[New York]: McLean, July 29 & 30, 1788. Two partially-printed forms, completed in manuscript, 13 x 16 1/2 inches with scalloped top. Paper seals attached. Old folds with slight separation at some folds (no text affected). Still quite good. Item #WRCAM54829
These indentures document a sale made by Thomas and Susanna Machin of Ulster County, New York, to David Board of Bergen County, New Jersey, of six hundred acres of land located in Woodhull Township, Montgomery County, New York. The first document, "Lease of Possession," records Board's deposit of five shillings "at or before the ensealing and delivery of these presents" on July 29, signed and sealed by Machin. The second document, "Release," records the completion of the sale for thirty pounds, signed and sealed by both Thomas and Susanna Machin on July 30. Both documents were witnessed by James F. Arlee and Thos. Moffat [?]. This Machin appears to be the same Thomas Machin (1744-1816) who was born in Wolverhampton, England (son of astronomer John Machin), and arrived in New Jersey as a mining engineer in 1770. Persuaded by the revolutionary movement, Machin joined the Sons of Liberty and went out on December 16, 1773 with the Boston Tea Party. He then joined Henry Knox's militia artillery company and directed the construction of fortification lines on Bunker (Breed's) Hill in June 1775. Following the battle, Machin was commissioned as a lieutenant in Gridley's Regular Massachusetts Artillery Regiment, and later as a second lieutenant in Knox's artillery regiment in the new Continental Army. In the course of obstructing harbor channels to block British warships, Machin attracted the attention of Gen. Washington who requested that he design a chain to block the Hudson River at Fort Montgomery. Washington explained to the New York legislature that "Machin is as proper a person as any I can send, Being an ingenious faithful hand, and one that has considerable experience as an engineer." He later designed an even larger chain to stretch from West Point to Constitution Island. It is difficult to overestimate Machin's impact: the British never tried to run this chain and, in fact, the chain was one of the reasons they were willing to pay Benedict Arnold for plans of the fortifications at West Point. Machin was discharged in 1783 and settled in Newburgh, N.Y., where he designed a water mill to mint copper and silver coins for use in currency. He invested in land throughout Oneida and Montgomery Counties and eventually retired to Mohawk, N.Y.. These indenture forms were printed as jobbing work by J. McLean & Co., perhaps better known for their printing of the Federalist Papers. While colonial indentures like these are not common, it is rare to have such a well-known individual involved. ANB 14, pp.234-35.