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, January 28, 2023

Sarah Carey/Cary born say 1592 Suffolk, England, died about 1655 in Plymouth, Mass., wife of John Jenney

Sarah Carey/Cary was born, say 1592, in England. She was in Leiden, Holland, by 1614 when she married John Jenney (sometimes Jeney, Jenne, Jennings) and was a member of the Pilgrim Separatists. Sarah was a wife, mother, and business owner. It’s always exciting when I have enough information on an early female ancestor to write a sketch! Sarah Cary is my 11th great-grandmother on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family.

I have yet to find Sarah’s birth information, but her 1614 marriage record to John Jenney at Leiden states she was from “Monksoon,” which would be Monks Soham, Suffolk, England.  

A transcription of the marriage record is available at PilgrimHallMuseum.org: 

The betrothal and marriage of John Jenney and Sarah Carey is recorded in the records of the City of Leiden: "Jene, Jehan of Norwich in England, Brewer’s mate, living in Rotterdam (Zuid-Holland), acc[ompanied] by Rogier Wilson his acq[aintance] betr[othed] 5 Sept. 1614, mar[ried] 1 Nov. 1614 to Sara Kaire of Monksoon in England, acc[ompanied] by Johanna Leyns her acq[aintance]”

Sarah and John Jenney came to Plymouth in 1623 on board the Little James. Sarah gave birth to a son during the voyage but unfortunately he died sometime before the 1627 cattle division. 

Children of Sarah and John:

  1. Samuel born Leiden about 1616; m. (1) after 1637 Susanna Wood (NEHGR 69:188-89); TAG 35:70-72); m. (2) by 1657 Anne Lettice (eldest child b. Plymouth 22 November 1657 (TAG 35:72) 
  2. Child, buried Leiden 1618 [Dexter 619]
  3. Abigail, born say 1621; m. Plymouth 28 April 1644 Henry Wood [PCR 2:79]
  4. Son, born 1623 aboard Little James, d. before the 1627 Plymouth cattle division
  5. Sarah b. say 1625 m. 29 May 1646 Thomas Pope [PCR 2:98]
  6. John b. by 1627; named in father’s will but not in mother’s will; no further record
  7. vii.Susanna, born say 1634, m. by 1654 Benjamin Bartlett, son of Robert Bartlett

I descend from Sarah who married Thomas Pope whom I wrote about here.  

John Jenney was a brewer and became an early grist mill owner in Plymouth. The current Plimoth Grist Mill (a re-imagining of Jenney Mill; it is not known exactly what the original looked like) on Town Brook is in roughly the location where John and Sarah’s mill stood. After John’s death between 1643 and 1644, Sarah ran the mill. She must have been a strong woman and an equal partner to her husband, unusual for the time. I’ve visited the mill and love envisioning Sarah overseeing the operation, chatting with neighbors as they waited for their grain to be milled. It’s still a beautiful spot and is a popular destination each spring to watch the herring run upstream from Plymouth Harbor, up Town Brook, past the mill, to spawn in the lake called Billington Sea. 

After John Jenney’s death, the Plymouth leaders expected the mill to continue without a hitch as Sarah was admonished at court for not keeping things at the mill up to snuff. On 20 August 1644 “Mrs. Jenney, upon the presentment against her, promiseth to amend the grinding at the mill, and to keep mortars clean, and bags of corn from spoiling and loosing.” [PCR 2:76].

Sarah Jenney lived on for 12 years after her husband’s death, and although she was not a young woman she took an interest in business and conducted land transactions and clearly had a head for finance, making good investments in her land purchases.

2 Oct 1650 “Mis Sara Jennings” complained against Roger Nash for 50 pounds in damages. Jury found for Sarah in the lawsuit. 

Mistress Jeney is on the March 1651 list of those that have interest and properties in Punkateesett (Little Compton) against Rhode Island. 

On 1 Dec 1640, a group of Plymouth Purchasers, including John Jenney, purchased large tracts of land at “Acusana, Ponagansett and Coaxett” later to be known as Dartmouth, although the actual purchase was not made until a few years after John’s death, so it was Sarah who concluded the deal on 7 March 1752. Each party owned 1/34 of the vast amount of land. The land included what is now all of New Bedford, Fairhaven, Westport, Acushnet, and Dartmouth. The price paid was: 30 yards of cloth, 8 moose skins, 15 axes, 15 hoes, 15 pairs of breeches, 8 blankets, 2 iron kettles, one cloak, 8 pounds in campus, 8 pairs of stockings, one iron pot, and 10 shillings in another commodity, presumably rum.  Sarah did not settle there but her son Samuel was among the first settlers. Samuel’s holdings were east of the Acushnet River in what is now Fairhaven and Acushnet village. Acushnet Library stands on what was Jenney ground, nearby the ancient burying ground. Her daughter Sarah with her husband Thomas Pope settled at Dartmouth as well, something the family must have deeply regretted as two of their children and their son-in-law were killed fleeing for safety during King Philip’s War. 

In Sarah’s will, dated 4 April 1654 and proved 5 March 1655/56, “Mrs. Sarah Jeney of Plymouth being sick and weak in body” thinking it “good to dispose of some small things that is my own proper goods leaving my husband’s will to take place.” 

Sarah’s bequests:

  • to “my daughter Pope” a bed and household goods and “further I bequeath to my daughter Sarah Pope all my wearing clothes to dispose of them to my daughter Abigail Wood and to my grandchild Sarah Wood for their use as they have need excepting two of my petticoats which have not been worn which I give to my daughter Sarah Pope for her pains” 
  • to “my son Samuell Jeney and to my daughter Abigail Wood my mare equally to be divided between them”
  • to “my son Benjamin Bartlett all my …cattle…in the hands of Joseph Warren at the Eel River”; “my sheep be kept together till my legacies be paid”
  • to “the teacher Mr. John Reyner one ewe lamb”
  • to “the Elder Mr. Thomas Cushman one ewe lamb and the Bible which was my daughter Susanna’s”
  • to “my loving friend Goodwife Clarke” one ewe lamb
  • one ewe lamb to Thomas Southworth 

Signed by Sarah Jeney, her mark

Witnessed by Thomas Southworth

"Att the generall Court held att Plymouth the fifth of march 1655 (1656) Leiftenant Thomas

Southworth Testifyed upon his oath that the Will abovewritten is all the will of Mis Sarah Jeney Deceased which shee left with him."

Sarah wrote a codicil dated 18 August 1655:

That which was her own since the death of her husband she give to two daughters and the children of son Samuel, excepting what I give as followeth: 

  • one colt to the three daughters of children viz. Sarah Wood, Susanna Pope and Sarah Jeney if she come hither to abide, or else not to have any part of this colt or anything else of her estate
  • if son Samuel take away his children that were with Sarah, then none of them shall have anything of hers…but it shall be reserved for the two boys if they do well when they come to age
  • Benjamine Bartlett was given only the starred cow which is at Thomas Pope’s recalling whatsoever else is mentioned in my former will
  • daughter Sarah Pope household goods including her mother’s bed, bedding, petticoats

Loving friends Capt. Standish, Elder Cushman, Thomas Clarke, and Thomas Pope  (her son-in-law) were overseers [MD 8:171, citing PCPR 2:1:17-18]

Sarah signed by her mark in the presence of William Bradford and Alice Bradford. 

At the General Court held at Plymouth 5 March 1655[/56] Mr Willam Bradford Senr and

Mis Alice Bradford did testify upon their oaths that this next before written was the last Will and Testament of Mis Sarah Jeney Deceased.

Reading the codicil, I at first thought Sarah was perhaps controlling and manipulative using her assets to get what she wanted, but after doing more research it seems after her daughter-in-law had died, Sarah likely wasn’t enamored of her son Samuel Jenney’s parenting skills. Her granddaughter Sarah was about eight years old and her grandsons living with her were about five and seven when she wrote the codicil. 

The inventory of the estate of “Mrs. Sarah Jeney” was taken by Thomas Willett and Thomas Southworth on 18 February 1655[/6] and totaled 248 pounds 5 shillings 8 pence, include 131 pounds in real estate: “the land & meadow at Lakenham,” 7 pounds; “all the land at Strawberry Hill and meadow at the Salthouse Beach,” 14 pounds; “the Purchasers’ land” 10 pounds, and “the mill with the land belonging to it and dwelling house” 100 pounds [MD 8:173-75, citing PCPR 2:1:18-21].

Her inventory also included:

  • cows, horses, sheep, pigs, beef
  • copper, iron, pewter, earthenware, and brass kitchenware, three silver spoons, mortar and pestle, brass candlestick, andirons, a dozen trenchers 
  • Sheep sheers, a cheese press, sheep wool, brewer’s slings, tallow, a great trough 
  • A large variety of clothing including waistcoats, hat, silk caps, a hood, handkerchiefs, muff, petticoats, pair of shoes, pair of stockings, loose coat, and a flannel coat
  • Linens including curtains, aprons, napkins, tablecloths, carpet, sheets
  • Books: four old books, a psalm book, Mr. Ainsworth of Genesis and Exodus, Cartwright on the Remise, Downham’s Works, a great Bible, a small Bible
  • Furniture including two bedsteads, a table, a chair, two stools, five chests and a case
  • Linen, wool, cotton wool, cotton sheet, Spanish leather skin, 12 parcels of lace and yarn
  • Cash:  one piece of eight & 2 half Crowns & more, seven pence in silver
  • Debts owed to the estate totaled 9 pounds 19 shillings and 6 pence

The inclusion of books in Sarah’s inventory leave me hopeful that she could read, but it could well be the books were simply kept in the house after the death of her husband. Although I cannot imagine running a mill without some ability to read as well as a head for figures.

Sarah Cary Jenney died at Plymouth between 18 Aug 1655 (will codicil) and 5 March 1655/6 (probate of will). 

From my research, it is clear that she and her husband John were an affluent, important Plymouth couple. They were friends with some of the prominent people in town: Governor Bradford and his wife Alice, Edward Winslow, the Southworths, the Cushmans, Thomas Prence, Miles Standish. Their children married into some of the best families. They are often referred to in records with the honorifics of Mr. and Mrs, and John is sometimes called Gentleman. 

After Sarah’s death, her son Samuel and son-in-law Thomas Pope took over the mill operation. Samuel was living in Dartmouth and on 13 October 1680 sold his one-half of the “grist mill or corne mill” lying on the Town Brook and one half of the three acres lying with it to Charles Stockbridge.

Thomas Pope, cooper of Dartmouth, sold his one-fourth of the mill on 31 October 1680 to Charles Stockbridge of Scituate, cooper. I have not researched who owned the final quarter of the mill after Sarah Jenney’s death. Her son-in-law Benjamin Bartlett is one possibility to investigate.

Sources not listed above:

Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995

The Jenney Book: John Jenney of Plymouth and his descendants, compiled from manuscripts of Bertha W. Clark, 1988.

Marriage record: Johanna W. Tammel, comp., The Pilgrims and Other People from the British Isles in Leiden, 1576-1640, c1989), p. 135 

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