Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. 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.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Surname Saturday: William Chase family of Cape Cod

I have quite a few Chase family members in my ancestry, and they all descend from William 1 Chase who was born about 1595 in England. There were so many Chases on the Cape that it can be a confusing name to research. I have 22 men by the name of William Chase in my database and it's difficult placing them all, but most of the Cape Chases do descend from William 1.

He is said to have come over in the Winthrop Fleet with his wife Mary (maiden name unknown) and their son William. He was of Roxbury in 1630 where he lived until 1638. William was the 13th member admitted to the Roxbury church and his wife Mary was the 29th member.

First Church of Roxbury current building

From Roxbury church records kept by Rev. John Eliot: "William Chase, he came with the first company, 1630; he brought one child his son William, a child of ill quality's, & a sore affliction to his parents; he was much afflicted by the long & tedious affliction of his wife; after his wives recovery she bare him a daughter, wch they named Mary borne about the midle of the 3d month (May), 1637. he did after yt remove (intending) to Situate, but after went with a company who maide a new plantation at yarmouth." (Roxbury Church Records, pp 73-74).

From the same church records, p. 75: "Mary Chase, the wife of William Chase. She had a paralytic humor which fell into her backbone, so that she could not stir her body, but as she was lifted, and filled her with great torture, & caused her backbone to go out of joint, & bunch out from the beginning to the end of which infirmity she lay 4 years & a half, & a great part of the time a sad spectacle of misery. But it pleased God to raise her again, & she bore children after it."  What a horrible thing for Mary to go through. I find it remarkable she recovered and had two additional children and lived for many years, passing away in 1659.

Children of William and Mary:
William born in England as early as 1627; married Mary ____ and had eight children.
Mary born about 15 May 1637 in Roxbury; buried at Barnstable or Yarmouth as daughter of "Goodman Chase, ye elder" 28 Oct 1652
Benjamin born 1639 and bapt Roxbury 18 April 1652; married Phillippe Sherman and had six children.

Considering William only had two children to live to adulthood, he certainly had a large progeny on the Cape. I have five or six different Chase lines, all through his son William’s son John.

William was named 19 Oct 1630 among those "who desire to be made freeman." He was made Freeman in Massachusetts Bay Colony on 14 May 1634.

William was one of Rev. Bachilor's company that spent the winter of 1638 at Mattacheese (Yarmouth, an area that later became Barnstable). He was the only one of the group that stayed and he was named Constable there on 4 June 1639.

He lived in the area of Yarmouth that is present day Dennis. The Cape Cod Genealogical Society Bulletin, Spring 2001, printed a map showing the homesteads of the First Comers to Dennis. William Chase lived in Dennisport, on a piece of land now at 533 Depot Street, on the Harwich town line.  His 1638 home was on east side of Swan Pond, next to Chase cemetery and near Thomas Gage.
Map showing location of Chase homestead source: CCGS Bulletin

Swan Pond

It would appear from his will that he lived for some time near the Whelden family at the head of Bass River.
William was a housewright by trade. A 1639 agreement shows he was to build a house for Dr. Thomas Starr, which was sold to Andrew Hallet before its completion. Chase agreed to deliver it thatched, studded, and latched, daubing excepted, for ten pounds. 29 acres of land were included in the deal. The house probably had one room on each floor, was daubed in the crevices with clay, and had oiled paper at the windows.

In 1639 Edward Morrell gave sworn testimony in court that William Chase said "he marvelled how any durst join with him in the fast” and further said that some being in presence with the magistrate did hold up his hand and cried "fiel for shame." Subsequently arraigned for language towards Morrell and censured by the court, ordered to find sureties and to depart the place in 6 months. He was relieved of his duties as constable because of his behavior toward Morrell. Dr. Thomas Starr and Andrew Hallett became his sureties, but sentence was never carried out as William stayed in town. Records suggest Matthews lacked tact and discretion.

Rev. Marmaduke Matthews, who was an intelligent man with a sharp wit but had ideals and an apparent lack of discretion that did not rest well with everyone, came to the Yarmouth church. Almost immediately his ministry was attacked by church member William Chase. Chase made repeated derogatory statements against Rev. Matthews, notable saying that he "marvelled how any durst joyne with him in the fast." He was hauled into Plymouth Court in September 1640. During the very next year, he verbally assaulted the Reverend, interrupting church services. Again he was at court, fined, censured and told to leave Yarmouth. Somehow he remained in town and appears to have kept his comments to himself for the remaining years of Matthews' ministry. Within a year, four other members spoke out against Matthews, including physician Thomas Tilley and William Nickerson, and an attempt was made to start a second church in town. In the wake of all this, the Court began to take a closer look at Rev. Matthews, although Gov. Winthrop referred to him as a "goodly minister." He was cited for "weak and unsafe expressions in his teaching." Of the four complaining church members, all but Tilley eventually left Yarmouth, as did Rev. Matthews who in about 1645 relocated to the town of Hull, then to Malden, then back to Wales where his ministry continued to attract controversy until his death in 1683. 

In 1641, William Chase was again in court for disagreement with Nicholas Sympkins concerning a the latter building a fence on William’s land.

On 8 June 1642 he mortgaged "his house and lands in yarmouth containeing eight acrees of upland and six acres more lying at the stony cove with all and singluar the apprtences therein belonging" to Stephen Hopkins for security of 5 pounds debt.

William was on the 1643 list of men able to bear arms.

In 1648 he received, as Goodman Chase, fourscore acres upland and 20 acres meadow in division of lands at Yarmouth.

On 7 March 1647/8 the court authorized Captain Miles Standish to go to Yarmouth to settle troubles. He went there 13 May 1648. At the General Court held at Plymouth 6 June 1654 "grand enquest" presented "william chase, senr of Yarmouth for driveing one paire of oxen in the yoke upon the Lords day, in time of exercise, about five miles."

Despite the trouble he got himself into, William took oath of fidelity at Yarmouth in 1639 and in 1657. He also was named surveyor of highways 3 June 1657.

William Chase died at Yarmouth between 4 May 1659, date of his will, and 13 May 1659, when his will was proved. His will was witnessed by Richard Hoar and Mary Dennis. "William Chase of Yarmouth the elder; being aged" made the following bequest and provisions:  Left 3 cows to son Benjamine, left William 5 shillings "if hee Demand it" because he "hath had of mee already a good portion." Left everything else to wife Mary, including his dwelling house. Describes land at Bass Pond that he bought of William Palmer, orchard he bought from Goodman White. When she dies, Mary could give one third as "shee shall thinke goode" and other two "ptes" to Benjamine. If she married all three parts should go to Benjamine.  Neighbors Robert Dennis and Richard Tayler overseers, Mary executrix. Signed with his mark.

Witnesses deposed before Gov. Thomas Prence 13 May 1659. Inventory made 14 Sept 1659 was taken by Dennis and Taylor, also Edmond Howes. Included 3 calves worth 2 pounds, 4 steers 18 pounds, 2 oxen 11 pounds, 3 yearlings 4 pounds, two yearlings 4 pds, 5 cows 15 pd, 1 bull and steer 5 lb, pair cart wheeles and chaine 1 lb. Also: saw, wedges, axes, hinges, iron pot, skillet and hooks, brass kittle, spitt, hangers, 2 iron kittles, 7 trays and other wooden things, five pieces of pewter, earthen things, baggs and basketts, barrels and ferkins, smoothen Iron, wooden scales, 2 pr sheets, 1 table cloth, new linnine cloth, 5 pillow beers, 6 changes, sev pcs linnine, old skarfe, 2 pettycoates 2 lb 10 s, 1 wastcoate, green apron, only pettycoate and other old things, 2 hatts, 2 pillowes, 2 bolster teekes, 1 Indian coate and old blankett, old fflocke bed, woolen yarn, 2 chists and old chaires, pr tonges, 3 shootes 1 lb 10 s.

Division ordered by General Court 6 Oct 1659, which gave Benjamin two parts of the estate and Wm Jr. one part of estate.. Mary died before this division. Inquest was held about cause of her death finding "wee can find noe other but that shee died a naturall death through inward sickness, as is evident to all men naturally" by Anthony Thacher, Rob: Dennis, John Joyce, John Hall, Samuel Ryder, Richard Hore, John Miller, Andrew Hallott, Richard Tayler, John Crow, Wm. Hedge, Edward Sturgis.

Descendants erected a large monument to William’s memory at the Baptist Church Cemetery, in W. Harwich. It reads:  William Chase, First American Ancestor b. 1595, d. 1659, Served in Narragansett War 1644. It also lists other members of the family.
Memorial stone at West Harwich Baptist Cemetery

Sources Not Listed Above:

George Walter Chamberlain, NEHGR January 1933, Some of the Descendants of William Chase of Roxbury and Yarmouth, Mass., contributed by John Carroll Chase

Simeon Deyo, editor, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, HW Blake & Co., New York, 1890

Charles Swift, History of Old Yarmouth, 1884

Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Begins, 1995

Marion Vuillieumier, The Town of Yarmouth, Mass., A History, 1989

Plymouth Court Records, vol 1 p 135, 162; vol 2 p 9, p 20, p. 128-130; vol 3 p 52,  p 116; vol 8, 185-6, 194

Vernon R. Nickerson, From Pilgrims and Indians to Kings and Indentured Servants, 1970

Jack Sheedy and Jim Coogan, Cape Cod Voyage, Harvest Home Books, East Dennis, Mass., 2001


  1. Do you have a connection with Adelaide Cole chase of Massachusetts.

  2. A very large, beautiful, oil painting of Adelaide Cole Chase has been donated to a Southern California hospice thrift store. It would be a shame to have it leave the Chase family.

    1. I don't have a connection. How nice of you to try to find family, though! Chris

    2. It's so awesome to hear of the Chase family, our family also has several Williams in it, my grand mother was decedent of William chase, my great grandfather's name was William. .

    3. If anyone wants to chat, on the Chase family ancestry, you can contact me at, ladybonnielee@yahoo.com . I would love to hear from you..

  3. I am a descendent of William Chase. Thank you so much for compiling this. Where can I see a copy of Wm. Chase's will? What does it mean that "he came with the first company"? Is that different than the Mayflower Company?
    Thank you, Pat Chase. patrickchase@hotmail.com

  4. Enjoyed your blog. Fairly recently discovered I had ancestors in the Barnstable area: James Matthews (no relation to Marmaduke) who lived on the west side of Follin Pond, near Matthews Pond, and Edward Sturgis.
    I am also descended from Howland and Tilley of the Mayflower. Do you know where I can locate a photo online of Matthews Pond? carleastvold@gmail.com

  5. Very interesting and enlightening. Not sure how my Grandfather William Chase from Texas born in 1901 fits in to this line, if any, but my interest is peaked! Thank you for this!

  6. Terrific! I am doing research for a historical thriller which is to be set on Cape Cod. The story of W. Chase does not fit in but I found myself quite interested in his story. Best, T. Hunt Locke

  7. Thank you for sharing this. My branch of Chase family has recently discovered our heritage and traced our roots back to William Chase. This is a treasure to find and add to our family tree of stories. Our branch of Chases's left Massachusetts and migrated to Rhode Island, Georgia, Arkansas and finally Oklahoma. Mickey Chase-Gorrell mickey2go@live.com

    1. I always find it interesting to find where the families from early Cape and Plymouth folks settled. Thanks for sharing! Chris

    2. Thank you for sharing this interesting story.My family is also descended from William Chase. My branch was Rhode Island, then mid-west and then Colorado.

    3. Wow, the Chase descendants really did have an adventurous streak! Chris

    4. My family left Boston, and settled in Maryland, then on to Sioux City Iowa. . Our ancestor was Samuel Chase, signed the declaration of independence. .

  8. William Chase's descendants live right across the world on a tiny Australian island in the South Pacific - Lord Howe Island. Many of the male descendants use 'Chase' as a middle name in honour of our ancestors. My grandfather's name was Gower Chase Wilson, and my brother's name is Andrew Chase Wilson.
    We originated from the marriage of Peace Chase to James Thompson 9 Jun 1805. Their 4th child Nathan Chase Thompson was a boatsteerer on the bark 'Pacific' where he departed Fairhaven (as it eventuated, never to return) on 14 June 1845. He ended up in Sydney, where he jumped ship in 1887. He signed on to another vessel, the bark 'Belle' captained by Captain Ichabod Handy and was employed by Captain Handy as an agent in Captain Handy's coconut oil trading business on Little Makin Island (now Pitts' Island) in Kiribati on 23 May 1851. He broke his contract (deserted) from Captain Handy's employment and worked for Randell and Durant, during which time he married Boranga (a native of Pitt's Island) and had a son Hugh 18 Nov 1852.
    They sailed to Lord Howe Island with another man, George Campbell and his native wife Bogue on board "The Lion" arriving in Lord Howe Island on 10 Oct 1855. Although Thompson was a deserter he must have maintained a good relationship with Captain Handy who had many an opportunity to punish Thompson, even visiting Lord Howe island on Christmas Day 1856 with his 12 year old daughter Alice Henrietta Handy. Thompson's wife Boranga died in 1864 soon after the drowning death of her son Hugh (aged 11). Thompson then married the widowed Bogue, whose husband George Campbell had died in 1856. Although so far away from our relatives in the USA many of the residents of Lord Howe Island are descendants of William Chase and share our lineage with you all. G'day family!.,.

    1. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story of how the Chase's came to Australia! Chris

  9. This is amazing, how far William chase has gone in this country..