Benjamin was born circa 1610 (deposed aged 45 in 1656, 52 in 1662 and 77 in 1683). Some say he was from Frisby, Lincolnshire, England, but Robert Charles Anderson gives his origins as unknown. His last name is sometimes spelled Crisp. He married Bridget ____ before 1637, probably in Watertown, Mass. A "Mr. Crispe" came on the Plough in 1631 and settled briefly at Watertown, the same year and place where Benjamin Crisp is first seen. It is not known with certainty if he is Benjamin.
He was first at Watertown (named freeman there in 1646), then removed to Groton by 1666 and was back in Watertown in 1681.
Benjamin was a mason by trade. He was literate as he signed a deed, rather than using a mark.
On 7 Oct 1656 Benjamin Crisp, aged about 45, deposed that he was a servant to Major (Edward) Gibbons "25 years agone,”so perhaps he came to New England as an indentured servant.
His name does not appear in records frequently for public service. On 13 April 1681 Watertown selectmen ordered that "Benjamin Crispe" have the "charge of the meeting house committed to him to sweep and ring the bell and what else is needful to be done to fasten the doors and windows when the exercise is done." (Watertown Town Records, 2:7, 8) For taking care of the meeting house, he was to receive an annual salary of 4 pounds, 10 shillings, and was also to be the keeper of the pound. He was then, by his own estimate, in his 70s. Quite remarkable he was still working at that age, which would have been a positively ancient age in the 17th century.
Benjamin received six land grants at Watertown: seven acres for his homestead, twenty acres of upland in Great Dividend, nine acres of upland beyond the Further Plain; one acre of meadow at Beaver Brook, four acres of Remote Meadow, and three acres of plowland in the Hither Plain (Beaverbrook Plowlands).
On 25 Sept 1666 "Benjamin Crispe of Watertown, mason," joined by "Bridget Crispe, his wife," for a valuable sum of money sold to Thomas Boyden of Groton four parcels of land in Watertown: seven acres of upland and buildings; twenty acres of Great Dividend; twelve acres in Lieu of Township; and a 53 acre farm.
There is no account of his lands at Groton, but they were perhaps those held by his son Jonathan. Presumably he witnessed the Indian attack on the town on 13 March 1675/6, as two of his sons were among the defenders.
Groton was destroyed on that day in March and many of the surviving citizens left town, returning two years later to rebuild.
The couple had eight children, born Watertown: Elizabeth, Mary, Jonathan, Eleazer, Zachariah/Zachary, Mehitable, Mercy, and Deliverance.
I descend through Benjamin and Bridget’s daughter Elizabeth who married George Lawrence. George and Elizabeth’s daughter, Mercy Lawrence, married William Baker and they lived in Yarmouth on Cape Cod.
Benjamin's daughter Mary married William Green and their first child was born in Cambridge.
Jonathan lived at Groton and then Watertown. He served in King Philip’s War. On 25 October 1680 his father was appointed to administer his estate. He apparently died unmarried.
There is no further record of Eleazer after his January 1641/2 birth, although some sources have him marrying a woman named Elizabeth and living in Groton.
Zachary did not marry but had an illegitimate child with Mary Stanton and was ordered by the court to support the child. He, with two other people, was charged with the murder of Edward Lewis at a boarding house in Boston, but was acquitted by a jury in 1675. Lewis was hit over the head with a quart pot and died 24 hours later. That same year Increase Mather wrote in his diary of a ferry coming from Charlestown that sank. He said Crisp, who recently was tried for murder, was on the boat but did not drown. “He was bid not to go into the boat because of the danger, but he derided saying He yt was born to be hanged, will never be drowned, & he was not drowned, though in such guilt. It is to be feared yt at last hanging may be his Portion.”
There is no further record of Mehitable after her January 1645/6 birth.
Mercy married Robert Parish/Parris at Chelmsford in 1667.
Deliverance married William Longley and lived at Groton, where she, along with her husband and five children were killed by Indians. Three additional children were taken captive. Betty died from hunger and exposure, John was returned for ransom after four years in captivity and Lydia was sold to the French and placed in a convent where she stayed and became a Catholic nun, dying at age 84. There is a stone inscribed in the family’s memory on Longley Road in Groton, which reads: "Near this spot dwelt William and Deliverance Longley with their eight children. On the 27th of July 1694 the Indians killed the father and and five of the children and into carried into captivity the other three."
|Memorial Stone at Groton Location of the Longley Home source: findagrave.com|
John Longley had to be induced to return home. He gave a 1736 deposition saying he spent several years as a servant to Chief Madockawando of the Penobscot tribe. After his reluctant return, he became an active and respectable citizen in Groton, served as a church deacon, married twice and had children.
|John Longley's gravestone at Old Burying Ground, Groton, MA source: findagrave.com|
Benjamin’s wife Bridget died 13 March 13 1675/76, in Groton, about the time of King Philip's War and perhaps as a consequence of the raid on Groton during the conflict.
He married second Joanna (Goffe?) Longley, who had children from her first marriage to William Longley Sr (TAG 62:26). Joanna’s son William and Benjamin’s daughter Deliverance were married, both dying during the Indian attack on Groton.
Joanna died at Charlestown, Mass., 18 April 1698 aged 79 (Charlestown VR 1:173) and her gravestone survives there at the Phipps Street Burial Ground. She was there briefly, perhaps with one of her children, as she calls herself of Groton in her 1698 will. Her estate was left to her Longley children and grandchildren, three of the latter taken as captives to Canada during King Philip’s War and she mentions them as still being in captivity.
|Joanna Goffe Crispe's gravestone source: jandingo.com|
Benjamin’s death is not recorded, but he died in Watertown between 5 Nov 1683 and 21 Dec 1683. (Frederick C. Warner suggests this range of dates because on the latter date Crisp was replaced in his duties to care for the meetinghouse, but on the former date at a town meeting no mention was made of the need for such a replacement.) He is seen in no record after 31 Oct 1682 when he sold his son Jonathan's property.
I have not read it, but there is an article by Frederick C. Warner, Mary Green & Mercy Parish-daughters of Benjamin Crispe, The American Genealogist, 62:25-7, January 1987.
Additonal Sources Not Noted Above:
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 3:1715-8, 1995
Henry Bond, Genealogies of the Families of the Early Settlers of Watertown, MA,
Samuel A. Green, An Historical Sketch of Groton, MA, 1894