Henry Cobb was of Plymouth in 1632, of Scituate in 1633, and of Barnstable in 1639, where he likely remained until his death in 1679. His last name is sometimes spelled Cob.
Henry was a follower of Rev. John Lothrop, who split from the Church of England to become part of an independent movement. Lothrop and 24 of his followers were jailed in London for refusing to take the oath of fidelity to the Church of England. They believed the word of God flows not through the king but through the Bible. Sturgis Library in Barnstable owns Lothrop’s 1605 Bible.
|Rev. Lothrop's Bible Source: Sturgis Library|
Lothrop’s followers stayed together in Scituate and then split and only some followed Lothrop to Barnstable. Henry continued to follow Lothrop and was one of the first settlers of Barnstable, where he became an Elder in the church and an important person in the community.
He married Patience Hurst, probably by late summer 1631, as their first child was born June 1632. Patience was the daughter of James Hurst and Gertrude Bennister, and probably born Holland. Henry’s parents and birthplace have not been discovered, but it is often stated that he was from Kent, England.
The will of James Hurst, dated 10 Dec 1657, names (among others) grandchildren John Cobb, James Cobb, Gershom Cobb, Eliezer Cobb, Mary Dunham, Hannah Cobb and Patience Cobb. Susan Roser (author of Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts) has a copy of a 1964 letter from the Municipal Archives in Leiden: "The only record in which James Hurst is mentioned is in the Poll-tax register. He lived in the alley next to the garden of John Robinson, with his wife Geertgen (=Margareth) and two children Jan (=John) and Passchyntgen (=Patience)." John Robinson was the Pilgrims' minister. James Hurst was a deacon of the Plymouth church and died December 1657.
Henry is not mentioned in the 1627 cattle division, so he came to the colony between 1627 and 1632, when the birth of his first child was recorded at Plymouth. The Hurst family arrived at the same time.
Henry is listed on the 1633 freeman list, although he appears to have removed to Scituate soon after. A plaque of this early settlement by the "men of Kent" can be seen in Scituate today. In the Men of Kent Cemetery there, he is mentioned as one of the original settlers on a plaque. On 11 Oct 1639, the Cobb family removed with Lothrop and the Church to Barnstable.
|Men of Kent Memorial in Scituate|
The Scituate Church was organized 8 Jan 1634/5, with 13 initial members, including Henry. He was a man given substantial respect as he is often called “Goodman Cobb” in records.
|Plaque marking the location of the First Church in Scituate|
From Samuel Deane: He was one of the “Men of Kent” and settled on Kent Street in Scituate, on North River. There was division among the early Scituate settlers in support of their first minister, Lothrop, who appealed to Gov Thomas Prence to move him and his supporters to a new settlement, first to be Seipican (Rochester), but later changed to Barnstable. Deane believed major reason for the split amongst the church was that some wanted full body immersion baptisms while Lothrop did not.
|Men of Kent Cemetery Sign, Scituate|
Amos Otis wrote that Henry’s house lot was not desirable land, but other lots he owned had much better soil. He noted that the three Barnstable deacons all had stone or fortified homes, so that they took care of the people's spiritual needs as well as their safety in the event of an Indian attack.
Patience died at Barnstable and was buried there 4 May 1648. Barnstable church records say she was "the first that was buryed in our new burying place by our meeting house." Lothrop's diary states she was age 38 when she died, which gives her a birth year of ca 1610.
Henry married second, at Barnstable, 12 December 1649, Sarah Hinckley, daughter of Samuel and sister of Governor Hinckley.
Children (all births from PCR 8:42):
1. John who m. Martha Nelson (I descend from John)
2. James who m. Sarah Lewis
3. Mary who m. as second wife Jonathan Dunham
4. Hannah m. Edward Lewis
5. Patience m. Robert Parker as his second wife; she m. 2nd William Crocker
6. Gershom died unmarried
7. Eliezer apparently died unmarried
With second wife Sarah:
8. Mehitable, died young
9. Samuel m. Elizabeth ____, said to be Elizabeth Taylor dau of Richard Taylor
10. Sarah, died young
11. Jonathan m. Hope (Chipman) Huckins, dau of John Chipman and widow of John Huckins
12. Sarah m. Samuel Chipman
13. Henry m. Lois Hallet
14. Ephraim; no further record beyond his 1671 birth
Henry was a tavernkeeper, a deacon at the church and later a ruling elder of the church. He served as deputy for Barnstable many times, served on juries and was also the excise tax officer.
He received some education as evidenced by the positions he held, that he signed his name to a report and that his inventory included books.
|Signatures of Henry Cobb and Thomas Huckins|
Date of Henry’s death not found; codicil dated 28 Feb 1678/9, will proved 3 June 1679, so he died likely at Barnstable, between March-May 1679. He was buried on Lothrop’s Hill in Barnstable, where a memorial stone was erected by a descendant in 1871.
|Henry Cobb Memorial Stone source: Findagrave.com|
In his will he bequeathed to "my son James Cobb" my great lot in Barnstable; to "my sons John, James, Gershom and Eliezer" half my lands at Suconeesett equally divided between them and 40s being in the hand of my son James for my son Eliezer's part"; to "Sarah my dear and loving wife during her natural life" my new dwelling house and all the rest of my lands; at Sarah's decease, to "my son Samuel" my dwelling house and two acres of upland, and an acres and a half of my marsh which I bought with his stock in partnership with my son James; to "my sons Samuel, Jonathan and Henry" residue of lands equally; to "my sons John, Gershom and Eliezer" one shillling each; to "my daughters Mary, Hannah and Patience" one shilling each; to "my daughter Sarah" my second best bed and furniture; residue to Sarah "my loving wife and sole executrix." Codicil dated 22 Feb 1678/9: "my son Samuel" shall have only two acres of my upland after my wife's decease and all the rest of my lands equally divided between my "three sons Samuel, Jonathan and Henry"; Henry to have my house after my wife's decease and his part of the land to lie most convenient to the house, only my lands at the Island equally divided between my three sons; "my son James to dry thratch on half an acre of the Island when the English corn is taken off..." (PCPR 4:1:22-23). His inventory is undated and the value not totaled but includes a house, land, meadow and a thatchboat.
|Stone at the foot of the larger memorial stone source: Capecodgravestones.com|
Henry Cobb strikes me as a very religious man who put his love of God and family before amassing wordly possessions. Many of the first settlers became very wealthy men who owned large amounts of land, but that didn't seem to be Henry's motivation. He served his community, but not in any high level offices. There's something unsettling about men like Isaac Allerton, who came to Plymouth for religious freedom but then went about becoming very rich men and weren't always honest in their business dealings. I admire the way Henry Cobb seems to have led his life.
Susan Roser, Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts, Friends of the Pilgrim Series, Volume 1, 2008
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Boston, MA, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995.
Samuel Deane, History of Scituate, From Its First Settlement to 1831, orig. published 1831, reprinted by Clearfield Publishing, Baltimore, MD, 1993, 1995
Amos Otis, Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families, being a reprint of the Amos Otis Papers, originally published in the Barnstable Patriot, revised by CF Swift, Volume 1 and 2, Barnstable, MA, The Patriot Press, 1888