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.

Monday, October 11, 2021

William Freeborne ca 1594 to 1670, Essex, England to Portsmouth, Rhode Island


William Freeborne (also seen as Freeborn/Freebourne) was born, possibly Maldon, Essex, England, about 1594. He married Mary Willson there on 25 July 1625. They are my 9th great-grandparents on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family. I haven’t done research on their English ancestry, so any leads are welcome!

St. Mary's, Maldon, Essex

William (age 40) and Mary (age 33), with their daughters Mary, 7, Sarah, 2, and John Allbury age 14, came to Boston from Ipswich, England on the ship Francis in 1634. He first settled at Roxbury (admitted to church and made a freeman there in 1634), then Boston (1637) and finally Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island where he signed the Compact in 1638 as one of the founders of the town. The Compact outlined a non-sectarian civil government consented to by all the inhabitants and was to have a Christian focus. I always find my rebellious ancestors so fascinating!

source: Wikipedia

The 1640/41 list of freeman of Portsmouth and Newport includes William Freeborne.  He was on the 1655 list of Portsmouth freeman. He was granted 140 acres at Portsmouth in 1639/40. Portsmouth was founded by religious dissenters (including Anne Hutchinson) whose beliefs ran contrary to the Puritan Church teachers so were banished from Massachusetts.

William was a miller by trade. He served his community in a variety of other ways: as constable for Newport and Portsmouth in 1641/2 and for Portsmouth in 1653; Portsmouth’s Deputy to the RI General Court in 1657; Portsmouth Selectman 1639; Assessor in 1651/2; overseer and collector for the poor 1654; Town Council 1655; served on jury 1649. He was literate as he signed his deeds and as well as deeds he witnessed.

William's signature from the above Compact

William and Mary had three children:

Mary, baptized Maldon, Essex, 1627; m. Clement Weaver

Sarah, baptized 1631, Maldon, Essex; m. Nathaniel Browning 1650; died Portsmouth 1670 at age 38

Gideon, born about 1639; m. Sarah Brownell, 2nd Mary Boomer Lawton

I descend from Sarah who was deeded Portsmouth land from her father (as Sara Browninge wife of Nathanill) in 1652(?/3) and 1660. I wrote about Sarah and Nathaniel here.

On 20 November 1637 William Freeborn was among the Boston men disarmed for their support of Rev. John Wheelwright and Anne Hutchinson (part of Free Grace movement which was contrary to Puritan teachings). On 12 March 1637/8, the Massachusetts General Court gave 11 men, including William Freeborne, license to depart or if they remained they would have to answer at next Court. That same month, William Freeborne was one of the men who attended an organizational meeting for the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

William purchased a mill with land and housing from Samuell Wilbore Junior of Portsmouth in 1654, that had belonged to his father Wilbore and father Porter (also ancestors of mine). In 1655 he purchased a water will, with house and land, from James Sands of Portsmouth.

In 1654 William purchased an 80 acre great lot in Portsmouth from Thomas Lawton.

Plaque/Portsmouth Compact/Founders Brook

At some point William and Mary became Quakers, as their deaths are recorded in Society of Friends records. William died at Portsmouth 28 April 1670, age about 76 years (record says he was 80 but that is likely inflated). His wife Mary died five days later, on 3 May 1670, age 80 (more like 69, so also likely inflated). Burial location unknown.

On 30 April 1670, the court discussed the estate of late William Freeborn of Portsmouth saying he ordered the disposition of his visible estate but did not clearly express who would administer his estate. His son Gideon was named executor; he was to take into his hands all the lands of his late father. Gideon was expected to pay legacies (within 14 days) according to his father’s wishes: sister Mary Weaver 20 pounds in “Island pay” and 20 pounds to children of his deceased sister Sarah Browninge. Robert Denals and John Lapum named overseers.


Charles Edward Banks, The Planters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1620-1640, 1930, Reprint 2006

Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration 1634-35, vol II, 1995

Jane Fletcher Fiske, Portsmouth Loose Papers, Rhode Island Roots, March 1996, vol 22