Tuesday, April 28, 2020

John Smith and Deborah Parkhurst: Great Migration Immigrants to Watertown, Hampton and Martha's Vineyard


Apologies to all the John Smith's in the world, but dang, this is a hard name to research, it's just too common. The English origins of John Smith, who married Deborah Parkhurst are uncertain but noted Great Migration genealogist Robert Charles Anderson wrote an article in 1985 laying out his research and conclusion and difficult to trace without a serious clue. So, here is what I know about John Smith.

The Norcross Connection

On 1 December 1640 the General Court of Massachusetts handed down an order in a case involving one John Smith Jr. and 'his father' Jeremy Norcross. It is clear from their surnames that Norcross must be the step-father and not the biological father of John. Anderson believes that this John Smith is the man who received land in Watertown in 1636, 1637, and 1638. His grants were small indicating that he was single. 

On 14 September 1611 at St. Luke, Chelsea, Middlesex, Jeremy Norcross married Audrie Smithe, widow. They had children baptized at All Hallows, Bread Street, London. This couple and their children immigrated to Massachusetts and lived in Watertown. Anderson believes that she is the mother of immigrant John Smith. If so, he is birth is before the 1611 marriage and would fit with him being a young man in his twenties during the early Watertown grants. If true, then Smith was likely born in London, but his parental ancestry remains unknown as does his mother's maiden name.

Hampton

In 1642 Watertown audited all the grant lands to ascertain who remained in town and held their original land. John Smith Jr. is not on the list. He had removed to Hampton, New Hampshire. A list of first-comers, includes a Goodman Smith how arrived in the second summer (1639). He and his wife, Goodwife Smith, were assigned seats in the meetinghouse in 1650. Sadly, no first names were recorded. 

Goody Smith was Deborah Parkhurst, daughter of George and Phebe Leete Parkhurst of Watertown. Her mother died in Watertown in about 1644 and her father returned to England in 1655. 

Martha's Vineyard

In 1653 a John Smith is found in the records of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. He appears in the records for doing various civic duties such as Magistrate Assistant and for land grants. In 1659 he became one of the 10 associate proprietors of Nantucket. In 1662 he was part of the train band for Martha's Vineyard. This would indicate that he was not yet above 60 years old, when most men were relieved of duty. He is last recorded in Martha's Vineyard in 1664. 

Nantucket

In 1670, John Smith, of sound body and mind, wrote his will on the island of Nantucket. He says he was in perfect health. In his will he names his wife Deborah and children Phillip, John, Samuel, Deborah and Abigail. John and Samuel split the Nantucket property and Phillip got Martha's Vineyard.

It is not know when John died, but his son John sold the Nantucket land in 1674 and moved to Hampton, New Hampshire. So his father was dead prior to 1674. His mother may have died about 1686 when Phillip sold the family homestead to his brother Samuel. 

Quakers

Many of the early settlers of Nantucket were Quakers and quiet a few folk left Hampton when they were being persecuted. I wonder if John was a Quaker? 

Deborah Smith Batchelder

I descend from daughter Deborah. She was born about 1640, probably in Hampton. She married Nathaniel Batchelder, grandson of the Reverend Stephen Batchelder. She died quite young in 1676 in Hampton. 



Sources:

[1]The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 - .)

https://www.americanancestors.org/DB283/i/12790/23/0


[2]http://history.vineyard.net/jsmith.htm (Early settlers of Edgartown - online)

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John Smith and Deborah Parkhurst: Great Migration Immigrants to Watertown, Hampton and Martha's Vineyard

Apologies to all the John Smith's in the world, but dang, this is a hard name to research, it's just too common. The English ori...