Sunday, February 28, 2016

William Estow and Mary Moulton of Ormesby, Norfolk, England and Hampton, New Hampshire

For such a small village, Ormesby was once the home of a large number of Great Migration immigrants including William Estow and his wife Mary. The men, husbands, sons, brothers, in laws, on whose decision the family uprooted and left their home forever were husbandmen farmers in rural Norfolk County. Their little village was only about five miles from the coastline and the bone chilling waters of the North Sea. The land is fairly flat as it runs towards the sea. Close to the beach it falls away in a long line of low sandy cliffs. The shingle beach below, oddly known as California Beach, is the site of a summer holiday camp. In season, the beach is crowded with pasty skinned sunblocked barely clothed men and women, sunning themselves while their children splash and wade in the cold surf. A vision which, I am sure, would have horrified those long ago Puritan immigrants.

I try to imagine what the women in the family must have thought of leaving home. I try to picture Mary Estow standing on the shoreline, looking out over the rough surf, gulls diving and crying overhead. Turning her head, she could look back at the land of her fathers. A place familiar, home to her kin for centuries. A land which was plowed with their sweat and tears and into whose cold earthly embrace they had laid their mothers, fathers, spouses and children.  She turns and looks out over an endless churning ocean towards the land of her sons. Unknown. Frightening. Were they filled with dread, anxiety or excitement at the prospect of  boarding  a small wooden ship, spending weeks at sea, and beginning anew.

Okay, enough creative writing practice, Here's what I think I know about William Estow and his wife the widow Mary Moulton.

english origins
William's lineage can be traced to his grandfather, also William Estow. He was born about 1517, most likely in or near Ormesby.[1] He was a farmer, as were his sons and his grandsons. He did not own his land but rather rented it from the Lord of the Manor, Sir Edward Clere. Sir Edward's family seat was the beautiful Blickling Hall in Norfolk. The Blickling Estate had once been owned by Thomas Boleyn and his daughter Ann was born there in about 1507. Clere inherited it from his uncle Sir James Boleyn. Clere was one of the largest land owners in the country, he served as the High Sheriff of Norfolk and was a member of Parliament. [2] His vast income came from men like William Estow who rented land to farm.

The Ormesby farmers grew cereal, they did some dairying and stock rearing. The work was labor intensive. It must have been frustrating to spend your life toiling over someone else's land, knowing it would never really be yours. This is what made New England so attractive, a man could own his own land, and any improvements he made to it would be to his benefit.

In 1587, William Esto [sic] testified that he was a servant of Edward Clere and of his father before him. He gave his age as seventy. On February 26 1589/90, William wrote his will. His wife Margery was to get all of his property, cattle, supplies and household goods for life. After her death it would go to his son George. His son John got forty shillings. George was also given the lease on some land, that his father held from Sir Edward Clere. William, in his will, referred to himself as Esto alias Cooke, it would be interesting to know what that was about. On 30 May 1592, George probated his father's will.

Margery Estow, widow, wrote her will on 20 June 1599, it was proved on 6 July of the same year. she followed her husband's wishes and left  her house, tenement and orchards to her son George. If George died without an heir, all would go to his brother John. In this will we find that George and John have a sister named Margaret. She is married and her eldest daughter seems to be married. Named without explanation are Robert, William, Edmond and Elizabeth Estow.

George had two older brothers, that were not mentioned in his father's will. The oldest was William Jr. He was dead by 28 November 1578. He too called himself alias Cock. He had no children and left the bulk of his estate to his brother James. In his will are the surnames of many of those families who migrated with William Estow; Palmer, Marston, and Nudd. James died in 1609 and left legacies to the children of his brother George; Robert, William, Edmond, Elizabeth and Mary. These are the children named in their grandmother's will in 1589, except for Mary, who must not have been born.

The children are all identified as minors. If Robert were the eldest the William could not have been older than 19 in 1609 which means he was born after 1589.  For the four oldest children to have all been born by 1599, when Margery wrote her will, he had to have been born no later than 1594.The only child who baptism record can be found is Mary, she was baptized at St. Margaret's on 20 August 1603. Nothing else is know about George, we do not know the name of his wife or when either of them died.

William and Mary
The first we know of William was his marriage to a widow, Mary Moulton at St. Margaret's on 15 July 1623. His brother Robert was already married and had had a child baptized in May. Mary had married Robert Moulton in about 1612. She was born around 1591. Robert and Mary lived in Martham, very close to Ormesby. Together they had at least five children, including a son William who immigrated to New England before them. Robert Moulton was buried on 21 August 1622. Update: Mary married Benjamin Moulton by 1615. They had two children; William and a daughter Hannah. It is not known when Benjamin died. [3]

 William Estow and his wife had two children together, both daughters.[4]
1. Sarah b. abt. 1624, m. abt. 1643 Morris Hobbs
2. Mary bp. 8 June 1628 at Ormesby, m. Thomas Marston 1648, she was living in 1700.

coming to new england
In 1630 John Winthrop led a large group of immigrants to Massachusetts to establish his 'Shining City on a Hill'. For the next ten years, thousands of men and women left England to try their hand in the new colony. Some returned, unable to cope  with the primitive living conditions, others persevered and made a new life for themselves. A large portion of these immigrants originated in East Anglia, a geographical area of England which included the County of Norfolk. For the husbandmen of Ormesby, the temptation to owe you own land must have been a strong pull. To no longer pay rents, or be at the mercy of the fractious land owning magnets was a opportunity which could not be ignored.

In 1637 Robert and Lucy Page, along with their children and servants boarded a ship in the Suffolk port of Ipswich and sailed for New England. Mary Estow's son William was one of Robert Pages Servants. A year or so later. William and Mary, along with their two youngest children joined the Pages in New England. They left behind Mary's children, John, Abigail and Anne. She would never see them again. [5]

The plantation of Newbury was begun in 1638. William Estow was one of the first settlers. He was made a freeman on 12 December 1638, which speaks to his Puritan leanings. He was given a house lot of ten acres. What must that have felt like, to be a land owner for the first time? The Estow family did not remain long in Newbury, choosing to move and settle permanently in Hampton in the the province of New Hampshire.

Not only did the Estow's move to Hampton, so did many of the Ormesby immigrant, the Pages, Moultons, Marstans and Nudds. They formed their own satellite community. By 1640 William was at closing in on fifty, if not already there. Men on this age were tasked with civic duties to ensure the orderly running of society. William served as selectman, served on juries and also was the deputy to the General Court. He was obviously a competent man. He performed his military duty until 1654 when we was allowed to stand down from training.

On 16 October 1655, William, feeling his age, wrote his last will and testament. His wife Mary was not mentioned, the most likely explanation for this is that she had already died. He left the largest part of his estate to his daughter Sarah Hobbs and her  husband who lived with William. Mary was left a bequest valued at about 60 pounds. Money was also given to the four children of William Moulton. [6] Accord to V.C. Sanborn William died on 23November 1655.


[1] Walter Goodwin Davis, The Ancestry of Sarah Stone, Wife of James Patten of Arundel (Kennebunkport) Maine, (Portland, Maine: Sourthworth Press, 1930).

[2] P. W. Hasler, The History of Parliament, 1588-1603, digital images, The History of Parliament Online ( : accessed 27 February 2016).

[3] Myrtle Stevens Hyde, "Revised Ancestry for William Moulton of Hampton, New Hampshire, Including Some Revisions of the Early Ancestry of His New England Cousins," New England Historical and Genealogical Register (July 2009) Vol. 163, 165-173 and 273-277; digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 28 December 2017).

[4] John Brooks Threlfall, Fifty Great Migration Colonists, 216.

[5] John Brooks Threlfall, Fifty Great Migration Colonists, 217.

[6] Walter Goodwin Davis, The Ancestry of Sarah Stone.

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