Motion of Comity

Motion of Comity is not an organization, but an organic movement comprising all generations of the Waterside and the Waterside people ~ and the regeneration of the Spirit of this special place. The movement is strengthened by the continuous exercise of the body politic, representatives and constituents, together.

The phrase is a ply of terms found in the annals of local history and combined, suggests several meanings. Fostering what is called a Sense of Place and continuity with the past ~ the expression also imparts a Sense of Purpose and progress in both the present and future tense.1

Motion is a term adopted from a passage in the Massachusetts Bay Charter of 1629 ~ the patent that John Winthrop's party brought to the New World on the ship the Arbella, making landfall in Salem on June 12, 1630.2 The clause ("We doe of our further Grace, certen Knowledg and mere Motion …") opens the article in the Charter that gave the colonists a voice in public affairs, which would evolve as a form of self-government that included the election of representatives and the right of free assembly in municipal town meeting ~ "needefull for that Governement and Plantation ... for the directing, ruling, and disposeing of all other Matters and Thinges, whereby our said People, Inhabitants there, may be soe religiously, peaceablie, and civilly governed, as their good Life and orderlie Conversation ..."

And while the word Comity implies accord, concomitance and synergy --- the term is directly inspired by the quaint, provincial spelling of the word committee in the early 18th century records of the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury --- and the "comity" to "enable community" and replace the "disquietude" of partisanship, as mentioned in the petition to establish the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury as the separate town of Newburyport in 1764.3

In a document dated December 8, 1725, "the Comity" reported to the "Greate and Genaral Court or Assembley of his Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay New-England, Held November 3, 1728" pursuant to an order of the General Court in November 1725 to survey the ambits, the bounds and limits for the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury. A year later on November 26, 1729, the parish, to realize their ambitions as a community, "voted that the Comity to looke for out for a place for a schoole house be a comity to looke out for a place for a burial place."4

And so it was for generations of the Waterside people --- high tide, low tide --- seasons of planting and harvest --- marking time and space in a march of progress. Their New Heaven on Earth would be changed by both extraordinary and ordinary events in human history --- much as Nature alters the barrier beach of Plum Island with a remarkable storm or the rush of a routine wave.


The year 2004 marked the thirteenth generation of the Waterside since the first settlement in 1644 --- the ninth generation since the Waterside's establishment as the town of Newburyport in 1764, when the Waterside people set the Plan in Motion. A milestone for all generations of the Waterside people, whether born or drawn here to this special place called the Waterside ~ the occasion would be marked as a Once in a Blue Moon opportunity on July 31st ~ and remarked during a community gam held in a Motion of Comity with Yankee Homecoming 2004. The community gathering would gather momentum for moons to come ...

So, where are all "matters and things" at this point in time? The "good Life and (extraordinary though perhaps not so 'orderlie') conversation" continued at the Waterside community gam held during the blue moon of May 31, 2007 ~ followed by a more formal public "town meeting" forum held June 14 and the forum's follow-up conversation on July 12. (See notices and records at this link within). Throughout the past summer into Indian Summer ~ three additional community gatherings of all generations of the Waterside people were to take place in the Heart of Community (link within). Enlightening and entertaining gatherings among friends, family, and community have been recorded for posterity. Recently, the end of the first 5-year term of the new generation of the Waterside people was marked as a Once in a Blue Moon opportunity on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2009 (link within). Gathering momentum for moons to come.

1 In the beginning, various prepositions were employed as a conjunction, but in the end "of" seemed the best function word to indicate a characteristic or quality . . . and the position in time of an action or occurrence.

2 Carrying that document on the voyage to the New World, John Winthrop delivered the homily City upon a Hill --- inspiring words oft-quoted as the crux of the American ideology. It is an undisputed law of human nature, however, that deeds never flow as easily as words. Indeed, despite Winthrop's warning, The Ship was nearly shipwrecked by the all-too-human nature of the captain, officers and crew --- and the pettiness or "superfluities" of the planters settling this brave New World. Let us learn from history as we keep the Plan in Motion.

3 In remarking the 235th year milestone of the Waterside's establishment as the separate town of Newburyport on City Council floor ~ the Waterside movement was launched anew February 8, 1999 (link within). The idiom Motion of Comity was introduced on that occasion and has since been used in points of personal privilege to mark milestones in the Waterside community's history --- past, present, and future. The term has also been a signature line in communications and correspondence in an effort to keep the Plan in Motion. (See link within for detail about this groundwork.)

4 Fixing the bounds and ambits of the parish, the public ways and the ultimate location of the Waterside meeting house --- the Comity would be assigned to research and advance the ambitions of the Waterside community. Subsequently, these findings would be placed on a town meeting warrant for further action. In the interim, the Comity would apprise the general citizenry through oral and written communication in town meeting. On occasion, the information would be produced as a report, remonstrance or petition to the General Court.

This would be the case in point when in 1763 the Waterside people would convey a remonstrance to the General Court to petition that the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury be set off as a separate town. Approved under colonial gubernatorial seal, the town Newburyport would be organized on February 4, 1764.

Coincidentally, that would be the year which the first formal "committee of correspondence" would be formed in Boston in opposition to the Currency Act. Followed by a committee of correspondence formed in New York to address the Stamp Act, these committees' words and deeds would be a prelude to the War of Independence (link without). Throughout revolutionary times, committees of correspondence would be deployed to convey revelations which adamantly stated the rights of colonists in communications to other towns and to a world audience. While preeminent "correspondents" in the cause for independence, Newburyport's local committees would also advance the Waterside Plan in Motion, seeking the ways and means to implement the timeless agenda (which was laid out in the Waterside people's 1763 petition). In a Motion of Comity.

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