Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. I am not an expert and I consider most of my research as a work in progress. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My Mayflower Ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

George Lawrence (1637-1709) and Elizabeth Crispe (1637-1681) of Watertown, Mass.

George Lawrence was born about 1637 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Mass.  His parentage is unknown but some people give him as the son of John and Elizabeth Lawrence, among the earliest settlers of Watertown. John did not name a son George in his will, so it seems unlikely he was his father. George is my 9th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.

George Lawrence married Elizabeth Crispe at Watertown on 29 September 1657 (Watertown Vital Records). Elizabeth was the daughter of Benjamin and Bridget Crispe, born 8 January 1636/37 in Watertown (Watertown Vital Records).

George and Elizabeth had a large family of 12 children, birth order uncertain: Elizabeth, Judith, Hannah, John (died young), Benjamin, Daniel, George, Mercy, Sarah, Martha, Grace and Mary.
I descend through their daughter Mercy who married William Baker and moved to Yarmouth, Mass. I wrote about that couple here.

On 11 Sept. 1668, John [Nicholas] Cady, of Groton, and wife Judith, sold to George Lawrence, 6 acres of upland, and 5 acres of meadow, in Watertown.

On 25 November 1697, Ephraim Wheeler, of Newton, and wife Sarah, sold to George Lawrence, 8 acres in Watertown.

Elizabeth Crispe Lawrence died 28 May 1681 in Watertown (Watertown VR), age 44.

George married, second, Elizabeth, possibly widow of John Holland, on 16 August 1691 (Watertown VR). He and Elizabeth had three children: Joseph and twins Rachel and Patience. Patience must have died young as she’s not mentioned in her father’s 1707 will.

On 3 November 1691, George Lawrence was excused by the Court from serving as Constable, "in that he could not read a word."

On 27 February 1697/98 he and wife Elizabeth conveyed 10 acres of land in Watertown to Rev. John Emerson, of Charlestown, who immediately assigned it to Benjamin and Daniel Lawrence, twin sons of George.

George Lawrence, husbandman, wrote his will in 1707, leaving bequests to his wife Elizabeth, two youngest children Joseph and Rachel, sons George, Benjamin and Daniel, daughter Mercy Baker living at Yarmouth, daughter Grace Edes at Charlestown, daughter Elizabeth Whitney at Stow, daughter Hannah Sawtel at Groton, daughter Judith Stearns of Cambridge Farms, daughter Mary Flagg, daughter Sara Rider, daughter Martha Dix, granddaughter Mary Earl. His sons Daniel and George were appointed administrators at the request of the widow.  His will includes mention of his Watertown dwelling house, new barn, 30 acres of adjoining land, 10 acres of woodland, other parcels of land, cattle, swine, and corn. He signed the will with his mark.

George died 21 March 1708/09 in Watertown, Mass, “an aged man.”  (Watertown VR) He was about 72 years of age.

An inventory of his estate was dated 5 April 1709 and totaled over 171 pounds.

Sources Not Listed Above:
Henry Bond, Genealogies of the Families of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Mass., 1860
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Isaac Pierce Probate Transcription

Below is the transcription of the probate information for Isaac Pierce, 1641-1732, of Middleborough, Mass., son of Abraham Pierce. Any transcriptions errors are mine; I do the best I can deciphering old handwriting and unfamiliar legal phrases. I wrote a sketch about Isaac here.

Probate File, Isaac Pierce Sen’r 1732, No 15453
Recorded Book 6 page 168, 169, 170
Josiah Cotton Reg’r

Know all men by those presents that whereas I Isaac Pierce Senior of Middleborough in the county of Plimoth in New England have lately given unto my son Thomas Pierce by deed of gift several parcels of land with buildings and fences thereon and cedar swamp, which are mentioned in the within written will: yet not withstanding my will is: that all other particulars mentioned in the within written will shall stand and remain firm and unviolable forever: as my last will and testament to be kept and performed according to the true intent and meaning thereof and that this schedule shall be accepted as part of my last will and testament: as fully as all intents and purposes as if the same has been imported in the will: in witness whereas I the aforesaid Isaac Pierce Senior have hereunto set my hand and soal this twenty second day of December one thousand seven hundred and twenty and four. Signed sealed and declared by the above named Isaac Pierce Senior to be part of his last will and testament in front of us
Jacob Tomson                                                                                   Signed by his mark
Robert Macklin (?)                                                                           Isaac Pierce Senior
Jacob Tomson Junior

Plymouth April 27 1732
Jacob Tomson Junior made oath that he saw Isaac Pierce Senr above named sign and seal & heard him declare ye above written to be part of his last will and testament and that he and Jacob Tomson his father and Robert Maclin(?) set to their hands as witnesses in ye presence of ye testator, and that according to his best __ observation he was then of sound & disposing mind & memory.
Before Isaac Winslow judge of Probate

Isaac’s Will

Know all men by those presents that I Isaac Pierce Senior of the town of Middleborough in the county of Plimoth in New England being at this present time in health and of sound and disposing memory and understanding: bless be god for it: yet being sensible of my own mortality: and being minded to settle my outward estate which god hath given me do make and ordain this my last will and testament: to remain firm and inviolatable forever: Imprimis I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Pierce my lot of land which I bought of John Miller whereon I now dwell together with my dwelling house: barn: outhouses: and fences thereon: and also that half lot of land which I bought of Joseph Richmond which originally belonged unto the right of John Rogers Senior: and also my one quarter of a share of cedar swamp in the sixteen shilling purchase in Middleborough aforesaid: also my one quarter part of the share in the last allotment in said sixteen shilling purchase: which was lotted out in the year 1715: and also my one quarter part in said therein all the undisposed lands in said purchase only my will is that my loving wife Alice Pierce shall have the whole use improvement and income of all the aforementioned houses and lands in her natural life: and my will is that my said son Thomas Pierce upon consideration of his having the above mentioned housing and lands shall pay as a legacy unto my five daughters: Mary Sanders: Lydia Hayford: Mercy Truant: Sarah Macumber: and Rebecca Hoar unto them ten pounds in good current pay: Item I give and bequeath unto my said son Thomas Pierce all my tools and tackling for a  team: and all my moveable effects without doors and also all my flock of creatures both meat cattel (sic) __ sheep and swine only my will is that my said son Thomas shall keep and maintain for the use of his mother during her lifetime one good lively (?) cow and that he shall have said the cow after his mother’s decease: Item: I give and bequeath unto my son Isaac Pierce 10 shillings in bills of credit: besides what I have heretofore given him: Item I give and bequeath unto my aforesaid wife all the rest of my bills of credit which I shall have at the time of my decease and also the money which is due from my son Isaac Pierce by bill: and also my will is that my said wife shall have the use and improvement of all my household stuff: and of all my moveable estate within indoors during her natural life: My will is that whatsoever money or bills or credit or moveable estate my said wife shall __ at her decease shall be equally divided above my aforesaid five daughters: and further my will is that in the aforesaid improvement of the aforesaid housing and lands and of the aforesaid household stuff shall not be sufficient for comfortable subsistence of my said my wife: that then my said son Thomas shall be at the charge to make up what is wanting: and my will is that my son Thomas Pierce shall be executor of this my last will and testament to receive all such debts that are due unto me to pay such debts as I shall owe: and to take care that this my last will and testament be truly performed: this hoping that the same will be performed truly to the intent and meaning thereof I commit my body to the dust and my soal (sic) to god that gave it: in witness thereof aforesaid Isaac Pierce Senior have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty seventh day of June one thousand four hundred and twenty and two
Signed by Isaac Pierce Senior (his mark)
signed sealed and declared by the above named Isaac Pierce Senior to be his last will and testament in the presence of us
Jacob Tomson
Abigail Tomson
Lydia Tomson

In different handwriting
Plymouth April 27 1722 Abigail Tomson now Abigail Packard and Lydia Tomson now Lydia ____ made oath that they saw ye above named Isaac Pierce Senior sign & seal & heard him declare the sd instrument to be his last will & testament and that they with Jacob Tomson Esq deceased set to their hands as witnesses in the presence of sd testator and that according to ye best of their observation he was then of dispersing mind & memory before Isaac Winslow Judge of Probate

Another handwriting:
Isaac Winslow Esq appointed & commissioned to be judge of probate of wills and for granting of administration in the County of Plymouth in the province of the Massachusetts region in New England To all by whom these presents shall come Greeting: Know thee that on the twenty seventh day of April anno domini one thousand seven hundred and thirty two before me at Plymouth in the county aforesd the will of Isaac Pierce Senior late of Middleborough in the county aforesd deceased to those presents ____ having been proved was approved and allowed who having while he lived & at the time of his death goods chattels rights and credits in the county aforesd and the probate of sd will and power of committing of administration of all & singular the goods chattels rights and credits of the sd deceased and also the hearing examining & allowing the accounts of ye same by virtue thereof appertaining unto me, the administration of ye & singular the goods chattels rights and credits of ye sd deceased and his will in any manner concerning is hereby committed unto Thomas Pierce son of ye sd deceased and soal (sic) executor in ye same will faithfully to execute the sd will and to administer ye estate of ye sd deceased according thereunto and also to render a plain & true account of his sd administration upon oath..and also to make a loan forfeit inventory of all estate of ye sd deceased & to exhibit ye same unto the registry of ye court of probate for the county aforesd at or before ye last of June next __ in  testimony whereof to set my hand & seal of ye judge of probate sealed at Plymouth aforesd the day and year __ above written Isaac Winslow Esq

In another handwriting: Isaac Pierce Senior his Will (circled)

Another document:
Plymouth May 19 1732
These may certify the Honorable Isaac Winslow Esq judge of the probate of wills for the county of Plymouth that Mr. Nath’ll Southworth Mr. Thomas Nelson and Mr. Benjamin Spooner appeared and were sworn as aprizers (sic) to the within mentioned estate  before me Benjamin White Justice of the Peace

There’s another document dated __ day April 1732 where Winslow appointment Southworth, Spooner and Nelson to make an appraisement of Isaac Pierce’s estate.

Unfortunately the probate file doesn’t include an inventory.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Robert Cushman and The Cry of a Stone

I recently read The Cry of a Stone, the book written by my 12th great grandfather Robert Cushman (as Robert Coachman). It is a terrific resource for anyone interested in the Pilgrims' Separatist religion. Cushman, who was not formally educated, wrote this eloquent book in the 1619; it was published posthumously in 1645. Thanks to editor Michael Paulick, translator/annotator James Baker and publisher the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the book was reprinted this year. What a gift to genealogists!

I've always been in awe of the Separatists' willingness to put themselves in harms way by practicing their beliefs in England but my knowledge of exactly what they believed was limited. Reading The Cry of the Stone filled in a lot of blanks.

What struck me the most in reading the book was how extensive Cushman's knowledge was of the Bible and also of other religions. I expected his book to be all fire and brimstone and a bit holier than thou in tone but I found instead that he rationally explained what the Separatists believed and why.

Some of the things I found most interesting:
  • Church members were expected to do whatever it took, even sell property, to support poorer brethren and do so without murmurings, complaints or outcries. The life of a Christian was more precious than anything.
  • There was a role for widows in the church as they could become Deaconesses, tending to the sick, poor and working as midwives. Widows "have age upon them as a crown of glory." In many cultures widows are treated quite shabbily, so I found this refreshing.
  • They believed the Church of England admitted sinners and saints alike and had strayed from teachings of the Bible and Christ. The Separatists were all Saints. God had already chosen who would be saved or damned on the day of judgment. Didn't believe reforming the Church of England was the answer because an evil man would still be evil.
  • Separatists only believed in two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper. They believed the rest were inventions of man and had no scriptural basis. 
  • They rejected the Book of Common Prayer, instead believing prayer should be unscripted and spontaneous. Prayer or inspired preaching from the heart was the proper way to honor God.
  • They rejected Church hierarchy. Their church was based on five officers: pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, deaconess.  The actual church building was unimportant--it was kept plain and free of idols. They believed anyone with talent or gift of God may be allowed to preach. They were motivated to preach anywhere as as there were unrecognized potential converts scattered throughout the world.
  • Cushman was particularly concerned by the difficulties that selfishness or self love, laziness and lack of charity posed to the survival of the Plymouth community; this was the subject of his first published sermon given at Plymouth. 
It took me some time to read the slender volume as it isn't exactly an easy read, although Mr. Baker's descriptive notes were most appreciated. I purchased the book from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

I wrote a sketch on Robert Cushman in another blog entry which you can view here.