Sunday, July 12, 2015

Benjamin and Sarah Brown of Hampton, NH

Benjamin Brown was born in about 1647 in Hampton, New Hampshire. He was the son of John and Sarah (unknown) Brown. John, his father, was one of the first settlers in Hampton, arriving there by 1640. His mother, Sarah, died in 1672. His father did not appear to remarry. 

Benjamin grew up in a large family with lots of brothers to share the workload.  His father was one of the largest landowners in the town and played an important role in town government. Benjamin most likely lived at home and worked with his father until his marriage. Children were a necessary component of farm labor.  Some men would hire farm workers until their own sons were old enough and able to work. Boys would begin doing farm work at around age eight. By their early teens, they were working a full day of hard labor. 

Children, did attend school, but only when they weren't needed on the farm. When Benjamin and his brothers Jacob and Thomas signed a deed, they each made a mark instead of writing their signatures. Jacob's mark looks like a 'J', but Benjamin's looks like backwards '7'.   

indian wars

In addition to farm work and some schooling, all able bodied men were expected to help in the defense of their towns and province. Boys began training for the militia at about age 16. It is believed that Benjamin and his brothers all served in the militia during the conflict known as King Philip's war. This conflict brought New England to it's knees in 1675/1676. The New Hampshire militia marched to the defense of towns in Massachusetts, some of which are now in Maine. King Philip and his Abenaki Warriors wiped whole towns off the face of the map. Despite the death of King Philip, raids by Indians continued. The incursions in and around Hampton were on a smaller scale than elsewhere, but there was some death and destruction in Hampton. In April of 1677 a farm was torched in Greenland and the owner killed. About two months later an attack occurred in Hampton and four men were killed. On 21 June 1677, Captain Benjamin Swett was ordered to muster his men and head for a rendezvous at Blackpoint in Maine. Benjamin Brown's youngest brother, seventeen year old Stephen, marched off to Maine with Swett and his men.  He did not come home. He was killed in an ambush alongside Captain Swett. 

marriage and children

In 1679 he married Sarah Brown, daughter of William Brown and Elizabeth Murfurd Brown of Salisbury.  He was thirty two, she was twenty one. They had ten children, all but one survived to adulthood.

Benjamin settled on a part of his father's farm in Hampton near the Salisbury, Massachusetts border. It was common for a father to allow a son to establish a separate home on his, the father's, land, not deeding the land to his son until the bitter end. The area where the farm was located became part of Seabrook.  Benjamin petitioned to have a road built to his farm, the road was known as Rocks Road and still is apparently. He was given land in Hampton Falls to compensate for land lost in building the road. There is not much to see on a satellite map of the area other than a Walmart and a power plant.  Seabrook was not incorporated until 1768, so all his life, Benjamin lived in Hampton.

Benjamin and Sarah had the following Children: 
1.William b. June 5, 1680 m. Anne Heath d. Sept 1725, age 45

2.Sarah b. Sept 11, 1681, d. October 1684

3.Benjamin b. Dec. 20, 1683 m. Sarah Gove, lived in South Hampton d. 1766, 83

4.Elizabeth b.July 16, 1686 m. Benjamin Green, lived in Hampton Falls, d. 1769

5.John b. March 18, 1688 m. Abbey Johnson, lived in Seabrook, d. 1765, age 77

6.Jacob b. March 1691 m. Mary Green, Jemima Rowell, Hampton Falls, d. 1762, age 71

7.Stephen b. July 17, 1693 m. Mary Chase, lived in Kingston, d. 1723, age 30

8.Mary b. 1696 m. Thomas Cram, d. 1756, age 60

9.Thomas b. May 21, 1699 Mehetible Towle, lived in Seabrook, d. 1765, age 66

10.Jeremiah b. Nov. 20, 1701 m. Mary Weare, lived in Seabrook, d. 1758, age 57

In 1708 Benjamin and his brothers, Thomas and Jacob, drew up a land deed splitting up the land that had belonged to their brother John.  John died unmarried and childless, so they were his heirs.  Each of the three brothers made a mark in place of a signature, they did not know how to write their names. In 1713 Jacob sold his brother Benjamin his share of this land. 

Benjamin really began buying and selling land in about 1715. He was buying with his son's futures in mind. In 1720 he started the process of transferring his land to his sons. He gave William a deed to the land that he was already living on, including his house. He also gave him some marsh land. Benjamin gave his son Stephen land that he bought in the plantation of Kingston. Benjamin Jr. got the land that was once in Salisbury, MA but because of a shift in the border, was in Hampton. Sons, John, Thomas and Jeremiah split the land that had made up "John Brown's Farm". There were two houses on the land, one lived in by John and the other was Benjamin Sr. house. Thomas and Jeremiah were left this house.  They had to work out how to split it up themselves. 

In 1723 Benjamin gave away the last of his cow common rights and in a final deed gave away all his stock, farm implement and household goods to Thomas and Jeremiah. He probably lived in his house with Thomas and Jeremiah until he died. 


In the bottom left corner of this map you can see Rocks Road and in the middle is Browns River. Brown's Farm would have been somewhere around there. 

civic stuff
Benjamin was a signer of Weare's Petition in 1683. This petition was taken by Nathaniel Weare, a leading Hampton citizen, to London and presented to the King. It was a complaint which resulted in the removal of the  then Governor Cranfield.  

Benjamin was chosen as a selectman in 1696-1705 and 1711. He was also chosen as a Representative from Hampton in 1697. 

Sarah is said to have died around 1730 and Benjamin around 1736. I have no idea where these dates come from or on what document they are based


Kulikoff, Allan. From British Peasant to Colonial American Farmer. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 2000. Print. 

Rockingham County, NH Deeds

Dow, History of Hampton

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