Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Anthony Colby of Horbling, Lincolnshire and Salisbury, Massachusetts

In my previous post I wrote about the ancestors of Anthony Colby, this post will be about him and his life in Massachusetts.

english origins
Anthony Colby was baptized in the centuries old parish church of Horbling in Lincolnshire on 8 September 1605. The church, St. Andrew's, was vastly different from the one in which Anthony would baptize his children. In fact, the building in which his children were received  into the Puritan fold was not even a church, just a multi- purpose building used for town meetings and worship services on Sundays, it was known as the meeting house.

So why did Anthony leave Horbling and the parish where his family had lived for centuries. What called him to start a new life in what must have been a frightening  place, so far from home. The root of his desire to leave most likely began with Theophilus Clinton the 4th Earl of Lincoln. The Earl had studied at Emmanuel College in Cambridge, a hotbed of Puritan belief, and he, and his family became great promoters of the Puritan movement. The County seat of the Earls of Lincoln was Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire, but they also had a manor house in Sempringham, a stones throw from Horbling.

Simon Bradstreet
It was at a manor house in Sempringham in August of 1629 that John Winthrop signed the Cambridge Compact and was elected as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company. The decision to immigrate was agreed, and the company could move forward with their plans. Also attending the meeting were employees of the Earl of Lincoln including Simon Bradstreet and Thomas Dudley, the Earl  of Lincoln's steward. Simon's father, the Rev. Simon Bradstreet, was vicar at St. Andrew's Horbling. So it would seem that our Anthony was raised in a center of Puritanism and knew some of the key players in the migration to America. Although there is no proof, it has been theorized that Anthony Colby was an employee, read servant, of Simon Bradstreet.

coming to america
The Winthrop Fleet, as it has come to be known, left  England for America in two waves, one in April and one in May of 1630. It consisted of 11 ships and about 700 brave men, women and children. They arrived in Massachusetts in June and July. I have seen on some websites that Anthony sailed on the flagship Arabella, but there is no list of passengers for that ship or any ship and very few of the Arabella passengers have been positively identified. Suffice it to say that all of the immigrants no matter the name of their ship were brave, maybe a bit crazy, and share equally in the great feat they accomplished. In any case Anthony was in Massachusetts by the summer of 1630.

I have also seen it written that Anthony landed in Boston, but he didn't.  There was no Boston in the summer of 1630. The fleet landed at Salem, which had been established as a sort of "beachhead" for the immigrants. At the time of their arrival Salem was a small village of about 10 houses and one muddy street. John Endicott and others  had scouted out a location for the new colonist to set up shop, they had even built a large Governor's house for John Winthrop to live in and conduct colony business.  This new location was further to the south and would become Charlestown.

So, if there were no passenger lists and very little documentation on who immigrated at that time, how do we know that Anthony Colby was on one of those ships?  The answer is in the records of the First Church of Boston.  This church really began in Charlestown when the settlers, beginning with John Winthrop, signed a covenant to form a church.  Names were added as they joined the church. Anthony Colby's name is the ninety third on that record.  People, smarter than me, have surmised that he must have become a member in the winter of 1630/1.  This would mean that he would have had to sail with the Winthrop Fleet to be there at that time.

The new settlement in Charlestown was hard hit by disease. Many of the colonist suffered from scurvy and malnutrition. A high number  of the immigrants died in the first few weeks. Charlestown was particularly hard hit.  The lack of fresh water seems to have been to blame.  It was decided, despite the approach of winter, that they group should move to the Shawmut Peninsula where there was a spring with sufficient water. This new settlement was named Boston, in honor of Boston, Lincolnshire. Anthony's first home in Massachusetts is said to have been Boston.

newtowne
By 1632 Anthony was living in Cambridge or Newtowne as it was first called.  Thomas Dudley and Simon Bradstreet both lived in Cambridge in the early days so Anthony might still have been working for Simon. The location of the town of Cambridge, some five miles up the Charles River from Boston,  was chosen based on the ability to defend it in the event of an attack. It was laid out in an orderly manner and was at one time surrounded by a wooden palisade. Anthony received two house lots with land, both outside the center of the town.  They were both on the Watertown side of Cambridge possibly where Brattle Street is today.

1632 was also the year he married.  His wife was the widow Susanna Waterman, her maiden name is unknown.  Their first child was baptized by the Rev. John Cotton in Boston on 8 Sept. 1633, shortly after his arrival in Boston. Anthony also traveled to Boston to take his Freeman's Oath on 14 May 1634. His freeman status would allow him to vote and perform other civic duties, such as serve on juries.

ipswich
For reasons unknown to us, Anthony decided to leave Cambridge. He was briefly in Ipswich, some 30 odd miles to the north.  His name is found on a 1637 Ipswich petition and he was in court in Oct. 1637 in a case recorded as Anthony Colbie of Ipswich. He did not stay long for in  1639 Anthony sold at least one of his Cambridge houses and lands to Simon Crosby.

salisbury
By 1639 Anthony had moved once again, this time to the newly formed plantation of Salisbury.  He was then about 35 years old and entering the prime of his life.  How his wife felt about packing up and starting over with four small children we'll never know, but I bet I can guess! With each move the family would have to build a new home, plow virgin fields, and establish new bonds with their neighbors and fellow citizens.

The history of Salisbury is of great interest to me, my family is descended from many of the original proprietors. When I read about him and his family and their dealing with their neighbors, I am reading about other ancestors. Case in point, Anthony was a co-owner operator of a saw-mill.  The other owners were William Barnes (ancestor), William Osgood (ancestor) Phillip Challis and Samuel Worcester. I imagine many of their customers were my ancestors as well. Anthony also bought and sold land to and from other ancestors, including William Sargent.

Beginning in 1648 Anthony served multiple times on juries, both the Jury of Trials and the Grand Jury. He was chosen once to serve as a Prudential Man. There are some strange things written about Anthony Colby on the internet, and much of it is copy and pasted onto various websites, none of which give a source for their information.  I am going to post, here, what I think is the most incorrect but much copied paragraphs copied and pasted into numerous webites and ancestry.com pages, as follows:

Anthony Colby seems to have been always at odds with the leaders in town affairs and was often in controversy, legal or personal, with the authorities. Once he was fined for making a speech in the Town meeting on the grounds that he had created  a disturbance.  He worked incessently to have the new settlement at Amesbury set off from Salisbury as a town. The fight was carried on after his death by his sons, and the separation was finally accomplished in 1666.
Colby was an industrious man, and in spite of moving every few years, and in spite of many children, he became one of the largest property holders in Amesbury. His lots included “Black River,” “Fox Island,” “Lion’s Mouth,” “Great Swamp,” “Hampton River,” “Whiskers Hill,”  and lots from the third and fourth divisions. His inventory for his will set a value of 359 pounds sterling upon his property.

I don't know who wrote it or when, but much of the information is flat out wrong, so don't copy it! There is also a picture of a drawing on an Anthony Colby floating around the internet and ancestry.com that is said to be this Anthony Colby, but it is not. The picture is of Anthony Colby, born 1792, who was once a governor of the state of New Hampshire. There are no pictures of the immigrant Anthony, got it, good.

children of anthony and susanna:
Anthony and Susanna had at least seven children, which was less than average as some of my ancestors had 10-12 children. Many of their children died before age 45. Samuel is the only one who is known to have lived to a good age of 78. Samuel and Mary are both ancestors, they married Elizabeth and William Sargent, children of William Sargent of Salisbury.

1. John baptized in Boston on 5 Sept. 1633, m. 14 Jan 1655/6 Frances Hoyt, d. 6 Feb 1673/4 age 41
2. Sarah b. abt. 1635 probably in Cambridge, m. 6 March 1653/4 Orlando Bagley, d. 18 May 1663 age 28
3. Samuel b. abt. 1638 probably Ipswich, m. abt. 1667 Elizabeth Sargent, d. 1716 age 78
4. Isaac b. 6 July 1640 Salisbury, m. Martha Parratt, d. April 1684. age 44
5. Rebecca b. 11 March 1642/, m. 9 Sept. 1661 John Williams, d. 10 June 1672 age 30
6. Mary b. 19 Sep 1647, m. William Sargent 23 Sep 1668, d. unknown
7. Thomas b. 8 Mar 1650/1, m. 16 Sep 1674 Hannah Rowell, d. March 1691 age 41

amesbury
Macy-Colby House Wikipedia
Although Antony originally settled in Salisbury, he eventually moved across the Powwow River onto land that would eventually become the new town of Amesbury. The sawmill was on the Powwow River near some waterfalls.  In 1654 Anthony bought the home of Thomas Macy who was leaving town after being caught in the act of sheltering folks during a rainstorm.  Unfortunately the 'folks' were Quakers and it was against the law to aid or give shelter to any of that religious persuasion.

The house was probably built around 1649 so it was a mere five years old when Anthony purchased it. The house still stands today, it is a museum owned by the DAR.  It is a traditional saltbox house that was modified in the 1740's. I would love to go and see it someday!

rip anthony
Anthony died in February of 1660/1, apparently without a will at the youngish age of 55. I suppose he may have died quickly, not having been ill and not feeling the need for a will. His youngest child was only ten years old. An inventory of his estate was done by his neighbors shortly after his death and presented to the Quarterly Court. He was not one of the largest land owners in Amesbury as so others have claimed.  His total estate was valued at about 359 pounds, of which about 185 was in real estate.

susanna
excellent book on many
 colonist, click to see
Not much was written about Susanna which is not unusual for the times.  Unless a wife got up to no good, she was hardly, if ever, mentioned.  Susanna remarried two years after Anthony's death to William Whitridge of Amesbury.  He died  five years later. Three times a widow, she did not marry again. Susanna lived in her house until her death at age of about 81.  Her last years were not good. Her well being was the topic of some town meetings where she was described as being very much defective and decayed in her understanding. At a meeting of the Quarterly Court her sons Samuel, Thomas and Isaac were ordered to sell what land was necessary to pay for her maintenance. She died on 8 July 1689.  Her estate was divide between her single surviving child, Samuel, and her grandchildren.

Sources:
The Records of the First Church of Boston
The Great Migration Begins
50 Great Migration Colonist 
The Register Book of the Lands and Houses of New Towne and the Town of Cambridge

Merrill, Joseph. History of Amesbury including the First Seventeen Years of Salisbury, to the Separation in 1654, and Merrimac, from Its Incorporation in 1876. Haverhill: F.P. Stiles, 1880. Print.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ancestors of Anthony Colby of Horbling, Lincolnshire and Salisbury, Massachusetts

This post is about my immigrant ancestor Anthony Colby and his ancestors. They have been well researched by several outstanding genealogist including John Brooks Threlfall and Robert Charles Anderson.  Much of what I am including in this bio comes from their published works. I have tried to throw in a few details about the daily life of these people as it makes them more real to me.  If all I know about Anthony Colby is when he was born and when he died,  he loses his appeal in my eyes.  I like to try to imagine what life must have been like for him and those who came before me.

I am descended from Anthony Colby thru two of his children, so that must make him my double 9 times grandfather. Two of his children married two of William Sargent's children. Anthony moved several times prior to settling down in Salisbury.  I am also related to over 14 men who settled in that same town.  If someone asked me where I can from I could almost say "I'm from Salisbury".


St. Andrew's Horbling
english origins
Anthony Colby was baptized in St. Andrew's Church in Horbling, Lincolnshire on 8 September 1605. Infants were usually baptized quickly after birth so it's pretty safe to say that he might have been born in late August or early September. Horbling is and was a small village in the parish of Sempringham which also includes the village of Pointon. The Colby name can be found in records going back to the 1400s. The Sempringham that those early Colbys knew was very different that what it is today. If fact there is almost nothing left of Sempringham, and what there is left of it is hidden underground.





St. Gilbert
Sempringham was once a flourishing Saxon village with a Monastic Abbey dedicated to St. Gilbert its founder. Gilbert was the only Englishman to start a purely English religious order, the Gilbertine Order which once had 2000 monks and nuns in thirteen houses spread over England. Today all that remains is the parish church also dedicated to St. Andrew, it was built in 1120. Those early Colbys would have lived near the Abbey and seen its destruction during the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538. 

Although the Colby name is found in very early records, the first identifiable ancestor of Anthony Colby is his grandfather Matthew Colby.  He was born about 1530 in the village of Pointon.  His parents names are unknown, but we know that when his mother died, his father remarried.  He and his new wife Agnes, who was a widow with children, did not seem to have any children together. His father died leaving Agnes widowed yet again.  She wrote a will and died in 1575/6. Unfortunately, she left no clue as to her husband's name. 


matthew 
Pointon Fen farmland
Matthew lived in the village of Pointon. He married, about the year 1555, a woman known to us only as Mary.  He described himself as a husbandman in his will. A husbandman in 16th century England was usually a farmer, he probably did not own the land he farm, but held it from the owner, or lord of the manor, and paid rent for it. A husbandman was a step below a yeoman on the social/financial scale, but above that of laborer.

Much of what we know about Matthew and Mary comes from their wills.  They owned steers, cows, sheep, pigs and horses. They grew pease, barley and "corn".  Corn in England was not the same as corn in America. The word corn was used to describe wheat, rye or barley, basically any grain could be called corn. Europeans called american corn "maize". Matthew Colby and his brother William  were co-owners of a horse-mill, probably used for grinding  grain.  His brother deeded his share to his son in his will. Matthew also had something called  a kill-house, which I assume was a slaughterhouse. Matthew probably relied on his sons and daughters to help farm and run the mill.

mary
While her husband and sons were out working the fields and tending to their animals, Mary and her daughters had their work cut out for them with the running of the house. Just putting food on the table consumed hours of their time. All meals were made from scratch. They most likely made their own butter and brewed their own beer. They may have made bread and cheese as well.We have no idea how big their house was but in her will Mary bequeathed tables, chairs, bedsteads, feather beds, pewter, kettles, chafing dish, candle sticks, a great brass pan, brass pots, and iron brew pot, lots of linen including sheets, pillow cases, and table linen. She did not seem to have a spinning wheel or loom so it would seem that she bought any material needed for making clothes and all those sheets listed in her will.

siblings
Horse powered mill wikipedia
Several of Matthew's siblings have been identified, mostly through their wills. His brother William, the co-owner of the mill, and his family also lived in Pointon. William died in 1569, leaving his wife to raise their children. He left his house and land to his son Richard. Joan, his wife, died in 1578, their daughter Margaret was still a minor.  In her will Joan directed that her brother in law Matthew was to have charge of her until she reached her majority at 18. At that time she would be paid her inheritance by her brother. Matthew was also to have use of some of the land for Margaret's benefit. Matthew also had a sister Alice and a brother Robert both named in his will.

children
Mary and Matthew had at least eighht children,one of whom died young.  They named two living sons Thomas, known as Thomas the Elder/Senior and Thomas Junior.  the children were:
1. William b. abt. 1556, named in his father's will
2. Agnes b. abt. 1558-9, named in parent's will
3. Thomas "Senior", b. abt. 1561, m. 18 May 1590 Joan Booth
4. Elizabeth bapt. 30 May 1563, not named in parent's will
5. John bapt. 26 July 1565, m. 23 Oct 1593, d. before 1612/13 when his widow was buried
6. Thomas "Junior" bapt. 20 Dec 1567, m. 4 May 1595 at Horbling, Anne Jackson, aka Agnes, d/of Richard Jackson, parent of Anthony Colby the immigrant
7. Edward bapt. 5 Oct 1570. bur. 31 Dec 1591
8. Elizabeth bapt. 14 March 1572/3, bur. 10 Jan 1591/2

1591 was a very bad year
St. Andrew's Semperingham
In October of 1591 Matthew Colby was sick, so sick that he was, in fact, dying. He wrote a deathbed will on the 8th and was buried in the churchyard at Sempringham two days later. In his will he made bequests to all his children and his brothers and sisters. The bulk of his goods he left to his wife Mary. No real estate was mentioned in the will.  Matthew was probably about 60 years old when he died, it was a decent life span and there is nothing unusual in his death, until you hear the rest of the story.

On 1 December, less than two months later, Mary Colby was writing her deathbed will. She survived another few weeks and was buried on the 18th. Her youngest son died and was buried on the 31st of December and her youngest daughter died and was buried on the 10 of January. Half the family was gone in a matter of months. What did they die of?

It is very likely that their deaths were the result of some communicable disease.  The 1590's were especially cold and the crops failed in 1591.  With hunger and famine come disease.  Now the Colby's may have had plenty to eat, but this might not be true for all the folks living around them. With little to no knowledge about the spread of infectious disease the Colbys were as susceptible as anyone else. 

thomas
Thomas Junior was lucky to survive the epidemic which took his parents and two of his siblings. He was 24 when his parents died.  He married five years later in 1596.  His wife was Anne Jackson of Horbling. Horbling is only a few miles from Pointon.  Thomas had branched out from farming and was a tailor by trade. He must have been fairly successful as he had bought a second house in the town of Donnington about six miles to the east of Horbling. Not much else is know about Thomas.  He wrote his will on 10 December 1625 and was buried the next day. 

anne
Anne Jackson was the daughter of Richard Jackson of Horbling. His family can be traced only to his father William.  The Jackson family seems to have been better off than the Colbys.  In their will the Jackson men styled themselves as yeoman. The men also held positions in both the town and church and either owned or held by copyhold land and houses.  

william
Anne's grandfather was William Jackson of Horbling.  Although he described himself as a husbandman he seems to have been fairly well off.  He was born by the year 1500 and married Agnes Pickworth by 1530 or so.  They had two sons and six daughters.  William wrote a deathbed will in early May of 1549, Agnes died in 1571 also leaving a will.

Although William lived in Horbling, he also owned land and a house in nearby Threckingham some 2 1/2 miles to the east. He left the Threckingham land to his son John on the condition that he listen to the counsel of his mother, brother and uncle. If not, the land would go to his brother. William is recorded as being a Village Alderman in 1538 and 1540.  The aldermen were like a medieval city council.  They attended to village matters and settled local disputes. Aldermen were usually the wealthier villagers.

William's daughter Joan married a man from Threckingham.  The were well off having land in at least six different locations.  In his will Joan's husband was able to leave a significant amount of money to his children and grandchildren and listed several silver spoons in his bequests.  William's daughter Margaret was married to the Vicar of Horbling.

When Agnes Pickworth Jackson died in 1571 she made bequeaths to all her living children, grandchildren, god children.  She left money for the church in Horbling, for the repair of the Lincoln Minster and she left money to every Cotter (small farmer) in the village. These bequests probably had more to do with the state of her eternal soul and a social conscience, but I'm sure the money was welcome.

richard
St. Andrew's graves 
Richard Jackson was probably the second son of William and Agnes.  He was born around 1537-1542. His wife is known only as Elizabeth, her parents have not been identified. They had at least seven children. Richard wrote his will, in which he was called a yeoman,  in October of 1607.  He was buried in the Horbling churchyard on 25 Oct 1607. Elizabeth was buried 14 September 1619.

Richard, like his father, held various village positions.  He was churchwarden at the Horbling church for many years. His brother in law, Anthony Langton, was the Vicar at Horbling from at least 1577 until his death in 1583, which may have influenced his appointment to the job. The churchwarden was responsible for the public parts of the church, including any books, linens or silver. He was also responsible for the churchyard.
  
In 1578 Richard was recorded as being the village constable. This was an important position.  The duties of which included administration of the local militia, serving court orders,apprehending criminals, collecting taxes, as well as other duties. 

anthony
Anthony Colby never left any direct evidence to tie him to this Colby family in Horbling. But the fact that he was of the right age, that he disappeared from English records at the right time and the clincher, he was from the same small village as Simon Bradstreet seem to make his identification correct.  My next blog post will be about Anthony and his life in New England. 


Sources:
Destinations UK/Ireland  a  website with description of Sempringham
Great website about 17th century farm life in England Cropredy

Threlfall, John Brooks. Fifty Great Migration Colonists to New England & Their Origins. Bowie, MD.: Heritage, 1992. Print.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

David Foss and Anne Richardson of Chester, NH

My last several posts have been about the Foss and Sargent families, this one is about David Foss, the last of his name in my tree.  He was born in Chester, NH in 1744. His parents were John and Tabatha Sargent Foss.  John died shortly after David's birth. Tabatha remarried several years later, her new husband was Hezekiah Underhill.  He  and Tabatha had at least four children.

who was anne 
On 1 September 1767 David married Anne Richardson also of Chester.  Her parentage is undetermined. There were at least three men named Richardson that lived in Chester at the time, they were brothers Thomas, Moses and Daniel.  Thomas had a daughter named Hannah b. 1740 but she is accounted for. Daniel had a daughter named Anna but she married a Gideon Currier. Moses had a daughter named Anne who seems to be unaccounted for.  She might be our girl.

chester
David lived all his life in Chester on the land that he inherited from his father John. He bought additional land in 1780 and in the deed styled himself  'Yeoman'.  So he probably farmed for a living,but listed  in the inventory of his estate were shoemakers tools, so he might have also had a side business in shoe making.  His step-father, Hezekiah was a shoemaker or cordwainer as they were called at that time.

According to Chase's History of Old Chester, David Foss lived on Great Hill, near top in what was known as the Walnut Hill District. There is a cemetery on Great Hill, I wonder if it is on what was once his land? There is not much information about David.  He did sign the Association Test in 1776, but he was not a soldier in the war.

children
David and Anne had nine children in seventeen years, they were:
1. Elizabeth b. 1768 not named as an heir of David
2. Hannah b. 1770 not named as a heir of David
3. John b. 1772
4. Anna b. 1774, m. Reuben Moore, d. Plainfield, NH 1862
5. Tabitha b. 1776
6. Abigail b. 1778
7. Jonathan Underhill b. 1780, probably named for his Uncle Jonathan Underhill, KIA American Rev.
8. Joseph b. 1782
9. David b. 28 Jan 1785

death of anne
Anne's last child, David, was born in January of 1785.  Her husband David married a woman named Elizabeth on 1 August 1785.  Anne's death was not recorded, or if it was it's been lost.  But, she must have died shortly after giving birth to David, or not long after. She left David to care for at least seven children one of whom was only an infant. David did what any prudent man would, remarry and provide a mother for his children.

hopes dashed
David and his new wife had a daughter, Lucretia, the following July, less than a year after their marriage. But, any happiness her birth might have brought to the family was soon extinguished with the death of her father David, he died on 8 Dec 1786, less than six months after her birth. He left six children, now orphans, under the age of ten.  The oldest son, John, was only fourteen.

Samuel Underhill became administer of David's estate. He was paid by the estate for the keeping of the children that were under seven at the time.  I assume that means he took over the care of them, including Lucretia. The probate court decided that the real estate left by David was only valued at about 50 pounds and should be given to the oldest son John.  He would in turn pay his siblings about 5 pounds a piece.

I am descended through David and Anne's daughter Anna.  She married Reuben Moore of Chester.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Philip Rowell and Sarah Morrill of Amesbury, MA


Phillip was the third son and child of Valentine and Joanna (Pinder) Rowell. He was born March 8, 1648, in Salisbury, and lived in Amesbury, near the present corner of School and Pleasant streets. He was a shipwright and at one time kept an inn. During the latter part of his mother's life, and after her marriage to Richard Currier, she and her husband lived with Philip.  


He was married, January 5, 1670, to Sarah, daughter of Abraham and Sarah (Clement) Morrill, of Salisbury. In his last years he carried mail between Newburyport and Portsmouth. He was killed by Indians in an attack on Amesbury July 7, 1690.  His estate was settled by his widow, then living with her second husband, in 1699. It was valued at two hundred and fifteen pounds, a fortune in those days. 

Their children were: Jacob, Sarah, Thomas, Abraham, John Rowell, Job, Hepzibah, Judith and Aaron. Sarah married (second), July 3, 1695, Onesiphorus Page, and (third), May 27, 1708, Daniel Merrill. She was received in the Salisbury Church in 1698, and had three of her children (who were probably then minors), John, Job and Judith, baptized in 1699. Her last years were passed in South Hampton, New Hampshire, with her children.


Sarah's father, Abraham Morrill, was born in 1586 in England.  He married on 10 June 1645 in Salisbury, Massachusetts. It is not known for sure when Abraham Morrill emigrated to New England, however he may have come on the ship Lyon in 1632 with his older brother Isaac. it is thought that  he was young because he did not sign the Oath of Allegiance to the King, and only adult men were required to sign the Oath.   Abraham living alone in Cambridge, Massachusetts, paid taxes in 1634. Being a young man in 1632 and a property owner in 1635 puts his birth year at around 1615.

By 1640, Abraham became a founding member of the Puritan plantation at Salisbury, Massachusetts. He was granted a house-lot on the "Green." In 1642, he and Henry Saywood were granted 60 acres to build a corn mill. 

Abraham Morrill died in Roxbury on 18 June 1662, possibly while visiting his deceased brother's family. Isaac had died exactly six months prior to Abraham. The will of Abraham Morrill is signed two days before his death. He is believed to be buried in Roxbury in the Eustis Street Burying Ground, in the same cemetery as his brother. This is the same cemetery where Thomas Dudley, first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was laid to rest. To his "dear and loving wife" Abraham left one half of the entire estate outright. The other half was to be split between his six surviving children which he mentions by name: Isaack, Abraham, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, and Lidda. His wife Sarah was carrying their youngest child, as yet unborn. Being the eldest, Isaack was to receive a double portion once he reaches the age of 21. Abraham's wife Sarah and his son Isaack were appointed executors of the estate. 

Sarah Clements was the daughter of Robert Clements, the pioneer of Haverhill, Mass and Lydia Drummer. He was influential and wealthy in that community, and the owner of the first grist mill. He was one of the five to take the deed of the town from the Passagut and Saggahew Indians in 1642. He eventually came to own an island in the Merrimack River that is still known as Clements Island.

The sister of Sarah Clements, Mary (Clements) Osgood, was caught up in the Salem Witch Trials; Mary (Clements) Osgood was accused of witchcraft and spent three months in jail.

My Rowell Family Ancestry with links:
Phillip Rowell and Sarah Morrill        Phillip Rowell and Anne Carr
Jennie Clover Rowell and John C. Thornton
Paul Rowell Thornton and Elizabeth Marjory Bowker

sources:
William Haslett Jones, The Rowell Family of New England, Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2011).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tabatha Sargent Foss of Chester, NH

Tabatha Sargent was the daughter of Jacob Sargent and Judith Harvey. She was born around 1726 in Chester, NH.  She married John Foss, also of Chester.  The New Hampshire records say the marriage took place in 1745, but I think it was in 1743 as their only son David was born in 1744. Their marriage was short, John died 14 Nov 1745 at the young age of 23.  Judith was a widow at the age of 19.

widow
On 27 Nov. 1745 the probate court of Grafton County made Tabatha executor of her husband's estate. She would be entitled to only 1/3 of the land and buildings, her dower, that had belonged to her husband, and only for the duration of her life. On her death, the land would revert to her husband's heirs. Which in her case would be her son David. In 1746 she was given special permission by the probate court to sell 25 acres of the land. The deed of sale was witnessed by both her father and Isaac Foss, the father of her late husband. Women at that time could not own, buy or sell land on their own, they required permission from the court and a man, usually a male relative, to help with the transaction.

second marriage, second family
Tabatha eventually remarried but the date was not recorded.  Her second husband was Hezekiah Underhill; he was the son of Sampson and Elizabeth Ambrose Underhill.  He was born about 1727 in Salisbury, MA and moved with his parents to Chester, NH. Hezekiah's father died while he was just a small child, not unlike David Foss, Tabatha's son. Hezekiah was a cordwainer, or shoemaker, by trade. He bought land in 1754 and 1759.  I don't know where they lived, but as Tabatha already had a house to live in it is possible that they continued to live in the house that she and John Foss had shared.  

Tabatha and Hezekiah had at least 3 if not 4 children.  The only known birth year is that of their son Josiah who was born in 1758. Tabatha and Hezekiah  also had two daughters, Sarah and Hannah. According to Chase's History of Chester, they  had a son named Jonathan who was not named in Hezekiah's will, it is speculated that he died during the American Revolution.

Tabatha's children:
David Foss b. 12 Oct 1744 m. Anne Richardson, m. Elizabeth, d. 8 Dec. 1786
Josiah Underhill b. 1758 d. 1 May 1822
Sarah m. Samuel Underhill her cousin
Hannah

death of a son
In 1786 Tabatha's eldest child, David Foss, died. He was 42 years old.  He had at least nine children. He did not have a will. The probate court set out the dower of both Tabatha and her daughter in law Elizabeth on the same day. Tabatha got one third of the property, house and barn, and so did Elizabeth.  It must have been an interesting household.

rip
Hezekiah died in Chester on 18 March 1800. He wrote his will in 1786, leaving all his real estate to his son Josiah. His two daughters were given money, livestock and household goods. He left nothing to the children of David Foss. Tabatha died about three years later in August of 1803.

My Sargent Family Line with links:
William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins
William Sargent and Mary Colby
Thomas Sargent and Rachel Barnes
Jacob Sargent and Judith Harvey

Sources:
Probate Records of New Hampshire
Rockingham County Deeds
Chase, History of Chester, NH

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Isaac and John Foss of Chester New Hampshire

john foss and tabitha sargent 
On 11 March 1743 Tabitha Sargent, the 17 year old daughter of Jacob and Judith Harvey Sargent married John Foss in Chester, New Hampshire. Less than three years later, she was a widow.  The marriage would produce a single child, a boy, born 12 October 1744, they named David.  I have traced Tabitha's Sargent family back multiple generations, but who was John Foss of Chester.

John was probably a very young man when he died so he left very few clues as to who he was or who his parents might be. Sifting through records and other genealogical writings shows that there was another Foss in Chester at the same time, he was Isaac Foss who moved had there from Greenland, NH.  It would seem possible if not probable that the two men might be related. So who was Isaac?

Well it is probable that he was a grandson of  John Foss and Mary Berry of Rye, NH, subjects of an earlier post.  The genealogy of John Foss of Rye is a tangled mess as he is confused with John Fost of Dover. I can tell already that this is going to take a lot of picking apart of data, head scratching and possible tantrums on my part.  But here we go.  I think I'll start with the children of John Foss and Mary Berry and take it from there.

children of john foss and mary berry of rye
Okay, I already have a headache.  Looking at the internet and books on the Foss Family I have complied several lists of children for John and Mary. Here are a few  based on the best known genealogical books that include the Foss Family. The names in black are included all three lists, blue on two and red on only one.

Cutter                    Sterns                              Noyes Libby Davis_________________________
John                        John                                          John
Samuel                (Humphrey)                             Elizabeth
Joshua                  William                                      Samuel
Elizabeth               Hannah                                    Martha
Mary                     Joshua                                     Thomas
William                  Hinkson                                  William
Walter                      Mary                                       Joshua
Hannah                  Benjamin                                 Zachariah
Thomas                  Thomas                                    Hannah
Hinkson                 (Jemima)                                   Richard
(Humphrey)            Elizabeth                                
(Jemima)                Samuel


The only thing these three list seem to agree on is that John was the first born son.  In his deed/will, John Sr. named only three children: John, Joshua and Zachariah.  It is interesting that Cutter and Sterns do not even include a Zachariah on their lists. In 1699 John Fost of Dover died leaving children named: Humphrey, Jemimiah, William, Mary, Elizabeth and Samuel.  I think we can strike Humphrey and Jemima off our list of John Foss' children as they are undoubtedly the children of John Fost. Hinkson is a very unusual forename name, in fact it was the surname of at least two women who married sons of John Foss, Sr. For this reason, I doubt that he was the son of John Foss, I believe that he was rather his grandson.  I also think Walter, Benjamin and Richard were not sons of John Sr.

potential list of fathers of either isaac or john of chester
So I think we can make a list of potential fathers of either Isaac or John of Chester, NH. I would include John, Joshua, Thomas, Samuel, William and Zachariah.  A a review of genealogy books shows that Joshua did not seem to have had a son named John or Isaac, so I am ruling him out. In his book, Genealogical and Family History of New Hampshire,  Sterns believed that John of Chester was the son of John Jr., grandson of John Sr. On the internet many sites have William and Sarah (Buswell Foss) were his parents, especially on ancestry.com.

William and Sarah Buswell did have a son named John, baptized in Greenland in 1717. William lived in Greenland for a while but it looks like he moved to Scarborough, Maine shortly before his death in 1718.  If William was indeed the father of John of Chester, how did John get there and what is his relationship to Isaac?

my beloved son
Okay, I have to tell you that I do know who John's father was.  In a deed registered Oct. 1740 Isaac Foss, of Chester, wrote that  for the "parental love and natural affection I have to bear towards my beloved son, John Foss" and deeded him lot 105 in Chester. Isaac later deeded land to other sons Timothy, Thomas and Isaac Jr. According to the book "The History of Chester", Isaac Foss was originally from Greenland.

So, now the question is, who was Isaac?  If John followed his father to Chester, did Isaac follow his father to Greenland?   The progenitor of this Foss family lived in Rye.   Greenland was a "suburb" of Rye.  In 1711 three Foss males were paying taxes: John, Samuel and William.  These are presumed to be sons of John Foss Sr.  So was one of them the father of Isaac?

two isaacs
Just to keep things interesting, there were two men named Isaac that seem to be descendants of John Foss, Sr.  One is our Isaac of Greenland and Chester and the other was Lt. Isaac Foss of Stratham. Lt. Isaac Foss is known to have died in Stratham in 1761, he is said to be the son of Thomas Foss and Abigail Cole of Greenland.

Our Isaac deeded property in 1757 to his son Timothy.  Noyes, Libby, Davis say he was still alive in
1760, and that was the last time his name was recorded. The probate records from this period have yet to be put online, so I am not sure if he wrote a will, maybe this is what NLD are referencing in their 1760 information.

so who was isaac's father
I don't know.  It was probably either John Foss Jr. or his brother Samuel. I am betting that it was John Jr. My evidence for this is circumstantial and should not be taken as anything other than a guess. That being said, Isaac named his first son John, and did not name a son Samuel. John Jr. witnessed Isaac's deed when he left Greenland.  Flimsy, yes, but that's all I got.

what do we know about isaac foss of chester
If Isaac was the son of either Samuel or John Foss Jr.  then he must have been  born by 1700.  He married Abigail Hinkson on 5 December 1717 in Greenland. The had at least five children.  John and Isaac Jr. were baptised in 1722, Abigail in 1724, Thomas in 1728, all in Greenland.   The also had a son Timothy who I believe must have been born in Chester.

On the 30th day of April 1729 Isaac bought, for 80 pounds, Jonathan Elkin's land in Chester, NH. One day prior he and Abigail sold all their property in Greenland to Thomas Berry. Isaac continued to buy and sell land in Chester.  He deeded each of his sons land.  In his last deed, dated Dec 25, 1760 he and his son Thomas sold land, their wives also had to sign the deed.  Isaac's wife was Judith, so Abigail had died some time prior to 1760 and Isaac had remarried.

Isaac was not mentioned much in the history of Chester.  He was a surveyor in 1730.  I wish there was more to tell, but that's all I have for now.

rip
There are no dates for the death of Isaac, Abigail or Judith Foss.


lessons learned
1. never trust other trees on ancestry.com, do your own research
2. even the great genealogists of the past can be wrong, do your own research
3. New Hampshire registry of deeds is a great source of info

My Foss Ancestry:
John Foss and Mary Berry
John Foss Jr. and Wife or Samuel Foss and Wife
Isaac Foss and Abigail Hinkson
John Foss and Tabatha Sargent
David Foss and Anne Richardson
Anna Foss and Reuben Moore
Mary "Polly" Moore and Samuel Duncan Rowell
Enoch Rowell and Viola Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowell and John Clark Thornton

Sources:
Stearns, Ezra S., William F. Whitcher, and Edward E. Parker. Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Pub., 1908. Print.

Cutter, William Richard. New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial; a Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Historical Pub., 1913. Print.

Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Noyes, Libby and Davis,

Chase, John Carroll. History of Chester, New Hampshire, including Auburn a Supplement to the History of Old Chester, Published in 1869. Derry, NH: J.C. Chase, 1926. Print.

Rockingham County Registry of Deeds, book 28 page 44 has the deed where Isaac gives land to his son John

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jacob Sargent and Judith Harvey of Amesbury, MA and Chester, NH

Jacob and Judith Harvey Sargent were second generation New Englanders.  Their parents had all been born in Massachusetts.  The environment had improved life expectancy and child survival rates, resulting in large families.  When their grandfathers arrived their was plenty of land in Massachusetts but by 1700 fathers were struggling to provide land for their sons.  Men like Jacob began to turn inland in search of land and employment opportunities.  Jacob and many of his generation found what they were looking for in New Hampshire.

jacob and judith
Jacob Sargent was the son of William and Mary Colby Sargent.  He was born in Amesbury on 13 March 1686. He was their youngest son. Judith was the daughter of Sarah Barnes and John Harvey, she was born in Amesbury on either 26 May 1688 or 9 June 1688.  Her birth is recorded in two places with different dates, the Amesbury records say June and the County Court records say May.

Jacob and Judith married in Amesbury on 7 December 1710, she was 22 he was 24.  The marriage was performed by Rev. Thomas Wells the minister of Amesbury.

amesbury
There is not much mention of Jacob in the Amesbury records, other than his birth, marriage and the birth of his children.  He was a farmer like his father before him. He had inherited land from his father.  His life seems to have been uneventful at least in any civic sense until the year 1727.

chester
The name Jacob Sargent began appearing in the Chester town records in the year 1727, he was then about 41 years old.  He must have relocated there between the 1725 birth of his seventh child, Dorothy and the 1727 town meeting in which his name was recorded.  His daughter Tabitha was most likely born in Chester abt. 1726, her birth was not recorded in Amesbury and Chester had yet to start recording vital statistics.

Jacob really came into his own in Chester.  He was by the time of his move a man of middle age.  He was styled Ensign, so he must have been in the local militia.  At the 1727 town meeting he was named the town Surveyor of Highways. At a Dec 1735 meeting he was chosen to be a member of a committee to lay out lots for a second division of land. He was a Selectman in 1736 and he was on a committee to see about a school house. In 1739 he was again chosen to lay out lots for a third division of land. In 1741 he was on a committee to determine the size of the Kingstown grant.

Not all of the original proprietors of the town chose to live in Chester, some may have been speculators, hoping to sell their land at a later date, and for a profit no doubt. However the original charter specified that each proprietor must, within three years, build a house, settle a family, clear three acres of land and be prepared to pay taxes. In 1732 there were enough delinquent proprietors that a committee was set up to find them and make them pay up.

Not only did Jacob play a prominent role in establishing the town of Chester, but he was also trusted with the task of finding a "suitable orthodox good man" to be their minister. And, when one was found, he was on the committee to plan the ordination ceremony. Jacob and his fellow committee member's choice, the Reverend Moses Hale, was apparently not a good one, within a few years he had stopped his ministerial work and was described as "deranged". They, of course, formed a committee to get rid of him.

He was also chosen to be the town treasurer and was tasked to collect 40 shillings from every proprietor in Chester for the building of their meeting house. There was a a bit of squabbling by the towns people concerning the choice of minister, there was by that time a considerable population of Scotch-Irish, whose religious preference was Presbyterian. In 1741 it was decided that the two groups could form their own church and build separate meetinghouses to hold their services. Each had their own annual meetings to decide church matters, hired a minister of their liking and paid his salary. Jacob and his family belonged to the Congregational Church, which took it's traditions from the Puritans.

When the meetinghouse was first built, the congregation sat on benches.  In 1743 they decided to take out some of the benches and sell space for family pews. Jacob was on the committee to organize the pew sale. He and his son Winthrop both bought the right to have pews built. The pews had seats on three sides so each pew could accommodate a large family.  The family pew would be inherited by the next generation.

children of judith and jacob
Jacob and Judith had at least nine children, the first of which, a son, was born within a year or so of their marriage.

1. Winthrop b. Oct 28 1711 Amesbury, d. Dec 1787 Chester, NH
2. Jacob b. 18 Nov 1713, never married
3. Judith b. 27 Mar 1716, m. Francis Towle 1738
4. Sarah b. 8 mar 1718, m. Enoch Colby 1748
5. Elizabeth b. 23 July 1722 Amesbury
6. Dorothy b. 28 Feb 1725 Amesbury
7. Tabitha b. abt. 1726 Chester,  m. John Foss 1744, m. (2) Hezekiah Underwood, d. 23 Aug 1803
8. John bp. in Amesbury 26 Nov 1727, m. Susanna Harriman, d. 14 Nov 1797
9. Theophilus b. unknown most likely in Chester, lived in Candia Corners, married Lydia Mitchell 1753, d. 1807

rip
Jacob Sargent died in Chester on  6 April 1749, aged 61.  Judith, his widow, was granted administration rights on 12 June 1749.  A bond of 500 pounds was posted, the actual value of the estate was 1257 pounds. Judith's death was not recorded.




Sources:
Hoyt, David Webster. The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts: With Some Related Families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich, and Hampton, and of York County, Maine. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1982. Print.

Chase, Benjamin. History of Old Chester from 1719 to 1869. Auburn, NH: Author, 1869. Print.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thomas Sargent and Rachel Barnes of Amesbury, MA


Thomas Sargent was born on 11 June 1643 in Salisbury, MA.  He was the son of William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins.  He was the first of two sons and the first of three sibling to whom I am related.  His brother William and sister Elizabeth are also in my family tree. Although his father was a seaman, Thomas chose, like his brother William, to farm for a living. Here is what I know about Thomas Sargent.

scandal
In 1668, 15 year old Sarah Osgood, daughter of William Osgood of Salisbury and Amesbury, gave birth to a baby girl. Thomas Sargent, she claimed, was the father. Thomas denied that the child was his.  An illegitimate child was a problem, on many levels.  First, there was the scandal of premarital sex, good puritan men and women did not dally before marriage. Of greater, long term consequence was the problem of who was financially responsible for the upbringing of the child.  Because Thomas denied fathering the child, the Osgood family took him to court.

Before the actual court case involving Thomas, Sarah Osgood appeared alone before the court to be punished for fornication. This was in April of 1668.  She had yet to deliver the child and was sentenced to be whipped, at the meeting house, within six weeks of giving birth, or she could pay a fine. Capt Pike and Mr. Thomas Bradbury were responsible for overseeing the punishment. It is interesting to note that Thomas Bradbury was Thomas Sargent's uncle. Finally, in October of 1668, Thomas and Sarah appeared in court togethere.  The court found that there was "some suspicion" that Thomas might be the father of Sarah's baby, but ultimately found him not guilty. Thomas dodged the bullet, maybe with some help from his Uncle Bradbury. Sarah's child was known as Elizabeth Sargent.  Sarah later went on to marry John Colby.

marriage
1668 was a busy year for our Thomas.  Troubles in court and marriage all in the same year.  I wonder what his wife thought of it all.  Thomas married Rachel Barnes on 2 March 1667/8.  She was the daughter of William Barnes and his wife, Rachel Unknown.  Thomas was 24 years old, Rachel was 18.  They would be married for 38 years and have 12 children.

land
Thomas, like his brother William, was a farmer.  Their father had been a seaman, who had settled down in Salisbury and accrued land both there and in Amesbury.  On 12 April 1664 Thomas bought 24 acres of land west of the Pawpaw River in Salisbury. In 1666 his father deeded Thomas 30 acres of upland in Salisbury on the Merrimac that adjoined the land he had already purchased.  This was unusual in that Thomas was unmarried at the time, and most fathers hung on to their land until the bitter end.  William generously gave both his sons land before he died.

In 1669 William gave him more land.  This land was described as "the six acres of marsh granted to him by the town of Salisbury, and a sweepage lot of salt marsh in Salisbury at a place called ye beache being lot number 8 containing three acres and four rods, being half the lot of marsh between two islands called Barnss Iland and Ware Iland." On the say day that William deeded Thomas land, William Barnes, Thomas' father in law also deeded him land in Salisbury and Amesbury.

Thomas' father William died in 1675, his mother was already deceased.  William left his estate to be divided between his surviving children. When William Barnes died he left Rachel a 60 acre lot of land in Amesbury called Champion Green and 1/2 a "childen's lot" also in Amesbury. It seems as if Thomas benefited from a generous father and father in law.

Thomas was unable or unwilling to give his own sons much land.  In 1701 he did deed his two oldest sons part of his  homestead.  The others had to wait for their land.

occupation
Thomas called himself "planter" and "yeoman" in deeds and in his will.  We know he was a farmer.  He also served, as most men did, in the militia.  He held the rank of Lieutenant. He took the oath of allegiance in 1677 but did not take the freeman's oath.  He served as constable of Amesbury in 1677 and again in 1678. Very little else is known of him.

Children of thomas and rachel
 1. Thomas b. 24 Feb 1669, d. 18 March 1669
 2. John b. 27 March 1672 d. 9 Nov 1690 age 18
 3. Mary b. 14 Oct. 1674, m. John Sanders 26 Dec 1695, living in 1717
 4. Thomas b. 15 Nov 1676, m. Dec 17 1702 Mary Stevens, 
 5. Jacob b. 1 Oct 1678, m. Gertrude Davis
 6. William b. 1 Dec 1680, d. unmarried 1712 age 32
 7. Rachel b. 12 Aug 1683, m. 14 Dec 1703 Richard Currier 
 8. Hannah b. 23 July 1685, m. 13 July 1703 William Somes, m. 2nd ____Smith
 9. Joseph b. 2 June 1687, m. 17 Nov 1715 Elizabeth Carr, m. 2nd Widow Sarah Currier
10. Judith b. 2 June 1687 (twin), d. 22 May 1688
11. Judith b. 1 July 1689, d. 15 Sept 1715
12. John b. 18 May 1692, m. Hannah Quimby

Thomas and Rachel followed the usual child bearing pattern of the day.  A child was born roughly every two years.  The first child was born within a year of marriage.  The last child was born when Rachel was about 42 and Thomas 48. Thomas was survived by nine of his children, Rachel by seven. 

will and probate
Thomas wrote his will in 1706.  His first bequest was to his wife Rachel, who still had children under the age of 21 to raise.  She would hold his estate for the remainder of her widowhood. He divided his land between his sons, giving money to his daughters. Rachel's will was proved in Feb 1719.  She divided her household goods between her surviving daughters.

In the inventory of Thomas' estate are listed his clothes, books, arms and ammunition. He also owned farm animals, a cask of cider and a looking glass. The largest part of his estate was land. The total value of the estate was 452 pounds.

my Sargent Ancestry through Thomas and then all three Sargent Siblings:
William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins
Thomas Sargent and Rachel Barnes
Rachel Sargent and William Currier
Hannah Currier and Ezekiel Worhen
Jacob Worthen and Mary Brown
Rachel Worthen and Enoch Rowell
William Rowell and Sally Leavitt           Samuel Duncan Rowell and Mary Polly Moore
Viola Rowell                                         Enoch Converse Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowell and John Clark Thornton




                                  William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins___________________
Thomas Sargent-Rachel Barnes      William Sargent-Mary Colby      Elizabeth Sargent-Samuel Colby
Rachel Sargent-William Currier     Jacob Sargent-Judith Harvey     Elizabeth Colby-John Rowell
Hannah Currier-Ezekiel Worthen   Tabitha Sargent-John Foss        Enoch Rowell-Merriam Converse
Jacob Worthen-Mary Brown           David Foss-Ann Richardson       Enoch Rowell-Rachel Worthen
Rachel Worthen-Enoch Rowell        Ann Foss-Reuben Moore 
                                                     Mary Moore-Samuel Moore
                                         

Enoch Rowell - Rachel Worthen

William Rowell-Sally Leavitt                    Samuel D. Rowell-Mary Moore
                           Viola Rowell                                      Enoch C. Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowell-John Clark Thornton
my grandparents 
my parents
me




Sources:
Hoyt, Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury












Sunday, October 5, 2014

Puritan Courtship and Marriage in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

It's been a long time since I got married, but I still remember the excitement and nerves that went along with that special day.  We had a lovely catholic wedding, which if you don't know, goes on for at least an hour. And why not, you spend so much on your dress and flowers and stuff, it should last a good long time. Altogether, with the rehearsal dinner, reception, and the ceremony itself it was quite the event.  So what was it like when our puritan ancestors married? Here is what I know about Puritan weddings.

age of marriage
The age at which men and women are marrying, for the first time, is rising.  In 2012 the average male married at 29 and his wife was 27.  There are multiple reasons for this trend, including simple economics.  In order to get married, support a family and live a decent life, one needs a certain amount of income. This is becoming harder to achieve and takes a bit of time to reach a level of economic security on which many couples feel it is safe to marry.

This was the case in England and the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600 and 1700's.  In England the conditions were worse than New England and as many as 30% of adults never married. In Massachusetts almost all adults of marriageable age married. Most widows and widowers promptly remarried after the death of their spouse.  Many adults married two even three times in their lifetime. But, the age at which they first married was much like today.  Men needed some measure of economic freedom from their fathers to support their wife and their inevitable children.

Most of the men in the early days of the colony made their living by farming and raising livestock. They needed land to do this.  Fathers seemed reluctant to part with their land but would often allow sons to farm portions of their land, often virgin land, that had yet to see a plow.  Less often fathers would outright deed land to their sons. If there were a lot of sons in the family, some would be apprenticed to learn a trade in order to earn a living wage.  Men got married on average at about 27 years of age.

Women worked at home with their mothers or step-mothers from a very early age learning to run a household.  They would have to learn to make meals from scratch, make soap and candles, and how to sew their own clothes.  They might also work as a servant in another home.  Women got married on average at about 24 years of age.

The Puritans believed in the family as a unit.  Everyone must belong to and live with a family.  There were no bachelor pads, or boarding houses.  In 1668 the Court of Middlesex County conducted a search for single people and forced them to choose a family to live with. The only way to move out of a family home was to start your own, but first you had to find your mate.

Although the Puritan lifestyle was highly restrictive, boys will be boys and girls will be girls and they will find a way to meet.  Once a week, on the Sabbath, everyone in town came together at the meeting house for Sunday service. This would ensure that all eligible men would meet all eligible women. Many people married locally to men or women they grew up with.  Families became complicated with intermarriage and in a small town many families would be related by marriage to each other.

whats love got to do with it
Surprisingly, Puritans believed that couples should marry for love, this goes against my image of the dour strict and loveless people of my imagination.  Parents and children must give their free consent to marry. Men generally asked permission of the woman's father to court her. I was somewhat surprised to find that the bundle board was not a myth but actually used. The prospective couple were allowed to spend the night, together, in the same bed, separated by the bundle board.

If at the end of the courtship the couple decide to marry they would enter into a 'contraction'. The couple would post their banns at the meeting house three times.  The prospective bride would be allowed to choose the text for the minister to preach, this was her day in church.  If there were no objections the marriage could proceed.

No doubt there were some negotiations going on.  The couple had to live somewhere, either in a new household of their own or with one of their parents.  The couple would need furniture and other household items to start their new life together.


the wedding ceremony...or not
Today many couples choose to marry in the month of June, Puritans preferred November. There was no need for a wedding planner, wedding gown or even a church.  The couple married at the bride's family home.  The local magistrate or, if the marriage occurred after 1686, the local minister arrived, asked the couple if they wanted to marry and if they both said yes...they were married. That's it.  The marriage was recorded in the town records and the families might have a little party with small cakes and a beverage, but no party, no dancing or feasting.

alternate routes
If a couple were determined to marry and the parents disapproved, they could 'self marry'.  I'm not sure exactly what they had to do to achieve this, but I could probably make a few guesses.  If they did 'self marry' they could petition the court to recognize their marriage.

A surprising number of my ancestors were obviously pregnant at the time of their marriage. A 'premie baby' that looked 'full term' was a dead give away. The couple would be reported to the local magistrate and hauled into court charge with fornication. The court would typically sentence them to be whipped or pay a fine.

A single woman who became pregnant by a reluctant father would also find herself in court. Witnesses would be called to testify on behalf of both parties.  If the man denied being the father the court would wait for the birth to occur.  At the height of the woman's labor pains the midwife would ask her to name the father. It was believed that the woman, in total agony could not lie. If the court believed the mother, the father would be given the choice of marriage or financial support for the child.  The woman was then promptly returned to her family.







Have a great day!