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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 1700s.  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.

what's 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 giveaway. 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.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

William Sargent and Mary Colby of Salisbury, Massachusetts

William Sargent Jr. was born 2 Jan 1645/6 in Salisbury, MA the son of William and Elizabeth Perkins Sargent.  His father was fairly well to do and his mother's sister was married to Thomas Bradbury, a prominent citizen of Salisbury and the Colony. Not to long after his birth, William's father moved the family across the Powwow River to the newly established town of Amesbury.  This is where William Jr. made his home, married and raised his family. Unlike his father, who was a Seaman, William remained firmly on land.

first comes love then comes marriage then comes a baby in baby carriage...or was it the other way around
William married Mary Colby, daughter of Anthony Colby, also of Amesbury on 23 September 1668. William was 22 and Mary was 21. They were younger than the average newly wed couples.  In April of 1699 William and Mary were presented in court for fornication, their first born child must have come a wee bit early and looked a bit too much like a full term baby and was therefore judged to have been conceived before their marriage. Mary and William paid a fine to avoid a whipping.

Although it seems out of the ordinary for a Puritan couple to have had "premarital relations" it was not uncommon.  A reading of the records of the Quarterly Court of Essex can give you a good idea of the moral standard and the reality of living up to it. Many brides, it seems, were pregnant on their wedding day.

William was on of those rare and lucky sons whose father gave him land during the father's lifetime, in other words, William did not have to wait for his father to die to inherit his land.  On Oct 9, 1669 William Sr. gave his "beloved son" William a lot of 200 acres of upland in Amesbury, a lot of  8 acres of upland in the ox common, a 40 acre lot west of the great pond, a 45 acre lot of upland in Urchin Meadow Hill, and half his first division of the higledee pigledee lot of salt marsh in Salisbury. This was a tremendous gift of land from Father to son. Maybe the fact that the land, at least the 200 acre parcel,  was given to William Sr. from his father in law made it easier to part with.

Not much is known about William, he was a farmer by occupation.  He took the oath of Allegiance in 1677. And that's about it.

1. William Sargent b. 19 April 1669 Amesbury, m. 6 April 1689 Mary Beedle, living in 1720
2. Philip b. 12 Aug 1672 Amesbury, m. 7 Dec 1693 Mary Tewksbury, living in 1720
3. Charles b. 31 Jan 1674/5 Amesbury, m. Hannah Foote, d. before 1720
4. Elizabeth abt. 1676 Amesbury, m. 2 Jan 1695 Abraham Morrill
5. Jacob b. 13 Mar 1686 Amesbury, m. Judith Harvey, d. 6 April 1749 Chester, NH

There were other children whose births and deaths went unrecorded.  Jacob was described as the 5th son of William and Mary so there was at least one other son born before him.

The deaths of William and Mary went unrecorded by any source available today.  We know he was dead by 1720 when his surviving children; William, Jacob, Philip and Elizabeth quitclaim a deed to Mr. Henry Deering for some land that their father had mortgaged to him in 1693. Since Mary's name does not appear on the 1720 deed, she was probably not alive at that time.

A William Sargent died in Amesbury on 31 March 1712, he was styled William Jr.  Some people seem to think that this was our William but I disagree.  Firstly, the designation of Jr. was not only used to show a father son relationship.  Often times when two men  with the same name, be they father/son, uncle/nephew, two cousins, or two unrelated men, lived in the same town, the older would be senior and the younger would be called junior. So, just because a William Jr. died, it did not necessarily mean it was a son of William.

The administrator of William's estate was his brother Thomas.  Thomas Sargent older brother of our William had two sons named Thomas and William.  I believe that the William who died in 1712 was William son of Thomas.  When he died this William had a meager estate comprised of one book and some money.  Our William had grown sons, more than capable of administering their father's estate and their would be no reason to appoint a brother.

If I was to make a guess, I would say that William died closer to 1720 when the quitclaim was written by his children.

my Sargent Ancestry followed by my descent through tree Sarent lines:

William Sargent and Elizabeth Perkins
William Sargent and Mary Colby
Jacob Sargent and Judith Harvey
Tabitha Sargent and John Foss
David Foss and Anne Richardson
Anne Foss and Reuben Moore
Mary Moore and Samuel Duncan Rowell
Enoch Rowell and Viola Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowelll and John Clark Thornton
My Grandparents
My Parents

                                   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

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 ...