Thomas Webber

Thomas WEBBER (1629 – 1686) was Alex’s 9th Great Grandfather; one of 1,024 in this generation of the Shaw line

Thomas Webber was baptized 17 May 1629 in Bideford, Devon, England.  His parents were Thomas WEBBER and Philipa JUNSEN (Johnson) He settled in or near Falmouth, Maine, as early as 1649. Legends give him Dutch ancestry and Manhattan riches.  He married Mary PARKER about 1655 in Charlestown, Mass.  Thomas died in  Feb 1686/87 in Casco Bay,  Falmouth, Maine.

Mary Parker was born in 1639, Bideford, Devon, England. Her parents were John PARKER Jr. and Mary CROCOMBE.   She was about  53 years old when she testified in the Burrough’s Witch Trial in Salem 2 Aug 1692.  Mary died in 1700 in Georgetown, Parker Isle, Maine.  Alternatively, she died shortly before 14 Feb 1715/16 when her probate was settled.

Children of Thomas and Mary:
Name Born Married Departed
1. John Webber c. 1656
Maine
Mary [__?__] 1684
Boston
2. Samuel WEBBER 12 APR 1658 Maine Deborah LITTLEFIELD
1680
1716
York, ME.
3. James Webber c. 1664
Wells, York, Maine
Patience Littlefield (Deborah’s sister)
1694
Charlestown, Penobscot, Maine
19 Mar 1729 Medford, Mass.
4. Joseph Webber c. 1665
Island Erascohegan, Maine
Mary [__?__] 1716
Yarmouth, Barnstable, Mass
5. Sarah Webber 10 Jul 1666
Charlestown, Mass.
8 Aug 1666
Charlestown
6. Lydia Webber c. 1668
Island Erascohegan, Maine
John Snowman
7. Thomas Webber c. 1668
8. Nathaniel Webber c. 1671
York, York, Maine,
Elizabeth [_?_] Mar 1731/32 Charlestown, Mass
9. Mary Webber 1671
Island Erascohegan, Maine
Unmarried 1742
Falmouth, Mass.

Thomas’s Grandfather William WEBBER (1567 – ) married Joan WYNSLADE (1571 -) on 18 Sep 1601 in Exeter, Devonshire, England.  They had at least two children:

i. Christopher Webber
ii. THOMAS  WEBBER b. 5 Dec 1604 Biddeford, Devonshire, England; m. Philipa JUNSEN 12 Jul 1626 Exeter, Devonshire, England.

Thomas’ father was a mariner. It is widely believed that Thomas and Philipa nee Junsen/Johnson Webber had the following children, although actual proof of this connection has not been established.

i. Peter Webber. b. 16 Dec 1627 in Biddeford, Devon England.
ii. Thomas WEBBER (Our Immigrant father)
iii. Joane Webber.
iv. John Webber.  b.  ca. 1634 and buried on 4 Nov 1635.
v. William Webber. b. ca. 1636.
vi. Ruth Webber. b.  ca. 1640.
vii. Robert Webber. b.  ca. 1642.

Prentiss Glazier “The Webber Families”

“From the above, it would seem that the Maine settler was the son of Thomas and Phillippe (Junson/Johnson) Webber, the grandson of William and Joan/Johan (Wynslade) Webber…….[but many of the] probate records were lost in the massive World War II bombing…”

Another Thomas Webber

A Thomas Webber may have landed in Maine as early as 1616.

SPENCER, WILBUR D. Pioneers on Maine Rivers with Lists to 1651. Portland, Maine: Lakeside Printing Co., 1930. 414p. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1973.  a list of pioneers, often with the names of ships in which they arrived. Mostly British settlers. Other settlements mentioned.

1616 — WEBBER, Thomas on the Ship “Nachen” from London, a  quartermaster at Monhegan Island.

“A Brief Historical Perspective by Carolyn F. “Billie” Todd” on the Georgetown Maine Historical Society Site states that John Webber and his brother-in-law John Parker arrived in 1616, but I think she may have her facts mixed up.

In 1616 Captain John Webber, with mate and brother-in-law, John Parker, sailed in the Mayflower (not the Pilgrim ship) and established a trading post with the Indians. He must have discovered Roscohegan early in his travels and found it fair, for the Plymouth Colony was trading here no later than 1625. Parker himself came annually. The Indian name for the mouth of the Kennebec was “Sagadahoc”, descriptive of the turbulent tidal water. Stage Island was known as “Sagadahoc Island”.

The name Monhegan derives from Monchiggon, Algonquian for “out-to-sea island.” European explorers Martin Pring visited in 1603, Samuel de Champlain in 1604, George Weymouth in 1605 and Captain John Smith in 1614. The island got its start as a British fishing camp prior to settlement of the Plymouth Colony. Cod was harvested from the rich fishing grounds of the Gulf of Maine, then dried on fish flakes before shipment to Europe. A trading post was built to conduct business with the Indians, particularly in the lucrative fur trade. It was Monhegan traders who taught English to Samoset, the sagamore who in 1621 startled the Pilgrims by boldly walking into their new village at Plymouth and saying: “Welcome, Englishmen.”

In 1630, the Plymouth Company granted the land south of the River Swanckadocke to Dr. Vines and John Oldham. In 1653, the town included both sides of the river, and was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco.

Our Thomas’ father-in-law was John Parker Jr.  John PARKER Sr.  also may have been on a 1616 voyage to Maine.  In 1616, Sir Ferdinando Gorges (1565–1647) sent out Richard Vines, with orders to stay in the country near the failed Popham Colony all winter with his companions, and thus practically test the rigor of the climate.  It is possible that John Parker was a member of that company.   John had been on Gorges vessels in 1607, and possibly in 1608, but there are no clues to what he did following that aborted expedition.

Vines spent the winter of 1616-1617 in the sheltered basin now called Biddeford Pool from which circumstance it received the name of Winter Harbor.  This 1616 landing by a European predates the Mayflower landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, (located 100 miles to the south) by approximately four years, a fact that is overlooked in much of New England lore.

A third Thomas Webber?

It’s possible this Thomas is the same as the one above who visited in 1616.  It is also possible that Savage was correct and after his wife Sarah died, he moved to Maine and married Mary Parker.  If the second history is true, he had to be born prior to 1629 and have different parents than those cited above.  My thought is that he is the same Thomas who visited in 1616 and is not our ancestor.

Thomas Webber, older than the ours, and confused with him by Savage’s General Dictionary of New England, was master and part-owner of the “Mayflower”, (not the original). He and wife Sarah had children at Boston, Mass., 1644–1652. (According To Savage); Putnam’s History Magazine shows that he was called “mariner of St. Katherine’s and deceased by 1657, when his widow, then the wife of John [__?__]  of Stepney, (adjacent to London, England), administered his estate. A John Webber, (surely related), witnessed a conveyance by this Thomas in 1652, (Suffolk Deeds at Boston).

“A Genealogical Dictionary of The First Settlers of New England,” Savage 1860 pg. 447.

7 Apr 1644 — WEBBER, Thomas, Boston, mariner, join our church by wife Sarah, had Sarah b. 1643, says the base copy of the town record but the church record says bapt. 8 Dec 1644, a. 3 days old; Bathsheba, bapt. 24 Sept 1648, a. 3 days old; Thomas, 2 Feb 1651; but these two are not found on the town record; and Mehitable, b. 10, bapt. 13 June 1652, which is call. s. on town record of its death. at three mos. was master of the ship Mayflower, and sold here 7-32 parts of that vessell of 200 tons, as our reg. of deeds in 1652 shows; perhaps removed to Kennebeck, there had other wife Mary sis. of John PARKER , the great propr. and probably more children.

“The May-Flower and Her Log”, 1901, has this to say:

“October 6, 1652, Thomas Webber, Mr. of the good shipp called the Mayflower of the hurden of Two hundred Tuns or there abouts***** Riding at Anchor in the Harbor of Boston, sold one-sixteenth of the ship fro good valuable Consideracons to Mr. John Pinchon of Springfield Mrchant.

The next day, October 7, 1652, the same “Thomas Webber, Mr. of the good Shipp called the MayFlower of Boston in New England now bound for the barbados and thence to London,” acknowledges and indebtedness to Theodore Atkinson, a wealthy hatter, felt-maker, and merchant of Boston, and the same day, (October 7, 1652), the said “Thomas Webber, Mar. of the good shipp called the May-Flower of the burthen of Two hundred tunds or there abouts, sold unto Theodore Atkinson felt maker one-sixteenth part as well of asis Shipp as of all singular of her masts Sails Sailyards Anchors Cables Ropes Cords Guns Gunpowder Shott Artillery Tackle Munition apparrell boate skiffe and furniture to the same belonging.”

“It is of course possible, that this was the historic ship, though, if so, reappearing twenty-two years after her last know voyage to New England. If the same, she was apparently under both new master and owner. From the facts that she is called ‘of Boston in New England’ and was trading between that port, ‘Barbados,’ and London, it is not impossible that she may have been built at Boston–a sort of namesake descendant of the historic ship–and was that May-Flower mentioned as belonging, in 1657, to Mr. Samuel Vassall, as he had large interests alike in Boston, Barbados and London. Masters of vessels were often empowered to sell their ships or shares in them.”

By 1660 there were approximately 8 known ships bearing the name ‘Mayflower.’ His ship is not the same ‘Mayflower‘ of 1620.

1654 — WEBBER, Thomas, of “The Mayflower,” Captain at the Town of St. Mary’s, MD.Ref: “The Founding of Maryland.”

“We, the Governor and Secretary of the Province of Maryland are hereunto subscribed, do declare and certify to all persons whom it may concern that in January last Capt. Tho: Webber, master of the ship called the Mayflower of London, then trading or intending to trade in the said Province, did with the assistance of his said ship, men, and ammunition thereunto belonging, forcibly take as prize a certain ship called the Maid of Gaunt, then riding or run on shore in St. George’s River within the said Province which had traded in Virginia the last year, having (as appeared to us ) the Governor of Virginia’s warrant for so doing, in regard as it seems the owner and merchants thereof were inhabitants of the king of Spain’s Dominion, as by Commission produced to that purpose appeared to our understanding.

And that with and in the said ship, the Maid of Gaunt, the said Capt. Webber likewise took as prize (as we are very credibly informed) 46 hhds. of Tobacco with divers goods and household stuff belonging to Mr. Symon Oversey, merchant and inhabitant of the said Province of Maryland, and that the said Capt. Webber refusing either to submit to a trial touching the premises before the Governor and Council of the said Province, or to make or give other satisfaction therein, hath carried away the said ship, tackle, furniture, tobacco, and goods out of the said Province as prize, intending, as we conceive, for the port of London, all which we declare and certify as aforesaid.

Given at St. Maries in the said Province of Maryland under our hands this 12th day of June, Anno Domini, 1654.
William Stone: Tho: Hatton”

Children of the other Thomas Webber and Sarah

i. Sarah Webber b. 1643; d. 5 AUG 1644 Boston, Mass

ii. Barthsheba Webber b.  24 Sep 1648  Boston, Mass

iii. Thomas Webber  b.  02 Feb 1651 removed to Falmouth, Maine

iv. Mehitable Webber b.  10 Jan 1652 in  Boston; d. 7 SEP 1652

 Myth of Anneke Jans

At one time, some unscrupulous individuals attempted to make some fast money from the descendants of Thomas Webber, Sr. They claimed, he once held a deed to land in Manhattan when it was still New Amsterdam. He may have taken land land deeds in payment for goods that had been shipped into the New World.  At any rate, some sly genius calculated that this land was now in the heart of New York City and persuaded the descendants to band together to claim 1 foot of land on Wall Street. However, this story belonged to a Dutch Webber and that claim wasn’t even real.  Needless to say, many descendants lost a great deal of money in legal and investigation fees.  So all descendants of Thomas Webber should be aware of this scheme to get rich quick does exist, and you are their targets, even today.”

My GRANDMOTHER wrote:

I wish I remembered more about Oliver WEBBER [her great-grandfather (1797–1862)].  He had merchant ships, my mother referred to him as “merchant prince” wich was a typical Maine expression.  He was of Dutch descent and his family were early citizens of Manhattan Island when it was Dutch.  The Webber family throughout the country had a long and involved lawsuit over property in that area.  My Uncle Dana COLEMAN gave money to that for years (Unsuccessful)

Thomas, our real Webber immigrant, may not have had merchant ships, was not Dutch and was not related to Wolfort Webber or Anneke Webber Jans.   On the other hand, Wolfort and Anneke were real people.

We have a Dutch connection to this story as well.  Some genealogies say that Anneke Webber Jans was the mother our our ancestor Jaepe JANS, but I don’t think so because Anneke’s husband died about eight years before Jaepe was born.  See Jaepe’s page for a description of Anneke’s real background.

Not only are the blood lines sketchy at best, but the stories of riches from William the Silent and title to hundreds of millions of dollars of prime Manhattan real estate are all false legends anyway.  I wonder how much money Uncle Dana put into this scheme.

Legend of William the Silent’s Morganatic Wife

A popular misconception is that an ancestor of the Webber family in the United States was the ruling monarch of the Netherlands: William the Silent. He is said to have had a morganatic wife, Annetgen Coch, by whom two children were born whom he named Sara and Wolfert Webber. Then, supposedly, Wolfert married Tryntje Roelofs and had three or four children: Wolfert (b. 1602), Marritje (b. 1603), Anneke (b. 1605), and perhaps Ariaentje.   Records have proven that Marritje was a sister of Anneke but there is no evidence to prove that she had a brother Wolfert or a sister Ariaentje.   Even further, claims have been made that there is a long-lost bank account with a vast balance that was created for Sara and Wolfert, now simply awaiting discovery by their heirs.

A morganatic wife was a woman of inferior social status who married a man of royalty or nobility with the understanding that any children would be legitimate and acknowledged as his, but that neither she nor they would have any claim to his rank or property. It was common and acceptable for at least high royalty to have morganatic wives.

It is then claimed that Anneke Webber married Roelof Jansen and thereafter was known as Anneke Jans. Numerous published items have unwittingly and without proof thus woven an intricate and detailed family relationship among early Webber-Sybrant-Selyns-Cocks-Wallis families to conveniently strengthen the legendary, yet spurious, descent of Anneke Jans from the Royal Line of William the Silent.

This is an appealing genealogy: most people would like to be descended from royalty. However, there is no evidence to support it. In fact, the Central Bureau of Genealogy in The Netherlands, which is regularly pestered by Americans seeking information about their “royal” ancestor, Anneke Jans, attributes the origin of the myth to a book written in 1894 by Charles H. Browning: Americans of Royal Descent. Some people regard this book as a valuable genealogical tool while others claim that some of the lineages were purposely concocted mislead people, supporting such scams as the Trinity Church/Anneke Jans land claim which lined the pockets of several generations of unscrupulous lawyers.

62 acres of land that Anneke Jans owned on Manhattan Island, New York.

The second controversy concerns 62 acres of land that Anneke Jans owned on Manhattan Island, New York. For this, it is best to begin at the beginning. Roelof (Ralph) Jansen and Anneke (Annie) Jans were among the first immigrants to New Amsterdam (now New York City). He was commissioned (or indentured) to farm in the new colony for $72 a year. They arrived in 1630 with their two daughters and soon went to Rensselaerwyck (now the Albany, New York, area); their last two children were born on de Laets Burg Farm there. In 1636 he obtained a grant from Governor Van Twiller for a farm or Bowerie of 31 morgens (about 62 acres) on Manhattan Island. He died shortly thereafter and Anneke inherited the land.

Two years later she married Rev. Bogardus and the land eventually become known as “the Domine’s Bouwerie” [see a copy of an early engraved picture of the farm looking south, from Harper's New Monthly Magazine; see link to article, below.] He was the head of the Dutch Church in New Netherland and they lived at what is now 23 Whitehall Street in New York City.

After the death of Anneke Jans Bogardus in 1663, the Manhattan property was supposedly willed to Anneke’s children, however, the Trinity Church claimed legal title. For generations, the descendants of Anneke Jans and Wolfert Webber argued the property had illegally been taken from the family by Trinity Church. Anneke Jans Bogardus Associations were formed, membership fees and donations collected, and with a considerable war chest, the Trinity Church was taken to court. The court ruled that the Church did indeed hold legal title to the property.

Bogardus was born Evert Willemsz. in the little Dutch market town of Woerden. His parents are unknown, but perhaps they died in the plague of 1617–18 since Evert, his brother Pieter, and two half-brothers were placed in the town orphanage. He and his brother, Cornelis, adopted the name of Bogaert in early adulthood. He was a tailor’s apprentice until September, 1622, when he was permitted to attend Latin School. On June 13, 1622, a sudden illness left him deaf, dumb, and sporatically blind. He miraculously regained his faculties on September 17, 1622, during the singing of Psalms. He entered Leiden University on July 17, 1627, and on June 29, 1629, was award a scholarship to attend Theological College there. On September 9, 1630, he was sent to the Coast of Guinea (now Ghana) in Africa as Comforter of the Sick. On June 14, 1632, he attained his goal of being ordained a minister. He Latinized his name to Everhardus Boghaerdus (which we anglicize to Everardus Bogardus).

Bogardus arrived in New Amsterdam aboard de Soutberg in April, 1633, to be the Domine of the church. He was at odds with both Director Generals (Wouter Van Twiller and William Kieft) of the time, and in a final effort to settle the matter, he and Kieft were lost at sea on their way back to The Netherlands for a hearing.

After Bogardus died in 1647, Anneke returned to Beverwyck where her house was on the east corner of State and James Streets, adjacent to land owned by two of her sons, Jonas and Pieter. She died in 1663, one year before the English took over the Dutch colonies, renaming New Amsterdam to New York, Beverwyck to Albany, etc. The date of her death is taken from the date that her son, Jan Roelofszen, paid the church for a funeral pall rental: February 23, 1663. Her will is presented here (on a separate Web page) in a side by side translation with the original Dutch. Note that it was signed with an X, indicating that Anneke could not read and write.

It is interesting that her house and land—only about 3700 ft², less than a tenth of an acre—was sold on June 21, 1663, by her heirs to Dirck Wessels Ten Broeck.  In An Account of Anneke Jans and Her Family is a copy of this land transfer, which includes “… the same lot which she occupied to the day of her death; …”, thereby establishing that Anneke truly owned the land and lived there. The price was “the sum of one thousand guilders, payable in good whole merchantable beaver skins, at eight guilders a piece, in three installments; …”.

Anneke’s will mentions the 62 acres on Manhattan. Eight years later, 1671, land records show that this land was transfered by her heirs (living children; her son, Cornelius, had died by that time) to Governor Lovelace for a “valuable consideration”.

Anno 1670-71, March 9th, Heere Johannes Van Brugh, in right of Catrina Roeloff his wife, and attorney of Pieter Hartgers, William Bogardus for himself and his brothers Jan Roeloffsen and Jonas Bogardus, and Cornelius Van Borsum, in right of Sara Roeloff his wife, and by assignment of Peter Bogardus, all children and lawful heirs of Annetie Roeloff, late widow of Dome Bogardus deceased, for a valuable consideration, transported and made over unto the Right Honble Colonel Francis Lovelace, his heirs and assigns, their farm or bouwery, commonly called or known by the name of Domine’s bouwery, lying and being on Manhattan’s island, towards the North River, the quantity of ye land amounting to about sixty-two acres, as in the former grond brief from Governor Stuyvesant, bearing the date the 4th of July, 1651, and the confirmation thereupon from Governor R. Nicolls, bearing date ye 27th of March, 1667, in more particularly set forth — which transport was signed by them and acknowledged before the alderman, Mr. Oloff-Stevensen Van Cortlandt and Mr. John Laurence.

After this transfer, this land and an adjacent piece called Domine’s hook became part of the Duke’s farm (which adjoined to the south), later called the King’s farm, and finally the Queen’s farm. In 1705, long after the lives of the heirs, this land was granted to Trinity church by Queen Anne (the church itself was at the southernmost tip of Manhattan).

In 1705, the Webber land was granted to Trinity Church

About 80 years later, after the American Revolution, Cornelius Bogardus, a great-grandson of Anneke’s son, Cornelius, laid claim to one sixth of the church farm as it was then called. His grounds were that his great-grandfather, Cornelius, had not agreed to the sale of the 62 acres to Gov. Lovelace; therefore, one sixth of it should belong to his heirs. (Cornelius was dead when this sale took place.) He took possession of a house on the farm and built a fence around it. The church hired men to remove and burn the fence. Bogardus then burned some of the church’s fence. The church soon won this skirmish and Bogardus moved from the area.

This feeling that Cornelius, though dead, had been sold out by his siblings must have formed a festering wound in the lore of his family, and the more the land appreciated in value, the more painful the wound must have become. In 1830, 140 years after the land had been sold to Lovelace, a John Bogardus, mounted a significant legal attack to recover part of the 62 acres. He failed; but the case occupies 130 pages in the 4th volume of Sandford’s Chancery Reports. The chancellor’s opinion was, in effect, that there was no case, and were it not for the magnatude of the case and the zeal with which it was pursued, there would have been no written judgement. Plus, if people could attack property rights that had stood for 150 years in the uncertain development of the young nation, then no property would be secure.

A vast amount has been written on the attempts over the next 100 years to unsuccessfully claim part of the 62 acres. Generations of unscrupulous lawyers bilked descendants of Anneke—not just via Cornelius—out of large sums of money. Add to this the claim that Anneke was descended from Dutch royalty (William the Silent, Ninth Prince of Orange) and that there was a royal inheritance in a European bank somewhere, and the allure became overpowering.

In 1929, the Director of the Anneke Jans Bogardus Association, Mr. Willis Timothy Gridley, a New York attorney was indicted, convicted and sentenced for mail fraud. While in jail Gridley wrote a book about the Webber-Jabs-Bogardus claim entitled “Trinity! Break Ye My Commandments”.

In 1973, George Olin Zabriskie published an article in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 104, p.p. 65-72 and 157-160 entitled ANNEKE JANS FACT AND FICTION. By the use of church records, Mr. Zabriskie proved that Anneke Jans was not a member of the Webber family, but was born in Flekkeroy Norway rather than Amsterdam Holland.

Back to our real Thomas Webber
Thomas was living at Reskeagan [now Georgetown], an island near the mouth of the Kennebec, as early as 1649. He married Mary, daughter of the proprietor, John Parker, and owned immense tracts of land reaching from Kennebec river to Casco Bay. Thomas and Mary (Parker) Webber had five sons, who settled about Falmouth and Harpswell, and it is probable from these sons that most of the Maine Webbers are descended. The Indian wars, beginning in 1688 and lasting about ten years, drove the Webbers into Massachusetts, where they lived at Charlestown and Gloucester.

Thomas Webber purchased land in the Kennebec area from Robinhood (shown here at Robinhood Marina, Georgetown, Maine) in 1660

Thomas Webber settled in or near Falmouth, Maine, as early as 1649.   He had a deed of land from the Indians dated 10 Mar 1660. in the Kennebec area.

Deed: Robin Hood, alias Rawmegon, Terrumpquine, Wesomonascoe, Sagamores of Scawque, and Abumhamen Indians, sell to Thomas Webber land on the westerly side of the Kennebeck River [copy] and memorandum by Charles Cushing Paine, 29 May 1660

Our ancestor Thomas ATKINS (from the Miller line and hence more than 300 years removed from the Webbers) also  purchased land from the sachem Mowhotiwormet, commonly called Chief Robinhood,  at the southern end of Phippsburg.  Atkins Bay is named for him,

On account of the Indian attacks in the war of 1690 Thomas Webber returned to Massachusetts with big family. His wife Mary was living at Charlestown in 1692. He died before 1695. He married Mary Parker, sister of John Parker, both of whom owned land on the Kennebec by deeds from the Indians dated 3 Jun 1661.  Michael Weber, of Falmouth, could possibly be his brother.

Burrough’s Witch Trial

Mary Parker Webber was about  53 years old when she testified in the  Burrough’s Witch Trial in Salem 2 Aug 1692.  She repeated accusations she heard from Burrough’s deceased wife.  Her son Samuel WEBBER also testifed about Burroughs’ unnatural strength, see his page for details.

Salem – 2 Aug 1692 Mary Webber wid aged aboute 53 years Testifieth and sayth that she liveing at Casco Bay aboute six or seaven years agoe, when George Burroughs was Minester at s’d place, and liveing anner — Neighbour to s’d Burroughs, was well acquainted with his wife w’ch was dauter to mr John Ruck of Salem she hath heard her tell much of her husband unkindness to her and that she dare not wright to her father to acquaint [him] how it was with her, and soe desired mee to wright to her father that he would be pleased to send for her and told mee she had beene much affrighted, and that something in the night made anoise in the chamber where she lay as if one Went aboute the Chamber, and she calling up the negro. to come to her the negro not Comeing sayd that she could not Come some thing stopt her, then her husband being called he came up. some thing Jumped down from between the Chimney & the side of the house and Run down the stairs and s’d Burroughs followed it down, and the negro then s’d it was something like a white calfe: another tyme lyeing with her husband some thing came into the house and stood by her bed side and breathed on her, and she being much affrighted at it, would have awakened her husband but could not for a considerable tyme, but as soone as he did awake it went away., but this I heard her say. and know nothing of it myselfe otherwise Except by common report of others also concerning such things.

George Burroughs Fact Sheet

  • He was the second Salem Village minister, but quarreled over his salary and left.
  • He had five children.
  • He was widowed three times.
  • His second wife died about a year after their arrival in Salem Village.
  • After his second wife’s death, he remarried and moved to Maine.
  • He was rumored to have mistreated his wives.
  • One of his children was not baptized; a fact that was brought up in his trial.
  • He was well known for his physical strength.
  • Upon his arrest for witchcraft, his wife took everything that was valuable in the house, sold his books and loaned the money for interest. She then took her own daughter and left George’s children to fend for themselves.
  • During his trial, witnesses testified that his two dead wives came to them in their dreams explaining that he had killed them.
  • He was also identified by the afflicted girls as the “Black Minister” and leader of the Salem Coven.
  • At his execution, he repeated the Lord’s Prayer flawlessly.

George Burroughs By Amy Nichols

The story of the Rev. George Burroughs is important because of its differences from the other accusations. Burroughs was one of the few men executed during the trails, and he was the only clergyman accused of witchcraft. He has often been portrayed in popular accounts of the trials, because some of his accusers claimed him to be the “ring leader” of the witches and because of the especially dramatic nature of his execution in the presence of the Rev. Cotton Mather.

George Burroughs was born to a rather well to do family in Suffolk, England in about 1652. At a young age he left England for Massachusetts By Colony and was raised by his mother in the town of Roxbury. He later attended Harvard College and graduated in 1670. After graduating, he moved to Maine and started preaching in Falmouth (Portland, Maine) until the town was attacked by Indians in 1676 forcing him to leave. He was a minister in Salisbury for a few years and eventually in 1680 was called to Salem Village to be the new minister.

The issues leading up to his accusation as a witch are rooted in the events that happened in his two-year stay in Salem Village. One of the major complaints seems to have been Burroughs’ unconventional religious beliefs. In the book Salem Story, Bernard Rosenthal, stresses the significance of the fact that the Rev. Increase Mather and his son Cotton Mather, both prominent ministers in Boston, did not agree with Burroughs’ religious convictions. Rosenthal suggests Cotton Mather may have suspected him of being a Baptist. When on trial questions put forward to Burroughs dealt with his religious practices, especially the baptism of his children and his lack of attendance at the Lord’s Supper, in an attempt to expose his deviance from Puritan doctrines.

Burroughs, as minister of the Salem Town in 1680-1683, also became involved in village quarrels. In once instance, Thomas Putnam lent Burroughs some money, and when he was unable to pay the money back, the town reacted strongly and he was pushed out of Salem. In 1683 he returned to Maine.

On April 30, 1692, Burroughs, together with several others, was accused of witchcraft. The original document stating the charges was signed by Thomas Putnam and Jonathan Walcott. Burroughs was charged with “high suspicion of sundry acts of witchcraft done or committed by then upon the bodies of Mary Walcot Marcy Lewis Abigail Williams Ann Putnam and Eliz. Hubbard and Susan Sheldon.” On May 4, 1692, he was forcefully taken from his home in Wells, Maine, to Salem, and put in jail.

One man fueling the attacks on Burroughs was Cotton Mather. Cotton Mather was at this time known for his cautionary writings on how spectral evidence in the trials should be used. However, as Rosenthal suggests, in Burroughs’ case Mather put aside his views on the unreliability of spectral evidence, further suggesting that Mather’s hatred of Burroughs was based on Burroughs’ role as a religious dissident.

For this reason, Burroughs can be viewed as the one person executed for witchcraft for his religious beliefs. As Puritan dissenter Burroughs was attacked by the Puritans and seen as harmful to their society. The first question asked of Burroughs at his trail was whether his children were all baptized. He said only one of them was. On August 3, 1692, many testified against Burroughs. Young girls such as Elizabeth Hubbard, Mercy Lewis, Susannah Sheldon, Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam all claimed that he had come to them and tried to force them to sign his book which Elizabeth said was written in words “as red as blood”. Mercy Lewis claimed that Burroughs “carried me up to an exceeding high mountain and shewed me all the kingdoms of the earth and told me that he would give them all to me if I would writ in his book”(Salem Witchcraft Papers). Accused witches such as Abigail Hobbs and Mary Warren charged him with bringing them into the world of Satan. He was the “ring leader of them all” holding the meetings in Salem and trying to force many away from God and to Satan.

Another factor working against Burroughs was the fact that his first two wives had died. Ann Putnam claimed that the two wives came to her as visions and told her that Burroughs had killed them and that he was indeed working for the Devil. John and Rebecca Putnam claimed he was “sharp with his wife”.

Burroughs was also known for his superhuman strength. Men [including our ancestor Samuel WEBBER] at the trial testified that they had seen him “put his fingers into the Bung Barrall and lifted it up, and carried it round him and set it downe again”(SWP). Others claimed that he was able to lift up a six-foot gun using one hand with no difficulty. His brut strength was more proof of his allegiance with the devil.

All this testimony lead the court to conclude that Burroughs was indeed a sorcerer and was in fact the leader of the witchcraft related events. As Boyer and Nissenbaum seem to suggest, Burroughs was in a way used as a scapegoat. By attributing to him the role of the ringleader, the witchcraft problem was no longer associated with the community of Salem Village but was put upon the shoulders of one man, George Burroughs.

From the actual documents, one can conclude that Burroughs was a man with powerful enemies in Salem Village. The fact that he was a minister did little to soften the accusations against him. The other key player was Cotton Mather. Rosenthal’s theory that Burroughs was a religious dissenter is highly plausible. Mather was after Burroughs because he believed him to be a Baptist as well as a witch.

Burroughs’ trial was the only one attended by Increase Mather. Mather believed that if someone could perfectly recite the Lord’s Prayer then he or she was not a witch. However, as Robert Calef writes in his book More Wonders of the Invisible World “Mr. Burroughs was carried, through the streets of Salem to Execution; when he was upon the Ladder, he made a Speech for the clearing of his Innocency, with such Solemn and Serious Expressions, as were to the Admiration of all present; his Prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord’s Prayer) was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness, and such (at least seeming) fervency of Spirit, as was very affecting, and drew Tears from many ( so that is seemed to some that the Spectators would hinder the Execution)”.

Nathaniel Hawthorne describes this scene in his powerful story Main Street and refers to Burroughs as going to a “martyr’s death”. Hawthorne depicts Burroughs as an innocent victim of the terrible trials. He writes “Who would not say, while we see him offering comfort to the weak and aged partners of his horrible crime, – while we hear his ejaculations of prayer, that seem to bubble up out of the depths of his heart, and fly heavenward, unawares, – while we behold a radiance brightening on his features as from the other world, which is but a few steps off, – who would not say, that over the dusty track of the Mainstreet, a Christian saint in now going to a martyr’s death?” When the crowed calls for the execution to be stopped Hawthorne continues “Ah no; for listen to the wise Cotton Mather, who. As he sits there on his horse, speaks comfortable to the perplexed multitude , and tells them that all had been religiously and justly done, and that Satan’s power shall this day receive its death-blow in New England”. Calef recorded that, “Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a Horse, addressed himself to the People, partly to declare, that he [George Burroughs] was no ordained minister, and partly to possess the People of his guilt; saying, That the Devil has often been transformed into an Angel of Light.” In doing this he reassured the crowd of Burroughs’ guilt and the execution proceeded.

Children and Grandchildren:

1. John Webber

John was a  mariner of Boston and left an only son Nathan, who deeded two rights as heirs of the eldest son in the Kennebec property of his grandfather to John Wentworth, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and his sister Abigail also quitclaimed her share. Captain John Webber, sailed from Boston to Barbadoes on 6 Dec 1664.

2. Samuel WEBBER (See his page)

3. James Webber

James’ wife Patience Littlefield was born 1674 in Wells, York, Maine.  Her parents were John LITTLEFIELD and Patience WAKEFIELD.  Patience died 1748 in Medford, Middlesex, Mass

James was a mariner, of Charlestown, where all his children were born except Nathaniel, born at Gloucester, June 20, 1707; children: James, Joseph, Benjamin, Jonathan, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, 2nd, and Josiah.

4. Joseph Webber

Joseph’s wife Mary [__?__] was born about 1665 in Kittery, Maine. Mary died in 1700.

Joseph, of Yarmouth, Cape Cod, received by deed from his mother July 16, 1700, then of Charlestown, land given her by her brother, John Parker, along the west side of the Kennebec river where she formerly lived, between the Kennebec and Winnegance; Joseph sold this one-seventh interest to Thomas Sturgis, 11 Sep 1700, together with other land, evidently inherited from his father, situated at Kennebec.

8. Nathaniel Webber

Nathaniel was a sawyer, of Boston.

9. Mary Webber

Deeds in York County record Mary Webber selling her “Uncle John Parker’s lands,” James Webber selling his share, each receiving ten pounds.

Sources:

Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of …, Volume 2 edited by William Richard Cutter 1908 A standard Webber source , but lots of incorrect info.  For example, it shows Michael Webber b. 1639 as a son of Thomas. Michael’s wife and six children were killed in 1703, by report, but at least four children were captured.  Joseph-Philippe Ouabard married Marie-Charlotte Guillet 20 August 1725 at Cap St Ignace in the wooden chapel. Note how Webber has been translated into French with the final silent “d”

http://www.genealogyofnewengland.com/b_w.htm

Noyes, S., Libby, C. and Davis, W. (1972) Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., p. 730.

http://www.archive.org/stream/vassalbororegist00mitc/vassalbororegist00mitc_djvu.txt

See a copy of “Anneke Jans Bogardus and Her Farm”, a 14-page article—with pictures—which appeared in the May, 1885, issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. In particular, page 837 shows a picture of Anneke’s farm looking south, page 842 shows the farm superimposed on a 1890s map of Manhattan.

Genealogical and family history of the state of Maine, Volume 4 By Henry Sweetser Burrage, Albert Roscoe Stubbs

From Directory of the Ancestral Heads of New England Families 1620-1700, by Holmes: THOMAS, mariner, master of the ship Mayflower; joined church boston, Mass., 1644, removed to Kennebeck, Maine 1649, later to Charlestown, Mass.

http://helenesgenes.com/Webber.html

http://otal.umd.edu/~walt/gen/misc-htm/AnnekeFarm-p842.htm

http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/salem/people/burroughs.html

http://www.salemwitchtrials.com/george-burroughs.htm

George Burroughs Transcripts – Executed, August 19, 1692

http://trees.ancestry.com/owt/person.aspx?pid=2051947

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14 Responses to Thomas Webber

  1. Pingback: Samuel Webber | Miner Descent

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  12. Gloria Check says:

    You have Mary Parker, wife of Thomas Webber (or Mary Crocombe, wife of John Parker) as the witness in the witch trials. I can only find a Mary (Ayers) Parker, wife of Nathan, who was executed in the witch trial your refer to. Are you sure you have the correct Mary Parker as testifying? Do you know where the information came from?

  13. Patrick Shekleton says:

    I have to compliment you on your excellent work on this site! I have used it innumerable times and am very grateful to have it as a resource. You mention that “Thomas died in Feb 1686/87 in Casco Bay, Falmouth, Maine.” I have been unable to find that date. What I really want to ask is whether, in your research, you have found any solid evidence that Thomas Webber and his family re-settled back in Phippsburg after the 1676 war. I have not run across any evidence that they came back (no deeds, no court records, no other written history). As you mentioned, Mary Webber may be found in the early 1680’s down in the Falmouth area with her son and his milling business. It is interesting that none of those deeds make mention of Thomas, who as a farmer, would not have been away at sea. Two other items of note – the first being the 38 Pound loan that Thomas Webber acquired from John Dalin/Dolling in early 1677. This mortgage stayed outstanding until the Pejepscot Proprietors (likely) and Webber heirs satisfied the debt in 1715/16. If Webber had moved back to Phippsburg, and considering that his son had a prosperous milling business at the Casco Mills, why did this debt remain unpaid for such a long period of time, considering that John Dalin returned back to the Eastern Frontier after the 1676 war. Secondly, Mary Webber’s (daughter of Thomas and Mary) deed to James Donnell [Book 30, Folio 196; EXECUTED: 21 January 1741/42] states that her father, Thomas Webber, was of Lyn [Lynne, MA]. This historical thread of what became of Thomas Webber is very slim, but I believe that 1) the Webber’s exited Phippsburg with the onset of the Indian War, 2) never returned to the Kennebec, 3) Thomas Webber died sometime between 1677 and the early 1680s when his son and wife Mary appear on the Casco Mill/Falmouth area deeds. Does this seem plausible?

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