Note: I edited this entry in Jan. 2018 (corrected Edmund's birth year and age at immigration)
Freeman was born in 1596, Pulborough, Sussex, England, the son of Edmund and
Alice (Coles) Freeman. He was baptized
there 25 July 1596 at St. Mary's Church. He is my 11th great-grandfather on
my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.
|St. Mary's, Pulburough (source pulburough.org)|
came to America aboard the Abigail in
1635, which was at sea for 10 weeks and experienced a smallpox outbreak. He
settled first Saugus (now Lynn), later moving to Sandwich as the leader of the
“Ten Men From Saugus,” who founded Sandwich according to a 3 April 1637 grant
by the King. He was also in Duxbury and Plymouth at one time (made a freeman at
Plymouth on 2 Jan 1637).
|Plaque at Sandwich Town Hall|
Edmund witnessed the will of
wealthy man named Dennis Geere who developed smallpox on the Abigail and who left bequests to several
men, including Thomas Tupper and Benjamin Nye, who were probably fellow
passengers. They all became part of the group that moved with Freeman, or soon
after, to Sandwich.
He married, first, Bennett
Hodsoll in Cowfold, Sussex, 16 June 1617. She was baptized Pulborough on 25 July 1596,
the daughter of daughter of John and Anne (Maundy) Hodsoll. She died at Pulborough
in April 1630. His second wife was
Elizabeth (possibly Raymer but haven’t found proof of her maiden name), whom he
married 10 August 1632 in Shapley, Sussex.
Edmund had at least six
Alice, b. 1618, m. William Paddy
Edmund, b. 1620, m. Rebecca
Prence and Margaret Perry
Bennett, b. 1622, died young
Elizabeth, b. 1624, m. John Ellis
John, 1627, m. Mercy Prence
Nathaniel, b. 1629, died as a
His second wife, Elizabeth, had a
daughter, Mary, who may have been by her first husband. Also may have had a
daughter Margaret by her first husband.
Mary and Margaret are often given
as children of Edmund and they were certainly members of his household in
Sandwich. They were likely children of his second wife by her first husband. Mary
married in 1653 Edward Perry and Margaret married Edmund Freeman, 3rd, as his
second wife after the death of Rebecca Prence who died soon after their
Edmund's 1st and 6th children
were baptized at Pulborough and the middle four at Billingshurst. Even though the towns are about 6 miles apart,
the parishes are contiguous. Edmond apparently owned land in both
I descend from John as well as
Seems to have had some education,
as he wrote a letter preserved in facsimile (in Bradford's history of Plymouth
Plantation) shows care and perhaps business training. It is probable that by
his marriage he rose in social scale and bettered his prospects. About two
years after his marriage, he appears to have removed from Pulborough to Billingshurst,
a parish about six miles northeast, as his younger children were baptized
|St. Mary's, Billingshurst (source: stmarysbillingshurst.org)|
When Edmund came to Massachusetts
with his wife Elizabeth in 1635, he was called Edward age 39, husbandman. Elizabeth
was 35. The children that came with them were: Alice age 17, Edmund age 15,
Elizabeth age 12, and John age 8. It doesn’t appear he came for religious
reasons, but rather for opportunity. He was involved in a lawsuit against his
late wife Bennet’s family on behalf of his children and others.
Edmund presented to the colony 20
“corsletts” which were pieces of plate armor. He was frequently referred to as “Mr.,”
which was little used then, generally for men of substance. He was a person of
prestige as a brother-in-law of John Beauchamp of London, an investor in Colonial
ventures with a stake in Plymouth Colony.
Edmund was active in civic
affairs and clearly an important and well regarded member of the community. He
was assistant Governor to Gov. William Bradford for seven consecutive terms
beginning in 1640. He was on the Council of War in 1642; Deputy to the General
Court in 1646.
Edmund Freeman Sen with sons
Edmund and John were on the 1643 Sandwich able to bear arms list.
In 1645 Captain William Vassal of
Scituate petitioned the Plymouth Court to legalize the toleration of all
religious beliefs. The court of seven plus the governor was evidently divided;
Edmund was probably in favor of toleration. The older Pilgrims had become more
conservative. First the matter was delayed, then never raised again. This was a
turning point for the Colony, which then started requiring Church attendance
and penalizing criticism of the ministers or government.
His two sons that survived to
manhood both married daughters of Gov. Thomas Prence.
Edmund Freeman was sworn in as
Assistant Governor 2 June 1640 and continued to be elected annually through the
year beginning June 1645. Some of his assignments included: hearing causes in
the Cape towns, hearing a case at Yarmouth on land boundaries, see a maid
whipped for stealing at Barnstable, see Anne Lynceford whipped for adultery at
Yarmouth as well as her consort Thomas Bray, other offenders to be whipped at
Barnstable. In March 1641/42 he himself was presented for lending a gun to an
Indian. Something about him that I find admirable.
During Quaker troubles he always
spoke of moderation, something that may have cost him re-election as Assistant
Governor in 1646. Edward Winslow wrote that Edmund was “left out” because of
his professed Anabaptistry and separation from the Church. Edmund’s tolerance
during a very intolerant time makes him one of my favorite ancestors. He
clearly had liberal leanings and men like him made Plymouth Colony a more
tolerant place than Massachusetts Bay was at the time.
His first residence in Sandwich
was in the eastern part of town, sold by deed "first mo, 5th 1671" to
William Allen. Part of old house was still standing in 1875. Quakers say it was
first place in Sandwich where Friends meetings were held.
He was often involved in
financial matters with the Plymouth Colony investors, including his
brother-in-law Beauchamp. He went back to England at least once, possibly
necessitated by family interests in Sussex. Only known result is that he
brought back a consignment of hats to sell valued at 52 pounds.
Again his Quaker sympathies were
evident when in 1659 he was fined 10 shillings for refusal to aid the Town
Marshal in his proceedings against his Quaker neighbors. His stepdaughter’s
husband Edward Perry was also present, and was fined 20 shillings for abusive
speech to the Marshal. In 1645 he received John Beauchamp's power of attorney
to collect 400 pounds due to Beauchamp. He raised the sum through receiving
pledges based on real estate and houses owned by the eight original
Undertakers. This couldn’t have made him popular with his fellow New Englanders
and may have also contributed to his not being re-elected to the Court in 1646.
After this he seemed to have withdrawn almost totally from public life, until
the end of his life 36 years later. Some historians say he had the gifts of a
A number of men were fined for
refusing to assist George Barlow, special marshal for Sandwich, to enforce laws
against Quakers. Sandwich's eminent citizen Mr. Edmond Freeman was fined 10
shillings on 6 Oct 1659.
The founders of Sandwich received
criticism for allotting themselves a large portion of meadows at Sandwich,
resulting in a warning from Plymouth Colony’s court.
In 1646 he was elected deputy
from Sandwich. He was significantly fined for non-appearance at the main
election and law making session. After this he seemed to have withdrawn almost
totally from public life for the last 36 years of his life. Edmund Freeman Sr. was
elected Constable in 1650, a minor office for one of his background, but this
may be a transcription mistake of Sr. for Jr.
In 1651 Freeman received land in
division. There are no records of the original grants to the 60 families. Edmund's
lands were very extensive and included the whole of Plymouth Neck, also called
Freeman's Knob, now Sagamore Hill. He lived near Scusset Marsh. Much of his
land passed to his sons John and Edmund who lived in the Ploughed Neck area.
When John moved to Eastham, Edmund made sure the land stayed in the family
until the time of the American Revolution when it was broken up and sold off.
When his daughter (or step
daughter) Mary married Edward Perry, they refused to be married by the person
authorized to conduct marriages in Sandwich or by the magistrate. The Court
must have been angry that Edmund allowed this to happen in his family.
At the 11 May 1664 town meeting,
Edmund named to a committee of three men to make a new agreement with Thomas
Dexter about grinding the town's corn.
Appointed selectman in 1668 and
served 11 years.
In 1672 Mr. Edm Freeman Sr and
four others were requested to settle and confirm the township with the sachem
of Manomet (now Monument).
On the 1675 list of Sandwich men
allowed to vote at Town Meeting.
In 1676, Edmund was charged with
recruiting freely Indians as allies in the war against King Philip.
A letter written by Edmond
Sr thse may please your worship
to understand that I have appointed my son William Paddy to receve of you for
the Corne which I was to have of the last yeare. I desire you would satisfy to
him for so much as I paid for yt long sins, which is I think 11 li 13s 4d. ther
was A cow appointed by Mr. Andrews for Mr Williams of providens. I desire you
woulde be pleased to send me word whether you have any or noe or mony to buy
for him; I have directiones from him to that effect that Mr Williams may have a
Cow to keepe her for haufe the calfes I the rather make bold to entreat your
answer because Mr. Williams hath sent ot me often tymes abought yt. With my
salutations ot you in the lord & to all those that seeke the Lord with you,
I take Leave your worshipes to use Edmond Ffreeman & pr.
Last moneth 25 days 1645 (Feb 25,
Elizabeth Freeman died in
February 14, 1675/76 in Sandwich.
Freeman died in Sandwich in 1682. He was age 92 at the time of his death, the
last of the Ten Men From Saugus. He is buried on what was his land in Sandwich,
next to his wife Elizabeth. It is the oldest known burying place in Sandwich
and their graves marked by large rocks, referred to as the Saddle and Pillion.
The site is 1.25 miles west of Town Hall.
|Edmund and Elizabeth's burial location, now on private property in Sandwich |
dated 21 Jun 1682, proved 2 Nov 1682. Names sons Edmond, John, Edward Perry
(likely his stepdaughter’s husband), daughter Elizabeth Ellis, grandsons
Mattias Freeman and Thomas Paddy. Children had already been sharing his estate
through grants before his death.
Inventory of his estate, 4 October
1682, included linens, pewter, belmettle mortar and pestle, silver, feather
beds, brass kettle, iron pots, one desk, chests, trunks, earthen pot, lumber, clothes,
2 halt-brushes, one dictionary and great Bible. Totaled 28 pounds 8 shillings 10
pence. Added on 22 October: one gun, one 3 year old steer, one flaggan and iron
crow, more lumber, one double silver salt cellar. Land at Sandwich worth 150
pounds, land at Weequansitt 5 shillings, totaled 161 pounds in addition to 29 8
10 of personal property.
Freeman, Freeman Genealogy in three
parts, viz: I. Memorial of Edmund Freeman of Sandwich and his desc., II
Memorial of Samuel Freeman of Watertown and his Desc., III Notes, Historical
and Genealogical of Families of the Name of Freeman, distinct from Parts I and
II, or whose connection is not clearly ascertained,1875.
New England Marriages
Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and
Kittredge, Cape Cod Its People and Their
RA Lovell, Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town, 1996
L. Bush, English Ancestry of Bennett
Hodsoll, First Wife of Edmond1 Freeman of Sandwich, Massachusetts, NEHGR
Mary Walton Ferris, Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines..., vol II,
Charles Anderson, The Great Migration: Immigrants
to New England 1634-1635, vol. II, C-F, 2001
L. Deyo, editor, History of Barnstable
County, Massachusetts, 1890
L. Bush, English Ancestry of Bennett
Hodsoll, First Wife of Edmond1 Freeman of Sandwich, Massachusetts, NEHGR