Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Edward Sanderson of Watertown, MA

Well, here he is, the first (possible) ancestor  who I  do not want to claim.  I think we all want our ancestors to be interesting men and women, leaders, upstanding citizens, prosperous, wealthy even, not to mention descended from royalty.  

english origins
The English birthplace of Edward Sanderson is unknown. Robert Sanderson, believed to be his brother, was said, in his apprenticeship agreement, to be from Higham.  Although there is a birth recorded in Higham Ferrers for a child named Edward Saundersonne on May of 1611 there is nothing that would prove that this is the same Edward who immigrated to Massachusetts. Because the close knit group of families who settled Watertown were from East Anglia, it has been suggested that the Sandersons were from Higham in Norfolk, England, but again, there is no proof. There were, however, a large number of Sandersons living in town and cities in Norfolk, so it is entirely possible for that to be his place of birth. There were also a large number of Sandersons in Cambridgeshire as well as other counties in England.  

How and when Edward arrived in Massachusetts is unknown.  He did not sail on the "Increase" in 1635. He is also not the Edward who arrived in Virginia in 1635.  He was probably not the Edward Sanders  who worked for Capt. Francis Champernowne as a land agent in New Hampshire.  That Edward was taken to court 21 October 1645 by Mrs. Sarah Lynne, a widow, whom he claimed to have married.  Our Edward was married 15 Oct. 1645 so that doesn't make sense. Still, given his later bad behavior it could have been him.

Edward's marriage to Mary Egelleston in 1645 seems to have been the high point of his life. His wife is said by many to have been the daughter of Bigod Eggleston of Windsor, Connecticut.  Robert Charles Anderson, in his Great Migration bio of Bigod, stated that he does not believe that she was.  He gave several reasons including the fact that neither she nor her children were named in Bigod's will, all his other living children were in the will. Bigod did not have any connections with Watertown in 1645, he left the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 for Connecticut.   

The reusing of a deceased child's name was very common at that time. Bigod and his first wife had three children, the oldest child James died very young. Bigod named his next son James. They also had a child named Mary, born in 1613/14.  His first wife died and he remarried by 1634. In  1636 his new wife gave birth to a girl whom they named Mary. Does Bigot then have two daughters named Mary or is it much more likely that the elder Mary had died and like his son James, he reused the name. This is what I believe happened. Mary Egellston who married Edward Sanderson was not the daughter of Bigod.

hard times
Edward and Mary's first child, Jonathan, was born about one year after their marriage in 1646. By 1660 his rapidly growing family, they had six children by then,  was becoming a burden not only for him but for the town itself.  His family was one of four identified by the selectmen of Watertown as providing an inadequate education for their children. In a town meeting of 28 January 1664 the town gave Edward money to support his family. Later that year in May of 1664 the town voted to give Edward three bushels of Indian corn.  In 1671 the town was becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of supporting  Edward's family, they decide that some of the children must enter apprenticeships to relieve the burden on the family and ensure that the child was educated. One unnamed daughter was placed with another family at the age of eight, to serve as an apprentice until age 18. The town paid for the care of Edward's children at least through 1676.

Jonathan Sanderson, Edward and Mary's oldest child, worked as a servant for Justinian Holden of Cambridge for 4 or 5 years, beginning at age 17.  He may also have be the Jonathan Sanderson who was a young servant of Job Lane in Malden, who with Richard Tree, was hauled into court for stealing from and running away from Job. 

It has been suggested by some researchers that Robert Sanderson gave Edward land as a wedding present.  I find this impossible to believe.  This was a time when men held dearly to their land, not even deeding it to their grown sons, most men were only separated from their land by the grave. Robert Sanderson had more than a few sons to provide for and at the time he left Watertown he was yet to become the wealthy goldsmith he would be in time. 

the icky part
Okay, so the guy was a really bad provider for his family, but he was also something much much worse: a rapist and child abuser. On 8 June 1654 Edward raped an 8 year old girl, Ruth Parson. He admitted having sex with Ruth, but claimed she consented to it. He was convicted but he escaped hanging on a technicality in the law.  His punishment was to be whipped, 30 lashes in Boston and more again in Watertown.  He was to wear a rope around his neck which hung down at least two feet and he was not to be more than 40 rods from his house without the noose on he would be whipped again. His crime, punishment, the rope, a constant reminder that he could be hanged and the response of the town to him may explain why he was not able to provide for his family. 

etc. rip
Edward owned land in Watertown some of which he sold to William Shattuck, this was prior to 1664 when title to some of the land came into question and was settled by the Selectmen of the town. Because there was no deed of sale for the to Edward, I believe he was given the land in one of the land divisions.  He also given land in western Watertown that was would later make up part of Waltham. This land was part of the "Great Division", which was divided into four squadrons and divided between the original proprietors. In 1687 a Goody Sanders was ordered by the selectmen to spin yard in exchange for corn, this was most likely Mary Sanderson.

There is no record of death for either Mary or Edward.

Children of Edward and Mary
Jonathan b. 1646 m. Abia Bartlett in 1669, became a Deacon in the church and an upstanding member of society.
William married Sarah Unknown and moved to Groton by 1674, killed by Indians in 1694
Abigail b. about 1660 m. Oct 27, 1687 Shubael Child in Watertown she died 8 Oct 1693, he husband shortly thereafter became mentally ill, was locked in an unheated jail in the middle of winter and froze to death. 
Hannah b. about 1670 m. Aug 6, 1695 Richard Norcross in Watertown 
Hester baptized in Watertown in 1686, described as a "young person"

more than one Edward Sanderson?
If you are doing internet research on Edward Sanderson you will no doubt come across several websites about him.  One site claims that there were two men in Watertown with similar names and that the two are confused. At the time that Edward lived in Watertown there were probably less than 100 men, head of households, in town. Everyone in town would have known Edward Sanderson and his business, I doubt anyone would confuse him with another man.  The name Sanderson was often shortened to Sanders, in fact Edward's son Jonathan was almost universally known as Jonathan Sanders until very late in his life. See my post on the Sanders/Sanderson name.

related posts:
Surname Sanders, Sanderson, Saunders, Saunderson in the record
What's in a Name? two case studies on names, one being Sanders/Sanderson
Andrew White of Watertown
William Sanderson of Watertown
Robert Sanderson of Watertown

Jennifer Monaghan, Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America
Watertown Records
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins 1620-1633 p. 624
Richard Archer, Fissures in the Rock: New England in the 17th Century
Roger Thompson, Divided We Stand, Watertown 1630-1680 

comments, challenges, quibbles welcome
please site all sources

Have a great day!