Sunday, October 27, 2013

George Abbott of Bishop's Stortford, England and Roxbury and Andover, Massachusetts

Here is another ancestor who can be traced to his birthplace in England and this time thankfully most of the internet sites have his ancestry correct. At least two of my ancestors, including George Abbott and his wife hailed from Bishop's Stortford in the county of Hertfordshire, England.  The Reverend Francis Dane, who would later marry George Abbott's widow, Hannah Chandler Abbott, was also from Bishop's Stortford; he would become the minister of Andover for many, many years. John Norton, who sailed in 1634, was ordained and became a noted Puritan Divine in Ipswich was also from Bishop's Stortford. The Reverend John Elliott, who was the Puritian Minister at Roxbury was from the village of Widford about 7 miles from Stortford, it is possible that these three influential men were the driving force behind multiple family migrations from Stortford to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

english origins
George Abbott was baptized in the church St. Michael's on 22 May 1617. His ancestry in Bishop's Stortford can be traced back at least five generations to his ggg grandfather, William Abbott who was born circa 1470. The names of his ancestors, Williams, Johns and Georges are found in the Bishop's Transcripts and Court Rolls. They owned, bought and sold land.  They were church wardens, they paid taxes and they were taken to court by their neighbors. Good solid Englishmen, rooted in their village for hundreds of years, what would it take to make them pack up and leave their home, forever? 

too many georges
George was the third in a line of George's and of course he named one of his sons George. His father, George, was born in 1587 and married a woman named Elizabeth, her surname is unknown, she may have been the immigrant George's mother.  In any case, George the father has no known will or record of his death. This lack of information has lead to the confusion of George Abbott of Bishop's Stortford with another English immigrant of the same name who arrive about 1642 and died in Rowley five years later in 1647.  This second George came over with his four sons: Thomas Sr., Thomas Jr., Nehemiah and, of course, George. Prior to his death George Abbott of Rowley deeded most of his land to his eldest son Thomas Sr.. The remaining sons were not yet of age and were apprenticed or taken in by men in Rowley. This family of Abbotts is not the same as the George Abbott of Roxbury and Andover. Confused, me too and adding to the confusion is the fact that George Abbott, son of George of Rowley, moved to Andover in 1655.  He was called George Jr. and our George was called George Sr. 

George was known to be in Roxbury, his marriage to Hannah Chandler was recorded by the Rev. John Elliot in 1646. The Chandler family was also from Bishop's Stortford and they had arrived in Roxbury in 1637.  He is said to have come on the same ship as the Chandler's but I cannot find any mention of him in any records.  He would have been 22 in 1637, so what was he doing?  He wasn't married. He didn't join the church at Roxbury, so he could not have been made a freeman. He wasn't given any land grants in Roxbury, if he was there he kept a low profile. It is possible that he lived with and worked for the Chandler family, until he was able to establish his own homestead.  

marriage and andover
In her article "The Two George Abbott Families of Andover" Marjorie Wardwell Otten, writes that because George was unmarried at the time he relocated to Andover in 1643, he required a sponsor to attain land.  His sponsor was John Dane, who had recently married Annis Chandler, widow of William Chandler.  He also sponsored Thomas Chandler, his then step-son and brother of Hannah Chandler. With John's help George was able to get a four acre home lot. 
In 1646 George, now aged about 30,  married Hannah aged 16. The difference in their ages seems to stand out, especially in light of the fact that George would be in prison today for committing a serious sexual offense. I wonder why he married her, was there a shortage of marriageable women, did he fall in love with her while she was growing up and he waited for her to become of age? Who knows, but judging by his will they had a good marriage. They also had 13 children, 10 boys and 3 girls.
George did not seem to hold many town offices in Andover.  He served on the Grand Jury of the Quarterly Court in Ipswich in 1658. In 1673 he was chosen surveyor and in 1676 branding man, both jobs important but not quite elite.  However, the town records only go  back to 1656, 13 years after he settled there.  It is possible that he held other civic jobs prior to the beginning or the records. George and his sons took the Oath of Allegiance 11 Feb 1678/9, a requirement for all males over the age of 16.  

1.  John b. 2 March 1647/8 Andover,  m. 17 November 1673 Sarah Barker, d. 18 March            1720/21 in Andover
2.  Jospeh b. 11 March 1648/9, d. 24 June 1650 Andover
3.  Hannah b. 9 June 1650 m. 20 December 1676 her first cousin John Chandler, d. 1 Aug          1727
4.  Joseph b. 30 March 1652 d. 8 April 1676, killed by Indians
5.  George b. 7 June 1655, m. Dorcas Graves, d. 21 Feb 1735 
6.  William b. 18 November 1657 m. Elizabeth Gerry 19 June 1682, d. 21 Oct 1713
7.  Sarah "Sally" b. 14 November 1659, m. 11 October 1680, d. 29 June 1711
8.  Benjamin b. 20 December 1661, m. 22 April 1685 Sarah Farnham, d. 30 March 1703
9.  Timothy b. 17 November 1663, m. 27 December 1689 Hannah Graves, d. 9 Sept. 1730 
10. Thomas b. 6 May 1666, 7 December 1697 Hannah Gray, d. 28 April 1728
11. Edward b. 1668/9 died young by drowning
12. Nathaniel b. 4 July 1671, m. 22 October 1695 Dorcas Hibbard, d. 1 December               1749, Nathaniel's daughter Mary Abbott m. Benjamin Blanchard, Chloe Blanchard 
      who m. Samuel Thornton in 1841 is a descendant
13. Elizabeth b. 29 January 1672, m. 24 October 1692 Nathan Stevens, d. 4 May 1750

The town of Andover, which is about 27 miles from Roxbury, was first settled in about 1641, the land was purchased from the Indians for 6 pounds and an old coat. In a list of the original settlers, George's name is 19th. Unfortunately the first town meeting was not recorded until 1656 so details of the early days are sketchy. In 1646 Francis Dane, step-brother of Hannah Chandler Abbott became the minister of Andover, a position he held for many years.     
In about 1655, George Abbott Jr. arrived in Andover, he was also called George Abbott "the tailor", after his profession or George Abbott "of Rowley". He became a sexton in the church as were his sons after him. Other townsmen of note were the Blanchards and Lovejoys to whom I am also related. 

After many years of, if not good but tolerable, relations with the native Indian population, things began to become troublesome around the year 1675. Sometime before 1663 George Abbott purchased a house on the south end of Andover.  This new house was designated as a garrison house, a place of safety in the event of an Indian attack.  Garrison houses were built to withstand an assault, with thick log walls.  They were usually enclosed by a wooden palisade and could accommodate multiple families. In 1675 there were 12 garrison houses in Andover, including the Abbott's. 
In December 1675 Joseph Abbott was impressed into military service and took part in what is called "The Great Swamp Fight" during King Phillip's War.  The colonial militia attacked a Narragansett fort in Rhode Island.  The outcome was a victory for the colonial forces and resulted in the demise of the Narragansett people.  Joseph returned safely from the expedition. 
On 10 Feb 1676 King Phillip and his forces attacked and wiped out the town of Lancaster, MA which was some 37 miles to the southwest of Andover. Word spread rapidly that the Indian war parties were on the move.  The news was unsettling if not terrifying.
On 18 March two Indian scouts were spotted near Andover.  The town sent two riders to Ipswich to ask for aid to help defend the town. On 8 April 1676 the long dreaded Indian attack occurred. An alarm was raised when the Indians were spotted crossing the Merrimack River and all who heard it fled for the safety of the garrisons.  Joseph and Timothy Abbott were working in the fields and were unable to make it to the garrison. Joseph turned and fought the Indians, reportedly killing at least one before he was overcome and killed. His young brother Timothy, age 13, was taken into captivity.   Timothy was returned to Andover in August of 1676 by an Indian Squaw who apparently took pity on him, he was described as being "much pined with hunger", but otherwise alright.

death of george
John Glassford,
George Abbott wrote his will on 12 December 1681, he was only 64 years old, but he obviously knew he was dying.  His will is a testament to his love and esteem for his wife of 35 years, Hannah Chandler Abbott.  He wrote "considering the great love and affection I have unto my loving wife Hannah Abbut, and the tender love she hath had to me and her care and diligence to me to get and save what God has blessed us with and also her prudence in management of the same, I leave her my whole estate for life..." Wow, his whole estate, that almost never happened. She would of course divide the estate among her sons, the oldest John was to get a double portion. George died on the 24th of December and was buried in the Andover burying grounds.  On the 200th anniversary of the founding of the town of Andover his descendants erected a memorial to him. 

Hannah became a widow at the age of 52, she chose to remarry in 1690 her step-brother the Reverend Francis Dane, who had recently  lost his second wife. Francis was born in Bishop's Stortford in 1615, his father, John, married Hannah's mother, Annis, in Roxbury after the death of her father, William Chandler.  Hannah had probably known Francis her whole life. They were 60 and 75 years of age when they married, I'm sure they were looking for quiet companionship in their old age. It's not quite what they got.

I always knew that boy was trouble: benjamin abbott
In 1683, when Benjamin was 22, he engaged in a sexual relationship with a widow, Naomi Holt Lovejoy, she was 30. In June of 1683 she was fined in court for fornication with Benjamin Abbott, she was also pregnant with his child, a daughter born in 1684.  The daughter's name was Ben Naomi Abbott. Benjamin married Sarah Farnham in 1685, Naomi also remarried.
About 1690 Martha Allen Carrier and her bedraggled family came to town. At first they were warned out, but later the town recanted and gave the family a small plot of land. The Carrier family contracted small pox and several family members as well as other inhabitants of Andover died of this disease.  Blame fell on Martha, who appears to have been a difficult woman to deal with.
The town gave Benjamin Abbott a piece of property that bordered Martha's land.  This did not sit well with her and she began to direct her malicious talk against Benjamin.  Saying she would hold his nose to the grindstone. Words which would come back to haunt her. 
In 1691 Benjamin came down with a hideous cause of carbuncolosis, boils.  It began with a pain in his foot, and then his side.  He developed a boil which when lanced yielded "several gallons of corruption".  Boils also appeared in his groin.  While he was suffering "near to death" his wife Sarah noted unusual behavior in their cattle, several of which died.  
In August of 1692 the witch trials in Salem were at their zenith.  The minister of Andover, Reverend Barnard, invited the Salem accusers to come to Andover to seek out any witches that might be living there. Needless to say, Benjamin laid his troubles on Martha and called her, she was, he said, a witch. He and Sarah testified against her on August 3rd 1692, as did many others. Martha was found guilty and hung on August 19th.  

the righteous reverend francis dane
Francis Dane, now Benjamin' step-father, was not a fan of the witch trials, in fact he had serious doubts about the validity of the accusations, the confessions and the evidence on which the trials, like that of Martha Carrier, were  based.  His stance against the trials brought a backlash of accusations against him and his family. Two of his daughters, his daughter in law and five of his grandchildren were accused of witchcraft.  Francis' opposition to the trials went into overdrive and he is credited with helping to bring the madness of the accusations and trials to a halt.  I wonder if he and Benjamin Abbott ever spoke of what occurred and what part Benjamin played in bringing about the death of an innocent woman. 

Hannah outlived her second husband Francis who died in 1697.  She died on 2 June 1711 at the age of 81.  Not much can be said about her life from her perspective, but she did do one pretty remarkable thing. In 1706 she deeded land to her sons Timothy, Nathaniel and Thomas.  This was apparently the only time land was deeded solely by a woman. Hannah was survived by nine children. 


Moriarty, G. Andrews, "Ancestry of George Abbott of Andover, The New England Historic and Genealogical Register, 85, 1931, p. 79-86

Otten, Marjorie Wardell, "The Two George Abbot Families of Andover, Massachusetts  The Essex Genealogist, Vol. 20 (2000) p. 19-23

Bailey, Sarah Loring, Historical Sketches of Andover: Comprising the Present Towns of Andover and North Andover, Boston, 1880

Vital Records of Andover

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts

Munroe, J., A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of George Abbott of Andover, 1847

Jobe, Sara, Reverend Francis Dane, essay written in 2001 

Fiege, Mark, The Republic of Nature: an environmental history of the United States, University of Washington Press, 2012

No comments:

Roles of Men, Women and Children in 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts

In 17 th century pur itan Massachusetts , the roles of men , women and children were very clearly defined . Men were the ...