Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. 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 male 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, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

John Johnson (ca 1588-1659) and Mary Heath (ca 1594-1629) of Roxbury, Massachusetts

 

John Johnson was born ca 1588 at Ware, Hertfordshire, England, to John and Hannah (Throckmorton) Johnson. He is my 12th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family. 


John married, first, Mary Heath at Ware, Hertfordshire, on 21 September 1613. Mary was born ca 1594, the daughter of William and Agnes (Cheney) Heath.

St. Mary's Church, Ware, Herts (credit: www.achurchnearyou.com) 


John and Mary had 10 children born Ware: Mary, Isaac, John who died young, Elizabeth, Humphrey, Joseph who died as a newborn, Susan who died as a child, Sarah, Joseph who died as a newborn, and Hannah. I descend from Elizabeth who married Robert Pepper. 


Mary Heath Johnson died 15 May1629 at Ware. 


John Johnson migrated to Massachusetts with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 where he became an influential citizen of Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood. He was among the list of first comers to the Roxbury Church. He was made a freeman in May 1631 which was requested in October 1630. He was Deputy for Roxbury to the General Court from 1634 to 1637. 


He was a Captain, quartermaster, and surveyor general in the military. In 1642, he was assigned the duty of distributing gunpowder to the major towns in the colony because of threats from Native Americans. In 1644 he was to give each soldier a musket, sword, and pair of bandoliers and match for the muskets. In 1652 he signed a report concerning the building of a castle and batteries on Castle Island. He was paymaster for the building of Boston prison in 1649, was Roxbury constable in 1630, and on a committee to review colony defenses in 1647. 


There is a long list of other service John Johnson performed. He was on many committees from setting bounds for Charlestown and Newton to purchasing lands for the Indians to live in an “orderly way” amongst the white settlers. John Johnson was admitted to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1638, its first year of existence. 


John married, second, Margaret (her maiden name is sometimes seen as Scudder but no proof for this found) in the early 1630s. She died before 9 June 1655 when she was buried at Roxbury. John married, third Grace Negus, the widow of Barnabas Fawer. 


On the earliest list of Roxbury inhabitants made ca 1642, John Johnson’s valuation of 15 pounds, 12 shillings and 6 pounds, 8 shillings with six goats and four kids, was one of the highest in town. 


In the Roxbury land inventory of the early 1650s, John Johnson held 13 parcels, six of which were granted by the town. His house sat on 8 acres that included an orchard and he also owned 3 acres of marsh, 20 acres of mowing ground, 10 acres of woodland, four acres by Rocky Swamp, 110 acres and one quarter from the last division, 51.5 acres in the thousand acres near Dedham, six acres, 16.5 acres, 1.25 acre, 3 acres of woodland, 4 acres of fresh meadow, 13 acres and 20 rods of land, wood and pasture. 


In 1640 he took in a servant, Samuel Hefford, for three years. There are records of his various land transactions and payments for his military and civic service.


In March 1645, John Johnson’s house caught fire, an event that was recorded in various people’s diaries. He stored gunpowder on the property and the explosion when it caught fire was thought to be an earthquake when it shook houses as far as Cambridge. 


John Johnson of Roxbury wrote his will 30 Sept 1659, which was proved 15 October 1659. To his loving wife he left his dwelling house, certain lands he’d already given her and 60 pounds. After her decease, the house and lands as well as any residue of his estate, were to go equally divided to his five children, with his eldest son to have a double portion. He left five pounds each to his grandchildren who had lived with him, Elizabeth and Mehitabel Johnson. He mentioned 55 acres he received in the third division  that he had formerly given to sons Isaac Johnson and Robert Pepper (Robert would be his son-in-law). 


John Johnson died 30 September 1659 at Roxbury, Massachusetts, aged about 71 years. Roxbury Church Records record his death as “John Johnson, Surveyor General of all the arms, died & was buried the day following.” 


His inventory was presented 15 October 1659 and totaled over 623 pounds of which more than 350 was in real estate. Also in his inventory were two fowling pieces and one cutlass worth 2 pounds. Not surprisingly, his inventory included two Bibles, one psalm book and eight additional books, so he was a man who could read with some education. However, he signed his will with his mark, but perhaps that was due to age or infirmity. 


Grace Negrus Johnson wrote her will 21 December 1671, proved 29 Dec 1671. She left her estate to her brothers Jonathan and Benjamin Negrus. 


Sources:


Charles Edward Banks, The Planters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1620-1640, Boston, 1930, Reprint c. 2006, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD


Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700


Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995


Ray G. Hulburt, “Capt. John Johnson and Wife Margery of Roxbury—Who Were They?” The American Genealogist, Vol. 22, 1945, p, 47-49


Paul Franklin Johnson, editor, Genealogy of Captain John Johnson of Roxbury, Massachusetts, Generations I to XIV, 1945

Saturday, November 27, 2021

1707 Plympton Home of Luke and Martha (Conant) Perkins

I was so thrilled to see the 1707 Plympton, Massachusetts home of my 9th great-grandparents Luke and Ruth (Conant) Perkins as the subject of the HGTV show “Houses with History.” I did not even know their house was still standing! The television show follows the work of preservationists Mike Lemieux, Rich Soares and Jen MacDonald. Lemieux and MacDonald own Full Circle Homes and a shop in Plympton called Mayflower Mercantile. They really did a remarkable job restoring this beautiful old Cape Cod style center chimney home. Thank goodness for people like this who save historic homes from the wrecking ball.

 

Luke and Martha Perkins' home, Crescent Street, Plympton 

I took a drive by the property and it’s just gorgeous. It’s located on Crescent Street in Plympton, a winding country road. It’s amazing that the area remains rural and other than a newer (but still antique) home next door, the paved road, and the utility wires, Luke and Martha could return today and recognize it immediately. Behind the house is a cranberry bog and across the street is a field. There are stone walls and plentiful trees. It is an absolutely idyllic setting.  Before moving to Plympton, Luke moved a few times, probably to find better paying blacksmith jobs since men with his skill were in huge demand. But after moving to Plympton they stayed put. Driving down that beautiful street, I can see why!

 

I edited out utility wires; they just look so wrong!

The town of Plympton granted Luke Perkins an 18 acre parcel of land at Rocky Run when he agreed to be the town’s blacksmith. Luke and Martha relocated to Plympton from Ipswich on the North Shore, built their home there and stayed until they passed away in their 80s. (I thought they settled in Plympton about 1714, but on the show they say the house was built by Luke in 1707).  According to the show, the home was in just two families until it was purchased by Full Circle Homes. The sellers live on a farm next door, and I believe they own the majority of the 20 acres and they also have blacksmithing items recovered from the property.

 


Field directly across from the house

Luke Perkins was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts (a Boston neighborhood) in 1667, the son of Luke and Hannah (Long) Perkins. In 1668 Luke married Martha Conant at Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Martha was the granddaughter of Roger Conant, the founder of Salem (there’s even a statue of him there).

 



Luke and Martha had seven children, including a son Luke from whom I descend. Luke died at Plympton in 1748 at age 81 and Martha in 1754 at age 89. They are buried at the Old Burial Ground (also called Hillcrest Cemetery) on Main Street in Plympton. If you’d like to learn more about Luke and Martha, see the full sketch I wrote here. .  

 


 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Robert Ransom ca 1636-1697, England and Plymouth, Massachusetts

 Robert Ransom was born likely in England sometime about 1636 (based on guessing he was mid-20s at the time of his ca 1660 marriage). He was at Plymouth Colony by 1654 where he started his new life in as an indentured servant in Sandwich. He was a member of the Plymouth church and was made a freeman there in 1657, but he had a rebellious streak and appears frequently in court records. His name is sometimes spelled “Ransome” in records. Robert is my 9th great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family.

I have seen another descendant give Robert Ransom as being baptized 6 April 1636 at Ipswich, Suffolk, England, but I haven’t researched this myself. My research is very much a work in progress, so I appreciate hearing from people about any errors or gaps in my research!

In 1654 Robert accused Thomas Dexter, Jr., a Sandwich (on Cape Cod) miller to whom he was apprenticed, of treating him harshly. The court found in favor of Dexter and Robert was reprimanded for stubbornness and committed to the custody of the marshal for a night and a day. Thomas Clark of Plymouth bought out his remaining term of servitude from Dexter on 4 August 1654.

Despite his early rebellious nature, sharp tongue and quick temper, he seemed to evolve into a respected citizen, becoming a prosperous business man and landowner whose children married into some of the early, prominent families. He also served his community in minor roles as a highway surveyor and on a committee to collect money from townspeople to increase the minister’s salary. He is called planter and yeoman in many records, but was also an inn keeper and, based on the three sets of scales and weights and other items listed in his inventory, he bought and sold products beyond alcohol and food such as wood shingles.

Circa 1660 Robert Ransom married a woman often referred to as Susanna or Hannah (mostly by author Wyllys Ransom whose work, according to NEHGS Nexus magazine, vol 5, No. 3 1998, under Queries contains inaccuracies including his wife being Susannah). Robert’s probate records refer to his widow as Abigail, which I consider a good chance of being accurate. Children of Robert and Abigail:  

Joshua (he is mentioned in his father’s inventory), m. 1st Mary Gifford, 2nd Susanna Garner

Robert (he is deeded land by his father), m. Anna Waterman

Hannah

Mercy

Samuel m. Mercy Dunham

Mary m. Nehemiah Busse

Wyllys Ransom gives them a son Matthew, of Saybrook, CT, who married Hannah Jones, but the above Nexus source states there is no known connection between Matthew and Robert Ransom.

I descend from two of Robert’s children: Hannah who married Eleazer Jackson (I wrote about them here.) and Mercy who married Samuel Waterman (I wrote about them here).

Robert Ransom was involved in many land transactions in his life but unfortunately none of them mention his wife by name. He signed by his mark, indicating he was illiterate although he did own a Bible. See Plymouth Colony Land Records for details. 12 April 1661, Benajah Pratt sold for 10 pounds upland and meadow at Acushenah Coaksett. On 15 October 1661 Samuel Ryder Jr., cooper of Plymouth, deeded to Robert Ransom planter of Plymouth land at Wamonsett Pond in Plymouth near Thomas Clarke's farm, contained 20 acres of upland, also part of Little Meadow and right to the home where he now lives.

Other Land transactions: 20 July 1661, conveyance to Edward Gray; 24 March 1661(?/2) Thomas Pope of Plymouth, cooper, land exchange in Lakenham;  30 June 1662, deed from William Spooner and a deed to Jonathan Pratt;  11 January 1665, agreement of John Ricard, James Cole Jr, Joseph Ramsden and Robert Ransom on division of farm land and meadow at Lakenham; 2 Feb 1665, deed from Town of Plymouth; 15 May 1665, deed to John Tilton for 13 pounds sterling 14 acres of upland at Lakenham; 27 Nov 1667, deed to Zachariah Eddy; 8 July 1672, deed to Samuel Mylam; 16 April 1674, deed to John Andrews.

On 17 June 1686, Robert Ransom Sr gave by deed of trust which took the place of a will, certain real estate holdings, to Robert Ransom Jr "my beloved son." Deed was acknowledged before a justice of the peace on 22 July 1689. Entered and recorded 15 Dec 1704. Robert signed by his mark "R" and his wife by her mark "H" which could look similar to an “A.”  

On 29 September 1696, John Dunham sold to Robert Ransom Sr. of Plymouth, for 14 pounds, 30 acres of upland adjoining the land which said Ransom now lives in the Lakenham village of Plymouth, which bounds the lands of Samuel Waterman (Robert’s son-in-law). Perhaps this late-in-life purchase was to procure more land to leave to his children.

Robert Ransom frequently occurs in Plymouth Colony Court Records.

On 3 Oct 1662 at the General Court Mr. John Barnes complained against Robert Ransom in to the damage of 20 pounds for neglecting to give him sufficient security for the payment for a horse that Ransom bought of Barnes. Court ruled Robert Ransom to make over to John Barnes as security until he paid for the horse 15 acres of meadows in the township of Plymouth, three acres of upland and a house thereon at Lakenham in Plymouth, and five or six acres of meadow belonging thereto, and he is to pay the said John Barnes a barrel of tar for court charges within one month.

On 1 March 1663, Robert Ransome was fined 10 shillings by the court upon complaint of AL Wait for his turbulent and clamorous carriage. In the May 1665 court, Robert Ransom of Lakenham was at court for fencing in common land and was ordered to have fence “throwne down.”

On 2 Dec 1665 Robert Ransom was admonished for calling William Hawkins a rogue and insulting him.

James Cole Jr and Ephraim Tilson were fined 3 shillings, 4 pence each for "breaking the king's peace" when they struck Robert Ransome. Cole testified his brother had been abused by Ransome. On 1 March 1669/70, Robert Ransom appeared for speaking wicked and reproachful words against the governor and magistrates for which the jury cleared him legally as there was just one witness, but they added that it did sound like something Ransom would say. On that same date, John Tilson was fined 3 shillings, 4 pence for striking Robert Ransom. On 3 June 1673, John Andrew was fined 3 shillings, 4 pence for breach of the peace by striking Robert Ransom, and Ransom for “misdemeanoring” himself in abusive words toward Andrews was released with an admonition.

On 2 March 1679/80 Edward Gray of Plymouth complained against Robert Ransom of Lakenham in said town to the damage of 16 pounds for non-payment for 8 pounds of pork. A side note says: "withdrawn." On 7 July 1681, John Doter, late constable of Plymouth, complained against Robert Ransom of said town in an action for the damage of 5 pounds for his putting Doter to much unnecessary trouble, expense of time and loss in the execution of his office of constable. Jury found for the plaintiff.

Fines recorded in the October 1680 court include 5 pound fine to Robert Ransom for selling rum by retail without order. This must have forced his hand in becoming licensed to sell liquor. He was licensed to sell wine, beer, ale, cider or strong liquors as a Plymouth innholder by the court in 1686, 1687, 1688, 1690, and 1691.  

Robert’s tumultuous personality was also present at home. On 29 Oct 1669 Robert Ransom and his wife appeared to answer for their contentious and unworthy carriages each to the other in their walking in marriage condition and on their engagement to live better in that behalf they were for the present cleared and their bonds for their appearance canceled.

Much of Robert’s legal battles seem due to his outspoken nature and perhaps bristling at the prominent role of the Separatists in law making. Later in life he seems to have quieted down, perhaps becoming a respected citizen. He was surveyor of highways, served on a jury of the General Court (where he must have been the juror most familiar with the courts!), was on a committee to receive funds for the increase of the minister's salary, and was prosperous in business affairs. Also, his children married into the most prominent families.

Robert’s death is not recorded in vital records but the date is given in his estate inventory as 14 December 1697. He died intestate and his probate file is PCPR case no. 16575. The inventory of his estate was sworn 22 Dec 1697 and it totaled 136 pounds, 2 shillings, 7 pence, which did not contain all of the real estate he once owned which he conveyed to his children before his death. It does contain land that was John Dunham’s, 24,000 shingles, 200 boards, 2 spinning wheels, a yoke of oxen, 4 cows, 1 mare, 2 small swine, 2 turkeys, farm tools, brass scales and weights, money scales and weights, great scales and weights, 9 barrels of cider, two gallons or rum, empty casks, 8 bushels of Indian corn, about a barrel of beef and pork, three bushels of oats, 9 pounds yarn, a Bible, home furnishings including pewter, brass and iron, sheep’s wool, over 19 pounds in money. Also mentioned is a horse, saddle and arms he gave to his grandson Nehemiah Busse before he died with no value given. There were considerable debts owed to his estate including from his sons Robert and Joshua, Adam Wright for barrels, and an Indian named Sam Clark.

His widow Abigail made oath to the inventory. John Tilson’s 1673 estate inventory mentions Goodwife Ransom (assumed to be Robert’s wife), then Abigail Ransom, aged about 36 years, testified concerning Tilson’s will, which gives further, if somewhat inconclusive, evidence of her name.

Sources:

Wyllys Cadwell Ransom, Historical Outline of the Ransom Family of America, Volume 2, 1903

William Richard Cutter, New England Families Genealogical and Memorial, Third Series, Vol. IV, 1913

Jonathan A. Shaw, John Shaw of Plymouth Colony, Purchaser and Canal Builder, NEHGR, July 1997