The Deed to the House Down the Cape
The land, which abuts Red River Beach in the southwestern corner of Harwich, Massachusetts, originally belonged to the indigenous peoples of the area (who called the place Satucket). It was granted by the Kingdom of England to the family of John Silver, in exchange for that man’s service to the kingdom. Silver had piloted the Mayflower and other early English vessels to the “new world.” But even before his role as Master’s Mate and pilot of the Mayflower, he was also notable for surviving capture and imprisonment by the Spanish during a 1611 trip to the Virginia colony. Silver’s unwavering loyalty to king and country during interrogations in Havana, Seville, and Madrid were noted and were, by the king’s decree, to be rewarded.
I Am Altering the Deal. Pray I Don’t Alter It Any Further.
John’s son, Silas Silver I, had been promised land since in exchange for his father’s work ever since his arrival in Plymouth on the Anne in 1623 (the same year his father died). He was granted a small parcel in Plymouth to hold him over, but there was the promise of something more substantial to come—a wide open space with a wide open view. That promise, however, was dangled in front of him for nearly 70 years. And it was only in 1694, just 3 years before Silas I would die at the ripe old age of 98, that the promise was fulfilled.
With a swampy, undersized lot they’d carved off of another man’s portion, of course.
But the old man was too exhausted from waiting to complain at this point. And too grateful that he finally had something to pass down to his descendants that he never stopped to ask why even the Indians who had sold the place to the English steered clear of that place. And he really should’ve asked, given that houses built on the property have a history of falling before their time.
The Bill Comes Due
All that said, while Silas I was too tired to take offense at the slight against his family, his children and grandchildren were not. Silas III, 14 at the time the land was finally deeded to his grandfather, harbored a grudge until the day he died—which just so happened to be the day that news of a Declaration of Independence reached Harwich from far-off Philadelphia. And many believe that Silas IV’s harassment of the British during the golden age of piracy stemmed from this same deep, personal hatred. Silas VI’s enlistment in the continental navy certainly did.