Sunday, March 10, 2013

William Baker and Sarah Fitts of Ipswich, MA

A Bakers dozen
William Baker is one of those ancestors whose genealogy is an internet mess.  Apparently the name was fairly common, and at one time in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony there were no less than five William Bakers living in various towns.  According to the research of Robert Charles Anderson of the Great Migration series there was one in Watertown, one in Charlestown, one in Portsmouth, one in Boston, and one running amok among the Indians, which was very offensive to the sensibilities of the Puritan colonists. 

Possible Fathers
My Ancestor William was born around 1655, so it would seem likely that his father was one of these Bakers.  Some of them can be ruled out right away.  The William Baker of Charlestown and later Billerica did not have a son named William.  He died in 1658 and he and his wife were probably to old to be his parents anyway. William Baker of Boston seems to be the most popular choice on Ancestry.com for William's father but this too is incorrect.  William Baker of Boston and his wife Mary Eddington, did have a son William b. 1655 but he married Elizabeth Dutton.  They lived in Concord where he died in 1702. The other three Bakers left no trail, so it it possible but not provable that one of them was his father. 
Of course his father may have been any one of the other men named Baker living in the colony as well.  There is no reason to believe that his father's forename had to be William.  Some have suggested that his father was John Baker.

What I know
William Baker was born around 1654.  He married Sarah Fitts of Ipswich on December 30th, 1686.  She was the daughter of Abraham Fitts and Sarah Thompson, born March 15, 1661.  His name is found here and there in the records of Ipswich. 
On November 18, 1687 William bought a house for 65 pounds from Andrew Peters.  The purchase included the house, orchards and about one acre of land.  The property was on Hill Street.  In the the deed William was identified as a Glover. William also inherited land through his wife Sarah that was originally owned by her grandfather Simon Tompson.  He also bought land in 1697 from Jonathan Wade which he sold in 1714 to Robert Fitts. In 1723 he sold half of his homestead to his son John. He seems to have accrued a fair amount of land and so would seem to be fairly prosperous.  

The Runaway Apprentice
William was a glove maker by trade. He had at least one apprentice named Charles Atwood. The apprenticeship was for thirteen years beginning on March 11, 1687 and last until 1699.  William was to teach Charles the art of making gloves and something called white leather dresser. He was also to teach him to read and write English and the rule of the three also called the rule of proportion, aka basic math. On completion of his apprenticeship William was to provide him with two sets of clothing. 
Charles did not complete his apprenticeship however.  In the original writing of the indenture the writer did not put a nine behind the 169 in the date on which it was to end. In 1696, after the death of his father, Charles was shown the letter by his mother.  He apparently had had enough of the apprenticeship and high tailed it off to Rhode Island.  William pursued him and hauled him into court.  The court agreed with Charles and the unspecified date of ending. 

Church
Of course life was not all work, work, work.  There was also church.  William and his wife  and children would have attended worship services at the meeting house on Sundays.  William must have been a full member as he served as a tythingman in 1695. The tythingman's job was to ensure that everyone was awake and paying attention to the minister, no sleeping, gossiping or other carrying on in church. In a seating chart for the meetinghouse in 1719-1720 William is seated up front in a row for the elderly and ancient. He presumably held that seat until his death some years later.  Likewise his wife was seated in the front with the older women.


Children of William and Sarah
William b. 1687 d. 1687
William b. Ipswich m. Elizabeth Heard
Sarah b. Sept 9, 1691 d. Sept 29, 1691
Sarah b. Oct 22, 1692 m. John Waite, Jr. of Ipswich April 16, 1715
Mary b. 26 April 1695 m. Daniel Heard Cordwainer of Ipswich
John b. 18 March 1696/7 
Thomasin b. 7 May 1699 m. Joseph Abbe, Blacksmith of Ipswich
Margaret May 19, 1701 m. Samuel Stacey, Fuller of Ipswich 

death and remarriage
Sarah Fitts Baker died July 1, 1722 at the age of 6o.  William remarried less than a year later. He married widow Anne Ordway Buswell, widow on Feb. 21, 1722/3. He was then about 66 years old. He felt the need to write his will on 14 June 1731, but did not die until sometime in 1743.  His will was proved on 19 Sept. of that year.  In his will he named his widow Anne, Children William, John, Sarah, Mary, Thomasin, and Margaret. 


Sources:
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins 1620-1633
Hoyt, Old Familes of Salisbury and Amesbury
Peters, Peters of New England
Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society, Vol. 8-12, p. 11
Waters, Goodhue and Wise, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Lawrence Towner, A Good Master Well Served, Masters and Servants in Colonial Massachusetts. p. 217
Abraham Hammatt, Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, 1633-1700. 1880