Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jacob Sargent and Judith Harvey of Amesbury, MA and Chester, NH

Jacob and Judith Harvey Sargent were second generation New Englanders.  Their parents had all been born in Massachusetts.  The environment had improved life expectancy and child survival rates, resulting in large families.  When their grandfathers arrived their was plenty of land in Massachusetts but by 1700 fathers were struggling to provide land for their sons.  Men like Jacob began to turn inland in search of land and employment opportunities.  Jacob and many of his generation found what they were looking for in New Hampshire.

jacob and judith
Jacob Sargent was the son of William and Mary Colby Sargent.  He was born in Amesbury on 13 March 1686. He was their youngest son. Judith was the daughter of Sarah Barnes and John Harvey, she was born in Amesbury on either 26 May 1688 or 9 June 1688.  Her birth is recorded in two places with different dates, the Amesbury records say June and the County Court records say May.

Jacob and Judith married in Amesbury on 7 December 1710, she was 22 he was 24.  The marriage was performed by Rev. Thomas Wells the minister of Amesbury.

There is not much mention of Jacob in the Amesbury records, other than his birth, marriage and the birth of his children.  He was a farmer like his father before him. He had inherited land from his father.  His life seems to have been uneventful at least in any civic sense until the year 1727.

The name Jacob Sargent began appearing in the Chester town records in the year 1727, he was then about 41 years old.  He must have relocated there between the 1725 birth of his seventh child, Dorothy and the 1727 town meeting in which his name was recorded.  His daughter Tabitha was most likely born in Chester abt. 1726, her birth was not recorded in Amesbury and Chester had yet to start recording vital statistics.

Jacob really came into his own in Chester.  He was by the time of his move a man of middle age.  He was styled Ensign, so he must have been in the local militia.  At the 1727 town meeting he was named the town Surveyor of Highways. At a Dec 1735 meeting he was chosen to be a member of a committee to lay out lots for a second division of land. He was a Selectman in 1736 and he was on a committee to see about a school house. In 1739 he was again chosen to lay out lots for a third division of land. In 1741 he was on a committee to determine the size of the Kingstown grant.

Not all of the original proprietors of the town chose to live in Chester, some may have been speculators, hoping to sell their land at a later date, and for a profit no doubt. However the original charter specified that each proprietor must, within three years, build a house, settle a family, clear three acres of land and be prepared to pay taxes. In 1732 there were enough delinquent proprietors that a committee was set up to find them and make them pay up.

Not only did Jacob play a prominent role in establishing the town of Chester, but he was also trusted with the task of finding a "suitable orthodox good man" to be their minister. And, when one was found, he was on the committee to plan the ordination ceremony. Jacob and his fellow committee member's choice, the Reverend Moses Hale, was apparently not a good one, within a few years he had stopped his ministerial work and was described as "deranged". They, of course, formed a committee to get rid of him.

He was also chosen to be the town treasurer and was tasked to collect 40 shillings from every proprietor in Chester for the building of their meeting house. There was a a bit of squabbling by the towns people concerning the choice of minister, there was by that time a considerable population of Scotch-Irish, whose religious preference was Presbyterian. In 1741 it was decided that the two groups could form their own church and build separate meetinghouses to hold their services. Each had their own annual meetings to decide church matters, hired a minister of their liking and paid his salary. Jacob and his family belonged to the Congregational Church, which took it's traditions from the Puritans.

When the meetinghouse was first built, the congregation sat on benches.  In 1743 they decided to take out some of the benches and sell space for family pews. Jacob was on the committee to organize the pew sale. He and his son Winthrop both bought the right to have pews built. The pews had seats on three sides so each pew could accommodate a large family.  The family pew would be inherited by the next generation.

children of judith and jacob
Jacob and Judith had at least nine children, the first of which, a son, was born within a year or so of their marriage.

1. Winthrop b. Oct 28 1711 Amesbury, d. Dec 1787 Chester, NH
2. Jacob b. 18 Nov 1713, never married
3. Judith b. 27 Mar 1716, m. Francis Towle 1738
4. Sarah b. 8 mar 1718, m. Enoch Colby 1748
5. Elizabeth b. 23 July 1722 Amesbury
6. Dorothy b. 28 Feb 1725 Amesbury
7. Tabitha b. abt. 1726 Chester,  m. John Foss 1744, m. (2) Hezekiah Underwood, d. 23 Aug 1803
8. John bp. in Amesbury 26 Nov 1727, m. Susanna Harriman, d. 14 Nov 1797
9. Theophilus b. unknown most likely in Chester, lived in Candia Corners, married Lydia Mitchell 1753, d. 1807

Jacob Sargent died in Chester on  6 April 1749, aged 61.  Judith, his widow, was granted administration rights on 12 June 1749.  A bond of 500 pounds was posted, the actual value of the estate was 1257 pounds. Judith's death was not recorded.

Hoyt, David Webster. The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts: With Some Related Families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich, and Hampton, and of York County, Maine. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1982. Print.

Chase, Benjamin. History of Old Chester from 1719 to 1869. Auburn, NH: Author, 1869. Print.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thomas Sargent and Rachel Barnes of Amesbury, MA

Thomas Sargent was born on 11 June 1643 in Salisbury, MA.  He was the son of William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins.  He was the first of two sons and the first of three sibling to whom I am related.  His brother William and sister Elizabeth are also in my family tree. Although his father was a seaman, Thomas chose, like his brother William, to farm for a living. Here is what I know about Thomas Sargent.

In 1668, 15 year old Sarah Osgood, daughter of William Osgood of Salisbury and Amesbury, gave birth to a baby girl. Thomas Sargent, she claimed was the father. Thomas denied that the child was his.  An illegitimate child was a problem, on many levels.  First there was the scandal of premarital sex, good puritan men and women did not dally before marriage. Of greater, long term consequence was the problem of who was financially responsible for the upbringing of the child.  Because Thomas denied responsibility of the child, the Osgood family took him to court.

Before the actual court case involving Thomas, Sarah Osgood appeared alone to be punished for fornication. This was in April of 1668.  She had yet to deliver the child and was sentenced to be whipped at the meeting house within six weeks of giving birth, or she could pay a fine. Capt Pike and Mr. Thomas Bradbury were responsible for overseeing the punishment, it is interesting to note that Thomas Bradbury was Thomas Sargent's uncle. Finally in October of 1668, Thomas and Sarah appeared in court.  The court found that there was "some suspicion" that Thomas might be the father but ultimately found him not guilty. Thomas dodged the bullet, maybe with some help from his Uncle Bradbury. Sarah's child was known as Elizabeth Sargent.  Sarah went on to marry John Colby.

1668 was a busy year for our Thomas.  Troubles in court and marriage all in the same year.  I wonder what his wife thought of it all.  Thomas married Rachel Barnes on 2 March 1667/8.  She was the daughter of William Barnes and his wife, Rachel Unknown.  Thomas was 24 years old, Rachel was 18.  They would be married for 38 years and have 12 children.

Thomas, like his brother William, was a farmer.  Their father had been a seaman, who had settled down in Salisbury and accrued land both there an in Amesbury.  On 12 April 1664 Thomas bought 24 acres of land west of the Pawpaw River in Salisbury. In 1666 his father deeded Thomas 30 acres of upland in Salisbury on the Merrimac that adjoined the land he had already purchased.  This was unusual in that Thomas was unmarried at the time, and most fathers hung on to their land until the bitter end.  William generously gave both his sons land before he died.

In 1669 William gave him more land.  This land was described as "the six acres of marsh granted to him by the town of Salisbury, and a sweepage lot of salt marsh in Salisbury at a place called ye beache being lot number 8 containing three acres and four rods, being half the lot of marsh between two islands called Barnss Iland and Ware Iland." On the say day that William deeded Thomas land, William Barnes, Thomas' father in law also deeded him land in Salisbury and Amesbury.

Thomas' father William died in 1675, his mother was already deceased.  William left his estate to be divided between his surviving children. When William Barnes died he left Rachel a 60 acre lot of land in Amesbury called Champion Green and 1/2 a "childen's lot" also in Amesbury. It seems as if Thomas benefited from a generous father and father in law.

Thomas was unable or unwilling to give his own sons much land.  In 1701 he did deed his two oldest sons part of his  homestead.  The others had to wait for their land.

Thomas called himself "planter" and "yeoman" in deeds and in his will.  We know he was a farmer.  He also served, as most men did, in the militia.  He held the rank of Lieutenant. He took the oath of allegiance in 1677 but did not take the freeman's oath.  He served as constable of Amesbury in 1677 and again in 1678. Very little else is known of him.

Children of thomas and rachel
 1. Thomas b. 24 Feb 1669, d. 18 March 1669
 2. John b. 27 March 1672 d. 9 Nov 1690 age 18
 3. Mary b. 14 Oct. 1674, m. John Sanders 26 Dec 1695, living in 1717
 4. Thomas b. 15 Nov 1676, m. Dec 17 1702 Mary Stevens, 
 5. Jacob b. 1 Oct 1678, m. Gertrude Davis
 6. William b. 1 Dec 1680, d. unmarried 1712 age 32
 7. Rachel b. 12 Aug 1683, m. 14 Dec 1703 Richard Currier 
 8. Hannah b. 23 July 1685, m. 13 July 1703 William Somes, m. 2nd ____Smith
 9. Joseph b. 2 June 1687, m. 17 Nov 1715 Elizabeth Carr, m. 2nd Widow Sarah Currier
10. Judith b. 2 June 1687 (twin), d. 22 May 1688
11. Judith b. 1 July 1689, d. 15 Sept 1715
12. John b. 18 May 1692, m. Hannah Quimby

Thomas and Rachel followed the usual child bearing pattern of the day.  A child was born roughly every two years.  The first child was born within a year of marriage.  The last child was born when Rachel was about 42 and Thomas 48. Thomas was survived by nine of his children, Rachel by seven. 

will and probate
Thomas wrote his will in 1706.  His first bequest was to his wife Rachel, who still had children under the age of 21 to raise.  She would hold his estate for the remainder of her widowhood. He divided his land between his sons, giving money to his daughters. Rachel's will was proved in Feb 1719.  She divided her household goods between her surviving daughters.

In the inventory of Thomas' estate are listed his clothes, books, arms and ammunition. He also owned farm animals, a cask of cider and a looking glass. The largest part of his estate was land. The total value of the estate was 452 pounds.

my Sargent Ancestry through Thomas and then all three Sargent Siblings:
William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins
Thomas Sargent and Rachel Barnes
Rachel Sargent and William Currier
Hannah Currier and Ezekiel Worhen
Jacob Worthen and Mary Brown
Rachel Worthen and Enoch Rowell
William Rowell and Sally Leavitt           Samuel Duncan Rowell and Mary Polly Moore
Viola Rowell                                         Enoch Converse Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowell and John Clark Thornton

                                  William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins___________________
Thomas Sargent-Rachel Barnes      William Sargent-Mary Colby      Elizabeth Sargent-Samuel Colby
Rachel Sargent-William Currier     Jacob Sargent-Judith Harvey     Elizabeth Colby-John Rowell
Hannah Currier-Ezekiel Worthen   Tabitha Sargent-John Foss        Enoch Rowell-Merriam Converse
Jacob Worthen-Mary Brown           David Foss-Ann Richardson       Enoch Rowell-Rachel Worthen
Rachel Worthen-Enoch Rowell        Ann Foss-Reuben Moore 
                                                     Mary Moore-Samuel Moore

Enoch Rowell - Rachel Worthen

William Rowell-Sally Leavitt                    Samuel D. Rowell-Mary Moore
                           Viola Rowell                                      Enoch C. Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowell-John Clark Thornton
my grandparents 
my parents

Hoyt, Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Puritan Courtship and Marriage in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

It's been a long time since I got married, but I still remember the excitement and nerves that went along with that special day.  We had a lovely catholic wedding, which if you don't know, goes on for at least an hour. And why not, you spend so much on your dress and flowers and stuff, it should last a good long time. Altogether, with the rehearsal dinner, reception, and the ceremony itself it was quite the event.  So what was it like when our puritan ancestors married? Here is what I know about Puritan weddings.

age of marriage
The age at which men and women are marrying, for the first time, is rising.  In 2012 the average male married at 29 and his wife was 27.  There are multiple reasons for this trend, including simple economics.  In order to get married, support a family and live a decent life, one needs a certain amount of income. This is becoming harder to achieve and takes a bit of time to reach a level of economic security on which many couples feel it is safe to marry.

This was the case in England and the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600 and 1700's.  In England the conditions were worse than New England and as many as 30% of adults never married. In Massachusetts almost all adults of marriageable age married. Most widows and widowers promptly remarried after the death of their spouse.  Many adults married two even three times in their lifetime. But, the age at which they first married was much like today.  Men needed some measure of economic freedom from their fathers to support their wife and their inevitable children.

Most of the men in the early days of the colony made their living by farming and raising livestock. They needed land to do this.  Fathers seemed reluctant to part with their land but would often allow sons to farm portions of their land, often virgin land, that had yet to see a plow.  Less often fathers would outright deed land to their sons. If there were a lot of sons in the family, some would be apprenticed to learn a trade in order to earn a living wage.  Men got married on average at about 27 years of age.

Women worked at home with their mothers or step-mothers from a very early age learning to run a household.  They would have to learn to make meals from scratch, make soap and candles, and how to sew their own clothes.  They might also work as a servant in another home.  Women got married on average at about 24 years of age.

The Puritans believed in the family as a unit.  Everyone must belong to and live with a family.  There were no bachelor pads, or boarding houses.  In 1668 the Court of Middlesex County conducted a search for single people and forced them to choose a family to live with. The only way to move out of a family home was to start your own, but first you had to find your mate.

Although the Puritan lifestyle was highly restrictive, boys will be boys and girls will be girls and they will find a way to meet.  Once a week, on the Sabbath, everyone in town came together at the meeting house for Sunday service. This would ensure that all eligible men would meet all eligible women. Many people married locally to men or women they grew up with.  Families became complicated with intermarriage and in a small town many families would be related by marriage to each other.

whats love got to do with it
Surprisingly, Puritans believed that couples should marry for love, this goes against my image of the dour strict and loveless people of my imagination.  Parents and children must give their free consent to marry. Men generally asked permission of the woman's father to court her. I was somewhat surprised to find that the bundle board was not a myth but actually used. The prospective couple were allowed to spend the night, together, in the same bed, separated by the bundle board.

If at the end of the courtship the couple decide to marry they would enter into a 'contraction'. The couple would post their banns at the meeting house three times.  The prospective bride would be allowed to choose the text for the minister to preach, this was her day in church.  If there were no objections the marriage could proceed.

No doubt there were some negotiations going on.  The couple had to live somewhere, either in a new household of their own or with one of their parents.  The couple would need furniture and other household items to start their new life together.

the wedding ceremony...or not
Today many couples choose to marry in the month of June, Puritans preferred November. There was no need for a wedding planner, wedding gown or even a church.  The couple married at the bride's family home.  The local magistrate or, if the marriage occurred after 1686, the local minister arrived, asked the couple if they wanted to marry and if they both said yes...they were married. That's it.  The marriage was recorded in the town records and the families might have a little party with small cakes and a beverage, but no party, no dancing or feasting.

alternate routes
If a couple were determined to marry and the parents disapproved, they could 'self marry'.  I'm not sure exactly what they had to do to achieve this, but I could probably make a few guesses.  If they did 'self marry' they could petition the court to recognize their marriage.

A surprising number of my ancestors were obviously pregnant at the time of their marriage. A 'premie baby' that looked 'full term' was a dead give away. The couple would be reported to the local magistrate and hauled into court charge with fornication. The court would typically sentence them to be whipped or pay a fine.

A single woman who became pregnant by a reluctant father would also find herself in court. Witnesses would be called to testify on behalf of both parties.  If the man denied being the father the court would wait for the birth to occur.  At the height of the woman's labor pains the midwife would ask her to name the father. It was believed that the woman, in total agony could not lie. If the court believed the mother, the father would be given the choice of marriage or financial support for the child.  The woman was then promptly returned to her family.

Have a great day!