Saturday, February 28, 2015

William Longfellow of Horsforth, England and Newbury, Massachusetts

William Longfellow was  baptized in the village of Horsforth in the county of Yorkshire in the year 1650. By the time of his birth the large scale migration of Puritan immigrants to Massachusetts had slowed. Oliver Cromwell and his Roundheads ruled England. With Cromwell's death and the restoration of the monarchy, interest in Massachusetts was renewed. While no one knows exactly when William immigrated, it is pretty clear that he was not a staunch Puritan, and was probably not immigrating for any religious reasons.  In the court records he shows himself to be a man who liked to drink and eat but did not like to pay his debts. He may have been a 17th century 'good-time Charlie'.Here is what I know about William Longfellow.

english origins
William Longfellow's ancestry has been traced to an area in the West Riding of Yorkshire, just to the north and west of the city of Leeds.  The Longfellow name can be found in records as far back as the 1400s. He was named for his father, William Longfellow who was a well to do Draper, clothes maker, who resided in the village of Horsforth.  William Jr. seems not to have trained in his father's profession. His mother was Elizabeth Thornton. He was their oldest child and the only one who immigrated.  The actual year of his immigration is not known, but he was in Massachusetts by 1676 when his name began appearing in town and court records.

No one seems to know for sure when William arrived in Massachusetts. He was definitely in the town of Newbury by 1676 when his name was included on a list for the town tax rate. I have read that William ran a store at the falls on Parker River, but I am not sure where that information comes from and I haven't seen anything in the records which would confirm it. If anyone knows more about this, please let me know.

One interesting thing I did stumble across on was a copy of a deed written in 1675. The sellers of the land, Merry's Island in Maine, were Robart and Mary Thornton. One of the witnesses was William Lowfellow. If you read my last post about William Longellow's ancestors you might remember that one of the candidates for fathering William's mother, Elizabeth Thornton, was a Robart Thornton. Could this be Elizabeth's parents or maybe a brother?  Is the name Lowfellow really Longfellow.  That would be really cool to find that one out.

court records
The best source for information about William Longfellow is the court records of Essex County. William seems to have always been in some sort of a pickle.  His name began to crop up in 1676 and from then on, he was often in court.  Because of the frequency of his court appearances after 1676, it makes me think that his arrival might have been closer to 1675 than 1670.  I don't see how he could have keep himself out of trouble for so long!

a very crazy butt 
In September of 1677 William Longfellow faced Hugh Marsh in court. The case is a bit convoluted but here's the story.  William Chandler arrived at the home of Mr. Henry Sewall on 8 September 1676. He was there to get two casks of wine for Hugh Marsh, one was a Passado wine and the other wine was called Fayall. The casks were located in the lean-to of the house.  William Chandler said that William Longfellow was there when he arrived and said that he was was drawing wine out of one of the casks with a funnel. Longfellow said that he was getting wine for his upcoming wedding. They loaded one of the casks onto the back of Chandler's wagon without difficulty. The second cask, from which Longfellow was removing wine was described as a 'very crazy butt'. Together they got the cask on the edge of the wagon, but because it was so wonky the 'head flew out' and some of the wine was spilled.  The wine flowed into the house through the lean-to all the way to the fireplace. William Chandler testified that the wine was down about 9 inches, but that it was in 'pipes' and not 'butts'. William Longfellow then roped in Joshua Richardson as a witness, saying that if the 'wine was lost' in the house it was his but it was lost outside it was the Marshes. Which I interpret to mean, any damage done inside the lean-to was the responsibility of Longfellow and any damage done outside was the responsibility of Hugh Marsh. The wine eventually made its way to the Marsh home.  Hugh Marsh then measured the volume of wine and found it not to his liking.  He then sued William for the cost of the missing wine.

sued by his father-in-law
William was back in court in November of 1677, this time he was being sued by his father-in-law. He was apparently supposed to pay a debt by bill of exchange to a man in Boston, England, which he failed to do. Henry was suing him to recover the debt.  A writ had been served to William in October by the marshal of Ipswich, he had taken a slave and three cows from William to cover the cost of a debt.  The slave, whose name was not mentioned, stated that Mr. Henry Sewall had sold him to William Longfellow.

At this same court, 16 year old Mary Williams, a servant of Hugh March, testified that William came to her master's house and called for "wine, beer, victuals, cider and sometimes rum". Mr. March must have been running an inn or an ordinary.  Anyway, it seems William had run up quite a tab and had not paid a penny for two years. Later in the November session Hugh March sued William Chandler, the man who dropped the wine cask. Hugh accused him of carelessly staving a butt of Passado wine. Chandler was apparently a cooper.  Several men who were there when the cask was dropped testified that they had warned him not to lift the cask the way he was doing at the time as they felt it would burst, but he said he had handled many a cask of wine and knew what he was doing. Obviously, he was wrong.

In late 1677 the court verdict was against William in both the lawsuit brought by Henry Sewall and Hugh March.  Because he was unable to pay his debts to Henry, the court made him his servant for seven years.

land rights
A year later William was back in court but this time he was doing the suing.  He had been given land in Rowly from his wife's grandfather Henry Sewall Sr. and he felt that the Rowley lot layers had shortchanged him some land, or gate rights, in the cow common.  This case dragged out for quite some time, but eventually William won.

While this case played out William was in court accusing Mr. Nehemiah Jewett of "violently seizing his money under pretense of executing his office of marshal's deputy.  The court found in his favor and ordered his money returned.

more court cases
In Sept. of 1679 William was in court for fighting. November saw him back in court suing Pennell Titcombe for debt. This debt had to do with a 1676 agreement between Willliam Longfellow and Pennell concerning the building and ownership of a  ship called Beginning which was built at Newbury Falls by John Haseltine. William lost this court case and Pennell Ticombe was awarded William's gate rights in the town of Rowley.
The same rights he had just sued the lot layers of Rowley to get.

In 1681 he was in court making a very public and very humiliating confession of killing a neighbor's steer, butchering it and burying the hide and remains. He and a friend hatched a plan to capture and kill  a neighbors steer, presumably for the meat. William confessed to the crime before he was arrested, he probably knew it was coming.  He claimed in his confession that he was "frequently and earnestly solicited to do what he did".  He said that he was told not to tell of the crime but that the weight of his guilt forced him to confess. Sure it did.

1683 saw William in court yet again.  He had captured a mare who was loose in John Moore's pasture.  The mare. The rightful owner was suing to get his mare and colt back.  William claimed he had put a 'klodg' on the mare's hoof.  William, of course, lost.

marriage and family
On 10 November 1676, William married Ann Longfellow.  The date of their marriage is often said to be in 1678, but if he was getting wine for his wedding in September 1676, it would make sense if he was getting married in a couple of months, rather than two years later.

Ann was the daughter of Henry Sewall Jr. of Newbury.  She was born on 3 September 1662. She was a very young bride, only 14 at the time of her wedding. What was Henry thinking?  Was he indulging a daughter, was William handsome and charming? Did William love her, or did he love the fact that her father was wealthy?  Hum, we will never know, but that doesn't stop me from wondering.

Ann gave birth to their first child, a boy named William, on 25 November 1679. They would have at least 5 children.  In the Diary of Samuel Sewall, Vol. 1 it is said that there were two more children who died before 1692, if there were their names were not recorded in the Newbury town records.

1. William, b. 25 November 1679
2. Stephen b. 10 January 1681, d. young
3. Ann b. 3 October 1683
4. Stephen b. 22 September 1685
5. Elizabeth b. 3 July 1688
6. Nathan b. 5 February 1689/90

letter home
In 1680 Samuel Sewall wrote a letter to his brother Stephen, who lived in England.  He asked Stephen to tell William Longfellow's father that he has a son, a "fine, lively child".  He also says to tell William Sr. that his son has a a very good piece of land and wants a little stock to manage it.  He tells his brother that their father, Henry Sewall has already spent almost 100 pounds to get William out of debt. I think he was thinking it was time someone else footed the bill for William Longfellow, like maybe his own father!

In a diary entry dated 3 December 1685, Samuel Sewall, records that 'Brother Longfellow' came in.  He states that his presence was some 'exercise' for him as William was so ill conditioned and outwardly shabby. And this was not the first time he has seen him so.  He says that he appeared like that at either his father's funeral, in 1683 or at Johnny's.  Samuel had a son named John who died in 1678 and he was probably speaking of his father-in-law, John Hull who died in 1683.  William's appearance, he said, humbled him.

return to england
In September 1687 William's brother Nathan died in Horsforth, England. William returned to England shortly after getting word of his brother's death, probably no sooner than the beginning of 1688 given how long it would take for a letter to arrive, William to decide to return, and waiting for a ship that was sailing for England. It has been surmised that he was hoping to gain from Nathan's death in some fashion.  I think he just went back hoping to score some money off his old man.  He would have  been his father's only male heir and maybe he thought he could get some of his inheritance a little bit early.  We don't know how long he was gone, but I imagine it was for several months at the very least. It would seem he returned home empty handed.

On 20 August 1690 Major General Sir William Phips set sail from Hull, Massachusetts to take Quebec for the English Crown.  He had fought successfully in Acadia earlier in the year and there was hope for greater glory. He had 34 ships and 2300 men, mostly farmers. The venture was financed by the sale of bonds, bonds that would be repaid with the expected plunder of the city.  The ships sailed up the St. Lawrence Seaway and anchored in the Quebec Basin on October 16th.  The battle is a disaster for Massachusetts. Although only about 30 men died in the battle, it is believed that as many as 1000 died from illness, many of them from smallpox. On October 25, Phips had had enough and the fleet sails for home. One ship was lost at sea on that return voyage. The remaining ships returned and brought back a smallpox epidemic with them.

Poor William Longfellow, both literally and figuratively poor,  had enlisted with this expedition. He was 40 years old. Was he hoping to profit himself from the plunder, was he hoping to be given land for his service?Whatever hopes and dreams he had drowned with him when his ship was lost at sea on the return voyage. He left behind a 28 year old wife with six small children. The youngest child, Nathan, was just a baby.  Did Ann mourn his loss or was she relieved that he was gone? I bet her father and brothers felt well rid of him.

When he died, William's estate was valued at 127 pounds.  His debts totaled over 226 pounds. As late as 1756 claims were still being made against his estate for from men and women and their heirs to whom he owed money.

my next blog post will be about Ann and her marriage to Henry Short.

Longfellow Ancestry Links
English Ancestry of William Longfellow of Newbury

Farnham, Russell, C. "The Longfellow Family", The Essex Genealogist, Vol. 15, pg. 18-23

Memoirs and Services of Three Generations. General Joseph Cilley, First New Hampshire Line. War of the Revolution. Jonathan Longfellow, Father of Sarah, Wife of General Joseph Cilley. Colonel Joseph Cilley, U.S. Senator and Officer in the War of 1812. Honorable Jonathan Cilley, Member of Congress from Maine. Commander Greenleaf Cilley, War with Mexico and War of 1861. General Jonathan P. Cilley, First Maine Cavalry, War of the Rebellion. Reprint from the Courier-gazette. Rockland, Me.: n.p., 1909. Print.

Records and Files of the Quarterly Court of Essex

Tucker, Spencer, Almanac of American Military History, Vol. 1, pg. 101-102

Diary of Samuel Sewall


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Ancestors of William Longfellow of Horsforth, Yorkshire and Newbury, MA

Luckily for me, and for all who are interested in William Longfellow, his English ancestors were thoroughly researched and published way back in 1883.  The researcher and author was G. F. Sewell who traveled to England and combed through the parish registers and trolled through wills of all the Longfellows he could find.  He admits that he cannot absolutely link each generation and that he was "diffident" about printing his "proofs" but hoped that some other researcher could use them to find the documents which would prove a "perfect pedigree". No other researcher has come along with the perfect pedigree, so we have to make do with what he discovered, and that may be all we know about the Longfellows. So here is what he found about the Longfellows of Yorkshire.

The Longfellow family was from an area in Yorkshire just to the north and west of the city of Leeds. The Longfellow name has been found in various villages such as Otley, Guiseley, Bagley, Calverley and Horsforth. These villages are all within a few miles of each other.  The county of Yorkshire was divided into smaller administrative units called 'Ridings'.  These villages were in the West Riding. The area was mostly agricultural in our Longfellow's time. Horsforth was recorded in the year 1086 in the great Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror. Today it and the other villages are part of the Greater Metropolitan Area of Leeds.

Sewell was able to find evidence of the Longfellow name in the Horsforth area as far back as the 15th century.  The spelling of the name has evolved, sometimes spelled with an 'O' as  in Long and sometimes with an 'A' as in Lang.  The name seems to have originally ended in an 'Ley' or 'Lay'.

possible ancestors
The oldest Longfellow he discovered was one James Langfellay of Otley, Yorkshire.  All we know of him is that he wrote his will on 18 June 1486 and died sometime before it was proved  in York, a little more than a month later, on 28 July. In his will he named his wife Alice and  John Langfellay as his executors.  What was the relationship between James and John?  Sewell guesses that they were brothers. Relationship to our William: Unknown.

In about 1520 a John Longellay petitioned Peter Middleton Esq.  to be admitted as a tenant to a small piece of land near Otley.  In 1521 he was recorded in the Manorial records as being fined, along with 21 others, for taking "the lords's wood". The last record of this John comes from 1524 when he paid a day's wages to support King Henry the VIII's war against France.  Nothing more is known of him.

Horsforth Path by the River Aire Rich Tea
Sewell next found evidence of a Peter Langfellowe who was vicar of Huddersfield in 1508, of Calverley in 1510 and finally vicar of Leathley, near Otley, all in Yorkshire. This Peter was died and was replaced in 1530. Sewell surmised that all three Peters are the same man, but there is not definitive proof.  Relationship to our William: Unknown.

Next up is Richard Langfellay of Otley. He wrote his will in 1537. He left money in his will for the church at Otley and for upkeep and repair of  the local bridge. Richard named his wife Elizabeth, but named no sons. Sewell guessed that he was the brother of Peter Langfellowe. Relationship to our William: Unknown.

A third man, a contemporary of Peter and Richard, was William Longfellow of Leathley.  In his will of 1540 he named Sir Richard Langfellay, his own wife Isabel and his son, Percival Longfellow. Percival was to receive his father's land in Bagley. William's will was proved in March of 1543/4. Relationship to Peter and Richard: assumed to be brothers. Relationship to Percival: proven to be his father. Relationship to our William: unproven. Was Isabel the mother of Percival, this is unknown.

Percival Langfellow, of Bagley, wrote his will on 8 November 1577. He asked to be buried in the Calverley Churchyard and left money for the church.  He named his son Thomas and left him  a cupboard, a great chair and a pair of bedstocks. The rest of the household goods was divided up between daughters Jennet, Isabel and Elizabeth. No wife was named and no land was mentioned. Relationship to Thomas: proven to be his father. Relationship to our William: unproven.
St. Wilfred Calverley by Stanley Walker

No birth or death record can be found for Thomas. He did have two sons baptized at Calverley.  John on 19 July 1578 and Edward on 4 March 1582/3. This Thomas would seem to be the same as named in Percival's will.  He was having children at the right time and lived in the same village. I have seen on a wife named Elizabeth Gookin, but no one seems to have any source for this marriage. Some trees have her birth/death as 1544-1655 which would make her 111 at her death. This makes me just a bit suspicious, how 'bout you? Thomas' death record has not been found. Relationship to Percival: most likely his son.  Known father to Edward.

getting warmer
An Edward Longfellow took his daughter Grace to be baptized in the village of Guiseley on 18 Nov. 1621. Subsequent children were also baptized at Guiseley and William was named as their father.  In 1619 a child named William Longfellow was baptized at Guiseley, but no parents were named. The researcher Sewell states that at that time, other children who were baptized had no parents name in the records. Sewell writes that he makes the assumption that Edward was the father of William based on the limited evidence at hand. As no other male Longfellow was baptizing children in Guiseley, it is most probable that the relationship is correct.
St. Oswald's Guiseley by Dave Bevis

When I looked for Longfellows baptized in Guiseley at that time I found not only William in 1619, but also Ane bp. 1613/4, Robert bp. 1615, Mary bp. 1617 and Elizabeth bp. 1624. Sewell did not identify Ane, Robert or Mary as siblings of William.  I would think that if William was considered to be Edward's child, the others would have to be included in the family as well. Grace and Thomas, other siblings, were not baptized at Guiseley but at the Chapel at Horsforth.

not our edward
Now, at the same time our Edward was living in Guiseley, another Edward Longfellow and his wife Jane Harrison were living in Ilkley, Yorkshire.  I have seem her name attached to our Edward but that is an obvious error. The name of our Edward's wife is not known.

According to another source, Edward Longfellow purchased a house in Horsforth in 1625.  The house, called "Upper House", was said to have been on or near Tom Royd Hill near Woodside. This was not the only property he bought. In a search of Access to Archives, I also found a 1623 mortgage for Edward Longfellow, Husbandman of Horsforth, he bought a messuage that included a barn, orchard, garden, as well as closes and a cottage. The purchase also include lands called Claverlands and Clay Flatts.

In 1647, at the age of 65,  Edward turned over his house and lands to his son William. No record of his death has been found. His wife's name remains unknown as is his date of death.

This brings me to William Longfellow Sr., the father of the immigrant William. William, as I said was baptized on 24 Oct 1619 at St. Oswald's in Guiseley.  Although his father was described as a husbandman, a man who farmed and worked the land, William learned a trade and worked as a clothier. A clothier was a maker of clothing. He must have been fairly successful as he bought multiple properties around Horsforth.

On 10 Sept. 1646, at St. Wilfred's Calverley, William married Elizabeth Thornton. Although nothing is known about her, I find Elizabeth intriguing because my maiden name is also Thornton.  My Thornton ancestors are said to have originated in Yorkshire. Could she be related to them? Who knows. William was recorded as having bought land at Clay Flatts from a Mary Thornton, was she her mother?

A search of the reveals that there were two girls named Elizabeth who were born in Horsforth in around 1628 that could possibly the wife of William.  First there is Elizabeth d/o John, baptized 24 Feb. 1627/8, her father's name was John Thornton.  A John Thornton married Susan Stringer on 25 November 1622. The second is Elizabeth also baptized in 1628 at Horsforth, her father's name was Robart. Unfortunately, without any type of document linking Elizabeth Thornton Longfellow to any potential father we are left with guesses. I have seen on a date of death in the year 1671.  I can find nothing that would indicate that she died that year, or any other year, for that matter. Some of these ancestry trees also have William remarrying in 1671 to a woman named Ellen Walker.  This is another bit of information for which I can find no proof or documentation.

The children of William and Elizabeth were:
1. William bp. 20 October 1650, m. Ann Sewell, d. 1690
2.  Sarah bp. 20 May 1652
3.  Lucy bp. 8 March 1653/4
4. Nathan d. 1687
5. Isabel m. Timothy Stables

William wrote his will in July of 1704, he was buried on 25 July 1704. Elizabeth was not mentioned in his will nor were any children other than his daughter Isabel.  We know that Nathan and William Jr. were dead and I guess that Sarah and Lucy had also died. No mention was made of William's grandchildren in Massachusetts.

William Longfellow of Newbury, MA


Longfellow, Wadsworth Henry and Alighieri, Dante, The Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: With Biographical and Critical Notes of His Life, with Extracts From His Journals and Correspondences, Vol 14, Houghton-Mifflin, 1891, pgs 421-422.

Cutter, Richard William, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Vol. 1, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Boston, MA, 1908, pg. 92.

Speight, Harry, Through Airedale from Goole to Malham, Walker and Laycock, Airedale, 1891, p. 94.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Number One Fan

This is my first post since early January and it is the first since I lost one of my number one fans, my dad.  I started writing my family history some years ago.  My first attempts were on paper, but as the pages grew and I needed to make changes, I decided to start a blog where, not only could I write about my family, but they could read about our ancestors as well. I fell in love with genealogy and blogging and Dad got to read about his family history, some of which surprised him. What surprised me was how many other people, many with whom I share a common ancestor, stumbled upon my blog.

My dad didn't really know a great deal about his ancestors beyond his father and grandparents. His mother immigrated from England when she was a young woman. For some reason she didn't speak about her family, at all. Dad had little to pass on about his grandparents, aunts and uncles in England. A lot of what we knew about his father's family came from a book written about the descendants of immigrant James Thornton, who left Ireland in about 1720.  One of his sons was Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, we descended from another son. My dad's grandfather died before he was born. His grandmother, Jennie Clover, lived to be almost one hundred. Unfortunately, she was a bit of a dragon and was to scary to talk to, so he didn't know to much about her family either.

When my dad got too sick to drive himself to doctor's appointments I would take him.  To pass the time in the waiting room we would talk about his family and his childhood.  Instead of watching TV tuned to some 24 hour news channel or looking at out of date magazines he would tell me stories about the ice delivery man or his own family's business which was butter and egg delivery. He remembered his Aunt Mary holding eggs over a candle to see if they were fertilized. At one of his last appointments he talked about high school.  He graduated from Brookline High.  One of his school friends was a guy named Paul Pender, who would hold the title of  World Middleweight Boxing Champion.

Dad felt bad about taking me away from work to take him to these appointments, but I didn't mind.  I will never regret the time we spent talking about the past and going through his memories of his family.  I wish we had more time, I keep thinking of questions for him, which now will go unanswered. I know that every time I find some new bit of information about my ancestors my first thoughts will be that I wish I could tell Dad.

If you are lucky enough to still have your parents around, take the time now to talk with them about their life. They may not remember everyone's name or birth date but if you want to know your family history there is no better place to start your research, and if you decide to write about your family, they will be your number one fan.

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