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.

Friday, July 19, 2024

James Pitney (ca 1595 to 1663/4) and His Wife Sarah (ca 1599-1658) of Ipswich, Marshfield, and Boston, Mass.

James Pitney was born in England about 1595, to parents who are not yet known. He married, first, before 1620 a woman named Joane whose first name is established by her burial record. 

Joane and James had three children [baptisms recorded St. Olave, Southwark, Surrey, records on Ancestry]:

1..Rebecca, baptized 11 June 1620; no further record unless she was “The child of James Petney” buried 30 June 1625 at St Olave

2. Sarah baptized 31 Aug 1623; buried 5 Oct 1625 at St. Olave

3. James baptized 2 June 1624; buried 5 June 1624 at St. Olave

James’ wife Joane was buried at St. Olave on 2 June 1624, the same day her son James was born, so she likely died from complications of childbirth. It appears all three children died very young. James experienced such unimaginable tragedy, but went on to marry again.

Note that St. Olave was demolished in 1926. 

St. Olave's by Benjamin Cole 1756 (source: wikipedia)

James married, second, Sarah Smith at St. Mary’s Church, Rotherhithe, on 27 Dec 1624. [London Metropolitan Archives, London Church of England Parish Registers, available on Ancestry] Sarah may be the Saray Smith who was baptized St. Mary’s on 25 November 1599. They are my 9th great-grandparents on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family. There is a good deal of conflicting information on James Pitney in print; this sketch is a work in progress.

St. Mary's Rotherhithe

Often the women of Sarah’s time are invisible when it comes to records, but in the case of this couple it is Sarah’s migration that is recorded. Sara Pitnei age 22, Sara Pitnei age 7 child of Sara, Samuel Pitney age 1 1/2 child of Sara, Margaret Pitney age 22, and Rachel Deane age 31 were enrolled at London on the ship Planter on 11 April 1635. It arrived Boston 7 June 1635. Perhaps Margaret was James’ sister; Rachel Deane was a widow who settled Marshfield but her connection to the Pitney family is unknown. It seems Sarah’s age is an error as she would have been married at age 11!

Perhaps James had likely arrived before his family to get settled and then sent for them. He was at Ipswich in Essex County on the North Shore by 1639. A 25 April 1639 deed between William Bartholomew and John Webster for land on the north side of Ipswich mentions it is bounded by that of James Pitney. [Essex Antiquarian, 8:2 (1904)] On 26 March 1640 he and another man were hired “to keep a herd of swine” at Castle Neck and Hogg Island in Ipswich for payment of 40 pounds. [Ipswich Town Records]

By 1643, James removed to Plymouth Colony on the South Shore where he is found, as James Pittney, in the Marshfield section of the 1643 Plymouth Colony list of men able to bear arms. [PCR 8:196] On 5 March 1643/4 “James Pitney” was propounded for Plymouth Colony freemanship. [PCR 2:69]

On 24 January 1643 James Pittnie was taxed 1 pound by the Town of Marshfield; he was 9th on the list which is ordered by total amount paid. 

James appears to have limited education as he signed documents with his mark. He was a feltmaker by trade, which is mentioned in St .Olave baptism records for some of his children and in a 1659 Marshfield deed. 

Twice he was admonished or fined for not attending Marshfield Town Meeting: 16 February 1645/6 and 19 August 1645. [MD 62:33-34; 62:139] He is not found in any records as serving in  civic offices, but he was associated with some prominent families including Winslow, Bradford and Bourne. 

At 16 February 1645[/6] Taken by default for not appearing: Arthur Howland, John Gorham, James Pittnie, Luke Lilly, Anthony Father’s, Richard Beare, William Randall. 

On 29 March 1642, John West sued James Pitney and James Howe; Daniel Hovey also sued James Pitney and James Howe [Records of the Essex Quarterly Court 1:141]. No details of the suits given.

At Marshfield he had several tracts of land granted him. [62:2:141-2] One tract of land was at Mt. Skirgo, which later sold on 24 November 1659. James Pitny of Boston, late of Marshfield, felt maker, deeded his land at Mount Skergo to John Adamas and Samuel Baker for 15 pounds. [MD 62:133] On 5 September 1663 John Adams sold his share of the land to Samuel Baker for 20 pounds, so apparently James had given them a deal! Some of James’ Mount Skirgo land is part of what became the Ellis Nature Sanctuary. James received another tract of land at Green Harbor that he later sold to James Lindall. 

Ellis Nature Sanctuary (source nsrwa.org)

James appears regularly in Marshfield records from 1644 to 1649 and likely remained there through 1651 when he and his wife Sarah are mentioned in records. Robert Waterman of Marshfield was presented for “offering an attempt of boddyly uncleanes to Sara Pittney, of the aforesaid towne.”William Thomas of Marshfield wrote his will 9 July 1651 and left a bequest to James Pitney: “I give unto James Pittney two Bushels of wheate.” [The Mayflower Descendant, “Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories,” 10:163 (1908)]

On 26 July 1652 “James Pitney is admitted a townsman [of Boston] Theoder Adtkinson doth bind himself in twenty pounds sterling, to be paid unto the town’s treasurer, on condition for to secure the town harmless from all charge that shall come by the said James Pitney or any of his family.” [Second report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, p. 111]

Children of Sarah and James Pitney:

  1. Probably “The child of James Petney, ” unnamed, who was buried 30 June 1625 at St. Olave; could be his daughter Rebecca from first marriage or a premature child from his second marriage who died at or shortly after birth
  2. Sarah Pitney baptized St. Olave, Southwark, Surrey, on 11 Feb 1626/7 (aged 7 on 11 April 1635 [Hotten 56]); m Marshfield 21 Dec 1648 John Thomas [MD 2:110; MarVR 5; NEHGR 101:72-73]
  3. Possibly James who was buried 10 Oct 1628 at All Saints, Edmonton, Enfield, Middlesex
  4. Samuel Pitney born England about 1633 (age 1 1/2 on 11 April 1635 [Hotten 56]); sailed for New England with mother and sister in 1635; no further record
  5. John Pitney born say 1636 probably Ipswich; died Boston 17 Oct 1652 “son of Francis and Sarah Pitney” [BVR 37]; no Francis Pitney is found in early New England and James and Sarah Pitney were living in Boston in 1652 so seems he is their son
  6. James Pitney, b say 1638 probably at Ipswich; on 26 April 1655 Roger Williams wrote from Providence to John Winthrop Jr that “a hue and cry came to my hand lately from the Governor of Boston, after 2 youths one run from Capt. Oliver whom I lighted on and have returned, another from James Bill of Boston who I hear passed through our town and said he was bound for Pequ[o]t [New London]. His name is James Pitnie he hath on a blackish coat and hat and a pair of greenish breeches and green knit stockings” [RW Corr 440]; named in father’s will of 14 March 1663[/4]; James was an indentured servant to James Beele of Pulling Point, Boston so perhaps he had run off; no further record
  7. Abigail Pitney, b say 1640 possibly at Ipswich, named in father’s 14 March 1663[/4] will as “my daughter Abigail,” no surname given; no further record

I descend from their daughter Sarah.

Notes from the 27 September 1643 Marshfield Town Meeting provide information on what it is was like to live in town during a time tension with Native Americans. “…whereas it is probable that eminent danger to the whole body of the English in this land, it is ordered that four watches be maintained within the township—one at the house of Mr. Edward Winslow and he himself have charge of it and the other at the house of Mr. William Thomas and that Lt. Nathaniel Thomas have charge of it. A third at the house of Mr. Thomas Burne & Josiah Winslow to have charge of it and fourth at the house of Robert Barker and William Brookes to have charge of it. That Robert Carver, John Rowse, Edw Bumpas, Edward Winslow family, John Thomas & family be of the guard under the Command of Mr Edward Winslow. That James Pitney, Mr. Thomas family & Mr Bulkleys be under Lt. Thomas. That Mr. Burne & his family Robert Water[man] [John] Burne Roger Cooke John Russel Luke [Lilly] 

Kanelm Winslow & James Adams be under command of Josiah Winslow.
That Gilbert Brockes Nathaniel Briant [Robert] Barker William Barker John Barker 

Howell & Edw Broun Will. Halloway & fam be under the command of William Brookes

That a guard of two at least be maintained out of them. That be maintained all the day at the place of the guard. That for as much as the township consists of —- persons at present that therefore so long as the danger is like to continue viz 14 days at least every man lodge in his clothes with arms ready by his bedside that so he may be ready to give assistance according to need.

That in case any cannot come [page damaged]…of him in case any alarm be given by night from any other township that then every guard discharge only one piece but if an alarm arise in our own township then by two at least. And that then every person repair to his quarter or place of guard & half the strength of these guard make good the quarter & the other got to relieve that other quarter that is in danger.

That this watch begin this present night being the 27th of this present month and continue at least 14 days & further if occasion serve.

On the Sabbath days these guards be continued & that the rest of those that are liable to bear arms bring them to the place of worship and in case any remove form thence to take their arms with them.” [MD, 29:29-31] 

James’ son John died în Boston 17 October 1652. [Report of the Record Commissioners containing Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699, p 66] Son James became a servant to James Beele of Pulling Point, Boston. 

Sarah Pitney, the wife of James Pitney, died at Boston on 14 August 1658. [Boston City Document No 130, page 66] She was about age 59. An account payable by “Mr Pitney” included in the estate of Dr. Comfort Starr suggests that James had sought medical treatment for his wife before she died. [Hosea Starr Ballau, Early Starrs in Kent & New England, 1944, page 112]

The last record of James in Boston is the record of the death of his wife Sarah in August 1658. An account payable by “Mr Pitney” included in the estate of Dr. Comfort Starr, who died in January 1659/60 suggests that James had sought medical treatment for his wife before she died. [Hosea Starr Ballau, “Early Starrs in Kent & New England,” 1944, page 112.] James came back to Marshfield by 1663, possibly to live with his daughter Sarah Thomas at Green Harbor. 

James died between 14 March 1663/4 (when he wrote his will) and 21 March 1663/4 (date of inventory).

In his will, dated 14 March 1663[/4] and proved 8 June 1664, “James Pitney aged eighty years or thereabouts” bequeathed to “my son John Thomas Sr….my oxe…[and] my horse colt”; to “my son James Pitney…twenty shillings which my son John Thomas shall pay him;” to “my daughter Abigail two cows;” to “my daughter Sarah one cow..all my bedding and clothes;” to “my daughter Sarah’s children my two calves and one yearling;” “my loving daughter Sarah Thomas” to be executrix. “Mr John Bradford to be my overseer.” He signed his will with his mark.Witnesses were John Bradford and John Bourne.  [PCPR 2:2:21; MD 16:25-26].

Note that the age of 80 years given would make him born about 1583 which seems much too early so it is likely an error. It seems fairly common during this time period for ages to be exaggerated. His will does not state where he was living, but probably in Marshfield as that is where John Bradford  and John Bourne lived. 

The inventory of James Pitney was taken by John Bradford and John Bourne on 21 March 1663/4. No real estate mentioned. It totaled 31 pounds 9 shillings, and included 2 cows, an ox, a heifer, two calls, a few items of furniture, clothing and various household items.The estate was indebted to Goodman Wharton, Nathaniel Winslow, and Mr. Hugh Williams. James must have had a substantial tobacco habit as he owed four shillings to Goodman Wharton for four pounds of tobacco and five shillings to Nathaniel Winslow for tobacco.[PCPR 2:2:21] 

“Sarah the wife of John Thomas made oath to this Inventory May the 24th 1664 Before mee Josias Winslow Assistant.”

Sources Not Included Above:

Marcia A Thomas, Memorials of Marshfield, 1854

Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, V: 472-474 (2007)

The Great Migration Newsletter, 16:6

Jeremy D. Bangs, The Mayflower Descendant, “The Seventeenth Century Town Records of Marshfield,” 61:122, 62:33-34, 62:133, 62:139, 63:18 

Justin Winsor (communicated by), NEHGS Register, “Abstracts of the Earliest Wills in the Probate Office, Plymouth,” 6:185

Sunday, July 7, 2024

John Burgess ca 1629-1701 and his wife Mary Worden of Sandwich and Yarmouth, Mass.

John Burgess was born probably in England circa 1629, the second son of Thomas and Dorothy (Waynes) Burgess, early settlers of Sandwich on Cape Cod, arriving there by 1637. Before settling at Sandwich, the family may have been at Salem and Lynn. His father Thomas was a prominent man in the Colony and a large landholder. His last name is often seen as Burge/Burg, but I use Burgess for the sake of consistency.

On 8 Dec 1657 John married Mary Worden at Sandwich. [Sandwich VR p. 17] Mary was born circa 1639 at Yarmouth (in an area that later became Dennis), daughter of Peter Worden and his wife Mary whose maiden name is unknown. John and Mary are my 9th great-grandparents through both my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins and grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis.

John and Mary had ten children:

 i.possibly Mary born 25 Dec 1658; married Manoah Ellis

ii.John born abt. 1659; married Sarah Nickerson 

iii.Patience born about 1662; married Jonathan Nye of Sandwich

ivThomas born about 1666; married Sarah Storrs

v.Joseph born about 1670; married Tamsin/Thomasine Bangs

vi.iMartha born bout 1671; married Samuel Storrs of Connecticut

vii. Samuel born about 1678; married Elizabeth ——

viii.Jacob born about 1680; married Sarah ——

ix.possibly Sarah born about 1684; she may be the Sarah who married Jeremiah O’Killey but there is a lack of proof

x.Mercy born about 1685; married Samuel Winslow 

There is no primary source record for daughters Sarah and Mercy, but John does state in his will that he had five daughters. 

I descend from their son John as well as their daughter Patience.

John was admitted a freeman at Sandwich in 1657 and served as a grand juror in 1661. John and Mary removed to Yarmouth where in 1676 he had taxable property of 4 shillings and 1 pence. That same year John Burgess was taxed 12 shillings and 16 pence towards King Philips War. He was Deputy to the Court at Plymouth in 1680, so clearly he was a prominent man in the Colony.

John Burgess was chosen by Yarmouth in 1679 to look out for, cut up, and secure for the town such whales and whale bones as by God's providence were cast up on land from Sawtucket to Sawsuit Harbor mouth. He was paid five pounds "blubber or oyle" per whale. He was chosen for this job again in 1680.

Mary is mentioned as the wife of John Burgess in her father Peter Worden’s 9 January 1679-80 will. She is mentioned as being of Yarmouth with husband John Burgess again in her mother's 1687 estate settlement.  It was sworn to by John Burge, administrator, on 31 March 1687. 

A map published in the Cape Cod Genealogical Society Bulletin shows locations of the homesteads of "Dennis First Comers.” John lived in East Dennis on the south side of what is now Route 6A near what in 2001 was Sesuit Harbor Motel. His neighbors were Joseph Severance, T. Boardman and Z. Paddock. [CCGS Bulletin, Spring 2001, page 8-10]

Location of John's homestead near top of map/Source: CCGS Bulletin Spring 2001

John “Burg” wrote his will on 14 Aug 1700 and a codicil dated 19 Feb 1700/01, both proven 3 July 1701. He mentions wife Mary, all his sons by name: John, Thomas, Joseph, Samuel, and Jacob, and his five daughters all unnamed except for Martha who is noted as unmarried.  Codicil mentions land belonging to Aunt Martha Severance (she was the sister of his wife Mary Worden).  The codicil in particular spells out how he want his sons to care for their mother Mary as long as she remains his widow, something I find endearing. [Mayflower Descendant, Vol 53, no. 2, citing Barnstable Probate Records 2:127; inventory 2:129; also available on Familysearch.org]

A record of John’s death is not found but he died at Yarmouth between 19 February 1700/01 when he wrote the Codicil and 3 July 1701 when his will was proven.

An inventory of his estate was taken 12 July 1701. It lists land, farm animals, spinning wheel, clapboards, household items, books, a canoe, guns and swords, and a servant boy. To me the books indicate he was literate, the canoe that he lived near water, guns and swords that he at one point served in the militia. I believe the servant boy was an indentured servant rather than a slave.

The widow Mary Burgess died intestate before 11 May 1724 when administration of her estate was granted to her son Jacob. An inventory was taken 16 May 1724, final disposition granted 10 July 1727. In the final disposition, Jacob noted that all legacies had been distributed except to his sisters, Patience Nye and her heirs, and Mary Ellis.  Mary’s inventory included a cow, calf and heifer and the luxury items of a silk scarf and hood. 

Sources Not Mentioned Above

Charles Swift, History of Old Yarmouth Comprising the Present Towns of Yarmouth and Dennis, 1894

Katherine Hiam, Burgess Genealogy: Descendants of the Four Sons of Thomas Burgess and Dorothy (Waynes) Burgess, 1997

Martin E. Hollick, The American Genealogist, “Enigmas #20, One Identification and One Conundrum: Notes on the Venney, O’Kiliea/O’Killey, and Burgess Families of Yarmouth and Sandwich, Massachusetts,” 80:304 (2005)

John Burg’s will: Barnstable County Probate 2:127-30

Peter Worden’s will: "Massachusetts, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991", ancestry.com

Mary (——) Worden’s will: “Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967,” familysearch.org

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

John Faunce ca 1608 to 29 Nov 1653 of Plymouth, Mass. (Part 2)

One of my favorite things to do is discovering the location of ancestors’ homes. When I visit these locations I feel such a strong connection to the past that makes me nearly giddy. It can’t be matched by researching names and dates.  I have read that my 10th great-grandfather John Faunce and his wife Patience (Morton) lived at Eel River in Plymouth. I drive by Eel River frequently so I know it is nearly four miles long—I wanted to get more exactly location or John’s homestead.

I knew that John lived at Eel River from this land transaction: On 1 Nov 1647 George Bonum sold to John Faunce "that lot of land that lyeth next me at the Eel River with the housing and fencings thereabouts"; Manasseh and Jane Kempton witnessed the deed [Mayflower Descendant 10:17-18, citing PCLR 2:1:161]. That he lived there is also mentioned in a variety of historical and genealogical books and periodicals. 

View from Eel River Bridge, River Street

I hit a dead end, however, in pinpointing a more exact location. So I then started doing some collateral research.

John died on 29 November 1653, at just age 45. His widow Patience remarried, so she wouldn’t have stayed in the family homestead. I then looked more closely at his children. I descend through his daughters Mercy as well as Priscilla, and it is unlikely they would have inherited their father’s land.

I knew John’s eldest son was Thomas. He served as Town Clerk, was the church’s Ruling Elder, and lived to nearly 100. In 1741, at age 95, he was brought from his Eel River home to the waterfront where he told the story of Plymouth Rock, pointing out the boulder at the waterfront and identifying Mary Chilton (another direct ancestor of mine) as the first to step upon it. He said his father, John Faunce, had shown him the rock and told him the story, as did several Mayflower passengers. Personally I don’t believe the story of Plymouth Rock but I certainly love what it represents!

I looked at John’s probate record and found that on 29 Oct 1668 "Thomas Faunce appeared in the Court and being of full age was taken notice of by the Court, and owned and acknowledged to be the right heir apparent to the lands of John Faunce, Seni(o)r, sometimes of Plymouth, in New England, deceased" (PCR 5:6). The long delay between John’s death and Thomas claiming his right to his father’s estate was because he was just six or so when his father died. 

So it seems Thomas would have inherited the family homestead! I then started looking at him more closely. I was fortunate to come across an article at Pilgrim Hall Museum that stated John’s son Thomas Faunce lived on the west side of River Street, near Eel River bridge. There is now a house located at the spot on the corner of Langford Road and River Street. [Victoria B. Engstrom, Eel River Valley, Pilgrim Society Notes, Series One, Number 23, 1976]

Eureka! I don’t know the author’s source for this information but it is good enough for me as it aligns with everything else I have read.

Corner of River Street and Langford Road

It’s a lovely area and at its higher elevations one can see Plymouth Bay. Before so many homes were built in the area, it must have been an easy walk down to what is now Plymouth Beach and the Bay beyond. Langford Road is just a stone's throw from Eel River Bridge. It's just down the road from Plimoth Plantation/Plimoth Patuxet and three miles from Burial Hill in downtown Plymouth.

House currently on the corner of River and Langford

Years ago I wrote a sketch on John Faunce which can be seen here.