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.


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