Sunday, April 12, 2015

Henry Sewall of Newbury, Mass and his English Ancestry

The Sewall Family has been very thoroughly research by better genealogists than me, in fact there is a great book about the Sewall Family that every researcher should look at.  There are also other Sewall websites with abundant information on the family.  So, why am I writing this article about the family.  First, they are my ancestors and writing about each of them is one of my goals.  Second, I am attempting to write about more than just names and dates. I want to add some flesh to those old bones. Now this isn't always possible, sometimes we are lucky to have names not to mention dates or any further information.  I'm always hoping to come across some little nugget which might shed light of the person themselves.  So, here is what I think I know about Henry Sewall.

english origins
St. Michaels by David Dixon
Henry Sewall was baptized on the 8th of April in 1576 at the church of St. Michael in Coventry.  His parents were Henry Sewall and Margaret Grazebrooke. Henry Sr. was a rich, influential man, who was not only Master of the Company of Drapers, Mayor of Coventry, but also a member of Parliament representing the city. Henry Sr.'s brother William, was equally wealthy and powerful. Margaret Grazebrooke also came from a wealthy family of landowners. Her father styled himself a Gentleman Together she and Henry would have made a formidable team. As the oldest son, Henry Jr. was in a prime position to continue the family business and prominent place in the city of Coventry. But, he didn't.

henry jr.
As I said, Henry Sr. was a linen draper by trade, in other words a cloth merchant. Henry Jr. would have been apprenticed either to his father at age 14, or a fellow draper at age 16. The apprenticeship would last for nine years. Once completed the apprentice was made free of the company and would become a draper, able to set up business. So, Henry would have completed his apprenticeship by the year 1600.

moves and marriages
Henry was know to have married twice. There is a third marriage that has been suggested, supposedly his first one, to a woman named Mary Cawarden, but this marriage in unproven. The first known marriage occurred by 1614. Henry was obviously living and working in Manchester by then, some 100 or so miles from Coventry. Henry's wife was Anne Hunt, little is known about her other than her name. She gave birth to at least one child, Henry, who was baptized in Manchester, Lancashire on 25 June 1615. Anne was buried six days later, on 1 July 1615. I can only assume that the birth of her child led to her demise, as so often happened in those days.

So, what does a widower with a new born baby do?  He gets himself another wife. On 16 December 1615 a marriage license was granted by the Bishop of Chester to Henry Sewall and the childless widow Ellen Mosley Nugent. The license said that both Henry and Ellen were living in the parish of Manchester. Ellen was the daughter of Anthony Mosley of Manchester. He and his brother Nicholas were wealthy cloth merchants, not unlike Henry's father and uncle. Anthony was based in Manchester and Nicholas in London, where he rose in prominence, eventually being elected Mayor of London. The Sewalls and the Mosleys had much in common and it would seem that a marriage between Henry and Ellen, was more of an alliance than a love match and would be beneficial to both families.

Ellen's father Anthony died in 1607, shortly after her first marriage to Walter Nugent.  She and Walter were married for less than eight years when he died.  He was buried in the Manchester Church of St. Mary, St. Denys and St. George on 10 March 1613/14.  Henry's wife Anne was buried there a little over two years later. Although Ellen and Walter had no surviving children, she was still entitled to her dower.  The Nugent family seems to have lots of property in and around Manchester, some to the north of the city center in the area of Crumpsall. Also in this general vicinity was Tetlow, home to Henry Sewall. Given the prominence of all three families, the Nugents, Mosleys and the Sewells, it is quite possible that Henry and Ellen were acquainted long before their marriage.

unhappiness
Ellen gave birth to the first of seven children in 1616. The child, a boy named Samuel, was dead by 1619. This would be the story of all their children.  It was a vicious cycle of birth and death. Samuel was followed by Anna, Sara, Sara, Samuel and a final child whose name was not recorded. The repetitive pain of hope, loss and grief must have been unbearable for Ellen and Henry.

We know from the wills of Henry's father and mother, written in 1624 and 1628 respectively, that his relationship with his parents was contentious at best. In her will his mother forgave him for his sundry offences to her, but withheld any of her fortune, giving him only 12 pence. We have no way of knowing when or why this rift began. Was it the reason for his departure from Coventry? Was he always troublesome or was it something later in life that caused his poor behavior, or did he have some form of mental illness? Whatever the cause, his marriage did not seem to give him or Ellen any happiness.

massachusett
Although Henry and Ellen did not make the sea journey to Massachusetts until 1635, he was involved in the endeavor since at least 1631. John Winthrop Jr, wrote to his father in April of 1631, forwarding a message asking him to buy goats and pigs for Henry Sewall and to give them to the immigrant John Perkins. Incidentally John Perkins is also one of my ancestors. In 1633 Henry had cattle sent to Massachusetts, for which he seems to have been slow to pay. By 1634 Henry was making serious plans to move his family to Massachusetts. His mother had died in 1632 and he was apparently living back in Coventry.  He had inherited a large amount of property in and around Coventry from his father.  In April of 1634 he sold some of his houses and land, including a house on Bayley Lane to his nephew Henry Power, son of his sister Anne.
In June of that year, Henry made arrangements with two men, John Attwood and George Foxcroft, both of London, to manage the remainder of his land and holdings in England. He also arranged the transportation to Massachusetts of at least one family, the Bosworths, who would presumably be his servants in payment. Unfortunately, Edward Bosworth died aboard ship as it was anchored of of Boston. Henry had to sue his family to recover the cost of the passage.

Henry Sewall Jr. traveled ahead of his father and step-mother, sailing in 1634 aboard the ship the Ellen and Dorcus. He arrived with an 'outfit of servants and cattle'. After spending a short time in Ipswich, Henry Jr. settled in Newbury. Henry Sr. and Ellen followed the next year arriving in 1635. What must Ellen have thought upon arrival. She and her husband were born into wealthy families, constantly surrounded by servants who took care of their every need. She probably wouldn't know the ass end of a cow if it pooped on her shoe. Whose crazy idea was this?

Henry Sr.'s grandson Samuel Sewall wrote in a letter to his son that his grandfather Henry left England 'out of dislike of the English hierarchy'. Henry was a sixty year old rich man, who flaunted his parental authority, beat his wife, and became a pest to the hierarchy in Massachusetts.  He did not seem to need to immigrate for economic reasons and he didn't seem particular religious, so I doubt he did it because he was a staunch Puritan. So what was his true purpose?  I wish I knew.  Maybe, his son Henry Jr., who we know was religious, at least later in life, wanted to get as far away from his father as possible, and Henry Sr. followed him out of spite.

wife beater
You know, I don't like Henry Sewall, not one bit. I know things were different back then, and that hitting your wife did not carry the same criminal and social repercussions as it does today, but really. At a meeting of the General Court of Massachusetts on 6 October 1635, Henry and Ellen appeared to ask for a legal separation. The court agreed and instructed Henry to pay for her clothes, a bed and twenty pounds a year for her maintenance. The couple apparently reconciled as two years later Henry was in court for beating his wife Ellen. This is the last time her name was mentioned, I wonder if she died not long afterwards, poor thing, she had a terrible life.

land
Henry first bought a house lot in the town of Ipswich, the land amounted to about 3 acres.  He sold this land in 1637 when he moved to Newbury. In Newbury he bought quite a bit of land which he deeded to his son Henry Jr. in 1646 on the occasion of his marriage.  He also agreed to turn over his property in England to his son which was being managed by Foxcroft and Ashwood in return he would get a living. In 1649 he moved to Rowley, where he lived the remainder of his life.

last years
In 1651 Henry caused a ruckus during a church service, he refused to sit down and would not obey the request of his minister Mr.Ezekiel Rogers. He was forced to make a public apology for his actions.  He also had to apologize for accusing a Matthew Boyce of buying his house and trying to kick him, Henry, out of the town. It may be that he was suffering from some type of dementia and was having delusional behavior. In July of 1651 he was accused of battery. He grabbed William Asey by the throat and threw him, calling him names and telling him he would be hanged for lying. His bad behavior continued and he was in court again in 1653 for causing disturbances. At the following court session Henry was again presented for causing a disturbance during a town meeting and for hitting William Asey in the face. He apparently did not like this William Asey! The court finally decided to make Henry pay 20 shillings each month, unless he could get a good report from the selectmen. 1654 saw him in court once again, this time for pushing Mr. Jewett on the Lord's Day, in a very offensive manner.

The last 12 weeks or so of his life he spent in bed being tended to by Goody Bradstreete.  She provided 'surgery' and linen changes. Richard Swan attended him, providing wood, food and washing for those same 12 weeks. Did he have some type of injury which required the surgery provided by Goody Bradstreete? He was definitely no able to care for himself. I am sure the town of Rowley breathed a sigh of relief when he passed, not to mention his son Henry. What an embarrassment his father must have been.

If Henry had any redeeming quality, I suppose it was that he was good to his son, at least in a financial sense. He left Henry all his land in both England and Massachusetts.  And who knows, maybe he was a loving father and grandfather. Maybe we know only his faults and not his virtues.

When he died he left an estate of about 300 pounds.


Anne Sewell's Grazebrooke Ancestry Part One
William Longfellow
William Longfellow's Ancestry
Henry Sewall of Coventry Ancestry
Ancestors of Henry Sewall
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