Saturday, August 22, 2015

Henry True and Jane Bradbury of Salisbury, MA

Henry True, son of Henry True and Israel Pike, was born in Salem, Massachusetts  on 8 March 1646. His father was a mariner by trade. He died when Henry was about thirteen years old. The date and circumstances of Henry Sr.'s death are unknown, but it would most likely have occurred in the fall of 1659. Israel and her family were living in Salisbury on land purchased by Henry in 1657 when she sold the house and property he owned in Salem. The deed of sale was recorded in November of 1659 and Henry's estate was inventoried in early 1660. The estate was not large and Israel still had small children to raise so, she did what most widows did to survive, she married. In June of 1660,  forty year old Israel married twenty four year old Joseph Fletcher, also of Salisbury. Joseph was recorded in 1653 as the servant of Samuel Hall, nothing else is known about his origins, how or when he arrived in Massachusetts.

So, here's a lady of middling age, with young children, marrying a 'toyboy' nobody, about seven months after her husbands death. If this happened today she'd be the talk of the town and her kids would be in therapy for years. But Israel had to do what was necessary to survive and most widows with young children remarried rapidly in order to secure their future. And, it seems that Joseph formed a close bond with the True children and that he cared deeply for Henry, his brother Joseph and their sister Jemima, the only True siblings to survive to adulthood.

miscarriages before marriage
Joseph Fletcher was the Salisbury Constable in 1668. He was responsible for distributing warrants and summons to court, presenting the accused to the court, collecting fines and taxes. In October of 1668 his son in law, Henry True and his wife Jane Bradbury True were presented in court for the crime of "miscarriage before marriage". What was a miscarriage before marriage you ask. Henry and Jane were married on 15 March 1668 and they welcomed a baby daughter on 30 May 1668, about two and a half months after their wedding. Miscarriages is a Puritan euphemism for premarital sex.

warning: personal opinions ahead
Jane probably knew she was pregnant by late 1667. Premarital pregnancy in the 1600s was not as rare an occurrence as you might think. Some young couple who thought, or knew, that their parents would not approve of the match, deliberately got pregnant in order to force a marriage. Jane came from a prominent Salisbury family. Her parents, Thomas and Mary Bradbury, were upstanding citizens, her father was a leader of the community. It is possible that they might not have thought Henry a suitable match for their daughter. Jane may have been afraid to tell them about the pregnancy or maybe they knew and hoped she'd miscarry or many Jane wouldn't name the father. In any event they cut it pretty close.

Jane gave birth to her daughter Mary in Hampton, New Hampshire and not in her hometown of Salisbury. Why? I cannot find anything that would lead me to believe that Henry ever lived in Hampton. But, Jane had a married sister, Mary Stanyon, who did. I think it was likely that Jane was shipped up to Hampton to deliver the baby out of shame or embarrassment to the Bradbury family. Henry and Jane spent the rest of their lives in Salisbury.

back to salisbury
Back to the court story, Henry and Jane were both fined for the pregnancy. He had to pay 3 pounds and Jane 40 shillings, which was two pounds, which was quite a bit a money in those days. In October 1668 Henry True, house carpenter, bought land and rights to the cow common for 21 pounds. The rights were for four cows and included four acres of meadow and thirty acres of upland. I'm not sure where they lived, did they have their own house or did they live with family. In any case they were back on the road to respectability.

1673 fight for salem land
Henry's mother Israel had sold the family house and land in Salem shortly after Henry Sr's death. But, Henry Sr. had been allotted forty acres, in 1649, that had never been laid out. In 1673 Henry Jr, Joseph and Israel Fletcher and the other surviving children of Henry True Sr., Joseph and Jemima, went to court in a case against the town of Salem in an effort to recover the land. Israel had gone to court in Hampton in 1659, showing that she was the administrator of Henry's estate, including the allotted land. The family lost their suit, the town of Salem had apparently warned everyone with an interest in the land that they had to claim it by 1661 or lose it forever. The last remaining tie to his birthplace was gone.

social climbing
By 1676 any lingering stink from Henry and Jane's youthful shenanigans was long gone. In May of that  year Henry took the Freemans Oath. In November he was selected for the Jury of Trials.  He accomplished the ultimate Puritan distinction in 1677 by becoming a full member of the Church of Salisbury. Everyone was required to go to church, but to become a full member required a soul baring confession that many men and women balked at. His mother, Mrs. Fletcher, and his wife Jane were also full members, but his step-father Joseph was not.

From the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, all able bodied men from age 16 to 60 were required to train for their local militia. Henry rose through the ranks to eventually become a Captain in the militia. Other than the psychological trauma, Salisbury was not affected physically by King Philip's War in 1676. The later wars brought the violence of Indian attack closer to home. In late 1689 Indians attacked and killed many residents of Dover and other coastal towns in New Hampshire. In a November meeting of the Essex County Court, Lt. Henry True, his brother Sgt. Joseph True and the other members of the Salisbury Militia were ordered to "range about the outskirts" of the town of Salisbury.  They were to report and suspicious activity. Robert Pike, Henry and Joseph's uncle, was Captain of the Troop and Henry's father in law, Thomas Bradbury, was Captain of the Fort. Joseph Fletcher was also a member of the militia at that time and called upon to safeguard their town.

On 4 July 1706   the Indian Wars were practically on Salisbury's door step. The neighboring town of Amesbury, which was an off shoot of Salisbury, was attacked and quite a few men, women and children were killed. A report of the event was sent to Captain Henry True. In 1710 the men of Salisbury were called on to come to the relief of the New Hampshire town of Exeter. Although some say that Henry True was sent, it seems to me as if it was his son as the name is listed as Corporal Henry True. In any case the True family men did their duty in the defense of their town and Colony.

children of henry and jane
1. Mary b. 30 May 1668 Hampton, NH, m. 5 Feb 1688/9 Ephraim Eaton (Ephraim d. 8 June 1723 not Mary, she is mention in father's 1723 will)
2. William b. 6 June 1670, m. Eleanor Stephens, d. 18 March 1733/34 age 64
3. Henry b. 6 Jan 1673,m. 20 Dec 1699 Abigail French, d. 1  Nov 1722 age 49
4. Jane b. 5 Dec 1676, m. 16 June 1702 Edward French, d. 24 March 1715 age 39 
5. John b. 23 Feb 1678, m. 16 June 1702 Martha Merrill, living in 1736
6. Jemima b. 16 March 1681, m. 30 Oct 1700 Thomas Bradbury, d. 5 Dec 1700 age 21
7. Jabez b. 19 Feb 1682/3, d. before 1685
8. Jabez b. 6 Oct 1685, m. 8 Jan 1707/8 Sarah Tappan, d. 22 May 1749 age 64

rip jane and henry
Jane and Henry both lived long lives. She died on 24 Jan 1729/30. Henry lived a further five years dying at the age of 90 on 8 September 1735. Henry was survived by only two son and possibly one daughter. The reward for living a long life was to bury most of  your children. Henry and Jane raised their children to be upstanding citizens. Their sons, William, John and Jabez, all became Deacons in the church.

In June of 1723 Henry wrote a deed/will. He divided his estate between his three living sons, William, John and Jabez and his daughter Mary True Eaton. Mary's husband Ephraim died the next month, she was mentioned in his will. Her death was not recorded and if she remarried, the marriage was also not recorded. However, Ephraim Eaton willed land in Haverhill to his son Samuel. In 1727 a Samuel Eaton sold land in Haverhill, the deed was co-signed by his mother; Mary Easton Marsh. Was this Mary True Eaton?

 In 1736, John, Jabez and the sons of the then deceased William, divided the last of the property of Captain Henry True.

Henry True and Israel Pike

Hoyt, David Webster. The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts: With Some Related Families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich, and Hampton, and of York County, Maine. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1982. Print.
The Essex Antiquarian. Salem, MA: The Essex Antiquarian, 13 vols. 1897-1909. (Online database: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2006.)
Perley, Sidney. The History of Salem, Massachusetts. Salem, MA: S. Perley, 1924. Print.
Hambleton, Else L. Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth-century Massachusetts, (New York: Routledge, 2004). 
Learn to do a better job citing your sources with this handy Quicksheet by Elizabeth Shown Mills available at

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