the legal guardian of Timothy in 1707. This document gives Matthew Wing, Timothy’s “Trusty and well beloved friend & father in law”, the authority to “Improve the farm to my best profit and advantage During my minority”, the farm being the land Timothy inherited from his late father. Unfortunately, it seems that Timothy died at sea only 4 years after this document was written, when he was approximately 22 years old.
Nathaniel Byfield boldly signed the bottom of the document in approval. Byfield served as member of the Massachusetts General Court (1696-1697), was the court’s speaker in 1698, a judge of probate for Bristol County, and the first judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty (1699-1700, 1703-1715, and 1728-1733). He was known to have a bit of an ambitious and overbearing personality, yet he had a solid reputation of pronouncing sound judgements; none of his decisions were ever reversed by a higher court.
Written on one page of a sheet of paper folded to: 8 ½” x 6 ¼”. Item #A01110.
Condition: Scattered light staining and chips along edges, otherwise in good condition with a large, clear signature.