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, May 27, 2024

John Phillips ca 1602 to 1692 of Duxbury and Marshfield, Mass., and His Four Wives

John Phillips was born in England about 1602, based on his age when he wrote his will. I haven’t discovered where he was born or who his parents were. His named is sometimes spelled Philips. There is a good deal of conflicting information in print and online about John, often confusing him with John Jr., and I’ve done my best to sort things out. He is my 8th great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family. I am accustomed to discovering hardships endured by many ancestors, but John’s losses are astounding—he lost three sons and a wife in violent circumstances as well as his other three wives.

John Phillips came to New England during the Great Puritan Migration and settled at Plymouth Colony—he lived at Duxbury and then Marshfield. In 1639 John Phillips bought of Robert Mendall of Duxborrow a house and land for six pounds in hand and 17 pounds to be paid in installments. [PC Deeds, Prince Chronology, vol II, page 4]

He married, first, a woman whose name is not known. There is no mention of this marriage or births of their children in Plymouth Colony records. It is likely he married in England and that John and possibly Mary were born there.

Children by his first wife whose name is unknown:

i.John probably born England about 1633; died in 1658 at Marshfield

ii. Mary who died after October 1691

iii.Samuel born about 1642 probably in Duxbury; he may be the Samuel Phillips who married Mary (Hoskins) Cobb on 15 May 1676 at Taunton

iv.Jeremiah born about 1646 probably in Duxbury or Marshfield; died in 1666 at Marshfield 

Adding to John’s challenges, his daughter Mary was intellectually disabled but she went on to survive her father and all four of his wives.

On 6 April 1640, John Phillips was granted by the Colony Court “a garden place upon Stony Brooke in Duxburrow by Phillip Delanoyes, to be laid forth by Mr. Collyer, Jonathan Brewster and William Basset.” William Bassett is my 11th great-grandfather; William Collier my 10th great-grandfather. On June 1 of same year John was granted “four acres of upland abutting upon the Stony Brook in Duxburrow by the milne (mill) to rang(e) south and north in length and east and west in breadth, and November 2 same year was granted “twenty acrees, his houslott to be pt thereof…of those lands that lie northward from Duxburrow mill, towards Green Harbor.” [PC Records I:145, 153, 165]

His purchase of house and land at Duxbury and the immediate grants by the Colony of considerable land adjacent to his purchase would indicate he was of some means and was already a family man. [Winsor’s History of Duxbury p 291 “married in England;” PC Records Court Orders III:14]

On 2 September 1647 John Phillips of “ Duxburrow” was deeded 50 acres of upland and meadow by William Lawrence of “Duxborrow.” [MD 34:80] 

In 1643 he appears on the Duxbury list of those able to bear arms [Winsor’s History of Duxbury, 53] 

The exact date of his removal to Marshfield is not known but he was involved in a lawsuit with a Marshfield citizen in 1653. [PC Rec III: 39]  His home was in the area known as White’s Ferry near the mouth of the North River. Jonathan Brewster, son of Pilgrim William Brewster, was the first to operate a ferry there. 

White's Ferry area of Marshfield/current day

John was Surveyor of Highways at Marshfield in 1655 [PC Rec III:79], constable in 1657 [PCR III:79] and was propounded as a freeman in 1659. [PCR III:163]

On 8 January 1671[/2] the Town of Marshfield granted 14 acres of land to John Phillips, adjoining the lot he already owned. [MD 62:143]

On 6 July 1654 John married, second, Grace, widow of William Hallowell/Halloway of Duxbury. [Marshfield Town Records 1:1; Mayflower Descendant 2:4] Her maiden name is not known, and Axel Ames wrote she was at least 15 years younger than John. Grace had two daughters, Grace and Hannah, from her first marriage. She and John had two sons together:

v.Joseph born Marshfield “the last of March” 1655 [Marshfield Town Records 1:2; MD 2:6]; died 26 March 1676  at Rehoboth 

vi.Benjamin born before 15 August 1658 when he was baptized in Scituate, Massachusetts, the son of John and Grace Phillips. [American Ancestors, “Massachusetts Vital Records 1621-1850,” online database]; married Sarah Thomas and raised a large family in Marshfield

Why Benjamin was baptized at Second Church of Scituate rather than the nearer First Church of Marshfield is unclear. Perhaps there were some philosophical differences that made the Second Church more appealing to John. The Puritans and Separatists could be prickly about religion and things like methods of baptism could cause major divisions. 

Mr. John Phillips put his son William, being about age seven unto Mr. John Bradford of the town of Duxbury, and his wife, as an apprentice for 14 years from the first of December 1649. Bradford was to feed, clothe, teach him to read and write, and given him education to become a master to a servant. Indenture would expire in 1663 when William was to be paid in suits of apparel and the sum of five pounds in corn or cattle. There is no other mention of a son William, so either he died young or this was a recording error and should be Samuel. [Marshfield Town Records, 21 May 1650 Town Meeting]

John’s eldest son John died tragically at about age 25 when on 31 July 1658 he was struck by lightning. He was with Captain Nathaniel Thomas who gave eyewitness testimony at court. He said that just before the fatal tempest burst upon them that he met Phillips and another man “coming out of a meadow from makeing hay to the next house.” John was likely gathering the hay in the meadow owned by his stepmother Grace Phillips that she inherited from her first husband and while doing so he stayed at the home of Timothy Williamson where the men took shelter during the storm. It was likely the earliest account of death by lightning in the colony and garnered a great deal of attention as there are over 20 published accounts of his death. In his testimony, Captain Thomas’  speaks of how he ran into the house with John who sat on a stool with his back to the hearth. When lightning struck the house, causing a great ball of fire, John fell from the stool backward onto the hearth without any motion of life. No outward appearance of injury appeared on his body. Bricks came loose, the rafters split, a main post of the house was torn apart. The inquest was before the court of assistants on 4 August 1658 that included my 10th great-grandfather William Collier. My 9th great-grandfather Abraham Jackson served on the coroners jury. The court and jury contained distinguished citizens, an indication of the seriousness of the tragedy. [PC Recs, Court Orders III:141, inquest account]

The family misfortunes continued when John’s son Joseph died as a young man serving in King Philip’s War. He was killed with Captain Michael Pierce of Scituate in the disastrous fight with the Indians at Rehoboth on Sunday on 26 March 1676/7. Pierce’s company was ambushed by about 500 to 700 Native Americans and many perished and nine soldiers were captured and tortured to death. 

Incredibly on 23 June 1666, just eight years after John Jr. was struck dead by lightning, John’s wife Grace and his son Jeremiah were killed when their home in the eastern part of Marshfield was struck by lightning. Their neighbor Timothy Rogers was an eyewitness, and he stated the 14 people in the home were prostrated and overcome, three of whom were killed instantly: Mrs. Grace Phillips, Jeremiah Phillips, John’s son by his first wife Jeremiah Phillips who was about 20, and Mr. William Shurtleff a neighbor staying with the family because his house had burned down.The family dog was also killed.

The three unfortunate victims were buried the following day, and surprisingly their death records do not state a cause of death. [MD 2:182]

Years later, on 28 July 1683,  Rev. Samuel Arnold wrote a letter about the tragedy to Rev. Increase Mather in Boston. The lightning strike happened after the town had devoted a day of fasting and prayer for relief from a severe drought and “it pleased God to answer us by terrible things.”  He witnessed the most dismal black cloud he ever saw which brought thunder and lightning. His informant, Timothy Rogers, said that just as Mrs. Grace Phillips called to her son to shut the door, a terrible clap of thunder fell upon the house and rent the chimney and split the doors into pieces and struck most persons if not all. The house was full of smoke and a smell of brimstone. Rogers first believed everyone else was dead but most soon revived. William Shurtleff was holding a small child who was unharmed.

Many considered death in this way to be a direct act of God which must have added to the family’s grief. Where they treated with suspicion rather than compassion? Did they believe they somehow deserved such tragedy?

The family misfortunes did not dissuade women from marrying John. He married, third, Mrs. Faith (Clarke) Dotey on 14 March 1666/67, some nine months after the sudden deaths of his wife and son. John was about 65 and Faith was about 17 years his junior. [PC Recs 8:31] She was the second wife and widow of Mayflower passenger Edward Dotey and the daughter of Tristram and Faith Clarke of Duxbury. [Savage’s Gen Dict Vol 1; Davis’ Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth p 62; Winsors History of Duxbury p 246]  

Interestingly on 23 February 1666/7 Faith assented to the marriage on the conditions expressed in an ante-nuptial agreement. It stated the natural parent each child will be responsible for disposing of them [i.e. sending them out to work as apprentices]; Faith was to enjoy all her house, land and goods that she is possessed of for her own proper use, to dispose of according to her own free will; if she survived John she would receive one-third of his estate and that at the end of her life it will return to his heirs except for her wearing apparel, bed, bedding, furniture will go whom she chooses. She must have been a strong woman who wanted to protect her daughters’ legacy, refusing to go along with the norm of surrendering her rights and assets to her husband at marriage. Go Faith! John and Faith each signed by their mark in presence of Thomas Southworth and Desire Dotey. [PC Rec IV:193]

At the time of the marriage, Faith had three or four children who were under age that presumably came to live in her new home. So John Phillips had four separate family units under his roof: his daughter Mary and possibly son Samuel by his first wife; son Benjamin by his second wife; Hannah Halloway the daughter of his second wife; and the children of his third wife Faith by her former husband. Imagine the squabbles that ensued!

John lived with Faith some eight years before she, too, died. They had no children—likely due to their ages. The exact date of Faith’s death is not known, but Marshfield records show that she was buried there 21 Dec 1675 at age 56. [Marshfield Town Records 1:5; MD II:181]  Her will or what was intended by her as such, was apparently so incomplete in form that having been read by Lt.Peregrine White he deemed it practically nuncupative. Peregrine, the first white child born in New England white the Mayflower was anchored off Provincetown, was a respected man in town and lived down the road, so it would make sense Faith would ask him to come to her when she was seriously ill. That she was so careful about planning for her daughter’s legacy and then didn’t properly plan in the end may indicate she had a serious, sudden illness. The document was dated 12 Dec 1675, a few days before her death, but did not sufficiently dispose of all of her property or interests. She only made small bequests to her three daughters by her former husband. [Plym Col Wills III:2:12; MD II:89]  The June 1676 Colony Court granted administration to her three daughters: Desire (Sherman), Elizabeth (Rouse) and Mary Dotey. A considerable part of the estate  that she inherited from her former husband she appears to have disposed of by “Bill of sale” to her son John Dotey, under certain obligations on his part as to her other children. Her daughter Desire Sherman was living in impoverished circumstances due to her husband William having become “distracted” in the Indian wars. William died insane in 1680, adding to this blended family’s tragic history. Desire married again in 1681 to Israel Holmes and he drowned in Plymouth Harbor three years later. 

On 3 April 1677 John married Ann Hatch Torrey, the widow of Lt. James Torrey of Scituate and daughter of Elder William Hatch of that town. [Marshfield Town Records I:4; History Duxbury p 292; MD 2:181,] She was born about 1623 and so at the time of her marriage to John was about 54 years old, some 20 years his junior and likely her younger children were still at home. 

Ann had 10 children with her first husband and endured her share of trials, the latest of which was her house being burned by Indians. No record of her death is found she must have predeceased John as she is not mentioned in his will. 

On 15 Nov 1681 John Phillips gave to son Benjamin by deed of gift “from natural affection: one moiety of all his housing and lands” and “half his cattle and sheep.” John, who had outlived four wives, lived out the rest of his days with his son Benjamin’s family. 

The exact date of death of John Phillips is not known, but his will is dated 20 Oct 1691 and probated 10 May 1692 so he died between those dates, likely close to the latter date. His will states he was about eighty-nine and that he was in some measure of health. 

Bequests included: to eldest son Samuel 5 pounds and wearing apparel to be delivered to him within one year; to grandson John Phillips son of son Benjamin gun or fowling piece; rest of grandchildren viz the children of sons Samuel and Benjamin each 5s. Son Benjamin received all houses and lands at Marshfield or elsewhere and rest of his belongings but the expectation he was to maintain and provide for John’s daughter Mary Phillips “who by reason of ye weakness of her reason & understanding is incapable to maintain and provide for her self.” Benjamin was named sole executor. [Plym Col Wills I:140; Gen Advertiser 3:28]

The inventory, which didn’t include real estate, totaled just 45 pounds 15 shillings 6 pence but was solvent. [Plym Col Recs I;143]  Marcia Thomas rightly stated he was “a man of many sorrows.” Axel Ames wrote he had integrity, abounding hospitality, courage, high standards, and unwearied thoughtfulness for others which were never abated by his many misfortunes. He was a good type of the sturdy New England yeomanry of that day. A courtly, kindly, honorable “Old Colony” progenitor.

Sources Not Included Above:

Axel Ames, The Family and Vicissitudes of John Phillips Senior of Duxbury and Marshfield, 1903

Marcia A Thomas, Memorials of Marshfield, 1854

Samuel Deane, History of Scituate From Its Settlement to 1831, 1831 [sketch on John has multiple errors]

Torrey’s New England Marriages to 1700

Sunday, May 12, 2024

John Ellis, ca 1620-1677 of Sandwich, Mass., and His Wife Elizabeth Freeman

John Ellis’ birth information is not known, but he likely was born about 1620 in England. Frederick Freeman in Freeman Genealogy (1875) said there was a John Ellis at Leiden, who witnessed the marriage of his brother-in-law Richard Masterson/Masterton to Mary Goodall. It would be a great discovery to find evidence this is the same John Ellis who was at Sandwich on Cape Cod by 1643 when he appears on the list of men age 16-60 able to bear arms for Sandwich. He settled in the Sagamore Highland area near Plymouth. 

Some time around 1645 John made a very good marriage to Elizabeth Freeman, whose father was one of the most important men in town. Her identity as John’s wife is shown in her father’s will when he names daughter Elizabeth Ellis and grandson Matthyas Ellis.

But their marriage had a humiliating start when the couple was accused of fornication. On 4 June 1645 John Ellis of Sandwich and his now wife is censured to be whipped at public post and Elizabeth his wife is to stand by whilst execution of the sentence is performed which was accordingly done. And the said John Ellis for his long and tedious delays occasioning much trouble and charge to the county for that he would not confess the truth until the present is fined 5 {?pounds]. Charges such as this occurred when a child was born less than nine months after a wedding. The courts at that time did not consider the possibility of a premature birth, which could be why John Ellis to denied the charges. [Nathaniel Shurtleff ed Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, vol 2, pg 75, 85]

Elizabeth was born before 20 April 1714 when she was baptized at Billingshurst, Sussex, England, the daughter of Edmund and Bennet (Hodsoll) Freeman. Elizabeth and John are my 10th great-grandparents on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.

It seems John married, first, a woman whose name is unknown and they had a son named John born about 1637.

Ten children have been found for Elizabeth and John. Only the births of Mordecai, Joel, and Matthias were recorded in Sandwich vital records as children of John; Bennet is recorded without a parent’s name but clearly was named after her maternal grandmother. The rest of the children are known due to direct and in some cases a good amount of circumstantial evidence.

i.Elizabeth born by about 1645, m. about 1664 Samuel Briggs (John 1).  Samuel was among the original settlers at Scippican and he held land in common with Elizabeth’s brother William Ellis. Further evidence of the marriage is that they had a daughter named Bennet. Children: Elizabeth born 30 April 1655; Bennet born 14 Oct 1667; Ebenezer born 9 June 1671; Samuel b 12 Dec 1673; Hannah b 14 Feb 1675.

ii.Bennet born 27 Feb 1648/9 m. about 1668 Obadiah 3 Eddy (Samuel 2, Rev William 1). A deed dated 1 Jan 1701/2  proves that the wife of this man was named Bennet: “Obadiah Eddy of Middleborough” conveyed land there to Thomas Parker of Beverly, in which the concluding phrase reads: “I and my wife Bennett Eddy.” It is signed and acknowledged by both Obadiah and Bennett Eddy. [PC Deeds 21:64] The name Bennet was not a common one and that of their twelve children, they had the Ellis names of John, Joel, Elizabeth, and Bennet. Another supporting fact: in 1700 William 2 Ellis of Middleborough bought land from Obadiah Eddy of the same town. Children, prob all born Middleborough: John born 22 March 1669; Hasadiah born 10 April 1672; Mercy born about 1674 ,m Samuel Sampson; Benjamin born about 1676, m. Abigail Hathaway; Samuel born about 1678, m. 3 Feb 1702/3 Melatiah Pratt; Jabez born about 1680; Joel born about 1682, m. 22 Sept 1708 Sarah Harris; Elizabeth born about 1684, m. 9 Jan 1705 David Delano; Mary born about 1686, m. Isaac Fuller; Bennett born about 1688, m. Israel Woodward; Hannah born about 1690, m —- Clark; Zachariah born about 1692.

iii.Mordecai, born 24 March 1650[/1] [MD 14:168], m. Sarah ____ and had a large family, died 5 Feb 1709/10 at Sandwich.

iv.Deborah born about 1652, d in Rochester 21 June 1711 (Rochester VR); m about 1673/4 Joseph Dotey b Plymouth April 1651; d.  probably Rochester about 1732. Children: Theophilus b 22 Feb 1674/5, m about 16956 Ruth Mendal; Ellis born 16 April 1677, m about 1704 Eleanor ——; Elizabeth born about 1680, m 28 Feb 1705 John Lewis; Joseph b 21 March 1683, m 2 July 1708 Hannah Edwards; Deborah b 31 March 1685, d in Sharon CT 13 Jan 1781, m 7 Feb 1710 Joseph Landers; John b 1 March 1688, m Elizabeth —-; Marcy born 12 Jan 1691; Faith b 18 Jan 1696, m 14 April 1719 James Shaw; Mary b 28 July 1699, m 23 Aug 1722 Samuel Waterman

v.Joel born 20 March 1654[/5] (MD 14:166), evidently died young, unmarried.

vi.Matthias born 2 June 1657 [MD 14:168], shown to be child of John and Eliza etc by his inheritance from his grandfather Edmund Freeman, m. Mercy Nye, had a large family died 30 Aug 1748 at Sandwich.

vii.Manoah born about 1659, married Mary (perhaps Burgess), removed to Harwich. No direct evidence his is son of John, but he took Oath of Fidelity the same day as Matthias and Freeman; named first born son John. 

viii.Freeman born about 1661, shown to be son of John and Elizabeth when he sells land that had  first belonged to Elizabeth. Died Rochester before 20 June 1728. He married Mercy whose maiden name is unknown and they had a large family.

ix.Gideon born about 1663, shown to be son of John and Elizabeth when he is deeded land from his mother. Died after 15 June 1702. No marriage record found. 

x.William born about 1665, shown to be son of John and Elizabeth when he is deeded land from his mother. He died in Middleborough in 1716. He married about 1696 Lydia, whose maiden name is not known with certainty but may be Briggs and they had a large family.

I descend from Elizabeth.

Despite a rocky start to his start as a Sandwich citizen, he rose to be an important person in the town. He comes across as an incredibly capable, active, and trustworthy man. 

John Ellis was approved by the Court to be Lieutenant of the military company at Sandwich on 9 June 1652 [PCR 2:61] and from that point on he is frequently called Lieutenant in records. On 6 June 1660 he was engaged by the town to train the military company. When James Skiffe was distributing power to every “Musquetere” in the Sandwich military company, most men received 2 pounds, but Lieutenant Ellis received 9 pounds. John Ellis, most likely his son, was on the list receiving 2 pounds. The 28 Feb 1675 Town Meeting topic was about protecting citizens against Indian attacks in connection with King Philip’s War, and it was ordered that Lt. John Ellis should make provision for them to come to safety into the garrison on Town Neck in times of danger. On 10 May 1676 Lt John Ellis and Thomas Tobey Sr and Steven Skiffe were appointed agents of the town to hire as many men as they need to scout for signs of Indian attack.

He engaged in various business and civic enterprises—participating in a group that profited from beached whales, building a mill to which he contributed 20 pounds (this agreement he signed by mark), and building the town dock. In February 1657/8 Lt Ellis was indebted to the town 14 s 8 d and was appointed to build the Meeting House [Sandwich Proprietors’ Records].

He also surveyed land in various capacities: surveying/determining the boundary line between Sandwich and Barnstable, with other men he was appointed by the Court to lay out the “convenientest” way from Sandwich unto Plymouth 24 Feb 1652 [PCR 2:361-2], and 26 August 1674 he was charged with laying out new land for Ebenezer Nye. 

He served on 5 June 1651 on the Grand Inquest [PCR 2:168]. On 13 July 1671, John Ellis was chosen one of the raters for the town. Lt. Ellis is on 29 May 1655 list of 32 men who would contribute toward the building of a place for public meetings in Sandwich. A 17 July 1657 list of 12 men pledged for the minister’s salary included Lt Ellis. 

On 3 May 1659 John Ellis was allowed by the court to keep an ordinary at Sandwich for the entertaining of strangers and travelers, was allowed to sell strong waters and wine, but he was prohibited from allowing town dwellers to stay drinking at his house unnecessarily. [Plymouth Col Recs. Vol 3, p. 61) It is interesting that he isn’t called “Lieutenant,” but if this was his son it would seem he would be called “Junior” and he would be quite young to be operating a tavern. 

According to R.A. Lovell, John showed an interest in Quakerism later in life. On 2 March 1657/8 Lt Ellis with two other men were found not faulty as first thought for going to Quaker meetings; the accusation stood for four other men. 

In 1658 there are records mentioning 20 acres of land owned by John Ellis Jr which abutted that of John Ellis Sr, by the beach as you come from Plymouth to Sandwich. On 26 August 1674 Lt. John Ellis was given 20 acres of land beginning at his cow yard at the western side of his fence going down to the beach, the highway excepted. [Sandwich Proprietors Records] 

Recording of other deeds: John Ellis senior his lands where his dwelling house now stands being twenty acres be it more or less; for himself his heirs and signs forever, being bounded as followeth from the spring at the head of the Cove, and so to the corner of the old field near the beach adjoining to the marsh.

The meadows of John Ellis senior first nine acres be it more or less for him his heirs and assigns forever; bounded as followeth beginning at the end of the bounds as far as the meadow goeth; and so bounded by a creek that runneth from Thomas Butler’s; the meadow for a great part of it lying with the creek and adjoining to his upland.

The next parcel of meadow belonging to John Ellis seniors is a parcel of flats in diverse parts adjoining to Scosset River; and upon the super and adjoining to the flats of William Swift; to himself his heirs and assigns forever; that he hath now in use.

Taken out of the Records by me [erasure] 

This 1:5:72 ordered by the curt to be recorded Stephen Wing Town Clerk July the First 1672

[Plymouth Colony Records, Deeds Vol 3, part 2, p 43]

I was excited to discover that John must have lived near/at what is now Scusset Beach in Sagamore, a village in Sandwich. It’s someplace I frequently visit; a beautiful spot at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. 

Lt John Ellis died before 23 March 1676/7 when Elizabeth Ellis, widow, presented his inventory at the probate court. 

His wearing clothes 3 00 00

2 beds & bedsteads with what belongs to them 6 00 00

3 brass kettles, 2 small kettles, a warming pan and a skimmer 1 10 00

2 iron Potts & 2 iron kettles 2 00 00

Pewter, tin & spoons 1 00 00

The iron instruments belonging to ye fire 1 00 00

A rapier & belt & 1 gun 2 00 00

3 sheets, powder, bullets, some linen and other things in them 1 10 00

1 table, tubs, barrels, trays, pails & other lumber 2 00 00

His books 00 12 00

4 cows & other, young calves 9 00 00

1 bullock 2 10 00

1 bullock in the woods that can not be found 00 00 00

1 horse 3 00 00

10 sheep and 6 labs 3 00 00

5 swine that are small ones & 1 piece of a barrel & pike 3 00 00

3 chairs, tackling & old iron 2 13 00

Some timber for a dwelling house at 30 ft and 18 ft wide 3 00 00

18 bushels of corn and some iron things for lead 0 05 00

1 cobbler staying at Mr. Freeman’s house 2 00 00

Total: 46/11/00

Richard Bourne
John Smith

Thomas Tobey

(Plymouth Colony Probate vol 3, p 88)

The inventory for John Ellis Jr. was exhibited at Plymouth court 5 June 1677 on oath of Mistress Elizabeth Ellis, widow. [Plymouth Colony Probate, vol 3, p 88] Her son Mordecai shared in administering the estate. He owned a boat, indicating he was a seaman, as well as livestock. It appears he was single.

His son Matthias (m. to Mary Burgess) inherited much of the original farm from his Freeman grandfather. John's other sons left Sandwich for Rochester and Harwich. 

Since there is no record of distribution of estate of Lt John 1 Ellis, can suppose the real estate in Sandwich was given to the eldest surviving son, Mordecai Ellis, after the widow’s dower was set off. It is likely the second son, Matthias, inherited much of the original farm from his grandfather Freeman. The third son, Manoah was apprenticed at this time to one of his Freeman relatives in Harwich, and he may have been given a portion of money. The three youngest sons may have accompanied their mother when she removed to the frontier settlement of Sippican. 

Perhaps John and his son were unrecorded casualties of King Philip's War as the records are incomplete, which adds to the tragedy of their loss. Young Thomas Tobey died 2 Feb 1676/7 [Yarmouth records] and the Ellis’ may have died then also. 

I am so amazed by the strength and adventurous spirit of Elizabeth. She was in her 50s when she lost her husband and step-son John near or at the same time, perhaps during military service. Elizabeth had the strength to oversee their estates, exhibiting both of their inventories at court. After her husband’s death, she left the only town she had ever lived in and where her family members were prominent citizens, to live in the new settlement of Sippican (spelled in a variety of ways, later named Rochester) where she became a large landholder in her own right. Land grants at Sippican were made by the Court to veterans of King Philip’s War or their heirs. The proprietors’ records at Rochester show that on 15 April 1680 a meeting was held at Joseph Burge’s house in Sandwich and that the purchasers of lands at Sippican and places adjacent cast lots for house lots in Mattapoisett. The Widow Elizabeth Ellis drew Sippican lot no. 4, Joseph Burge drew lot no 13. These house lots were subdivisions of the “Third Lot” or division of the plantation, which place was not yet designated as Rochester. Note that Joseph Burg was the husband of Patience 3 Freeman (Edmund 2, Edmund 1).

Complications quickly arose. A group of purchasers and sharers on behalf of Elizabeth Ellis and Joseph Dotey of Sandwich with two of the said partners and sharers complained against Lt Ephraim Morton of Plymouth in an action of trespass to the damage of 200 pounds. Under pretense of being an agent for the town of Plymouth, Morton was accused of forcefully entering the Sippican lands on 12 May 1680 and with others defacing the bound markers of Ellis and Dotey near Sippican Neck a little below the Rock House or wigwam. The jury found for the complainants and ordered 20 shillings damages plus cost of the suit [Plym Col Recs Judicial Acts 1857, vol 7 page 227-8]. Joseph was Elizabeth’s son-in-law, married to her daughter Deborah.

At a meeting of the Proprietors at Elder Chipman’s house in Sandwich on 2 November 1687, Mrs. Ellis was granted “10 acres of upland lying about her house where it now stands, as in addition to her house lot, leaving a sufficient outlet for John Mendall into the common.” [Rochester Proprietors’ Records 1:9] Shows that she was living on her land there before this date and records show that Joseph Dotey was also there. 

The proprietors of Sippican alias Rochester met at Rochester 10 Feb 1694[/5] and cast lots in two drawings for the salt marsh or meadows—one division at Crameset and one at Sippican Neck. Widow Elizabeth Ellis drew lot no 30 in Crameset, desired as “Bounded, taking in all the Southwest Upland to the old cart way and also the West one half of the cedar swamp at the head of Horse Neck by the Middleborough line” and “at Sippican Neck the 20th lot.” [ibid, page 14] A later entry shows that on 10 July 1694 “The widow Elizabeth Ellis having land to common a forty five acre lot of No 26 called woods lot and hath taken up instead three of the like quantity of acres in the undivided commons of the sd Town of Rochester as our & bound..as was laid out by Thomas Taber, surveyor, and approved…by the committee” [Rochester Proprietors’ Records 1:91]. 

The First Purchasers met 27 June 1704 to draw lots of land in the gore [i.e. a strip of land] next to Dartmouth Bounds. Joseph Burge drew lot no 5 and at a similar meeting on 11 Feb 1706/7, Elizabeth Ellis drew lot no 7 in the Rochester Cedar Swamp. She would have been about 83 years old! [Rochester Proprietors’ Records 1:56, 72]

So often land records at this time period include only the names of men, so it is impressive Elizabeth was acquiring a good deal of land as a widowed woman. She must have been a force to be reckoned with!

When she became a widow, her three daughters and probably eldest son Mordeai were married. The five surviving unmarried sons were from ages 12 to 20. Perhaps all but the youngest were apprenticed and not living at home. Her stepmother Elizabeth died the previous year, so it could be she went to keep house for her father Edmund Freeman. 

The will of Edmond Freeman Senior of Sandwich dated 21 June 1682 gave to “my daughter Elizabeth Ellis” one third share of all his lands “to the Westward and Northward.” Was this to mean Sippican and Middleborough? She was named co-executrix. His grandson Matthyas Ellis already possessed testator’s house and home lot. [PCPR vol 4 part 2 p 5] Inventory dated 4 Oct 1682: “this was the Estate that was sett forth by Elizabeth Ellis of her Father Mr. Edmond ffreeman.” Sworn at Plymouth 2 Nov 1682 by her brothers Edmond and John Freeman, who with Edward Perry were co-executors. Once again Elizabeth is presenting another inventory to court.  [Freeman Genealogy, 1875, p 21-2].

In 1692 “I, Elizabeth Ellis of…Rochester in the County of Barnstable…in consideration of the great love and affection that I bear unto my son William Ellis of ye town afsd & for other good causes me thereunto specially moving, do give…etc unto my afsd son…all my one third part of a half a whole share of lands, both upland and meadow, divided, and undivided in the township of Rochester…this 24th day of June 1692.” Signed by mark of Elizabeth Ellis. Witnesses: Joseph Dotey, Jonathan Morey. Acknowledged 7 July 1692, but not recorded until 20 April 1714 [PC Deeds 11:83]. 

Son Freeman Ellis must also have acquired land from his mother at about this time as he conveyed land to Joseph Dotey in Feb. 1692-3 which he relates had belonged to the widow Ellis “at first.” Similarly  the widow had gave land to her son Gideon Ellis.

Elizabeth Freeman Ellis died intestate, probably at Rochester, after 24 June 1692 and probably not long before 20 April 1714 when her sons William and Freeman Ellis recorded a number of deeds bearing various dates which suggest they were recorded in connection with the settlement of his mother’s estate. No record of a settlement of Elizabeth’s estate found, which suggests she disposed of most of her estate among her children before her death.

Sources Not Included Above:

R.A. Lovell Jr., Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town, third edition published by the Sandwich Archives and Historical Center, 1996, first printing 1984

Lydia B (Phinney) Brownson and Maclean W. McLean, NEHGS Register, “Lt. John 1 and Elizabeth (Freeman) Ellis of Sandwich, Mass.,” vol. 119 (July 1965) and vol. 120 (October 1966)

Eugene Stratton, Plymouth Colony, Its People and History, 1986