Saturday, June 17, 2017

Chapter 53 - My Appleton Ancestry

Typically, when we choose an ancestral family for one of our blog chapters, we like to select a family with at least three or more generations who lived in America who had the family surname. In the case of my Appleton ancestors there were only two generations with the surname Appleton assuming that is, that we ignore the third generation, my 8th great grandmother, Judith Appleton, who at the young age of only 24 changed her surname  to Wolcott when she married my 8th great grandfather, Samuel Wolcott (1656-1695) in 1678. Despite this abrupt end of my Appleton ancestry, the life stories of Judith's father and grandfather are interesting and worth telling and while we typically do not spend a lot of time relating the stories of our English and European ancestors, in the case of our Appleton family, historians have done quite an amazing job, assuming that it is accurate, of tracing the Appleton family in England back as far as the 12th century. So, let us begin our next family history story, My Appleton Ancestry.

St. Lawrence Church, Little Waldingfield
Samuel Appleton, my 10th great grandfather, was born in the summer of 1586 in the small town of Little Waldingfield located in the Shire of Suffolk, in eastern England about 80 miles northeast of the City of London. In all likelihood he was born in his parents' mansion home known as the Manor of Holbrook Hall and that his baptism on 15 August 1586 took place in the old St. Lawrence Church that had been "rebuilt in a grand scale in the 15th century." Several generations of Samuel's ancestors including his great grandparents, Robert and Mary Appleton, are mentioned in the historical records of this old church. Robert and Mary Appleton both died in the year 1526. Samuel Appleton's ancestors are noted as living in the Little Waldingfield area as far back as his 4th great grandfather, John Appleton (1355-1416). The village itself is mentioned in a Domesday Book written way back in the year 1086 and whether any members of our Appleton ancestors were living in this area that far back is not known but it is definitely possible. The Little Waldingfield village website today describes itself as "a small and delightful parish village in the beautiful county of Suffolk" and even today the village population is no more than 300, only slightly more than the day of Samuel Appleton's birth over 400 years ago.

Samuels parents, Thomas Appleton (1539-1603) and Mary Isaac Appleton (1552-1613) were both wealthy and living in the Appleton family estate, the Manor of Holbrook Hall, that had been in his family for a number of generations. Were it not for the fact that their son Samuel was their seventh and last child and their fourth son, Samuel might have inherited a considerable amount of his parents' wealth. As was the custom of the time however,  most of the wealth was pasted along to the oldest son, which in this case was Samuel's older brother Isaac, who was born around 1576. Isaac was undoubtedly given the family home, Holbrook Hall, and a considerable sum of money at the time of his marriage in 1599. Samuel on the other hand received only a 100 English pounds when his father died in 1603 and shortly thereafter he found it necessary to find a job. Records show that in 1604 at the age of around 20, he was apprenticed to the Draper's Company of London which was apparently a company engaged in the cloth business. It was undoubtedly here in London where Samuel met his future wife and my 10th great grandmother, Judith Everard, whose parents, John and Judith Bourne Everard had been living in London for a number of years. John Everard was a goldsmith and undoubtedly the family was financially fairly well off. Unfortunately, Judith Everard was only 11 years old when her parents unexpectedly died in London only four months apart in 1598 probably as a result of the plague that had hit London about that time. Since Judith did not marry Samuel Appleton until the 24th day of January in 1616, many years after her parent's death, it is unclear where and with whom Judith and her four unmarried sisters may have lived until they each married.  We do believe that it is likely that she remained in the London area where she eventually met Samuel. What is somewhat unusual is that they were both 29 years old when they married which was many years above the average for that time.

That Samuel Appleton remained in the London area until his marriage is suggested not only because of his marriage to a London girl but also because his widowed mother, Mary Isaac Appleton, was also living in London at the time of her death around 1613. She in fact may very well have been living with her son Samuel.  What is known for certain is that Mary Appleton left in her final will that was prepared in 1613, the greater amount of her wealth to her son Samuel which would certainly suggest a strong relationship with her youngest son at the end of her life. My 11th great grandmother, Mary Isaac Appleton had an interesting life particularly following her husband's death. In 1604, about a year after the death of her husband, Mary and her oldest son Isaac Appleton (Samuel's brother) were sued in an English court for an unknown reason. They apparently lost the lawsuit but immediately refused to obey the court order ruling which probably involved the payment of money or transfer of land. While Isaac went into hiding following the ruling, Mary was arrested and apparently imprisoned on a ship laying out in a harbor, a common practice for jailing prisoners at the time. Mary and Isaac eventually agreed to a settlement and by the end of 1604 she was released from prison. We have to suspect that at the time of the lawsuit Mary was living with her son Isaac at the family home at Holbrook Hall. Isaac died in 1608, and it seems likely that around that time Mary Appleton may have moved to New York to be with her youngest son Samuel who at the time was around 23 years old. As we said earlier, Mary Appleton died around 1613 or perhaps early 1614. Samuel now had a certain amount of wealth which may have lead to his marriage to my 10th great grandmother, Judith Everard, a year or so later.

Little Waldingfield is 18 mi east of Ipswich
Judith and Samuel were actually married in Preston St Mary, a small village in Suffolk, England located about 6 miles from Samuel's birth home in Little Waldingfield. They apparently at the time were staying at the home of Samuel's older sister, Mary Appleton Ryece. Their marriage is noted in the records as having taken place on 24 January 1616.  At this point some of the historic writings suggest that Samuel and his new wife Judith moved to Little Waldingfield and into the Manor of Holbrook Hall which at the time would have been occupied by the family of Samuel's older brother Isaac. As we previously stated however, Isaac Appleton had died in 1608.  Shortly followed his death, his wife died in 1615 less than a year before the marriage of her soon-to-be in-laws Samuel and Judith. The causes of their early deaths is unknown nor do we know exactly how many young children they left behind although it was probably five including their oldest son, Isaac Jr., who was willed the Manor of Holbrook Hall. We mention all of this because at the time young Isaac Jr. who now owned the Holbrook Hall, was only around nine years old making it entirely possible that Judith and Samuel may have moved into Holbrook Hall if for no other reason than to help raise his brother's young children. This possibility is strengthened somewhat by the fact that the first five children of Samuel and Judith were all baptized in the local Little Waldingfield church.  It appears however, that Samuel and Judith and their family moved to the village of Reydon by 1628 at which time their nephew, Isaac Appleton Jr., was then around 21 years old and ready to assume control over the Manor of Holbrook Hall.

King Charles 1
Much of England was not a great place to live in the early 1600s. While hardly unique to England at the time, diseases were a common cause of early deaths. For example, Samuel's brother Isaac was only 31 when he died and Isaac's wife was only 36. It is highly likely that they both succumbed to one of the many common diseases that were ravaging England during this period, diseases such as the bubonic plague, smallpox, syphilis, typhus, and malaria. Queen Elizabeth I was left bald as a result of a case of smallpox and had to wear a wig for the remainder of her life. Judith's parents, John and Judith Bourne Everard died in London at the fairly young ages of 53 and 48 respectively no doubt as a result of the effects of a disease.  There were also many other issues during this time period that left the English citizens uncomfortable. Another issue was the rise of the Anglo-French War that was fought between 1627 and 1629. Many of the English, particularly those individuals involved with the British Parliament, were deeply opposed to the war and the need to fund the war. The war was organized in large part by the new King of England, King Charles 1, who came into power following his father's death in 1625. The Parliament's refusal to fund the war or even fund any actions by the king to support an army eventually led to King Charles 1 dissolving the British Parliament in 1629.  This was obviously not a decision popular with a large number of English citizens particular those who were Puritans who held the majority of the seats in the recently dissolved Parliament. It further did not help matters that King Charles 1 had married the Catholic daughter of Henry IV of France and that his actions clearly reflected his displeasure with those Puritans wishing to change the actions of the Church of England.

While Samuel Appleton's eventual move to America would show that he was a supporter of the ideas favored by the Puritans, that is to change the Church of England away from the its Roman Catholic teachings and practices, he nevertheless had been during his early life a strong supporter of the St. Lawrence Church in Little Waldingfield and his first five children had all been baptized at this church as had Samuel himself.  Furthermore his Appleton ancestors had been for decades, as wealthy residents of the Suffolk County area, strong financial supporters of their church. One has to suspect considering the large number of Puritans living in the Suffolk County area during this time period, that all of the local churches were sympathetic to the ideas expressed by their local Puritan population. That said, considering all of the problems taking place in England during this historical time period, it is not surprising that many citizens wanted to leave the country. One of the most prominent of the Puritan leaders advocating a departure from England was a man by the name of John Winthrop. It was John Winthrop who in 1630 became famous in American history by leading a group of almost 1,000 English Puritans on a voyage to the Boston area in America on what is now known as the "Winthrop Fleet."  John Winthrop grew up in the village of Groton located only three miles from the neighboring village of Little Waldingfield, home of the Appleton family. A brief search of the names of some of the early passengers who sailed on this Winthrop Fleet revealed the names of at least three prominent citizens from Little Waldingfield and there were probably more. We also found clear evidence that John Winthrop had known our Samuel Appleton as Winthrop mentioned his name in one of his correspondences. It is also quite possible that Samuel Appleton and John Winthrop had known each other quite well especially considering their prominences in each of their nearby communities. That said, Samuel Appleton and his family did not sail with the Winthrop Fleet when it departed for America in 1630.

One of the reasons given for Samuel Appleton delaying his departure to America until early 1636 was his need to settle his affairs which consisted primarily of his selling his property in England. Selling his property of course, allowed him to acquire the necessary funds both to cover the cost of the trip as well as money to purchase land in the New World. Finally by late 1635 Samuel Appleton had sold land he owned in various villages near Little Waldingfield plus land over in nearby Essex County, England that Judith Appleton had inherited from her late grandmother. While there have been no records uncovered to reveal exactly when they departed England, it is assumed by most historians that the family departed by late winter of 1636. In any case, the first record of Samuel Appleton in America is when he signed the Freeman's Oath on the 25th of May in 1636 in the village of  Ipswich, Massachusetts located about 30 miles north of Boston. Traveling with Samuel to America were his wife Judith and his five children including his son and my 9th great grandfather, Samuel Appleton Jr. who was around 11 years old when they landed.

Captain John Smith was probably the first European to visit the general area of Ipswich when he sailed into Ipswich Bay back in 1614. He later wrote of his visit with the following words: "Here are many rising hills, and on their tops and descents are many corne fields, and delightful groves . . .There is also Okes, Pines, Walnuts and other wood to make this place an excellent habitation, being a good and safe harbor." There were also as of 1614 an abundance of Agawam Indians in the area although thanks to the soon-to-be immigration of many Europeans who brought with them from England an abundance of germs for which these poor Indians had no immunities, the Agawam population was almost wiped out by the time Governor John Winthrop sent his son in 1633 on an expedition to Ipswich with the intent of forming a new settlement. The Agawam Indians had prepared the land well by clearing the land and the planting of crops. By the time that our Appleton family arrived in Ipswich in 1636 the town was incorporated, a Meeting House had been constructed that was now surrounded by numerous dwellings, and already farms lands were being developed in the outlying areas. Ipswich, Massachusetts was obviously named after Ipswich in Suffolk, England and a large number of the original settlers in Ipswich, Massachusetts were from Suffolk County, England.

It may very well be that Samuel Appleton had made prior arrangements with the leaders in Ipswich for he was quickly granted eight acres of land within the village and then by 1638 he was granted another 460 acres of prime farmland a few miles south of the village. His new farmland was bordered in part on the west by the Ipswich River and on the east by the Mile Brook. Perhaps as a result of his wealth and maybe his long relationship with the Winthrop family, Samuel was soon granted with the title of "Mr." Appleton, an honor in these early years of our country that was granted to only a few highly respected men. He was also in 1637 appointed as one of the Deputies to the General Court, another great honor and one that reflected his high social position particularly considering that he had only arrived in Ipswich a year earlier.  Unfortunately, politics even back then could lead to abrupt changes in leadership as Samuel's and some of the other Deputies' apparent support of Anne Hutchinson in her controversial trial in Boston in November of 1637, led to a complete and immediate change to the leadership of the General Court. They were forced to resign. [Chapter 52 in this blog describes the background of the Anne Hutchinson trial.]  Apparently Samuel Appleton never fully regained his political leadership position in Ipswich although his name comes up in future records wherein he served on juries and the like. His business leadership however, continued to grow as he quickly began to expand his farm. In 1641 he constructed a "corn malt house" and besides using his own corn crops, he agreed to accept corn from all of the local townsfolk which he subsequently dried and stored and eventually ground up creating a corn mash which then could be used to create alcohol. His own farm of course, undoubted consisted of hundreds of acres of corn as well as other popular crops for resale such as vegetables, and hay. We have to believe that some of his crops may even been planted many years earlier by the local Agawam Indians.

The year of my great grandmother's death is unknown nor is the location of her burial.  Samuel Appleton lived to the age 84 with the final years of his life spent at the home of his daughter, Sarah Appleton Phillips, in nearby Rowley, Massachusetts. If Samuel prepared a will prior to his death, the will has been lost. What is known is that he left the majority of his property to his youngest of two sons, my great grandfather, Samuel Appleton Jr. who was around 45 years old when his father died in 1670. Why the property was left to Samuel Jr rather than his older brother John Appleton is unknown. What is really clear when we examine the lives of both of the Appleton brothers is that neither one of them appear to have devoted a lot of time to managing the family farm. We suspect that Samuel Appleton Sr. when he was alive had organized the farm and staffed it well such that it operated without a lot of day to day leadership on his part and later on the part of his son Samuel. What is really fascinating about the Appleton Farm is that it is still in existence today and most historians agree that it is one of the oldest continuously operating farms in America and probably the oldest farm in Massachusetts. The Appleton farm remained in the Appleton family for seven generations and only recently was it turned over to a non-profit group, The Trustees of Reservations, to be preserved and operated as a farm open to the public. Their website,, provides a wonderful overview of the farm and the generations of the Appleton family who operated the farm for well over 350 years.

Samuel Appleton Jr. 1625-1696
The life story of my 9th great grandfather, Samuel Appleton Jr., is so interesting and extensive that it probably could be the subject of an entire book. Unfortunately in our blog we are not going to be able to go into all of the small details about of his life but we will do our best to relate the highlights of this rather impressive individual. Samuel was only 11 years old when he arrived in America in 1636 with his parents and his three sisters and one older brother. Obviously we know nothing about his early life although it would seem likely as he grew into his teens that he would have been fully engaged in working on his family's farm located just south of Ipswich.  Samuel married my 9th great grandmother, Anna Payne, in April of 1651 and over the next four or so years she gave birth to three children including my 8th great grandmother, Judith Appleton, who was born in 1653. Sadly, my great grandmother died in 1656 possibly as a result of problems with the birth of their third child. Anna was only around 28 years old when she died. It has always bothered us when we uncover another of our great grandmothers who died very young and typically died shortly following the birth of a child. Even today, despite our modern medical facilities, childbirth is not always free of problems but when we think back to the early years of our country, birth in ones own bedroom even with a fairly unskilled person present to assist in the birth, mothers were always at risk of encountering what today is a minor issue but back then a problem that led to the mother's end of life. Not surprisingly, Samuel who was now 31 years old, remarried a 16 year old girl by the name of Mary Oliver. Together they had four additional children, three sons and one daughter.

During much of Samuel Appleton's early years up until he was in his early 40s he worked on the family farm which by that point was probably totally under his control. One historical account reports that besides being a farmer he also owned on the Mile River (or Brook) a sawmill which produced a large number of boards and shingles which were sold and used for construction of homes and other buildings in the Ipswich community. We have to believe that at this point in his life Samuel Appleton Jr. was already a respected and wealthy member of his community. His farm was undoubtedly staffed by dozens of both men and women with the woman working primary in the home and the men in the fields. In all likelihood most of his "employees" were slaves composed of both Indians as well as black Africans who were brought into the New England area beginning as early as the 1630s. It is written that by the late 1600s around 10% of the population of Boston were blacks. Whether Indian or black, the Appleton family would have had to house and feed the families so a part of the farm land would have been covered with dozens of small shacks to house the workers and their families. We have all been taught to believe that slavery was unique to southeastern America although this is obviously incorrect and quite frankly, without having some form of slavery, farms such as the Appleton's might not have been able to function. We might point out that some of his workers may not have been slaves in the strict sense but "indentured servants," an indentured servant being a person who agrees to work for a defined period of time without pay in exchange for housing and food only. Either way, Samuel Appleton was a very wealthy and highly respected man during his lifetime.

Beginning in 1668, Samuel Appleton, then 43 years old, was appointed as a Deputy to the Massachusetts General Court. He served in this position up until 1675 at which time the advent of the King Philip's War necessitated his community to commission him as a Captain in the military. King Philip was the English name given to a Pokunoket Indian chief by the name of Metacomet who not surprisingly considering how they were being treated, led an uprising against the English colonists. The Indian resentment of the English had been growing for many years, a fact that probably should not have come as a surprise to men such as our Samuel Appleton. The war lasted from 1675 until August of 1676 at which time Metacomet was captured and beheaded. While many of his Indian allies escaped to Canada, others were captured or just surrendered and many were shipped off as slaves to the West Indians.  In the case of our great grandfather Samuel, he was able to purchase three Indians following one of the final battles, and when he returned home, the Indians were most likely sent to his farm as slaves.  Not such a nice memory of our ancestor but not really unusual behavior for the time.

King Philip's War 1675-1676
Without going into a lot of details about Samuel's involvement in the war, we will just note that he was engaged in only two battles with the Indians, one in Hatfield, Connecticut, and one called the Great Swamp Fight in Rhode Island. The battle at Hatfield was fought on October 19th in 1675. Samuel was in charge of the Massachusetts troops defending the town against an attack by around 700 to 800 Indians who charged the town at around four o'clock in the afternoon and following about two hours of fighting the Indian warriors retreated in confusion. It is recorded that this battle was the first setback for the Indians since the war began and our Samuel Appleton is credited for the success as he had well prepared his militia troops. The Great Swamp Fight was fought in November of 1675 and basically it was an attack by the colonial troops against an Indian tribe, the Narragansett, who had remained pretty much neutral so far during the war. The attack against this tribe is a good representation of the general attitude that the white colonists had against the Native Americans. In this pretty much one-sided battle, our Samuel Appleton commanded all of the Massachusetts troops that consisted of around 527 soldiers. Plymouth Colony gathered around 159 men under the command of William Bradford and Connecticut furnished around another 300 troops. The were also a few Indian tribes who joined with the British. In total there were almost 1,000 colonial troops that attacked an unsuspecting Indian village of around 800 residents including women and children. It is reported that upwards of 300 Indians were killed during the attack with the vast majority of those killed being old men, women, and children. The one sided battle effectively ended the King Philip's War.  Following the battle Samuel Appleton returned to his home in Ipswich (along with his three new Indian slaves) and he retired from the military. We might point out that Samuel Appleton was not the only one of our ancestors who fought at the Great Swamp Fight. A more detailed description of the battle and the background of Metacomet and the King Philip's War can be found in Chapter 50 of this blog entitled "Our Johnson Ancestors." We have also reported in Chapter 36 of this blog that Indian chief Metacomet might very well have been another one of our great grandfathers. Samuel Appleton is also mentioned in both of these two above referred blog chapters.

Following the brief King Philip's War Samuel Appleton returned to his role in the government. From 1679 to 1681 he was a deputy to the Massachusetts General Court and from 1681 to 1686 he was a member of the "council of assistants," a body of magistrates who not only decided judicial cases but also played a role in the colony's lawmaking. Obviously Samuel was an important man in Colonial Massachusetts during this time period. He also made quite a name for himself beginning in 1686 by often opposing the new Colonial Governor of New England, Sir Edmund Andros. His opposition apparently culminated when Samuel Appleton in 1687 refused to pay taxes leveled by Governor Andros that had not been approved by the council of assistants. As a result, Samuel was arrested on September 20, 1687 and throw in jail where he remained for a little over five months before being released in early March 1688 after posting a bond. Following the overthrow of King James 11 of England in April of 1689, the colonists in Boston rose up against the rule of Andros and eventually he was forced to return to England.  Samuel Appleton returned to serving in various roles in the Massachusetts government beginning in 1689 and continuing  right up until around 1692.  In 1692 he is credited with serving as a judge overseeing a witch trial. Thanks perhaps to the intelligence and common sense of our great grandfather, all those accused of being witches in Ipswich were acquitted unlike what occurred at the witch trials in nearby Salem around the same period of time.

Division of land to Appleton sons
Samuel Appleton signed his last will and testament on 17th April 1695. He was at this point 70 years old and he obviously knew that he was near the end of his life. To his four sons, Samuel, John, Isaac, and Oliver he left portions of his land and to his daughters, Hannah, Judith, my 8th great grandmother, and Johannah he left money. To his second wife, Mary Oliver Appleton he left his home in the village of Ipswich.  Samuel died on the 15th day of May in 1696, a little over a year after preparing his will. We feel confident that a large group of locals attended his funeral and his burial. His gravestone still remains in the Old Burial Ground in Ipswich.

Gravestone of Samuel Appleton
Samuel's daughter Judith Appleton, my great grandmother,was 42 years old and married to my 8th great grandfather, Samuel Wolcott, when her father passed away. She would not have remembered her mother, Samuel's first wife, Hannah Paine Appleton, who had died when Judith was only three years old. Judith and her Appleton family are ancestors of ours through my mother's grandfather, Eugene Hutchinson Ferree. We have to admit that we are quite proud to be their descendants.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chapter 52 - Our Compton Ancestors

We have to admit that despite many hours of online research we were unable to positively determine the family line between my 5th great grandmother, Anna Compton (1756-1780), and the man we believe to be Anna's 3rd great grandfather and my 10th great grandfather, John Compton (Abt 1599-1656). Based on birth and death dates and their locations we are comfortable that John Compton and Anna Compton are related. Where we are uncomfortable is that it is unclear as to Anna's father's name and the name of her grandfather. We will explain later the issues in detail as we outline our Compton family's early history in America. 

John Compton is believed to have been born around 1599 in Cranbrook, County Kent, England located around 40 miles southeast of downtown London. There are some that believe that John's father was a man named Thomas Compton who was the vicar of the Sutton-Valence parish in Kent, a vicar being a type of parish priest. Sutton-Valence was located just 9 miles from Cranbrook. The parish records show that Thomas Compton had a son John who was baptized in 1599 and the records further show that when Thomas died in 1606 he named his youngest son John in his will. Whether or not our John Compton was the son of this Thomas Compton wedo not know for certain particularly when later records of our John Compton in America show that he was born sometime between 1603 and 1605. Of course, if our John lost his father when John was very young, it is possible that the exact year of his birth could have been lost in history which was very common in the 17th century and earlier. Additional records show that in 1629 in Lydd Parish, County Kent (about 23 miles from Sutton-Valence) a John Compton married a Susan Seade and then four years later in 1633 a daughter of John Compton, Abigail Compton, was baptized in Cranbrook.

Unfortunately the name of John Compton's mother has never been uncovered, nor for that matter, the name of the wife of Thomas Compton, John's likely father. What is known is that in 1638 John Compton is mentioned in the will of a man named Smalehope Bigge who lived in Cranbrook and John is listed as one of his "kinfolk" in the will. Smalehope Bigge was around 13 years older than John when he died and the mention of kinfolk in the will might suggest that John was his cousin. Smalehope's mother, Rachel Martin Bigge, along with one of Smalehope's sisters and her family immigrated to America and the Boston area in 1635 or 1636, several years following John's immigration to America, and when she died in 1646, she too left money to John Compton. Obviously the kinfolk relationship might suggest that Rachel Martin Bigge may have been John's aunt and that Thomas Compton may have married one of Rachel's sisters. Unfortunately, nothing that we could find in any way supported this possibility and revealed the name of John's mother. What it does show however, is that our 10th great grandfather, John Compton, was definitely born and raised in County Kent, England and that he lived in his young life in the general area of Sutton-Valence, Cranbrook, and Lynn Parish.

County Kent, England during this period of history was a "hotbed" of Puritan activity and it is quite understandable that a young John Compton was caught up and drawn into the Puritan protests against the Church of England and the actions of the British Crown. As we have outlined in previous chapters in this blog, the Puritans were a group of English "Protestants" who sought to purify the Church of England by ridding it of its "Catholic" practices. The English church was originally a Catholic Church under the indirect control of the pope, however beginning around 1538 during the reign of King Henry VIII and under his command, a campaign commenced to destroy the shrines and monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church. These actions ultimately led to the church being under control of the English Crown which hence ushered in the "divine right of kings." Ultimately however, while the English Crown assumed the role previously held by the Roman pope, the church itself did not change and mostly retained its basic Catholic practices such as hierarchical leadership, clerical investments, and the various and to many rituals of the church. It was these issues that basically led to the rise of Puritanism.  While the Pilgrims who moved to Holland and eventually in 1620 to the Plymouth Colony in America were not strictly Puritans, they were the beginning of the departure from England by some of its citizens who were fed up with the Church of England. The Puritans on the other hand, were hopeful of changing the church away from its Catholic rituals, however they soon realized that their cause was hopeless and beginning around 1630, they too like the Pilgrims, began migrating to America. In 1634, our John Compton with his wife and daughter joined with many others and sailed to America.

It is not known what ship carried the Compton family to America although it is entirely possible that they sailed with a John Stowe and his wife Elizabeth Bigge Stowe and their six children who are known to have also arrived in America on one of the six ships that sailed to Boston in March and April in the year 1634. Elizabeth Bigge Stowe was the sister of Smalehope Bigge and the daughter of Rachel Martin Bigge which would therefore make her another possible cousin of our John Compton. It would certainly not be surprising that the two families sailed together and it is further know that both families settled in Roxbury shortly following their arrival in America. We mentioned that John and Susan (Susanna) sailed with their daughter although some family historians note that their son William Compton, my 9th great grandfather, may have been born as early as 1631 and therefore would have also sailed with his parents. Shortly after their arrival both the Stowe family as well as my Compton family moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts located just south of the original Boston area where in September of 1634 John Compton was made a Freeman which meant that he was a member of the church, not an indentured servant nor a slave, and he had the right to vote and possessed all of the civil rights afforded by the community.

Anne Hutchinson on trial
Most family historians report that John Compton moved or at least owned land in Boston by 1635. If indeed the family relocated to Boston, it may have been because John's employment as a "clothier" improved as a result of more customers in the larger populated area in Boston. In any case, it is clear that John Compton was not wealthy.  Perhaps if John had not lived in the Boston area during this period of history he may have avoided the notorious Antinomian Controversy that hit the Boston area in 1637. We have read on numerous occasions that many new immigrants to America beginning around 1635 began leaving the Boston area to settle in new communities in Connecticut and Rhode Island.  One of their reasons for leaving the Boston area was their total dissatisfaction with the local government which was strictly controlled by the Puritan Church. That is, there was no separation between the Church and the State. One of the examples that we found that illustrated how the church was controlling the actions of its citizens was the story of a husband being arrested and thrown in jail because he was seen kissing his wife in public. This public act was forbidden by the Puritan Church and they had used their local theocratic government to enforce their policies. Many of the English had departed England to escape this type of behavior on the part of the Church of England only to find that the Puritan Church in Boston was even worse. The Antinomian Controversy was a failed attempt on the part of some of the Boston citizens to stop such activity on the part of the local government and our John Compton played a major role in this controversy.

The Antinomian Controversy actually culminated with the trial of one Elizabeth Hutchinson in November of 1637. Her arguments in the courtroom were a little more complicated that we expressed above regarding the churches' rigid control over its citizens. Basically she professed that "the doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace." In other words, simply obeying the law and the church rules should not be a requirement for receiving "salvation" or getting into heaven. Only God can make this determination. Elizabeth Hutchinson was supported by a number of prominent citizens including some clergymen but unfortunately that did not prevent her from being found guilty and subsequently banished from the community. Along with Elizabeth's banishment many of her supporters including our John Compton were first disarmed (their weapons removed) and then they too were banished from the community.  Obey our rules regardless. . . or get out.

In John Compton case, he along with around 175 others including Elizabeth Hutchinson's brother-in-law, the Reverend John Wheelwright, were banished to an area known as Piscataqua in the territory of Exeter on the border of present day New Hampshire and Maine. The land had only recently been purchased from the local Indians and until this point it was almost void of any British settlers until the arrival of John and his compatriots. It is unclear as to how and why John Compton was allowed to return to Boston but it is clear that after only two years he and his family were back in Boston. Obviously, the rural nature of life in Piscataqua may not have suited their lifestyle and John may have been willing to admit that he was wrong in supporting the positions of Elizabeth Hutchinson in order to be allowed to return to Boston. Whatever the circumstances, John and his wife Susan were admitted to the Boston 1st Church by 1642. In 1645, John is again listed as a Boston clothier, and additional records show that by 1649 he was a Boston property owner.  There are also some records that report that John hired an attorney in 1646 to try and recover some of his property in Boston that had probably been taken away from him when he was banished from Boston in early 1638. It is not known whether or not he was successful. There are also some references in the writings of family historians that report that in 1646 John Compton owed a lot of money to a man named Jonathan Brewster. If true, this would seem to imply that at least financially, my great grandfather had not done very well during his life. The exact date of John Compton's death is also not known although when wife Susanna Compton wrote her final will in 1664 she wrote that her husband John had "long since departed." Where John and his wife are buried is not known.

While it is generally accepted that William Compton was the son of John and Susanna Compton there is no definitive proof that such was the case. Furthermore the exact date and location of his birth is not known. We noted above that William was born in England and therefore sailed over to America with his parents, however there is no proof that such was the case and he may very well have been born shortly after his parents' arrival. His baptismal records have never been uncovered and when Susanna Compton wrote her will in 1664 she failed to mention her son William and in fact she left everything in her will to her grandson, Joseph Brisco, the son of her daughter Abigail Compton Brisco.  John Compton's will if he had one, has never been located. Nevertheless, based on where he lived when he was younger and the fact that there were no other known Compton families living in the Massachusetts area in the early 1600s, it would appear obvious that William Compton must have been the son of John and Susanna Compton and therefore our 9th great grandfather.

King Charles II
William Compton was probably in his mid-20s when his father died and undoubtedly he did receive some benefits from his father's will, most likely the ownership of land in or around the Boston area. Nothing is really known about William however, until his recorded purchase of land in 1662 up in Ipswich located about 35 miles north of Boston. Whether he actually ever moved there is doubtful as sometime between 1662 and 1666 he married my 9th great grandmother, Mary Wilmot, and together they relocated to Woodbridge in present day Middlesex County, New Jersey where they are credited with being among the earliest settlers in Woodbridge. Their trip to Woodbridge from Boston by land was almost 250 miles and one has to believe that they were highly motivated to make such a move.  What motivated them was probably a result of an historical occurrence that took part in our early American history.  In 1661, after the defeat of Oliver Cromwell in England, King Charles II was returned to the English throne. In 1664, King Charles granted to his brother the Duke of York, vast territories in America including land that at the time was under the control of the Dutch. This land included both New Amsterdam (present day New York City) as well as all of present day New Jersey. The Duke of York organized a fleet of ships to attack and take over this Dutch controlled territory, but the Dutch realizing that they could not defend their territory, quickly surrendered their colony to the British. At this point in history New Jersey was scantly populated with a few small Dutch and Spanish colonies along the coastline.  The inland areas were occupied by Native American Indians whose population had been devastated by diseases introduced earlier by the European settlers.  The Duke of York obviously wanted to profit from his newly granted lands, so he gave the land to a couple of his friends hoping that they would find a way to encourage settlement. They in turn devised a plan to rent the land to settlers that they hoped to recruit from England and to encourage such settlement they offered a guarantee that was not being offered in England, that of freedom of religion, freedom from persecution for religious beliefs, cheap land, and the right to manage their own affairs. Anyway, to make a long story short and without going into a lot of detail, their plan mostly failed at least with respect to encouraging new settlers from England. What did occur on the other hand, was that when Americans currently living in New England learned that they could move to a new territory where they would be totally free from Puritan control over their lives, many quickly made the long journey into a land that was soon to be known for its fertile soils and its attractive appearance.  

Some family historians write that William Compton moved for religious reasons and that he had become a Baptist and opposed to the ways of the Puritans. While we could not substantial that he was a Baptist, we did note that several of the other original settlers into New Jersey were Baptists including a man named Samuel Doty. Samuel Doty was the son of Edward Doty, one of the Mayflower passengers in 1620 and my 9th great grandfather. Whether or not William was a Baptist, he clearly expressed by his move to New Jersey that he, like his father before him, was very much against the way the Puritans had tried to control his and his family's way of life.

While are there are some fairly lengthy stories about the early history of Woodbridge, very little is mentioned in these writings of our William Compton which would lead us to believe that he was probably not a leader in his new community. William and Mary Compton are credited with giving birth to the first child born in Woodbridge, a daughter named Mary who was born in 1667. William in 1673 is recorded as having been one of the original 54 settlers who signed an Oath of Allegiance to the Dutch government who had briefly regained control over New Jersey.  Control was returned back to the British in 1674. The only other mention of our William Compton in the public records seems to be recordings of his land acquisitions, principally a patent he received for 174 acres in 1670. William and Mary are known to have had at least six children all born in Woodbridge including my 8th great grandfather, Jonathan Compton, who was born on the 18th day of December in 1674.

My great grandfather William Compton died in 1694. My great grandmother Mary Wilmot Compton died about 1713. The location of their burials is unknown although their oldest daughter, Mary, was buried in 1735 in a cemetery at the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Woodbridge and this graveyard is known to have been in existence before the death of her parents and as the sign at the cemetery reports, many of the original settlers were buried in this cemetery. In any case, their gravestones may have long ago crumbled away but their remains may still be there. We should be very proud of our great grandparents for having taken the risk of relocating such a great distance to a new wilderness location and then working hard under what were probably very difficult conditions to help build a new community and raise a family. These are certainly not the conditions that anyone of us today would want to face.

We know almost nothing about our 8th great grandfather, Jonathan Compton, other than a few basic statistics such as that he was born in Woodbridge on 18 Dec 1674 and that he was the fifth child and the third son of his parents. He married my great grandmother, Esther Martin, on 24 Sept 1701 and together they had seven children including my possible 7th great grandfather, Samuel Compton, who was born in 1705.  Jonathan and Esther spent their entire lives living in Woodbridge and it would not be surprising to learn that they during their lifetimes never left their township.  Jonathan was probably a farmer during his adult life, he undoubtedly served in the local militia as did all men in his community at the time, and other than finding his name mentioned several times in historical books noting that he inherited land from two of his brothers when they died, we really learned nothing about his life. His will was written in September of 1745 and when he died a few years later in 1747, his estate was reported to be worth 73.3 British pounds which was not much. It is possible of course, that he had provided for his children before his death. Esther who was nine years younger than her husband, is listed in a number of family trees on as having died on the same day as her husband. Whether this is accurate and how they may have died if it was actually together, is unknown although it is probably not accurate. Esther was mentioned in her husband's will and testament so we know that she was alive as of 1745 which means that the few family trees that show that she died a number of years before her husband are definitely wrong. Unfortunately we are just going to have to accept the fact that we will never know much about this generation of our Compton ancestry. One thing that we do know however, about the lives of our 8th Compton great grandparents is that during their lifetimes things changed enormously in New Jersey. When Jonathan Compton was born in 1674 the population of white people in New Jersey was around 2,000. When he died 73 years later the population had "exploded" to around 120,000 and homes, roads, farms, businesses, and churches were now everywhere, at least relatively speaking.

We also know very little about the life of my likely 7th great grandfather Samuel Compton. He was born and raised in Woodbridge and while the year of his marriage to my 7th great grandmother, Sarah Tharpe (Thorp) is very much in dispute, based on their birth years of 1705 and around 1710 respectively, a marriage year of 1730 seems realistic. Unfortunately there is a summary of records online of marriages in colonial New Jersey that lists their marriage date as 31 July 1753, however, based on the fact that in Samuel's will written in 1782 he lists all but one of his daughters as married, a 1753 marriage year would seem highly unlikely especially considering the fact that Samuel and Sarah Compton had at least seven children according Samuel's will and the first three were thought to be sons. Samuel and Sarah Compton spent most of their lives in Woodbridge in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Sometime late in their lives that relocated to Bernardsville in Somerset County located about 25 miles northwest of Woodbridge. According to Samuel's will, he left his former home in Woodbridge to his oldest son Ephraim Compton. Ephraim whom we believe was born in 1631, was very possibly the father of my 5th great grandmother, Anna Compton.

As we stated in the first paragraph, the exact family line between by 5th great grandmother, Anna Compton, and her ancestors is unknown although based on her birth location and her surname of course, it is obvious that she was a descendent of the above described early Compton settlers. Here is what we do know.  Anna Compton was born around 1756 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. It was here where she met and married my 5th great grandfather, Peter J. Harpending (1754-1840), and where together they had two sons, Samuel Harpending (1778-1852), my 4th great grandfather, and Peter Harpending Jr. (1780-1850). Anna died in 1780 undoubtedly due to complications from the birth of her second son. We know that their son Peter was obviously named after his father. We believe that it is possible that Samuel may have been named after his great grandfather (his mother's grandfather), but that is pure speculation. One other interesting connection is that Peter Harpending had a brother named Anderis (Andrew) Mention Harpending (1761-1831) who married a girl named Sarah Compton (1760-?) who might very well have been Anna's sister or perhaps her cousin or aunt although here again this is pure speculation. What is interesting is that Sarah and Anderis Compton named one of their daughters Anna which strongly suggests that the Anna and Sarah were closely related. Unfortunately and somewhat surprisingly the parents of both Anna and Sarah have not been positively identified. Many of the family trees on show Sarah as a daughter of Samuel Compton (1705-1782) and Sarah Tharpe (Thorp) (1712-1783) but this is unlikely as Samuel would have been around 55 years old when Sarah was born and his wife would have been 48 to 50 years old. What is more realistic is that both Anna and Sarah are daughters of one of Samuel and Sarah Thorp Compton's sons, possibly a man named Ephraim. Here is where we stand at this point and hopefully maybe in the future the actual facts will be uncovered and we will have the privilege of revising this blog. If anyone reading this blog has the answer or even a possible answer as to the names of Anna's parents, please feel free to contact Charles Baker at

1st Generation              John Compton and Susannah Seade
2nd Generation            William Compton and Mary Wilmot
3rd Generation             Jonathan Compton and Esther Martin
4th Generation:            Samuel Compton and Sarah Thorp
5th Generation             Ephraim Compton and unknown
6th Generation:            Anna Compton and possibly Sarah

While some of the family trees on list the name of Anna's father as Ephraim Compton they do not connect this Ephraim in anyway to Samuel and Sarah Compton although Samuel and Sarah are known to have had a son who was named Ephraim. Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion as to the birth year of Ephraim, son of Samuel and Sarah as there is with all of their children. Despite the fact that Samuel was born in 1705 and Sarah in 1712, some of the family trees on as we previously mentioned show their marriage year as 1753 which if true, would be quite unusual especially for a first marriage in this period of history. Sarah would have been 41 years old when she married. In these trees, their son Ephraim is shown as born in 1754 which would mean that he could not possibly have been the father of either Anna or Sarah. Other family trees show that Samuel and Sarah were married in 1730 and Ephraim their first child was born in 1731. These dates are far more realistic and make it very possible that Ephraim Compton was indeed Anna's father. Unfortunately this Ephraim is totally lost in history with respect to whom he married and the names of his children.  Anyway, we will just have to be satisfied that we know the names of Anna's early Compton ancestors in America. As we previously mentioned, my great grandmother Anna Compton Harpending died at the very young age of only 24 years old in the year 1780. Her husband, Peter Harpending, was a militia soldier during the American Revolution and he may have been away from home more than he might of liked especially if he was absent just prior to Anna's death. In any case, Peter's military story is told in Chapter 15 of this blog where he is listed as Patriot #15 and the story of my Harpending ancestors is written in Chapter 9 of this blog.

For the record my own relationship to the Compton family is as follows:

Anna Compton (Abt 1756-1780) m Peter Harpending (1754-1840)
Samuel Harpending (1778-1852) m Hannah Cozad (1782-1880)
Asbury Harpending (1814-1853) m Mary Sayre (1818-1877)
Hannah Harpending (1842-1891) m Charles S. Baker (1835-1891)
Asbury H. Baker (1860-1933) m Helena Rappleye (1860-1944)
Charles S. Baker (1885-1952) m Helen Spaulding (1887-1937)
Charles A. Baker (1916-2000) m Marian Patterson (1916-1973)
Charles A. Baker Jr (1942- )
Anne R. Baker (1943- )
Joan P. Baker (1950- )  

Until our next chapter . . . .

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chapter 51 - Our Mead Ancestors

First Generation: William Mead (1592-1663) and Philippa (?-1657): There seems to be a general consensus that my 10th great grandfather, William Mead, was born in the Parish of St. Mary in Watford, County Hertfordshire, England. It was here in this town where a baptismal record was uncovered for the first child born to a William and Philippa Mead, a daughter named Mary who was born in 1621. It is probably safe to assume that both William and Philippa were born in this area as well. Mary unfortunately died young, but at least three more children were born to William and Philippa including their youngest child and my 9th great grandfather, John Mead, who was born in 1634. Nothing is really known about the Mead family's life in England although it is probably safe to assume that William was fairly well-off financially and that he was a Puritan. Both of these conclusions are based on the simple fact that he and his family emigrated to America along with other Puritans in 1635 and he could afford the cost of the voyage. Watford, England in the early 1600s, was a small town located only 17 miles northwest of the center of London and it was not known to be a hotbed of Puritans as were so many other areas of southeast England. There has been some speculation that William Mead did not migrate to America because of strong religious reasons as did so many others, but more so because he was encouraged by the possibilities that might be available for his new family in this new and rapidly growing country of America. This speculation was certainly supported by the fact that once William arrived in the Boston area in 1635, he soon joined up with a group of local area colonists who were very unhappy with the harsh doctrines of the local Puritan church leaders and the church leaders' strong belief that church policies must control the actions of the government in Massachusetts.  Not surprisingly, William and the others soon departed the Massachusetts Bay Colony and moved southwest into the Connecticut colony. 

Stamford located just west of New Haven, CT
While there is no documentation as to where the Mead family first settled in Connecticut, it is likely that they first settled in Wethersfield. In 1641, William Mead and his family were part of a group of Puritan families who chose to leave Wethersfield and settle in a new community recently purchased from the local Indians that was soon to be named Stamford. Stamford was located at the very southwest corner of Connecticut just off the Long Island Sound and very close to the border line of the future State of New York. The first group of 28 families arrived in the summer of 1641 followed by other settlers including the Mead family in December of 1641. It would seem, at last, that William Mead had found his new home in America. He was soon granted five acres and a town lot upon which to build his new home. Until researching my Mead ancestors we had never focused on the early history of Stamford, Connecticut so it came as quite a surprise while reviewing a list of some of the earliest settlers in Stamford to discover than no less than nine of my great grandfathers were included in the list. We would have to assume that all of them would have known William Mead and his family.

Trial of Martha Mead
While William and Philippa lived in Stamford for the remainder of their lives until Philippa's death in 1657 and William's death in 1663 at the age of 71, almost nothing is know about their lives and William's involvement in their community. What is written is about their children and most of that is rather negative and reflects poorly on how they might have been raised by their parents. It all started when their then 22-year old daughter Martha became pregnant prior to her marriage to her future husband John Richardson in 1653. John married Martha shortly after learning of her pregnancy and they quickly moved away from Stamford to avoid a likely scandal. The baby was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts but died within its first month and John and Martha soon after returned to Stamford. Unfortunately, a scandal did eventually break out and in 1654 Martha was hauled before a court and despite her claim that she had been raped by someone other than her husband, she was found guilty of what was then a serious crime. She was then sentenced to a public flogging and a fine. As it turned out, she was again pregnant this time by her husband, so the flogging was suspended. Soon thereafter Martha and her husband moved out of Stamford, permanently.  Obviously this trial and the guilty finding would have brought great shame to her parents. As if this did not cause enough shame, their son John Mead, my great grandfather, was also hauled into a courtroom a few years later in 1656. John already had a reputation as a young man of being "very independent, headstrong, and often at odds with authority." In the case of his trial he was accused basically of strongly arguing with a law enforcement officer and since John would not admit any wrong doing he was sentenced "to prison till they (the Magistrates) may further consider the matter."  John eventually conceded, paid the fine, and was released from jail. In both Martha's and John's trials before the Court they were defended by their older brother Joseph who acted as their lawyer. Philippa died about the time her youngest son was released from jail, but their father William, then in his mid-60s, could not hide from the shame and the embarrassment caused by all of his children.

Second Generation: John Mead (1634-1699) and his wife Hannah Potter (1636-1700):  Despite John Mead's rather negative reputation in Stamford, he married my 9th great grandmother, Hannah Potter, in Stamford on the 10th day of July in the year 1657. He was only 23, Hannah was only 20 years old. John already had a reputation despite his young age, as a man who liked to make land purchase deals. This fact alone may have pleased John's new father-in-law, William Potter (1608-1684), who himself was a fairly wealthy man and a land speculator. William apparently was very generous to both John and his daughter both at the time of their marriage and again later in his last will and testament written in 1684. We suspect that John Mead's later success in life was due in large part to his father-in-law financial help perhaps even more so than his own father's help. William Potter is said by some family historians to be at one point the largest landowner in Stamford and of course, he was my 10th great grandfather.

John and Hannah Potter Mead along with John's brother Joseph and his wife Mary Brown Mead did not remain in Stamford for long considering John's and their sister's legal issues with the Court and in part the church, as well as their concerns about the strong Dutch claims over the Stamford area, and in 1658 they both sold all of their lands and homes in Connecticut and moved to Hempstead on Long Island. Hempstead had been founded back in 1644 by a large group of families from Stamford and other parts of western Connecticut. The land had been purchased (stolen?) from the local Indians following their almost total annulation during a massive attack on their villages only a few months earlier. Typical behavior on the part of the new English settlers. We are confident that the Mead families were welcomed new comers but their stay in Hempstead was short lived. In 1660 they moved back to Connecticut and with others they helped to establish a new community known as Greenwich located only 7 miles west of Stamford and at the time considered to be part of Stamford. In 1664 however, John Mead working with a group of six men, now known as "the Seven Proprietors," were able to separate their community from Stamford thus officially establishing Greenwich, Connecticut. Here again, of the seven men listed as the original founders of Greenwich, Connecticut, four of them were my great grandfathers and two were my great uncles.

John and Hannah Mead are believed to have had eleven children including my 8th great grandfather, John Mead (Jr) who was born in Stamford in August of 1658 shortly before his parents moved to Long Island. All of their children with the exception of John and possibly their second child, a son Joseph, who may have been born on Long Island, were born in Greenwich, Connecticut where their parents lived for the remainder of their lives. John apparently overcame the arrogant attitude of his youth for as one family historian proclaimed "John Mead was a prosperous and self-possessed man with a strong character." In 1670, he was put forth to be a freeman of Connecticut and later he was a representative in the Connecticut General Assembly in 1679, 1680, and 1681. John Mead died at the fairly young age of 65 on 5 February 1699. Hannah outlived her husband by less than a year dying on 13 November 1700. Both John and Hannah are buried in the Tomac Burying Ground in Greenwich although both of their headstones have long ago been lost. There is however, a monument within this cemetery that honors William Mead and his three children. The Mead family was obviously off to a good start.

Third Generation: John Mead (Jr) (1658-1693) and his wife Ruth Hardy (1660-1727): John Mead and Ruth Hardy were married in Greenwich, Connecticut on 27 October 1681 and according to some family historians, their marriage was the first recorded marriage in the new community of Greenwich although it would seem logical that some other none recorded marriages must have taken place following the communities founding 20 years earlier. Unfortunately, John Mead (Jr) died at the young age of only 34 years old but over the period of his short life he had four children, the oldest of whom was only 14 years old when his father died. Their second son, Jonathan Mead born in 1684 is my 7th great grandfather. John Mead was appointed in 1687 to the role of Constable in Greenwich which was quite an honor considering that at the time he was only 29 years old. He held the position up to the time of his death on the 12th day of May in 1693. We could find no documentation as to the cause of his death nor the location of his burial although it was undoubtedly in Greenwich. My great grandmother, Ruth Hardy Mead was only around 32 years old when her husband died so not surprisingly she remarried to a man named Joseph Finch although not until the year 1713 at which point all of her children had reached the age of twenty or older. Undoubtedly John Mead (Jr) was highly respected in his community and all would have been sadden by his early death. It is written that the town officers called a special meeting in Greenwich to honor John upon his death, an action that was quite unusual but showed what great respect that they must have had for John. We feel confident that both of John's parents along with his brothers and sisters attended the meeting to honor their son and their sibling.

Fourth Generation: Jonathan Mead (1684-1754) and his wife Esther Butler (1687-1731): Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut may have been an excellent place to live during this period in history. It was far enough west in New England to have avoided such things as the King Philip's War fought between 1675 and 1676 but it was close enough to the great port cities of New Haven, Connecticut and to New Amsterdam (New York City by 1664) to receive the benefits of trade. Its location on the Long Island Sound and its fertile land made it an excellent location for farmers which made up the majority of its population. The area was soon known for its growth and sales of potatoes, grains, and fruits. While the majority of its population especially in the mid to the latter part of the 1600s, were Puritans, the church did not control the government of the colony as was more common in the Boston area during this period. Finally, Connecticut during the latter part of the 1600s was the largest of the northeastern Colonies considering that it population extended onto Long Island and almost westward to the Hudson River. While we do not know much about the life of our 7th great grandparents, Jonathan and Esther, what we do know is that they lived during a fairly peaceful period of our country's history. Jonathan died the year that the French and Indian War began in America and as far as we know he was not engaged in any militia actions during his lifetime.

Jonathan Mead and Esther Butler married in Greenwich on 7 December 1713. Esther's father, Walter Butler, like Jonathan's father and grandfather had been among the original "proprietors" or settlers in Greenwich so it is likely that Jonathan and Esther had known each other since they were young children. Unfortunately both of their fathers had died in 1693 when they were both quite young. It was somewhat surprising to learn that Jonathan was as old as 29 when they married and Esther was 26. One would have expected that they would have married at a younger age. All that is really known about our great grandfather Jonathan is that he was a "Cooper" or a maker and repairer of wooden casks and barrels and considering that Greenwich at the time was known for growing potatoes, grains, and fruits we have to suspect that a cooper must have been a fairly profitable business. Jonathan and Esther had eight children including my 6th great grandfather Jonathan S. Mead who was born on the 10th day of November in 1715, their second child and first son. Esther was 44 years old when her last child was born in 1731 and while the historical records are lacking, she apparently died shortly following the birth of a daughter named Sarah. Considering that her life consisted of giving birth every two to three years plus caring for numerous children much of her adult life, it is not really surprising to learn that she may have died fairly young, possibly as a result of childbirth. That said, we could not find any confirmation of her death nor the site of her burial.

Early Map of Dutchess County
We know that sometime after Esther's death probably before 1740, Jonathan moved from Greenwich north around 70 miles into what is now Dutchess County, New York. Obviously most of his children moved with their father. The area they moved was part of the Great Nine Partners Patent which had been formed back in 1697 following the "partners" purchase of the land from the local Indians. Settlers started moving into the area beginning around 1734 so the Mead family were among the early settlers especially if they moved shortly after Esther's death. It is a total mystery however, what would have motivated Jonathan to move away from his long term home, especially since he had to give up a good business and move when still in his early 50s. What happened to his life in Dutchess County is totally unknown although it is reported that he died in 1754 at the age of 69 years old. There are some stories however, that report he may still have been alive as late as 1759 so obviously the end of the life of our great grandfather has been lost in history.

Fifth Generation: Jonathan S. Mead (1715-after 1790) and his wife Sarah Guernsey (abt 1724-abt 1800)  Jonathan S. Mead would probably have been in his late teens or early 20s when he moved to Dutchess County with his family and somewhere around five years later he met and married Sarah Guernsey in 1743. My 6th great grandmother, Sarah Guernsey, is somewhat of a mystery person. Many of the online websites are clear as to the names of her parents but as best we can determine, her parents never went to Dutchess County so how 19-year old Sarah Guernsey ended up meeting and marrying Jonathan in Dutchess at such a young age is a total unknown. One has to believe that we do not actually know the origins of Sarah. What we do know is that Sarah and Jonathan had a least five children including their third child, a son named Hezekiah who was born in 1748. As far as we could determine, there are little to no historical documents that have been uncovered that tell us much about the life of Jonathan S. Mead. He was probably a farmer for most of his life and he apparently was not engaged in any governmental or religious leadership functions. It is noted that in 1775 he was a signer of the Dutchess County Declaration of Independence although at the age of 60 when he signed the document, it is unlikely that he actually participated in the war itself. There are some family historians who write that he fought in the war alongside his son Nathaniel but no evidence is offered. On the other hand, Jonathan was around 40 years old at the onset of the French and Indian War which was fought between the years 1754 and 1763 and it is known that his brother Enos Mead was a participant in that war. Whether Jonathan participated or not is unknown although considering that whether one was a soldier under these conditions was not always a volunteer decision. Furthermore, the last child of Jonathan and Sarah, our great grandfather, Hezekiah, was born before the start of the French and Indian War which perhaps suggests that Jonathan was away from his wife for awhile.  Anyway, both Jonathan and Sarah are believed to have died in Dutchess County, New York sometime after 1790 although the dates of their deaths and the location of their burials is unknown.

Sixth Generation: Hezekiah Mead (1748-abt 1810) and his wife (name/dates unknown): Here again there is a lot of information about the life of my 5th great grandfather that is missing. The single biggest missing item is the name of his wife, my 5th great grandmother. Her name cannot be determined with any degree of certainty which is kind of strange considering the existence of church records that name Hezekiah. The Mead family lived in Warwick in Orange County, New York following the American Revolution and Hezekiah's name appears several times in the records of the Old School Baptist Church in Warwick showing that he was a member between 1790 and 1800 and then again between 1810 and 1820. The 1800 to 1810 records apparently are missing. The following female names also appear alongside his name: Elizabeth Mead 1790, Mary Mead 1790 to 1800 and then showing that she died in 1805, and finally an Ann Mead as a member between 1810 and 1820. As far as we know, none of these woman were his daughters or sisters. Hezekiah had a sister named Ann although by 1810 she would have married and not been using the surname of Mead. Family trees on give us additional guesses like Charity or Charity Mercy Hyde and another woman named Hannah Paddock. In the case of Hannah Paddock there was even a Mead descendent who via a DNA test claimed to be genetically connected to both the Paddock family as well as to Hezekiah's mother's family tree, the Guernsey family, therein claiming absolute proof that Hannah Paddock was Hezekiah's wife. And finally, another family historian reported that Hezekiah married a woman named Sarah in Warwick. It is probably safe to say that we may never know my great grandmother's name. Perhaps an argument in support of his wife being Hannah Paddock is that Hezekiah and his wife named their first child Hannah, my 4th great grandmother, after her mother. Hannah was born in 1771 which is actually earlier than most family trees list the marriage date of Hezekiah and Hannah Paddock. Oh well. It is also possible we suppose, that Hezekiah may have had several wives and that records of their marriages and their deaths are simply missing.

Meads from Fairfield to Dutchess to Orange Counties
Hezekiah Mead grew up in Dutchess County, New York and there are clear records that he was a captain in the 7th Regiment in the Dutchess County Militia during the American Revolution. His career in the militia is described in detail in Chapter 22 of this blog and will be repeated below. What we know is that following the war, Hezekiah moved his then young family to Warwick in Orange County, New York a distance of around 50 miles. It was here that around eight more children were born to the Mead family. Unfortunately, other than a few church records, we could learn nothing about Hezekiah's life in Warwick. He was probably a farmer and having been a captain in the militia during the Revolution, we would have to believe that he was a respected citizen in his community. Another very strange thing is that there are no records as to when and where Hezekiah and his wife died and where they are buried. A number of his children in the early 1800s moved to the Elmira, New York area including his son Hezekiah who appears in a 1810 census record in Elmira. There are some historians who report that Hezekiah, the father, also moved to the same area with his children but there is no proof of this and it appears that they may be confusing Hezekiah the father with Hezekiah the son. Frankly we were unable to determine when and where my 5th great grandparents died although it probably occurred sometime after 1810 in Warwick based on the fact that he was still listed as a church member after 1810.

Battle of White Plains 1776
The following has been copied from Chapter 22 in this blog: "Hezekiah Mead, my 5th great grandfather, was a captain in the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia under the command of Col Henry Luddington.  We could not find whether he was ever accepted by the DAR or the SAR as a Revolutionary War soldier although there are enough records available to show convincingly that he was a Patriot. As a Captain, Hezekiah would have commanded around 85 to 100 men which would have been considered a "Company" and most of the men as militia soldiers were only part timers serving for a maximum period of 3 months and sometimes for only a matter of weeks. While Hezekiah may have volunteered earlier, the 7th Regiment was actually formed by July of 1776 and it is recorded that they were present at the Battle of White Plains fought on 28 October 1776. Following George Washington's retreat from the New York City area after the battle, the 7th Regiment was pretty much retired to serve principally in a "military police" role in Dutchess County by keeping the loyal British Tories under control. Perhaps the best known battle involving Capt Hezekiah Mead and the 7th Regiment took place in April of 1777 near Danbury, Connecticut. A British force of around 2,000 soldiers had departed ships in the Long Island Sound and then marched to Danbury where they then burned an American supply depot. They were soon attacked by American forces in Ridgefield, Connecticut as they were returning to their ships and while the American troops were hopelessly outnumbered, it is reported that their gunfire at the retreating British troops injured or killed up to 500 men. It is also reported that a group of 7th Regiment soldiers were later present at a skirmish at Fishkill, New York in June of 1779. Fishkill was also a major American supply depot during the war and it too was attacked by around 330 British soldiers. Whether our Hezekiah was present at the skirmish could not be determined and in any case from what we read, following the brief skirmish the militia soldiers soon marched home and disbanded so as "to tend to the summer farm chores." Such was the life of the part time militia soldiers during our American Revolution.

Subsequent Generations: The following is a listing of our Mead descendants down to the present time:

Hannah Mead (1771-1842) married Gersham Livesay (1771-1862)
Joseph Livesay (1806-1882) married Sally Bennett (1814-1881)
Ellen Livesay (1841-1917) married David DeGroff Reynolds (1836-1899)
Ella McBlain Reynolds (1863-1935) married Henry Clinton Spaulding (1863-1889)
Helen Mary Spaulding (1887-1937) married Charles Schenck Baker (1885-1952)
Charles Asbury Baker (1916-2000) married Marian Coapman Patterson (1916-1973)
Charles Asbury Baker Jr. (1942-  )
Anne Rappleye Baker (1943-  )
Joan Patterson Baker (1950-  )

The end (until the next chapter).