Showing posts with label Puritan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puritan. Show all posts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Surname Wilson of Salem and Danvers, Massachusetts

A Great Share from Heather Wilkinson Rojo and her blog, Nutfield Genealogy

Robert Wilson was born about 1630, and lived in Salem, Massachusetts.  It is unknown where he came from before he arrived in New England, and it is unknown when he arrived.  However, he left some very interesting, yet sad and sorrowful, records during his life. 

His first wife was Deborah Buffum, daughter of Robert Buffum and Tamosen Ward.  In 1662, as the mother of two infant children she professed to being a Quaker, which was dangerous in Puritan Salem, Massachusetts.  Not only that, she went naked to the Puritan meetinghouse to protest the “spiritual nakedness”.  She was sentenced to be tied to a cart and whipped until she came to her own house.
Daniel Rumball, the constable “was loathe to do it, but was ordered to do his duty.  Robert Wilson (it may be presumed in collusion with Rumball, though neither was a Quaker) followed after, clapping his hat sometimes between the whip and his wife’s back.”   (from the book The Peabody Story by John A. Wells, 1973, Essex Institute, Salem, MA, pages 136 -7)

Although kind hearted Robert Wilson helped his wife, she died soon after in 1668.  Robert remarried to Anna Trask, the widow of Joseph Perry Foster, in 1674. They had one child together before he was called to join the Essex County militia with Captain Thomas Lothrop to protect Deerfield, Massachusetts.  Seventy men, along with Robert Wilson, were killed at in a massacre at a brook near Deerfield on 18 September 1675.  Only seven or eight men escaped this massacre.  The brook was renamed “Bloody Brook”.

Bloody Brook Monument

From the Essex Quarterly Court Records, volume 6, leaf 19

Administration upon the estate of Robert Wilson, intestate, was granted 28, 4m, 1681 unto Ann, the relict, who brought in an inventory amounting to about 150 pounds, and whereas there is some legacy or something of an estate of Tamosen Buffum's which of right is to belong to Robert and Deborah, children of the deceased, the court ordered that Ann should pay out of this estate into the inventory, to Robert the eldest son 14 pounds, and to Deborah aforesaid, children by his first wife, and to Anna, John, Mary and Elizabeth children by Ann, 7 pounds each, at age or marriage, the house and land to stand bound by security.

If you look at the genealogy below, you will notice a lot of Robert Wilsons, and the Essex County records are full of even more Robert Wilsons.  How did I manage to figure out which Roberts belonged to what lines?  Not without help! I was at the New England Historic Genealogical Society library one day, and when I had trouble finding a book on the shelves the librarian, David Dearborn, asked me which surname I was researching.  When he heard I was looking for Salem, Massachusetts Wilsons he introduced me to a series of books written by researcher Ken Stevens of Walpole, New Hampshire.  Ken Stevens wrote all his books about Wilsons from all over New England.  I wrote to Mr. Stevens (it was before email) and he sent me all his research notes on the Salem Wilsons.  He had not included these particular Wilsons in a book yet.   He confirmed my line, too!   The NEHGS library has his papers on Wilson research in their manuscript collection.  Kenneth C. Stevens passed away in 2010.

My Wilson lineage (note the five Robert Wilsons and one Robert Wilson Wilkinson in the first eight generations!):

Generation 1:  Robert Wilson, born about 1630, died on 18 September 1675 in Deerfield, Massachusetts at the Bloody Brook Massacre; married first to Deborah Buffum, daughter of Robert Buffum and Tamosen Ward, on 12 August 1658 in Marblehead, Massachusetts.  She was born about 1639 and died about 1668 and had two children including Robert Wilson, Jr. (see below).  He married second to Anna Trask, daughter of Henry Trask and Mary Southwick, widow of Joseph Perry Foster, and had one child.

Generation 2: Robert Wilson, born about 1662, and died before 17 January 1717; married about 1685 to Elizabeth Cook, daughter of Isaac Cook and Elizabeth Buxton. Four children.  He is listed in his grandmother’s will (Tamosine Buffum, Essex County Probate #30139).  He was the first Wilson to own property near the Wilson Square area of what is now Peabody, Massachusetts.

Generation 3: Isaac Wilson, born about 1691; married Mary Stone, daughter of Samuel Stone and Mary Treadwell, on 9 January 1718 in Salem, Massachusetts. Six children. He was a carpenter.

Generation 4: Robert Wilson, born about 1724, died before 10 July 1782 in Danvers, Massachusetts (now Peabody); married to Elizabeth Southwick, daughter of John Southwick and Mary Trask on 26 May 1744 in Salem, Massachusetts. Four children.  He was a prominent potter who lived where Route 114 now crosses Route 128 in Peabody.  The Wilson family burial ground still exists there behind the Kappy’s Liquor Store.  The Wilsons were known for black pottery that can be seen on exhibit at the Peabody Historical Society.

Generation 5: Robert Wilson born about 1746 and died 4 June 1797 in Danvers (now Peabody); married on 23 March 1775 in Danvers to Sarah Felton, daughter of Malachi Felton and Abigail Jacobs.  Nine children.  He is buried at the Wilson burial ground, and Sarah was buried in 1836, forty years later, across the street at the Felton burial ground.

Generation 6: Robert Wilson, born 5 September 1776 in Danvers, died on 9 November 1803 in Danvers; married on 8 May 1800 to Mary Southwick, daughter of George Southwick and Sarah Platts.   Two children. Robert and Mary Wilson are buried at the Wilson burial ground.

Generation 7: Mercy F. Wilson, born 17 June 1803 in Peabody, died on 9 October 1883 in Peabody; married on 23 June 1829 in Danvers to Aaron Wilkinson, son of William Wilkinson and Mercy Nason, born in South Berwick, Maine on 22 February 1802, and died on 25 November 1879 in Peabody, Massachusetts. Eleven children.

Generation 8: Robert Wilson Wilkinson m. Phebe Cross Munroe

Generation 9: Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill

Generation 10:  Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)
This Wilson family has not been written up in any compiled genealogy or articles in any genealogical journals.  Ken Stevens had notes on this lineage, but had not finished his research on the other lines of the Salem/Danvers/Peabody Wilsons for a book or article.   Most of what I put together here was gleaned from vital records and probate.  There is a bit of information on the Wilson potters to be found in books on the subject, such as this excerpt fromEarly New England Potters and Their Wares by Lura Woodside Watkins, Harvard University Press, 1950, pages 65-66.

"The Wilsons were a prominent family of artisans.  Their homestead included the land near 141 Andover Street and eastward where 128 now crosses it.  The first two potting Wilsons were sons of Robert, a farmer.  They were Robert, known as Robert, Jr. who remained in Danvers, and Joseph, who went to Dedham and thence to Providence, Rhode Island.  When Robert, Jr., died in 1782, he left property worth 627 pounds, including six lots of land, his house, barn, potter's shop, and cornhouse, a riding chair, and a large personal estate.  He seems to have done well in his trade.  His son Robert, known as Robert 2d, and a younger son Job were potters.  By an order of the court, Robert 3d, as administrator of his father's estate, was obliged to sell a large part of the elder Robert's property to pay certain debts.  This was not done until April 9, 1793, when two thirds of the land and buildings, and an interest in the business was aquired by Isaac Wilson 3d.  He, too, was a craftsman in clay.  The three Wilsons ran the shop together for a time, but Robert 3d, and Job both passed away before 1800, while Robert's son Robert, who had worked but a short time as a potter, died three years later at the age of twenty-seven.  Upon Isaac's decease in 1809, this early pottery must have come to an end." 
For more information on the Wilson Burial Ground in Peabody, see this link:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Visible Woman submitted by author Jo Ann Butler

Reposted from Rebel PuritAn Some women left wills; others appeared in vital records.  A few who could write left their own records.  Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet’s book of poetry was published in 1650; the first work penned by a North American woman to be published.  Mistress Bradstreet’s work was notable, and perhaps she was protected by her position.  She was the daughter of Massachusetts’ governor, and no sensible man would criticize such a woman.

The more typical attitude toward educated females is shown by Governor John Winthrop’s comment about a young woman who had “lost her reason” by “giving herself wholly to reading and writing.”  If she had not meddled in “such things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger, she [would have] kept her wits, and might have improved them usefully and honorably in the place God had set her.”

Anne Hutchinson.jpg
Even such towering women as Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson and Mary (Barrett) Dyer left few recorded words.  The educated Mistress Hutchinson held her own meetings to discuss the sermons of Boston’s ministers.  Soon her followers nearly upended the Puritan’s government, leading to the banishment of Anne and her family, and the ouster of many other Massachusetts residents.

Mary Dyer helped bring the Quaker faith to New England.  For that she was also banished from Massachusetts, and was hanged in 1660 for defying that banishment.  But the only written works left by Mary are two letters written to the Puritan government before her hanging.  Nothing at all survives of Anne Hutchinson’s actual words, only a few brief phrases recorded during hearings preceding her banishment and excommunication.

Both Anne and Mary were remarked upon by Governor John Winthrop in his journal.  Anne and her supporters’ near-rebellion filled several pages, and Winthrop remarked upon her life in Rhode Island many times.  When Anne was cast out of the Boston church, Mary left the meeting house arm in arm with her friend, and Winthrop noted that event.  He also wrote about Mary’s miscarriage in gruesome detail – a monster borne by a woman with monstrous notions.

Thus we see that the most visible women in 17th century New England were those who got into trouble.  Even when they appear in the court records for lesser events we see their names, and sometimes we can learn quite a lot about them.

A significant portion of colonial records is filled with men and women in trouble.  Theft, adultery, social disorder, even murder were fairly frequent occurrences and women were often the criminals in question.  We might not learn a woman’s maiden name from these records, but sometimes they give her husband’s name along with information about her crime and punishment.

Herodias Long is a perfect example of how a woman can become visible.  If it weren’t for her numerous court appearances, we would know her only from a couple of land records.  In November 1664 George Gardner Jr. and his older brother Benoni were granted land in Rhode Island’s Pettaquamscutt Purchase.  That land was bounded on one side by Horad Long, but the deeds do not note that Horad was the mother of the young men, using a shortened form of her first name and her maiden surname.

When John Porter, her third domestic partner, sold land between 1671-74, Horad Porter gave her consent.  Earlier land records for her first husband, John Hicks, and second partner, George Gardner, do not mention her at all.

So, how do we know that Herodias was married to those men?  She requested a divorce from both of them.  In 1644 Harwood Hicks was separated from her abusive husband, John Hicks.  We don’t learn much about her from those records apart from her name, but twenty years later, she petitioned the government for a divorce from her second “husband,” George Gardner, saying that they were not married, and that sin was weighing on her conscience.

Puritan wedding.jpg
Perhaps looking for sympathy and support for her youngest child, Herodias gave her life history.  Using her maiden name, Horod Long said that she was married at the age of thirteen at the church of St. Faith’s-under-Paul’s in London, that the Hicks family then came to Weymouth, Massachusetts for 2 ½ years, then relocated to Newport, Rhode Island.  She noted her separation from John Hicks, then said that she had not formally married George Gardner, and that omission was weighing on her conscience.

This sort of record is the sort that genealogists and historians dream about, and lets us trace this illiterate woman through most of her life.  If not for her troubled domestic life, Herodias would have remained nearly invisible, just another name written in fading ink on ancient parchment.