I started researching the ancestry of my grandfather, Arthur Washburn Davis, much later than the rest of my grandparents because I knew very little about him. My grandmother Milly’s maiden name was Booth, so I was surprised to find Booth’s in her first husband Arthur’s ancestry as well. My great-grandfather Wallace Booth grew up in Quebec and was from a Booth line of anglo-Irish. Arthur’s Booths came from England to Plymouth Colony.
John Booth was born about 1634 probably in England. I have not searched for his parents or county of origin. Much of what I know about him is thanks to the excellent work of Macolm “Mac” Young.
He married, probably at Marshfield in November 1656, Elizabeth Granger, the daughter of Thomas and Grace (Hasse) Granger of Scituate. Elizabeth was born 1636 in England. The first page of the Marshfield town records reads: (worn)th & Elizabeth (worn) were maryed (worn) november 1656.
Mac Young found "Elizabeth" yields no possible matches of names, location and time (birth of child) except for John Booth and Elizabeth Granger.
Sadly, Elizabeth’s brother Thomas Granger Jr. was 16 or 17 years old in 1642 when he was sentenced to death by hanging for buggery with a mare, a cow, two goats, "divers sheep," two calves and a turkey.
John and Elizabeth’s children were all recorded at Scituate, but the first three born probably at Marshfield:
Elizabeth, b. 5 October 1657
Joseph, b. 27 March 1659, m. Elinor Hethard and Frances Cowdrey
John, b. 1 January 1661/62, m. Mary Dodson
Benjamin, b. 4 July 1667, m. Mary Sutton and Hannah Stoughton
Mary, b. 6 June 1669, m. Abraham Barden
Abraham, b. 07 February 1673/74, m. Abigail Howland
Grace, b. 04 July 1677, m. Ephraim Pray
Judith, b. 13 March 1680/81, m. Isaac Pierce
I descend from Benjamin and his first wife Mary Sutton. Mary was the mother of Joseph’s illeginiate child. Interesting that Joseph fled the state, but his brother Benjamin married the poor woman who had been humiliated by being brought to court for fornication.
John likely turned 21 shortly before 18 May 1655 when Josiah Winslow (son of Governor Edward) sponsored him for a land grant in Marshfield. "At the said town meeting the inhabitants have granted at the request of Mr. Josias Winslow, Jr. thirty acres of land to John Booth which was his servant and for the said John to have and to hold for him and his heirs forever; and the said land is to be laid out next to the mill lands which is three score acres if that thirty acres be found there and if not then the said John Booth is to have it elsewhere in the township as the town see convenient." John has finished his term as servant in the household of Governor Edward Winslow or that of his son Josiah. He probably remained Marshfield until about 1663.
Josiah/Josias is likely acting for his absent father, Governor Edward Winslow, who made trips back to England and he would at times bring servants back with him to replace those that had come of age in the Colony. It is possible he returned from his 1644 trip with replacements which might have included John Booth as a boy of about 10 years of age, a typical age to be a servant then. No records show anyone with the surname Booth in Plymouth Colony before 1655 and no likely candidates appear elsewhere in New England to be John’s parents.
In 1657 John Booth took the Oath of Fidelity in Marshfield. Some claim he was a Quaker because he was not a member of the First Parish Church of Scituate, but his taking the loyalty oath contradicts this as Quakers at the time refused to do so. He also witnessed or acknowledged by oath several legal documents during his lifetime and he would need to be a citizen in good standing to do that.
|Map of Plymouth County, current day boundaries|
When John married Elizabeth he inherited her family’s Scituate land as her father and both her brothers had died. In May 1659, they sold the inherited Granger dwelling on the North River in Scituate to Walter Hatch of Scituate. John Booth, described as a "Planter" and "of Marshfield" signed by mark, with Humphrey Johnson and James Torrey as witnesses. Elizabeth Booth, in a separate acknowledgement before the magistrate, gave her "free consent to the selling of ‘this’ land...that formerly had been John Granger's," her signature witnessed by John Whiston and Gowen White. Timothy Hatherly the magistrate at Scituate and Elizabeth's recent guardian, swore the witnesses. All eight parties to this transaction were Conihasset Grant proprietors or spouse of one, an area comprising most of the northern part of Scituate. John Granger was Elizabeth’s brother who died in 1655.
|North River in Scituate Source: Onthenorthriver.com|
On 6 July 1663 Marshfield finally laid out the land for John Booth that was requested in 1655: "At the said towns meeting the inhabitants have granted to John Booth, thirty acres of land as beareth date 18th of May 1655, now so it is they have appointed Maj Josias Winslow, Serjeant Beadle and John Dingley to lay out the said lands near unto lands of Francis Crooker by the brook-side.”
By 8 November 1655 he had sold this grant to Thomas Little of Marshfield as revealed by a boundary reference in Marshfield Town Records of that date and confirmed by the 1764 will of Thomas Little's grandson John Little, who left the "Booth lot" to his sons.
The earliest record of John Booth in Scituate is in the Conihasset Grant proprietors’ record, which discusses a 1662 division of land. If John Booth was eligible to draw lots for order of choice in March, he was certainly a proprietor, but perhaps not a resident, by the 27 February Meeting 1661(/2). Scituate historian Harvey H. Pratt reported that "John Booth obtained the first choice and took a tract of land on the hill over which Blossom Street now extends from Ganett's Corner." He initially held a full share that had been Joseph Tilden's and obtained a one half share in the original rights of John Woodfield. Pratt states the John Booth "early persuaded his partners that a highway was needed over his hill to reach Accord Pond. It was called Booth Hill Road, which still exists today.
John remained an active proprietor for some 40 years until 1699 when he gifted his property to his sons and retired to their care. Over the life of the Conihasset proprietary which ended about 1767, Booth and his heirs acquired several hundred acres of land, including about 150 acres from his 1 1/2 share of 8 division layouts, a nearly equal amount from the Three Mile Accord Pond Grant divisions, and others by purchase, not including small land grants from the town of Scituate. Conihasset partners were also eligible with other citizens for land grants from the town's undivided common lands.
Rights to land division and the use of town "commons" were based on the "ancient inhabitants from 1647" rule for eligibility: "All male children born or living in Scituate, children of ratable inhabitants in 1647 or their successors, have rights of common; female heirs who dwell in Scituate have the same rights. Rights of common are associated with a parcel of land on which there is a dwelling house in use."
This indicates that John Booth was eligibility because his father-in-law was was a ratable inhabitant prior to 1647. Commons rights included grazing cattle and horses plus cutting wood for personal use. John was the recipient of five acres of swamp land in 1697. He sold the inherited Granger property to Joseph Coleman prior to 4 May 1694, sale evidenced only by a boundary reference in a deed recorded on that date by Thomas White.
John Booth’s name is occasionally found in Plymouth Colony court records, mostly performing a civic duty for the court. The earliest entry is 31 October 1666, when he was warned by the court to be ready to serve on a jury scheduled to hear a property dispute concerning Conihasset land. He also served on a coroner's inquest in 1678. In June 1680 he witnessed a deed by his neighbor John Sutton, regarding a disputed sale of Conihasset Land. Some ten years later, he witnessed the will of John Sutton Sr, dated 12 November 1691 (he signed by mark) and made oath to the will 16 March 1691/2.
Marshfield Town Meeting minutes show John Booth as absent from town meeting, an offense that was fined 6 pence for lateness and 18 pence for absense, on 3 November 1656, 18 May 1657, 13 August 1657, 10 February 1657/(8), and 15 March 1657/(8).
John Booth is mentioned three times in records of judicial acts. One as an abutter in a deed dispute, and on 6 March 1682/3 and 6 July 1686 as one of numerous Conihasset partners sued by a smaller group of partners. The plaintiffs claimed the defendants "refuseth, neglecteth, and not complyeth, to devide the aforsesaid undevided land." Bangs states this was not a serious matter but rather impatience by a minority group of partners with the slow pace of surveying and laying out of lots.
No records show him admitted a freeman of the colony. Often freemanship was required for court appointed duties, but apparently not always as on 14 May 1685 John Booth was chosen surveyor for the town of Scituate for a one year term.
From Scituate town records for 17th century earmarks:
"John Booth Senior on horse a Whitish gray Two wall Ies (eyes?) the Top of the neare cut of a halfpeny cut out of the Right Eare. John Booth Senior on horse of whitish gray Culler with a halfe peny cutout of the Right Eare with peace cut of(f) from the Top Left Eare." “John Booth Senior one blacke mare A halfepeny Cut out of her left Eare; John Booth (Sr.?) one mouse Colered mare with a hole in the right Eare."
John Booth left no will, instead conveying his land to his sons. On 21 February 1698/99, John made deeds of gift to each of his three younger sons, John Jr, Benjamin and Abraham (all of whom resided in Scituate), while omitting his first-born son Joseph, who had been living in Delware for a decade. Perhaps John disenfranchised Joseph because of his court conviction in 1687 for fathering an illegitimate child and maybe also for moving to Delaware afterward, possibly not returning to Massachusetts until 1709 after the death of his father.
John treated John Jr as his oldest son, granting him approximately a double portion (which was half) of his land, with Benjamin and Abraham receiving the remainder. He gave John Jr "for natural love and fatherly affection" some 54 1/2 acres of Conihasset land (in five parcels), plus "one moiety and a half" of all his meadowland. John was to pay each of his four sisters "seven pounds silver money...either before or within one year after the decease of me & my wife," naming the daughters as "Elizabeth Booth, Mary Barden, Grace Booth and Judith Booth." The deed was signed 21 February 169(8/)9, acknowledged 22 March 1703(/4), recorded 20 June 1704, and witnessed by Abraham Barden (mark), Eunice Dodson (mark) and Jonathan Dodson. The year is based on Benjamin's deed, signed 21 February 1698/9. Despited the careless dating (or clerk making copying errors at recording), these three deeds were almost certainly executed the same year (1698/9), although Abraham's and John Jr.'s deeds were dated "1699." All dates of all three deeds were dated as "twenty first day of February" and show identical names and order of witnesses.
With similar wording, Benjamin was deeded 25 acres in Conihasset land with no meadowland rights and was to pay his sisters 2 pounds 10 shillings each, under the same conditions as his brother John Jr. It was signed 21 February 1698/9, witnessed by Abraham Barden (mark), Eunice Dodson (mark) and Jonathan Dodson, acknowledged 2 August 1704, and recorded 12 June 1705.
Abraham was deeded the "house and barns and all my home lot" of 20 1/2 acres plus the "one moiety and a half" of all his meadowland (being the other half of that deeded to John Jr) and he must pay his sisters 5 pounds each under same conditions as brothers. In addition, Abraham was to "covenant," to house, clothe, feed and otherwise care for both of his parents for the remainder of their lives. Signed 21 February 1699, same witnesses, acknowledged 2 August 1704, recorded 12 June 1706.
A later deed further identifies the children. On 21 October 1709 Joseph Booth of the County of Kent, Territory of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Booth of Scituate, Abraham Booth of "Duxborough," Abraham Barden of Middleborough and Mary his wife, Ephraim Pray of Scituate and Grace his wife, Isaas Pearse of Scituate and Judith his wife, all received 7 pounds 2 shillings 6 pence from John Booth of Scituate in exchange for their right to two parcels of land at Conihasset that had been laid out on 3 July 1699 "unto our father John Booth now deceased" in the right of Joseph Tilden. It was acknowledge the same day and recorded 17 December 1718. All signed except Isaac Pearse, the Bardens and Ephraim Pray who used their marks. Joseph Booth acknowledged the deed on the same day as his siblings so he must have returned to Scituate for the event. Note that Delaware was part of Pennsylvania at the time.
Each of John's three deeds to his sons carried the usual phrase "the aforesaid John Booth, Sr., does covenant to and with his son...that his wife (Elizabeth) acknowledges this instrument...before some one of his Majesty's justice of the peace." Some ten years later, at about 85 years of age, a feisty, determined Elizabeth Booth spoke out on this matter. About one year after the death of her son John Jr (when Mary Booth, his widow, was administratrix of his estate) Elizabeth executed a dramatic quitclaim deed to correct that she believed to be errors in the gift deeds written without her approval:
"(I) Elizabeth Booth now of Pembroke in ye County of Plymouth formerly of Scituate in County, Widow & Relict of John Booth Senr of Scittuate in County of Plymouth Yeoman Decd Sendeth Greetings - Whereas my aforesaid Husband John Booth Senr (had deeded the entire Scituate homestead to) my son Abraham Booth then of Scittuate in County of Plymouth and now of Pembroke (Farmer) Excepting one moiety or half of meadow lot which he gave to my son John Booth Which (latter) conveyance was not with my Consent or was I then of Capacity; However seeing God in his mercy & good Providence has now restored me in some good measure to my under standing again (I agree to the deed of my husband to my son, John Booth, Jr., excepting the Half (of the aforesaid) Recited meadow Land -- And Whereas my...Son Abraham Booth has for a long time been at great Charge in & hath been kind & careful in maintaining & providing for my...Husband in his Lifetime & for myself since his Death. Know...also that in Consideration of same and for my further maintenance I (give to my) son Abraham Booth...all other Lands or Parcels of Lands Divided or Undivided in township of Scituate Excepting what is mentioned in Deed to my son Benjamin Booth...And also other half of lot of meadow above specified to be granted to my son John Booth in his Deed by my Husband, I by these presents Give Grant Assign Release & Confirm to my...son Abraham Booth to him His Heirs & assigns forever. Signed 7 February 1718(/9), witnessed by Jonathan Bryant, John Ford, acknowledged 11 February 1718(/9) and recorded 22 June 1720. Elizabeth signed by mark which suggests either that she was too aged to sign her name or that the 1659 deed she signed was transcribed by a clerk who omitted her mark.
On 1 May 1721 Abraham Booth signed a quitclaim deed to his widowed sister-in-law Mary (Dodson) Booth, restoring to her all rights in property originally bequeathed to John Booth Jr by his father and reversed by his mother. It was signed and acknowledged 1 May 1721, recorded 17 May 1721. Abraham almost certainly waited to do this until after his mother's death.
John Booth died between 2 August 1704 (deed acknowledged) and 21 October 1709 (settlement deed by heirs), probably at his son Abraham’s home in Duxbury.
Elizabeth died between 11 February 1718/19 and 1 May 1721 in Pembroke, Mass, likely also at her son Abraham’s home.
Sources Not Listed Above:
Malcom A. Young, John 1 Booth of Marshfield and Scituate, Massachusetts: Servant and Planter, NEHGR, Vol 159, July 2005
Robert Charles Anderson, Elizabeth Granger, Probable Wife of John Booth of Scituate, Mayflower Descendant, Vol 42, 1992
Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, The Seventeenth-Century Town Records of Scituate, Mass, 3 volumes
Harvey Hunter Pratt, The Early Planters of Scituate: A History of the Town of Scituate, Mass, 1929