Tag: Massachusetts

William Stoughton and the Salem Witch Trials

Portrait hangs in the State House in Boston, Mass Painted by Mary Brewster Hazelton (1924)

WILLIAM STOUGHTON 

 

Ok, let’s talk about this William Stoughton dude. He is probably the tightest relationship among those of the Salem Witch trials, coming in as a first cousin 13 times removed. You can’t pick your relatives …right? My relationship to him comes down through the Green line. Though distinguished as a notable across history…I think the guy stinks through and through. Let me know your opinion.  

 

William was born to the parents of Israel Stoughton and Elizabeth Knight Stoughton and was the grandson of Thomas and Katherine Stoughton (1557-1622) who would be our 12 th great grandparents through the GREEN line. The Stoughton’s were wealthy and large landowners but nothing compared to the land that William acquired.  Though his date of birth is unknown he was probably born in 1631 and probably born in England somewhere. There are no records to prove that theory or even when exactly they migrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony but by 1632 the Stoughton’s were in Dorchester, Massachusetts and among the early settlers. 

 

EDUCATIONS BEGINS

William was a Harvard graduate with a degree in theology, and it was his intention to become a Puritan minister, so he traveled to England where he attended the New College Oxford to continue his studies. In 1653 he received an MA in theology. 

He was a deeply religious man though in my opinion, he needed some lessons in tolerance,  and preached “The Lord’s Promises and expectations of great things”. He preached in Sussex until Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 and the crackdown on religious dissenters began which caused him to lose his position.  The realization that he would not likely get another position in England, he decided to go back to Massachusetts in 1662. 

 

Portrait hanging in the Lucius Clapp Memorial in Stoughton, Mass.
Painted by Phylis Batchelder of Stoughton, Mass.

THE POLITICIAN 

 

He refused offers of other  ministerial positions and went into politics and land development, however, he did preach in Dorchester and Cambridge on occasion. . (that should have been the first clue!!! ) He served on the colony’s council of assistants almost every year from 1671 to 1684. He was among those who were labeled an enemy of the colony for his moderate position on colonial charter issues. When his friend and business partner, Joseph Dudley, wasn’t reelected to the council, and Stoughton, who was reelected by a small majority, he thought he’d “show them” by refusing to serve.  (Sorry, but I already don’t like this guy! ) 

 

He and this Peter Bulkley became agents representing the colonial interest in England. For 1,200 lbs they acquired land claims from the heirs of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason. This conflicted with some Massachusetts land claims in Maine. OHHH this pissed off Charles II because he wanted those claims for the Duke of York. They weren’t able to get broader claims made by Massachusetts against other territories of Maine and the province of New Hampshire due to their limited authority and this upset the Lords of Trade because they wanted to have the colonial laws modified to their policies. All this did for Stoughton and Bulkley is piss off the colonial officials in London because they wouldn’t give in. 

 

Now, Stoughton and Dudley worked closely together politically and in land development, and they were business partners as well. In partnership with Dudley in the 1680s, Stoughton acquired significant amounts of land from the Nipmuc tribe in today’s Worcester county. This partnership included a venture that established Oxford as a place to settle refugee Huguenots. 

Now, I don’t understand politics much, and I won’t begin to tell you that I understand land claims or the like…but it sounds to me like these two dudes  were just shady and ruthless. I could be reading more into it than what is because I’ve already made up my mind that I don’t like these guys! 

So Dudley and Stoughton basically used their political positions to make sure that the titles to lands they were interested in were judicially cleared which benefitted themselves, their friends, relatives, and other business partners. Crown agent Edward Randolph wrote that it was impossible to bring titles of land to trial  before them where his Majesty’s rights were concerned, the Judges also being parties.

Stoughton and Dudley ventured to obtain a million acres of land in the Merrimack River valley. Dudley’s council, which included Stoughton and other investors, cleared the land’s title in May of 1686.  

When Dudley was commissioned in 1686 to be the temporary head of the Dominion of New England, guess who he appointed to his council?? Of course, Stoughton, and then he was elected by council  to be the deputy president.  During the administration of Sir Edmund Andros he served as magistrate on the council. As a magistrate he was especially hard on the town leader of Ipswich who had organized a tax protest against the dominion government, based on a claim that dominion rule without representation violated the right of the Englishmen. 

In 1689 when Andros was arrested in an uprising inspired by the 1688 Glorious Revolution in England, guess who was one of the signatories to the declaration of the revolt’s ringleaders? Yep you guessed it. Stoughton. His association with Andros made him particularly unpopular and he was denied elective offices. He, of course, appealed to the political power of the Mather family with whom he still had a positive relationship. 

Increase (what a name) Mather and Sir William Phips arrived from England in 1692 carrying the charter for the new Province of Massachusetts Bay and a royal commission for Phips as governor, they also brought one for Stoughton as lieutenant governor.  

 

WITHCRAFT ACCUSATIONS BEGIN 

By now the rumors of witchcraft were starting to spread like wildfire…especially in Salem.. so Phips appoints Stoughton to be head of a tribunal to deal with those accused of witchcraft, and in June he was appointed chief justice of the colonial courts. He held this post for the rest of his life. 

Stoughton was both the chief judge and prosecutor. The terminator so to speak. I mean, this guy was ruthless. In the case of Rebecca Nurse…he sent the jury back from deliberating to reconsider the not guilty verdict they had agreed on. Well, what’s the jury to do…they came back with a guilty verdict and poor Rebecca Nurse was convicted. 

Stoughton permitted the use of spectral evidence. That is the idea that a demonic vision could only take the shape or appearance of someone who had made a pact with the devil or was engaged in witchcraft.  Oh Lordy! That left the door wide open! Cotton Mather argued that this was acceptable when making accusations but some judges did not feel it was acceptable in judicial proceedings. Stoughton was convinced of its acceptability and used his influence on the other judges to see it his way.  Now, understand this guy was a Puritan Preacher, and for the times he probably wasn’t really so out of line, but I’m having a hard time not judging him. 

 

Phipps oversaw a reorganization of the colony’s courts in November and December of 1692, to bring them into conformance with English practice. Stoughton was still sitting as chief justice and was to handle the witchcraft cases in 1693 but was given strict orders to disregard spectral evidence. With this thrown out, there were a significant number of cases that were dismissed due to lack of evidence. It makes me wonder what these accusations did to the accused reputations. Were people sued for slander in those days? I’ll have to look that one up. 

On January 3 1693 Stoughton ordered the execution of all suspected witches who had been exempted by pregnancy. Phips denied enforcement of the order. This totally pissed Stoughton off and he, once again, thought he would “show them” by leaving the bench for a brief time. 

Unlike many others, Stoughton never felt remorse or guilt for the part he played in the convictions of “witches” or the use of spectral evidence during the trials. 

Stoughton viewed himself as a caretaker, holding the government together until the crown appointed a new governor. As a consequence, he gave the provincial assembly a significant degree of autonomy, which, once established, complicated the relationship the assembly had with later governors. He also took relatively few active steps to implement colonial policies, and only did the minimum needed to follow instructions from London. A commentator in the colonial office observed that he was a “good scholar”, but that he was “not suited to enforce the Navigation Act”

Sounds to me like he was a my way or the highway sort of guy. It’s no wonder he died a bachelor. 

William Stoughton died at home in Dorchester in 1701, while serving as acting governor, and was buried in the cemetery now known as the  North Burying Ground. He was a bachelor, and willed a portion of his estate and his mansion to William Tailer, the son of his sister Rebeccah. Tailer, who was twice lieutenant governor and briefly served as acting governor. He was buried alongside Stoughton.

Stoughton, Massachusetts is named in honor of William, as is one of the Harvard College dormitories at Harvard Yard. Stoughton Hall was made possible by his gift of 1,000 pounds in 1698. 

Here you can see pictures of his grave. It’s as creepy as he is. https://www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2015/09/villains-end-grave-of-william-stoughton.html

It suits him as the above the ground tomb is engraved with skulls and overgrown with vines. 

 

Here is a break down of the life of William Stoughton. 

September 30, 1631: Born in England (or perhaps in Massachusetts), son of Israel and Elizabeth (Knight) Stoughton.

1650: Graduated Harvard University with a degree in theology.

June, 1653: Graduated New College in Oxford, England graduating with a M.A. in Theology.

1660: Served as a curate in Sussex, England.

1662: Returned to Massachusetts after the restoration of King Charles II of England to the throne after losing is position as a curate.

1662: Served as a clergyman in Dorchester, Massachusetts

April 29, 1668: Gave the election sermon  (New-Englands True Interest; Not to Lie…, 1670)

1670New-Englands True Interest; Not to Lie … is published

1671-1674: Selectmen in Dorchester

1676: Sent to England with Peter Bulkeley.

1684-1686: Served as Deputy President of the Colonies temporary 

1686: Appointed Deputy to Gov. Joseph Dudley

March 3, 1687: Appointed Judge Assistant by Gov. Joseph Dudley.

1690‘s : A chief Magistrate and the first Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

May 14, 1692: Appointed Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

May 27, 1692: Gov. William Phipps issued a commission for a Court of Oyer and Terminer which appoints as judges Lt. Gov. William Stoughton and others, including: John Hawthorne, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, and Samuel Sewall.

December 22, 1692: Appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

1694-1699, 1700-1791: Served as acting Governor.

1698-1699: Stoughton Hall built on the grounds of Harvard University.

July 7, 1701: Died at his home at the northeast corner of Pleasant Street and Savin Hill.

1726: The South Precinct of Dorchester in named in his honored after Stoughton.

1781: Original Stoughton Hall torn down.

1805: The present Stoughton Hall at Harvard University is built on a different site.

1828: His tomb is repaired by efforts from Harvard University.

1855: Stoughton School erected in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  

Online Sources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what do you think of this guy? What’s your opinion? Am I making too much out of it? I mean there is a lot written about him but his involvement with the Witch Trials is probably what he is most remembered for.  Would anyone remember him if it hadn’t been for the part he played in the hysteria?   Let me know your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned as we explore the roles of some others!

Happy Hunting!!

The Pierce Family Historian!

Salem Massachuetts AND The Salem Witch Trials

SALEM MASSACHUSETTS

 

The saddest story in the history of the country is that of the witch craze at Salem, Massachusetts, brought about by a negro woman and company of girls. The negress, Tituba, was a slave, whom Rev Samuel Parris, one of the ministers of Salem, had purchased in Barbados. We may think of Tituba as seated in the old kitchen of Mr. Parris’s house during the long winter evening, telling witch stories to the minister’s niece, Elizabeth, who was nine years old. She draws a circle in the ashes on the hearth, burns a lock of hair, and mutters some gibberish. They are incantations to call up the devil and his imps. The girls of the village gather in the old kitchen to hear Tituba’s stories, and to mutter words that have no meanings. The girls were Abigail Williams, who was eleven, Anne Putnam who was twelve, Mary Walcot,and Mary Lewis who were seventeen, Elizabeth Hubbard, Elizabeth Booth, and Susannah Sheldon, eighteen, and two servant girls, Mary Warren and Sarah Churchill. Tituba taught them to bark like dogs, mew like cats,  grunt like hogs, and to creep through chairs and under tables on their hands and feet, and to pretend to have spasms. 

 

Mr. Parris had read the books and pamphlets published in England, how persons bewitched acted like animals, and went into spasms, and he came to the conclusion that they were bewitched. He sent for Doctor Griggs, who said that the girls were not sick, and without doubt were bewitched. 

 

THE TOWN WAS ON FIRE! 

People came to see the girls, who delighted with the success of their play, crept about all the more like cats and dogs, barking, mewing, and uttering piercing screams. 

Sunday came, and when the congregation had finished singing, Abigail Williams said to Mr. Parris, “Now stand up and name your text.” 

The minister and everybody else was amazed, but he read his text. 

“It is a long one,” said Abigail. 

The minister went on with his preaching. 

“There, we have had enough of that,” shouted another girl. 

“There is a yellow bird on the minister’s hat,” cried Anne Putnam. 

The parents of the girls stood aghast, and Mr. Parris, believing that they were assaulted by the devil, invited the ministers of the other parishes to come and hold a day of fasting and prayer. The ministers assembled, saw the girls go into fits, rolling their eyes, holding their breath, muttering gibberish, peeping like frogs, barking like dogs, and devoutly believed that they were bewitched. They prayed solemnly and fervently, recalling the saying of Jesus Christ, “This kind goeth not out except by fasting and prayer.” 

The news spread quickly, and the people came in crowds to see the girls. 

“Who bewitched you?’ they asked.

 

Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn, and Tituba,” the girls answered. 

 

Sarah Good was a poor old woman, who begged her bread from door to door. Sarah Osburn was old, wrinkled, and sickly. 

 

What a scene was around the meeting house, March 1st, 1692!

All of Salem was there, for the women who were accused of being witches were to be examined by the justices.

 

Sheriff and constable escorted the justices, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, from Thomas Beadle’s tavern to the meeting house and gave them seats in front of the pulpit. Rev. Parris prayed that God would direct them. The girls were there, and Sarah Good was brought in by the sheriff. 

 

“Have you made a contract with the devil?” asked Justice Hathorne.
“NO.”

“Children, is this the person who hurt you?”  

“Yes, she is sticking pins into me!” the girls screeched. 

“Why do you torment the children?” 

“I do not.” 

The girls went on with their screeching, and the justice and all the people were so deluded, and were such firm believers in witchcraft, that they accepted all that the girls said as truth, and the denials of the wrinkled old women as lies. 

 

“Sara Osburn, have you made a contract with the devil? Asked the justice. 

“I never saw the devil.”

“Why do you hurt the children?”

“I do not hurt them.”

“SHE DOES! She Does!” said the girls, and the people decided in their minds against her.

“Tituba, why do you hurt the children?”

“I do not.”

“Who is it, then?”

“The devil, for aught I know.”

“Did you see the devil?”

“Yes, he came to me and bid me serve him. Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn wanted me to hurt the children, but I would not.”

“How does the devil appear when he comes to you?”

“Sometimes like a hog, and sometimes like a great black dog.”

“What else have you seen?”

“Two cats, one red, and the other black. I saw them last night, and they said “Serve me, but I would not.” 

“What did they want you to do?”

“Hurt the children.” 

“Did you not pinch Elizabeth Hubbard?”

“Yes, they made me pinch her, and wanted me to kill her with a knife.”

“How do you ride when you go to meet the devil?”

“On a stick. I ride in front, and Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn behind me. We go up over trees, and in a short time are in Boston or anywhere else.”

Tituba had a great many other things to tell…that the devil sometimes wore a tall black hat, that one of his imps was about three feet high, hairy all over, and had a long nose, and that the imp came into Mr. Parris’s house and stood by the fire. 

 

The people believed her. Would she be likely to admit that she was a witch if she were not one? 

 

The girls accused her of pinching them and she acknowledged that she did so. Therefore, the girls were telling the truth and Sarah Osburn and Sarah Good, were liars. So the justice and the people reasoned, and the sheriff took them to Ipawich jail which was about 10 miles away, and the people went home to talk over the event. 

 

The ministers of Salem, Boston, and the surrounding towns met to consult over the situation. Among them was the learned Cotton Mather who accepted the terrible accounts as truth which had reached him from England. Few if any doubted that the girls were bewitched, and the girls were loving the attention so went on with their creeping, barking, mewing, and falling into convulsions, and crying that someone was sticking pins in them. They accused Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse, two women who were kind to the poor, and very religious, but so credulous were Rev. Parris and Rev. Noyes and everyone else, that they were arrested. When they were examined before the justice, the girls all cried out that the women were tormenting them. “I am as innocent as a child unborn,” said Mrs. Nurse: but the people, the ministers, and the justices, all lost their heads, and the women were committed to prison

 

. Mrs. Good had a little girl, Dorcas who was five years old, and the girls said that Dorcas helped her mother in tormenting them. “She bites me!” they cried, and showed the prints of teeth on their arms. The sheriff arrested Dorcas and put her in prison, where she was chained with her mother. It was believed that unless the witches were chained they would fly out through the keyhole. Sara Cloyse and Elizabeth Proctor were the next accused. The judges met sometimes at Thomas Beadle’s tavern and sometimes in the meeting house.

 

The news spread quickly. No one doubted that the devil had come in great wrath to afflict the good people of Salem. Rev Lawson, Rev Parris, Rev Noyes, and other ministers preached sermons against witchcraft, making it clear that these manifestations were without a doubt produced by the devil. The whole colony was up in arms, and Lieutenant -Governor Danforth and his councillors, which consisted of six hundred men, went to Salem to sit in judgement at the trial of Sarah and Elizabeth. Abigail Williams brought a horrible accusation. 

 

“I saw a company of witches at the Rev Parris’s house,” she said; “there were forty of them. They had a sacrament, and Sarah Cloyse and Sarah Good were their deacons, and the witches drank blood.” 

Sarah Cloyse fainted at the terrible accusation, and the girls went into convulsions. John, a negro of Mr Parris, rolled and tumbled upon the floor, and all cried out that the witches were tormenting them. 

Governor Danforth and his councillors were amazed. The prisoners had no one to help them. There were few lawyers in America at that time. The governor and the judges asked them questions, having already made up his mind that they were witches, and poor women, friendless and alone, had nothing to say except “We are innocent.”  

No one believed them but took the word of the girls as the truth. The poor women were thrown into prison. 

Instead of there being fewer witches, there were more, and in a short time the jails were filled with men and women. Among those arrested was Rev. George Burroughs, who had once preached in Salem, but who was living in Maine. The sheriff made a long journey to arrest him. 

Not only the girls and Tituba, but others accused those arrested of being witches. If a man had anything against his neighbor, it was easy for him to take revenge by accusing him of exercising witchcraft. Samuel Shattuck who dyed clothes for a living, had trouble with Bridget Bishop. John the negro also had a grievance against her, and testified that she was a witch. “I saw her go through a hole no larger than my hand, “ said John. The judges believe him.  

 

Samuel Shattuck’s child had fits. “I believe it is the work of Bridget,” he said.

 

WHAT COULD THE JUDGES DO? 

 

They condemned them to be hung. The Bible commanded that witches should not live. For one hundred and fifty years the laws of England had been in force against witches. Thirty thousand had been executed in England. Parliament had appointed a witch finder. King James had written a book against them.  Archbishop Jewell had begged Queen Elizabeth to burn them. Rev Richard Baxter, whose name was reverenced all over, had written against the witches. In all lands they were seen as the enemies of God and man as they were conspiring with the Evil One against the livelihood of the community. The great and good Lord Chief justice of England, Mathew Hale had condemned those to death who were not near so diabolical as the accused, and had written a book referring from the Bible that witches were in cahoots with the devil! 

 

Besides the people of Salem, the friends and neighbors all believed that the accused were witches, and ought to be put to death. They were magistrates, appointed by God, as they believed, to administer the laws faithfully and impartially. They had seen the girls go into fits and convulsions, and heard them cry when the witches pinched them. With the rest of the world, the judges lost their minds, and condemned the poor people accused to death. 

 

TO THE HILL THEY GO! 

 

Gallows were erected on a hill overlooking the village. Through the streets of Salem rattled the cart that bore them to their place of execution. They climbed the ladder with the halter around their necks, men and women, the minister, and those who had listened to his preaching. 

People gazed in horror as their old friends and neighbors,  swang in the air struggling at the throes of death.  When life was gone from them, the bodies were thrown into holes, and piled with dirt. They trampled it down, and thought of them as suffering the torments of the devil. 

 

HOW HORRIBLE! 

If we were living in those days would we too have lost our judgement, reason, and common sense? 

The wisest and best of men in 1692 fell for it, under the terrible delusion, wild foundation, and lamentable ignorance of the period. 

Nineteen men and women were hung. 

Giles Corey, who would neither say “Guilty” or “Not Guilty, “ had rocks piled upon him til he was crushed to death. 

One hundred and fifty men and women were thrown into prison before the people came to their senses! 

The wife of Rev. Hale, of Beverly, was accused. There was not a woman in Massachusetts more beloved, honored and respected. The people were amazed. They could not believe that such a godly woman would join with the devil. They began to see, what they had not thought of before, was that perhaps the girls were lying about the witches tormenting them. The judges had not questioned the girls, …only the accused. The denials had been disregarded . Why would young girls lie? 

 

THE SPELL WAS BROKEN

 People saw that they had been under a delusion. Samuel Sewall,  one of the judges, humbly confessed on Sunday in the old South Church in Boston, with tears rolling down his cheeks, and ever after, so long as he lived, kept a day of fasting and repentance once a year to manifest his sorrow to the world. 

“Touching and sad a tale is told, 

Like a penitent hymn of the Psalmist old, 

Of the fast which the good man life long kept, 

With a haunting sorrow that never slept. 

As the circling years brought round the time

Of an error that left the sting of crime.” 

 

IT’S OVER NOW

SET THEM FREE 

The sheriff threw open the prison doors and the prisoners accused of being witches were released. The girls, having no one to believe their accusations, had no more stories to tell of being tormented. The great wave of superstition that had sent hundreds of thousands to an untimely grave in Europe, died out in the village of Salem. 

The girls…

Though fully and humbly confessing  for their actions found little happiness in life. Forever before their eyes were the swinging forms of those who had died upon the gibbet due to their childish pranks and the terrible tragedy they had mustered. 

I cannot begin to imagine the guilt they must have carried with them throughout their lives. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode for the Salem Witch Trials. Stay tuned for upcoming post as I will reveal to you how The Pierce Family has connections to some of those involved. If you liked this post please leave me a comment in the comment section and STAY tuned for the next post. My source of information here was mostly from the  book Old Times in the Colonies by Charles Carleton Coffin as well as most of the pictures. No copyright infringement was intended. 

 

Happy Hunting

The Pierce Family Historian

The Gardners: Cape Ann Planters as they were called

We learned a bit about the Gardners , namely Richard, Cape Ann Planters as they soon were to be called,  in our previous post but I will now give a bit of our decent from that lineage in this one. The English Gardners came to this country in the days immediately following the landing of the the Pilgrims at Plymouth, as several merchants in South England sent fishing vessels to the shores of New England. The amount of time required by these slow moving vessels to return to the markets of  England and Spain made it too late to dispose of their catch . Therefore a number of men in Dorchester, England, put together the Dorchester Company and came up with the idea of establishing a plantation at Cape Ann. Their thinking was that the fishermen might winter there, make their catch early in the spring, and return to England in season to dispose of the fish to advantage. 

In 1624, The Cape Ann Planters landed at Stage Point on the west side of what is now Gloucester harbor. Col. Charles Edward Banks , “The Planters of the Commonwealth,” records the following in his list of ships arriving in 1624.

Zouch Phenix. She was consort of the Unity, and arrived with her in the spring of this year. It is believed she sailed from Weymouth and brought the following passengers:

Thomas and Mrs. Gardner, George, Richard, Joseph Gardner.

John Balch, Mrs. Agnes Balch, Benjamin, and John Balch,

Thomas Gray

Walter Knight

William Trask

John Tilley

Peter Palfrey

John Woodbury”

THOMAS GARDNER

Thomas was born March 4 1592 to Sir Thomas Gardiner and Elizabeth White in Weymouth, Dorcet, England

Thomas, our 9th great grandfather, was placed in charge of the plantation and John Tilly of the fishing. The selection of the site for a plantation turned out to be unfortunate. The ground was rocky and the soil infertile and made farming impossible.  There disappointment and struggle was great.

The fishing also proved a failure and many of the fisherman turned to agriculture for relief.  The leader of the company in England, heard that Roger Conant was at Nantucket and thought perhaps he might be more successful so invited him to go to Cape Anne and take control. He went there in 1625 and soon realized that the lack of success had been because of the poor soil and that a settlement in this place could not be made profitable.

Conant searched the coast for a better plantation site and finally decided on the mouth of Naumkeag River which is now Salem. In 1626 The Dorchester Company gave  him permission to move the little colony to the new location, though some of the first adventurers went to Virginia or returned to England. A few strong hearts stayed and became the founders of Salem.

Conant said that they stayed “to the hazard of their lives”, and it is a shame  that many  historical writers of old Massachusetts fail to give the due credit for the laying of the foundation of this grand old Commonwealth. They proved that a settlement was possible, and sent one of their spokesman back to England to convince the Reverend John White and his associates that this was a possibility and asked for help and supplies. This resulted in the formation of the London  Company and the sending of John Endicott in the ship “Abigail” in 1628.

Thomas Gardner is thought to be  the first man in authority on the land of what became the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

A meeting of the London company held July 28,  1629,  it was mentioned “one Mr. Gardner, an able and expert man in divers faculties” by Mr. Webb, and he along with others were recommended for employment in the colony.

In 1635 we find that Thomas Gardner also signed his name to the grant of a three hundred a to Thomas Scruggs, and the next month to a grant of the same, to John Blackleech. His signature was  of the town’s representative is appended to the records in the 11th mo, 1636.

In 1637 he was appointed to “survey all the fences between the meeting house westward of the Town, and in 1636 he was made a member of the First Church. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony admitted him as a freeman, in 1637, and he was appointed  deputy to the General Court that same year.  In 1637 he was among the 12 men appointed of the town. He served as juror during 1637 and 1638.

The town voted that every working man should devote the seventh day of the first month in 1638 to labor in repairing the highways, and Thomas Gardner was appointed as one of the three overseers to make sure the work was done and done properly.

He was called “Constable” in the town records in 1639, and various sums were recorded as being paid by him for court expenses. He also served the town as surveyor for the mending and keeper of the roads and was one of the record keepers of such.

Throughout his life Thomas Gardener’s name is found among the records in the the history of the town and he is renowned for his service to the colony. “Ole Mr. Gardener” he became known by amongst the residents of Old Salem.

Thomas first married Margaret Fryer/ Friar and they had nine children:

1. Lieut Thomas Gardner born in England and died in 1693. He first married Hannah and they had Mary, Thomas Eliza, Abigaile, Bethiah, Hannah, and Jonathan.  He then married Elizabeth Horne, daughter of 2. Deacon John Horn, and they had David, Susannah, and Dorcas.

He was a cordwainer by trade. A cordwainer (/ˈkɔːrdˌweɪnər/) is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. The cordwainer’s trade can be contrasted with the cobbler’s trade, according to a tradition in Britain that restricted cobblers to repairing shoes. He also kept a general merchandise store and owned a ketch, the “John Booneyventure,” which was used in the cod fishing industry. He was prominent in town affairs and served from time to time on the jury. He lived in a house which stood on a lane running along the eastern boundary of the meeting house lot. His second wife, Elizabeth, died in 1695

2. George born in England and was married three times.

Richard Gardner House

3. RICHARD (8th great grandfather) born 1621 Matock, Somerset, England. He  married Sarah Shattuck, Quakeress, (daughter of Samuel and Damaris Shattuck, she being the second wife of Richard’s father Thomas.) Richards first grant of land was in 1642, a ten acre lot near Mackrell Cove, and he had later grants in Salem and at Jeffrey’s Creek. His house was on the eastern side of what is not Central Street, on the site of the present Salem Fraternity building. He had a shop on the same lot. He became a devout Quaker and with others was convicted of “absenting themselves from the public ordinances. ” He moved to Nantucket not long afterward and purchased land there at Wesko, Feb 15 1667. Richard became one of the leading men of the Nantucket Island and the ancestor of many, now distributed all over the country. He served as Chief Magistrate and represented the town at New York. He died March 23, 1688. His widow died in 1724, at the age of 93. She was an energetic and leading Quaker throughout her life. Their children were Joseph, Richard, Sarah, Deborah (7th great grandmother) who married John Macy, Damarice, James. Mariam, Nathaniel, Hope, and Love.

4. Captain John born 1624 married Priscilla Grafton daughter of Joseph. He was called Captain and was a master mariner and surveyor.  He was given permission to build a mill over the South River in 1663. In 1669 he was paid for services as surveyor in the town. He lived in a house which stood near the corner of the present Herbert and Derby Streets in Salem.  He was granted 11 acres and meadow land in Nantucket upon agreement: ” unto Mr. John Gardner of Salem marrener, a seamans accommodation, with all appurtinances belonging unto it as fully as the other seamen and tradesmen have in their former grants, upon condition that come to inhabit and set up the Trade fishing with a sufficient vessel fit for the taking of Codfish.  Captain became very prominent, serving as Chief Magistrate, represetative to the General Court, “Captain and Chief Military Officer of the Foot Company,” and town moderator.

He died in May 1706, at the age of 82, and his gravestone is still preserved in the old Coffin house (horseshoe house), and a new one replacing it in the graveyard. His wife is said to have died in 1717. Their children were, John, Joseph, Priscilla, Benjamin, Rachel, George, Benjamin, Ann, Nathaniel, Mary, Mehitable (?), and Ruth.

5. SAMUEL born 1627 married first Mary White, and then Elizabeth Paine. His name appears in the Town Records in 1649 when he was ordered along with his brothers George, Thomas, and Joseph, to survey and measure from the meeting house to the parcel of meadow upon the great river Westerly from Salem” . He was often hired to survey around the town and colony. He served as appraiser and overseer of estates and had many terms of service on the grand jury and jury of trials. He was coroner, constable, selectman and deputy to the General courts, and was a leader in the affairs of the the First Church. His children were: Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Samuel, George, Jonathan, Hannah and Abel. He has numerous descendants who were prominent citizens of Salem, where many of them were merchants and ship owners  during the time of the town’s great maritime prosperity. Many of them had notable records in the wars of the Colony, Province, and commonwealth.  Samuel died Oct 1639.

6. CAPTAIN JOSEPH born about 1628 and died 19 Dec 1675. Joseph married Ann Downing, daughter of Emanuel Downing, “gent” a prominent lawyer in London. He with his brothers John and Samuel was a surveyor and was frequently employed in that capacity. He kept a tavern and was called a vintner in some documents. He became a freeman in 1673 and served several times on the jury. In 1672 he was appointed with Henry Bartholomew, by the General Court on a committee for Essex and Norfolk, with others from Suffolk to settle accounts with Major Pynchon for pork received for the relief of his Majesty’s fleet in the Caribby Islands. In August of 1656 Lucy Downing, with the consent of her husband, Emanuel Downing, granted to him the plot of ground upon which the State Armory was built. As his dowry and marriage portion with Ann. The lot measured “fower acres of ground Intire”.

In the Massachusetts Bay Records May 15, 1672 it was recorded: “it is ordered that Joseph Gardiner be lieutenant to the foote company under the command of Walter Price, captain at Salem”.  They marched with troops from Boston on the 8th. The 15th two of the men were killed and another wounded by Indians. Capt. Joseph Gardner, and others of the town went out immediately and killed an Indian who had slain one of the Salem troops and was wearing his cap.

The forces of Plymouth, Connecticut and Massachusetts attacked the Narragansetts in a swamp. After a three hour battle, the English took the enemy’s place and fired at their wigwams. One thousand of the Indians were killed.  Eighty five of the English soldiers were killed or died of their wounds, and one hundred and forty five were wounded. Among those killed were Captain Gardner and six of his company, and eleven more of them were wounded.

“Major Church spying Capt. Gardner amidst the wigwams in the east end of the Fort made towards him; but  suddenly, while looking at each other, Capt. Gardner settled down. The Major stepped up to him and seeing the blood run down his cheek, lifted his cap and called him by name. He looked up but spoke not a word, being mortally wounded, shot through the head, and observing the wound the Major ordered care to be taken of him.”

His widow, Ann, married, in 1676, Governor Simon Bradstreet. She died April 19, 1713, at the age of 79 years. Captain Joseph Gardner had no children.

7. SARAH born about 1630 and died Apr 5, 1686; married around 1650 to Benjamin Balch, the “Planter,”  born in 1629 and lived in his father’s homestead. In 1930 the house was still standing on the corner of Cabot and Balch Streets in Beverly.  He married two more times after her death.

They had seven sons and four daughters.

8. MIRIAM born about 1632 and died before Aug 1664 married John Hill who was born in Bristol, England around 1635. He was a wheelwright by trade ( a person who makes or repairs wooden wheels.) John and Miriam had two daughters, Miriam and Susanna.

9. SEETH was baptized October 25, 1636 and died the 17th of April, 1707.  There has been some suggestion that her name could be a surname pasted down. She first married Joshua Conant, the son of Roger Conant, the “Planter”. He was a sea captain and lived in Marblehead. They had one child Joshua. Joshua (1) died in England in 1658 and Seeth married John Gratfton son of Joshua and Mary Grafton. After the death of Seeth, Mr. Grafton marriedd Judith Clark in Boston. He was a mariner and they had six children.

 

By now if you have been reading the history of our founding father’s you are starting to see the mention of several surnames that seem to intertwine.  We are cousins of cousins for sure, but what an interesting story we have to tell.

I hope you have enjoyed this issue. If so please leave me a comment in the section below and let me know. If you have something to add I’d love to hear it also!

Happy Hunting!

THE PIERCE FAMILY HISTORIAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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