It was Ferdinando Gorges’ grandfather’s passion for the wilds of New England that fueled his
grandson Ferdinando’s determination to visit and settle this unknown world. While his grandfather
was governor of Plymouth in Devonshire, he saw four or five Indians who were captured and carried
to England by Captain Weymouth, and these strange and fascinating natives piqued his interest his
whole life. He talked about them and this land with his grandson Ferdinando. In 1616, Ferdinando
sent a party commanded by Richard Vines to visit what we know as Biddeford. Richard Vines was a
physician from Bideford, Devonshire, England and came here with great expectations. The Indians
were kind to him and greeted him with “great hospitality.” They were weakened greatly by sickness
and the death of their chief sachem who was killed along with his family by a tribe living east of the
Penobscot called the Tarrantines.
Richard Vines picked the western side of the Saco River near the Pool known as Winter Harbor. He
came here during the winter and exhibited tremendous amount of courage in trying to survive. But
the Indians helped him and his group. They taught them how to hunt and fish and preserve their
food. Without the help of the Indians, it is likely that Vines would not have survived and would not
have come back again and again for nearly 29 years.
Richard Vines and his fellow explorer John Oldham were given one of the two patents of lands on the
Saco River. The Biddeford patent conveyed this track of land lying between Cape Elizabeth and Cape
Porpoise, on the south side of the Swanckadocke (Saco) river containing in breadth by the sea four
miles, and eight miles up into the main land. In his 29 years here, Richard Vines eventually lived in a
mansion or dwellinghouse that he leased from a Thomas Coles.
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