Sunday, August 19, 2012

John Stevens of Salisbury and John Stevens of Andover

There's nothing I like better than a load of botched genealogies to sort out and here is another one. I am descended from John Stephens (Stevens) of Salisbury, Massachusetts and his wife Katherine. A quick search on Ancestry.com and other internet sites reveal a mass of confused information.  At the heart of this mess is the fact that there were two John Stevens arriving in Massachusetts at almost the same time and combined with sloppy research, or copy and paste genealogy as I call it, the two men's lives have been mixed up. So here is what I have  been able to sort out.

John Stevens of Newbury and Andover:

This John is not my ancestor.  He and his brother William, wife Elizabeth, mother Alice and two servants, John and Grace Lovejoy, sailed in April 1638 on the Confidence of London. The Stevens' as well as the Lovejoy siblings were from Caversham, Oxfordshire, England.  They settled first in Newbury but John and his family were in Andover by 1645. A widow, Anne Stephens, died July 17, 1650 in Newbury.  Hoyt in his Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, suggests that this might possibly be Alice.  William had stayed in Newbury, so it is could be that she was living with him. He died in May 1653, leaving a wife and young son.

John did his civic and military duty as was required of him.  In 1649 he served on the Grand Jury in Ipswich, he was also a witness that year in a case against the town of Andover, something to do with roads. In 1658 a petition is presented in court by the men of Andover requesting that John Osgood be appointed Sergeant and Commander in Chief in place of Sgt. Stevens.

John died April 11th 1662, aged about 57, in Andover. Elizabeth his widow died quite a few years later in May 1691, age 80.  Many family histories give her name as Parker, as she referred to Joseph Parker as her brother in 1673. Hoyt offers the following: she was Joseph Parker's sister, Joseph Parker married John Stevens' sister or Joseph Parker married her sister. I don't think that any of these have been proved. A Nathan Parker helped inventory the estate of John in 1662.

John died without a will and the court appointed Elizabeth administrator of his estate. The court ordered the division of the estate with the eldest son John getting the largest share, the other children Timothy, Nathan, Ephraim, Joseph, Benjamin and Mary got equal shares. I found the following on an ancestry.com message board, the information is repeated elsewhere but I have not seen the parish records myself:
I've been having a look at Caversham and there are a few STEPHENS,STEVENS,STIVENS about. One in particular is John STEVENS/STEPHENS (m) Alice ATKINES in Caversham 27 February 1597. Children:
1. Susanna baptized 20 April 1600. Noted as John the Younger so you could safely say his father was also a John
2.Janet baptized 2 January 1602
3.John baptized 7 July 1605
4.Humfrey baptized 19 June 1608. Not sure if this is of the family or not. His surname is noted as STEVENS als ATWELL son of John. Later in the PRs another baptism for a Henry HAHTWELL had a paragraph attached to the entry. It said he was born at his grandfathers house who's surname was IREMONGER. Curiously John STEVENS/ATWELL disappeared and a John IREMONGER was baptizing his children. So perhaps not the John above? 
5.Barbara baptized 1 September 1611 
6.William baptized 1 September 1616. 
Note: Alice is first mentioned here as John's wife. If we can assume Janet ended up being a Jane. Both daughters married before John set off on his voyage with their mother and brother in 1638. Which made sense to me. A Susan who was a daughter to John STEVENS was buried in Caversham 28 July 1617. Three John STIVENS and STEVENS(2) were buried before 1638. There's no telling who is who and any one of these could also be the John baptized above, as well as John Sr. giving perhaps a reason why Alice accompanied her sons. Respectively they are: John STIVENS buried 11 January 1617 John STEVENS buried 21 September 1627 John STEVENS buried 9 January 1627/28
This message was posted 13 Feb 2009 by Lyn Somerset. If the information is authentic and it seems it is than this is most likely the immigrant family of John, William and Alice their mother. 

John Stevens of Salisbury: 

This is my ancestor.  This John Stevens was born c. 1611 in England, county and town unknown.  It is not known when he arrived in Massachusetts but he was one of the first settlers of Salisbury, Massachusetts.  According to Hoyt he received land in the first division in 1640. His name is found on the plat map of Salisbury. He seems to have been a single man when he arrived, and as single men were not allowed to live on their own he quickly found himself a wife.  He married Katherine Unknown in June of 1639. She is said to be Katherine Codman.  In July of 1646 John was deposed at the Quarterly Court and in his testimony he said he went to his "Brother Codnam" to make an inquiry about a hoghead of beef. In August Robert Codnam was also deposed in the case. Hence the belief that Katherine was Robert Codman's sister.

John performed many duties for the town of Salisbury. In 1644 he was a surveyor for roads and was asked to find out what trees had been cut for pipe staves against orders. In 1645 he was chosen one of the Prudential men.  Prudential men were given authority to conduct all the town business except the giving out of land. As a surveyor he was given authority to empower men to help fix the roads, this was necessary as the men were so busy trying to clear their land, plant crops, maintain their cattle, that they did not want to take time away from their farms to work on roads and fences. John was once fined for disorderly speech in a town meeting, no idea what he said. John was sworn constable at the 1647 court at Ipswich. He was a witness in court in 1647 when the town of Newbury was presented for failing to provide a safe from the new town to the ferry side. He was deposed in court in 1667 and gave his age as 56, this is where the 1611 birth date comes from.

John Stevens died in Feb of 1688/89, his wife Katherine had died July 31 1682. John became a member of the Salisbury Church in the last years of his life.

John and Katherine had six children:
John b. November 2 1639 m. Joanna Thorn
Elizabeth b. March 7 1641 d. 1641
Elizabeth b. Feb 4 1642 m. Morris Tucker
Nathaniel b. November 11 1645 m. twice to Mary and Mehetible
Mary b. 1647 m. John Osgood and Nathaniel Whittier son of Thomas Whittier
Benjamin b. 2 Feb 1650 m. Hannah Barnard

My Stevens line ends here.  Mary Stevens married Nathaniel Whittier.

Sources:
Hoyt, Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury
James R. Henderson, English Origins of John Lovejoy of Andover, Massachusetts, The Register, Vol. 163 p. 27
Ancestry.com message boards
Great Migration Ships website with names of passengers and ships
Sarah Saunders Smith, Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Joseph Merrill, History of Amesbury
Records of the Quarterly Court of Essex


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