Written by Harriet Jane Lamb Stradling
Born in Roxbury, five months after the death of his father, Abiel knew only his mother’s care—and that of his older brothers and sisters, until he was five years old, at which time his mother remarried. When he grew older he became a yeoman, like his father. He married Elizabeth, widow of Joseph Buckminster. She was the daughter of Hugh Clark, who had come from England. They first lived at Watertown, then moved to Roxbury. Elizabeth was named after her mother. Her mother probably married Hugh before they came to New England. Hugh is referred to as "husbandman," meaning farmer. He was admitted as a freeman in 1666, and was a member of the Artillery Company.
Elizabeth had been born in Watertown, and church records of Roxbury, date of "23-7-1966" show that, "Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Buckminster, solemnly owned the covenant." This meant they had promised to conform to very strict standards of living and to meet certain spiritual requirements. So strict, in fact, was the early covenant that in later year a "Half-Way Covenant" was written in order to maintain church membership among the young generation.
Under date of "10 months, 3 days, in1675, Elizabeth, wife of Abiel Lambe was received in full communion." And, 3 months, 4 days, in 1684, Abiel Lambe, Joseph Begby, Senior, John Crafte, Nathaniel Sauyer and his wife, they confessed your sins yet where public and so were admitted to take hold of the covenant."
Records of Court of Assistants of the Colony of Massachusetts say: "Upon the motion of Abiel Lambe in behalf of his wife, late widow of Joseph Buckminster, referring to her thirds of said Joseph’s estate, Mr. Thomas Weld and Thomas Gardner, Senior, are appointed a committee to repair to said lands and set out her thirds according to law."
When Abiel was twenty-nine years old, he took part in the terrible Indian strife known as King Phillip’s War. This chief had formed a confederation of three tribes, including the Narragansetts. They attacked town after town, burning the houses, and killing the inhabitants. They took them by surprise. Isolated cabins were plundered, women and children killed or carried away, and men shot in the fields. Thirteen towns were destroyed and about six hundred people were killed or kidnapped. It was a time of terror for the colonists, so they decided to combine forces and attack the red men. A thousand soldiers, half of them from Massachusetts were joined by one hundred and fifty Mohican warriors made a surprise attack on the Narragansetts’ stronghold. This was the strongest fort known to have been constructed by the North American Indians. It was in the middle of a swamp and consisted of several acres surrounded by strong palisades. Inside were six hundred wigwams and the winter supplies of the tribe. The only entrance was over a log footbridge.
The assault on this fort was known as the Great Swamp Fight, and took place on a bitterly cold day of December 19, 1675. Abiel Lambe was among the men who rushed through the deep snow to meet such a heavy fire that they fell back with severe losses. Six of their captains being killed.
Finding it impossible to take the fort from the entrance, Captain Church led his men to the rear. After desperate fighting they forced their way inside. Captain Church was wounded three times in so doing. The Indians fought so desperately that the only recourse left to the New Englanders was to fire the wigwams, which they did reluctantly and as a last measure. The heat was so intense that the Indians were forced out into the swamp, where they continued the bitter fighting until six or seven hundred warriors were killed. One hundred white men died, and twice that number was wounded.
Abiel acquitted himself well at this time. His superior officer, in a letter describing the battle says, "I hasted to round them in getting close beyond it (the wigwam) expecting my men had followed, but all that both of us had was not above five men, one of them my corporal (Abiel Lambe) whose strength outstrips me."
When about fifty years old, Abiel moved to Framingham, then a part of Sudbury. He lived in Sudbury on leased land near Doeskin Hill from 1694 until his death.
At the first town meeting of Framingham, August 5, 1700, he was chosen Commissioner to head the town government. At the second meeting, March 3, 1701, he was made one of the Selectmen. The selectmen were a board of officials elected annually to enforce the local laws, manage the town affairs, care for the poor, etc. The New Englanders had sacrificed much to come to the New World that they might govern themselves, and they had become accustomed to doing so. In addition to the town officers, each locality sent Freemen or the representatives to the legislature of the colony to make laws suitable to their conditions. A governor was chosen to execute these laws.
In 1685, the tyrant James II came to the throne of England. One of his first acts was to void the charter of Massachusetts and send an oppressive and hated governor to rule over them. Their liberty had been too dearly bought to relinquish it so easily. After four years they were on the point of driving Andros from the colony by force. At this time news came that a revolution in England had put William and Mary on the throne. This also sparked a revolt in Massachusetts also. The people jailed the English governor and his most obnoxious officials. They put old Simon Bradstreet, a former governor, now ninety years old back in office and proclaimed the ancient charter again in force.
William and Mary upheld them in rejecting their governor, but it was some years before their charter was recognized, under Queen Anne, and then it was not so generous as formerly.
Abiel was one of seven to call John Swift of Milton to be minister. Records show letters of administration issued March 3, 1697-98 to Abiel Lambe and his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Dr. James Bayley. Also Abiel in June 27, 1710, paid two shillings, and two pence. His son, Johnathan paid one shilling, and eight pence as tax toward ten pounds to be used to preserve an ammunition store.
Abiel Lambe died about 1710. He would have been sixty-four years old.