Ten daughters in 18th century New England! Can you even imagine that? Boys were prized for helping on the farm and other household chores, earning a living early perhaps by going to sea or serving as an apprentice, carrying on the family name, and serving as the heir to inherit the family land.
I’ve been reading vital records for years and don’t recall seeing many comments added to name and date by the Town Clerk. In the Chatham Vital Records daughter Anna Sears is recorded as “tenth daughter” of Paul Sears. It must have been the talk of the town, and you just know that his poor wife Anna was faulted for not producing a male heir. Interestingly Paul Sears himself was the Town Clerk who recorded the births of his first nine daughters in 1752. In 1759 the entry of his youngest child is thus:
Anna Sears The Tenth Daughter of Paul Sears & of Anna Sears his wife; was Born at Chatham July 10th 1753 & Entred at the Desire of sd Paul Sears May 21 st 1759 per James Covel Town Clerk
At any rate, Paul of the many daughters was born about 1710 in Chatham (Richard3, Paul2, Richard1). He was a cooper by trade and inherited his father’s farm. He was a surveyor of highways in 1733, tithing man, sealer of weights and measures, and pound keeper in 1739, selectman in 1743, Town clerk in 1752.
|Cooper's workshop at Old Sturbridge Village|
Paul and Anna’s daughters were born 1731-1753: Hope, Martha, Hannah, Thankfull, Anna, Ruth, Experience, Elizabeth, Thankfull (second of the name), and Anna (second of the name).
Their daughters Ruth and the first daughters named Thankfull and Anna all died from the end of March to early April 1747. Thankfull was ten, Anna nine and Ruth was six. They died of smallpox (as noted in Josiah Paine's A History of Harwich, Barnstable County, Mass., 1620-1800; thank you to Marjorie Perry for informing me of their death's being noted in Paine's book).
I descend from their oldest daughter Hope who married Nehemiah Doane, Thomas Howes and Job Chase.
Anna Atkins was born on 12 Dec 1713 in Eastham, daughter of Joseph Atkins and Martha Pease.
No estate settlement in Barnstable County and no death recorded at Chatham for Paul Sears. Smith states he may have died in Maine.
Paul’s wife Anna is buried at the Oldest Burying Ground Chatham:
Anna, wife of Paul, died 17 October, 1783, in her 70th year.
William Smith, Early Chatham Settlers, CW Swift Publisher, Yarmouthport, Mass., 1915
Samuel Pearce May, The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass.: 1638-1888, Albany, Joel Munsell’s Sons, 1890