Pocknet, Nathan, 1770 -
Nathan Pocknet was born at Mashpee on October 17, 1770, the son of Moses and Mehitable Pocknet. He was likely one of the five children enumerated in the couple's wigwam in the Mashpee community census of 1776. By 1793, Nathan Pocknet, then 23 years old, had been married and may have had some children of his own. He was still living at Great Neck in the household of his father. While not described as a wealthy family, it was noted that they had some oxen and sheep.
In March of 1796, Nathan and his brother Elijah ran into financial trouble with Joseph and Deacon Lot Nye, requiring the intervention of the Gideon Hawley who settled the account. Unfortunately for Nathan, this would not be the last time he would get into financial trouble with the Nye family.
Nathan's first marriage had clearly ended because two years later, on April 19, 1798, at the home of Cesar Cobb he was married to a Mashpee woman named Hannah.
Just over a year after his marriage, in December of 1799, Nathan was once again in financial trouble with the Nye family, this time it was together with Benjamin Pocknet. Unfortunately, it would not end up being resolved as easily as the previous case. Rather than serve time in jail for their debt, as they would have preferred, the two Pocknets were spirited off the Cape, first to Martha's Vineyard and then transported to Nantucket. There they were forced, against their will, into servitude on a long and dangerous whaling voyage aboard the ship Minerva captained by Obediah Fitch. It departed out of Nantucket and returned a year later. The compensation they might have earned for a successful voyage was delivered in a lump sum to Deacon Nye who held the note for their debt. What happened to Nathan and Benjamin was recognized as an injustice and Gideon Hawley, among others, sought to resolve the issue on their behalf through a formal inquiry. Hawley referenced bringing a similar case to the Supreme Court 40 years earlier.
Upon his return Nathan was enumerated at Great Neck with his wife and growing family in community censuses of August 1800 and 1808.
Nathan Pocknet was involved in the political affairs of Mashpee starting as early as 1786 and continuing until at least 1837, as evidenced by a number petitions during that time that bear his name. He and others within the larger community, were active in efforts to overturn two Acts of the Massachusetts General Court of 1788 and 1789 that they felt limited the tribe's self-governance. The removal of the minister Gideon Hawley from the affairs of the tribe was part and parcel of these efforts.
On December 31, 1830, Isaac Wickham and fellow Mashpee, Nathan Pocknet, provided affidavits in support of the heirs of Revolutionary War veterans (Job Tobias, Jabez Jolly, Jacob Keeter, Isaac Swift, Simon Popmonet, and James Keeter) in their attempts to obtain some pension or bounty funds from the United States government.
Beginning in 1833, Nathan Pocknet signed a number of petitions, a staunch supporter of Rev. Hawley's successor, Phineas Fish. These petitions were in opposition to the efforts of Rev. William Apes and the large part of the Mashpee community aligned with Apes, who wanted not only Fish removed from his ministerial position, but more autonomy for the Mashpee government.
Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Vol. 1, Ancestry; 1776 Mashpee Census, Unbound Papers of Gideon Hawley, MHS, Boston, MA; 1793 Mashpee Census, Autograph File, Houghton Library, Harvard University; Hawley, Gideon. Missionary journals, 1753-1806, Vol.2, Asset 259, 262, and 289, Vol.3, Assets 75, 79-80, 89-92, 159-160, Vol.4, Assets 100-101, Congregational Library & Archives, http://www.congregationallibrary.org; Whaling Voyages, Mystic Seaport; 1800 Mashpee Census, Ms. 48: SPG, Account of Indians, Box 2, Folder 16, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Misc. Bound Docs. 1808, MHS, Boston, MA; Petition of Elijah Pocknet and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; 1792.01.14.00; Petition of Sarah Mye and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1792.05.28.00; Remonstrance of Ebenezer Queppish and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1795.05.20.00; Petition of Noah Webquish and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1796.02.22.00; Memorial of Phineas Fish to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1833.12.30.00; Petition of Nathan Pocknet and Other Mashpee Indians to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1834.01.01.00; Petition of Nathan Pocknet and Other Mashpee Indians to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1837.01.28.00; Revolutionary War Pensions, Massachusetts, Isaac Wickham, Fold3