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.

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 

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I'm now moderating comments on this blog. My apologies for any ensuing delays, but the large number of "spam" comments have made this necessary. ~Chris