Nicholas Norton was born 1610 probably in Somersetshire, England, the son of Nicholas and Joan Norton. He is my 9th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.
I believe Nicholas emigrated to America in 1635, probably coming with the group accompanying Reverend John Hull. There was a William Norton, age 25, on the ship Hopewell that left England in September 1635, which makes me wonder if this was really Nicholas but probably a stretch.
He first settled at Weymouth, Norfolk Co., Mass, where he likely met his future wife Elizabeth, and where they stayed for 20 years or so. Most research I see gives her maiden name as unknown, but some say it was Isaac. Need to do more research on that. They were married by 1641 when their first child was born. They had eleven children: Isaac, Jacob, Elizabeth, Hannah, Joseph, Sarah, Priscilla, Ruth, Benjamin, Esther, Mary. I descend from daughter Priscilla who married John Butler as well as daughter Elizabeth who married James Pease.
Nicholas emigrated from Somersetshire and probably came from the vicinity of Batcombe or Broadway in that county. His business dealings with Standerwicke, a clothier, of the parish of Broadway, has proved to be the important clue in locating this prominent pioneer as a resident and probably native of the same parish. Some of his siblings’ baptisms are recorded at the Broadway Parish in the Dioscesan Registry at Wells, but records for the year he would have been baptized are missing. Edward Poole, a neighbor of his in Weymouth, Mass., was also from Broadway.
Nicholas “Nurton” of Weymouth purchased cattle from Richard Standerwicke of Broadway, Somersetshire, in 20 February 1639(?/40) (Plymouth Colony Records). The Standerwickes were Lords of the Manor in Broadway, England for over 400 years. Another connection between the two families is shown when John Norton of White Lackington, a tanner, was a witness to the will of John Standerwick of Broadway in 1568.
Nicholas Norton served in the Pequot War, 1635-37, as shown by a petition (Superior Judicial Court, Mss No. 477).
He is named in the 1651 division of lands at Weymouth. He served as Constable there in 1657.
Nicholas Norton was in Edgartown, Dukes County, Martha’s Vineyard by 28 January 1661when a document signed by men from the “towne of Vinyard” included Nicholas Norton.
Nicholas was among the first shareholders of Martha’s Vineyard. On 22 August 1658 Goodman Norton was granted 40 acres of land located north of the Great Swamp and south of the present road to West Tisbury. On the same day it was ordered by the town that “Goodman Norton shall have Liberty to make use of any Pond about the Ox Pond for his Trade, except the Great Ponds.” The use of the ponds suggests he may have been a tanner.
He also owned land in the vicinity of Major’s Cove at Sanchacankackett where his descendants lived for several centuries, as well as meadowland at Aquampache.
In 1661 he was on a committee buy land from the Indians for the use of the town.
Nicholas was involved in multiple lawsuits. In 1659 he sued the Rev. Mr. Cotton, missionary to the Indians. In 1659 he was sued by Henry Goss for five shillings “for charges about the cure of Mr. Gousse’s child: to pay one half in Wampam current and halfe in come and five shillings to the constable for the Tryall about the abuse of Mr. Gousse’s child.” The exact nature of this suit at law is not clear. In the 1660s he was in litigation with various townsmen, and his fence was deemed the pattern and lawful standard to which others were required to conform in the maintenance of boundary fences in the town. In 1666 he was forbidden by the proprietors of the fish weir from taking any fish at Mattakeesett Creek, the right to which he claimed by purchase from the sachem Tewanticut, “contrary to our patent,” upon a penalty of £5 yearly so often as he disobeys the order.
Nicholas and Elizabeth died in 1690.
Nicholas’ will is dated 17 April 1690. It names his wife Elizabeth, son Isaac, son Benjamin, Moses Cleveland, son-in-law Thomas Wolling, son Joseph, daughter Pese, daughter Wil (Wolling or Williams), daughter Stanbridg, daughter Butler, daughter Huxford. He bequeathed them his land, farm animals and household goods. His wife Elizabeth was named executor.
Elizabeth died a few months after her husband, between 8 June, the date of her will, and 8 October, 1690, when it was proven in Court. She leaves five shillings each to her four daughters mentioned in her husband’s will, each grandchild was to receive one shilling, the sons all of the land, and all of the household/farm items to be divided among her children. Her son Joseph was named executor. She signed by her mark.
Sources Not Listed Above:
Charles Banks, History of Martha Vineyard Vol. II, III, 1911
Torrey’s New England Marriages