Nicholas, of Longmeadow

Nicholas, of Longmeadow

By Melissa Cybulski

Nicholas is believed to be the first enslaved person owned by Rev. Stephen Williams, the first minister of Longmeadow, MA.  Everything we know about Nicholas comes from the daily diary Williams kept.  

On January 3, 1718, Williams mentioned “my Lad that I have bought…”[1]  At the time he purchased Nicholas, Williams would have been only about 23 years old and had not yet taken a wife.  The young minister seemed overwhelmed by the “lad” in his household.  

Over the course of the next 10 months, Williams referred to his “poor boy Nicholas”[2] and “my little boy.”[3]  Despite these terms of endearment, Williams frequently disciplined Nicholas, who must have been quite young, for a variety of perceived transgressions.  His behavior frustrated and bewildered Williams, who often referred to having to “correct”[4] the boy for his “disobedience,”[5] and suspected him of lying and feigning illness: “this day my boy Nicholas came Home from work & said he was not well – I was somewhat thoughtful he was only lazy – but I perceived afterward that he was much amiss had a considerable fever…”[6] 

Within four months of marrying Abigail Davenport, Stephen Williams sold Nicholas.  In his diary he says, “I went to Deerfield and sold my boy Nicholas. He seemed very concerned, and surely I was grieved for him, yet, I thought it would be for his benefit to be sold to a master that would keep him to business, as well as for my profit.”[7] It is unknown what became of Nicholas after he left the Williams household.

Melissa M. Cybulski is Vice President of the Longmeadow Historical Society.  She has worked as a high school English teacher and has extensive experience working as a guide at museums, most recently The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA.  She lives in Longmeadow, MA with her husband and two children.  

[1] Williams, Stephen, Diary, Jan 3, 1718. Volume 1, Transcript pg 98, available online at:

[2] Williams, Stephen, Diary, Jan 15,1718. Volume 1, Transcript pg 102.

[3] Williams, Stephen, Diary, Jan 19, 1718. Volume 1, Transcript pg 103.

[4] Williams, Stephen, Diary, Feb 6, 1718. Volume 1,Transcript pg 107.

[5] Williams, Stephen, Diary, August 1, 1718.  Volume 1, Transcript pg 141.

[6] Williams, Stephen, Diary. August 8, 1718. Volume 1, Transcript pg 141-142.

[7] Williams, Stephen, Diary October 21, 1718. Volume 1, Transcript pg 156.

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