Benjamin Heard was the eldest child of John and Elizabeth Hull Heard. He was born in Dover, NH on 20 Feb 1643/4. He spent most of his life in New Hampshire but after the death of his wife he moved to Salisbury, MA. This is most unfortunate for me, because he died there and his will is not as accessible as those from New Hampshire. If anyone has a copy of his will, will you share, please.
Early life and first marriage
Benjamin seems to have followed the usual path to adulthood. He would have lived with his parents until his marriage, when he started his own family unit. He took the Oath of Fidelity in 1669 at age 25 and married the following year. His wife was Elizabeth Roberts, daughter of Thomas Roberts also of Dover. And, as expected, their first child was born a year or so later.
John Heard gave his eldest son his 40 acres of land located on "Fresh Creek" on the road from Dover to South Berwick. Benjamin and his family made their home there. Benjamin was a cordwainer (shoemaker or cobbler) by trade and like most men of the time did his civic duty by serving on the Grand Jury, Trial Jury and acting as constable.
Elizabeth died sometime prior to 1690, she did not live to see the death of her eldest child nor endure the agony of having an child kidnapped by Indians and not knowing their fate.
Children of Benjamin and Elizabeth:
Benjamin Heard Jr. , born 1673; died unmarried on February 10, 1697 of “malignant fever.” age 24
Lydia Heard, born 1674. She married, first, Jonathan Norris in June 1696. He was the son of Nicholas and Sarah (Cox) Norris and died in 1718. He lived in Exeter and Stratham. She married, second, Joseph Rollins. He was born on May 6, 1674 and died on January 20, 1749.
Anna Heard, born 1675. She was captured by Indians on a visit to York on January 25, 1692. She was later returned. She married Sebastian Cholet on October 19, 1705. They had eight children.
Rebecca Heard, born 1678. She married Thomas Gordon after April 10, 1709. He was born in 1678, the son of Alexander and Mary (Lissen) Gordon. It was his second marriage. They had five children.
James Heard, born 1680; died 1748. He married Deborah ----- who predeceased him. They and their three eldest children were baptized in Dover on September 28, 1718. James and Deborah joined the church in Dover on August 11, 1728. James was elected a constable in Dover in 1713 and refused to serve, for which he paid a fine of five pounds.
Sarah Heard. She married Simon French of Kingston, NH on November 24, 1709. They had children born between 1711 and 1719. She joined the church at Kingston on May 25, 1729.
Move to Salisbury and second marriage
For whatever reason, Benjamin Sr. left Dover, New Hampshire for Salisbury, MA some 30 miles to the south, and married there for the second time on 23 May 1690. His wife was 30 year old Ruth Eastman, daughter of Roger and Sarah. Not much is know about their life other than that Ruth joined the Salisbury church in 1699. They had three children:
Elizabeth b. 25 May 1691 m. in Salisbury William Baker on 24 Sept 1713
Samuel b. 28 Feb 1691/2
Benjamin b. 16 Dec 1702 d. 8 March 1705/6
Death and Will
Benjamin died 20 Jan 1709/10 his will was proved that February In his will he supposedly named all but his first and last child, both named Benjamin and both predeceased him. He also included his captive daughter Anna if she came out of captivity to get it.
Benjamin's date of death has been confusing to researchers for many years. His brother Tristram Heard went to court in New Hampshire in 1703 to contest his father's will, claiming it had not been probated. He also claimed that he was the only living son of John Heard, meaning his brother Benjamin was dead. Therefore many sources about Benjamin state that he died prior to the 1703 court case.
Ruth seems a bit unusual for the time, at least to me. She didn't marry until she was about 30 years old. That marriage ended after 8 years when her husband died, in 1709. She didn't remarry until 1717 when she was 56 years old. Her second husband was John Tappan also of Salisbury. His wife died only months prior to his marriage to Ruth. He died in 1723, six years later. Ruth died in 1741 aged about 80.
Hoyt, Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury
Noyes, Libby, Davis, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire
John Scales, Colonial Era of Dover, New Hampshire