Great Swamp Fight – Joshua Tefft

The Great Swamp Fight on December 19, 1675 was the most significant battle of King Philip’s War, what has been called the bloodiest (per capita) conflict in the history of America.  It was a critical blow to the Narragansett tribe from which they never fully recovered.  In April 1676, the Narragansett were completely defeated when the Wampanoag sachem Metacom was shot in the heart by John Alderman, a Native American soldier.  The Narragansett tribe was not recognized by the Federal Government until 1983 and today includes 2,400 members.

As I worked out our family genealogy, the Great Swamp Fight kept appearing again and again.  Our family seems to have an especially intimate relationship with this battle, but I’m beginning to think that every family was equally involved.  Nine direct ancestors participated, four were officers and one was killed.  27 close relatives were part of the fight of whom 6 were officers, six were killed or died of their wounds and six were wounded and survived.  Of the three small regiments involved, eleven officers were our ancestors or their children.

Navigate this Report
1. Overview
2. Background
3. The Battle

4. General Staff
5. Massachusetts Regiment
6. Plymouth Regiment
7. Connecticut Regiment

8. Joshua Tefft – the Only American Drawn & Quartered

9. Aftermath

8. Joshua Tefft – the Only American Drawn & Quartered

In January 1676, Joshua Tefft was hanged, drawn and quartered at  Smith’s Castle in Wickford, Rhode Island  He was an English colonist who had fought on the side of the Narragansett during the Great Swamp Fight.

There is documentary evidence that both Joshua Tefft and his brother Samuel spoke the native Algonquin language.  Accounts after battle say Joshua married an Indian woman, a Wampanoag.   For fourteen years the Tefft family lived peacefully with their Narragansett neighbors, until the outbreak of King Philip’s War in 1675. While the Tefft family sought safety on Aquidneck Island, Joshua remained behind to care for the cattle.

Joshua Tefft’s farm was only two miles from the Narragansett stronghold  in the Great Swamp.  Tefft claimed that he had been taken captive by the Narragansett—his life spared only on the condition that he serve as their slave.  However, an Indian woman taken captive by the English of the United Colonies reported that Joshua was their “encourager and conductor.”

Tefft’s Hill is about 2 miles east of the Indian stronghold marked on this 1906 Map with a red “X”.   Smith’s Castle is about 15 miles northeast in North Kingston/Wickford.

Captain Oliver of Massachusetts reported that Joshua Tefft had “shot 20 times at us in the swamp.  Records indicate that Joshua wounded Captain Nathaniel Seely of Connecticut, who subsequently died.  An Indian spy reported that Joshua, “did them good service & kild & woonded 5 or 6 English in that fight & before they wold trust him hee had kild a miller an English man at Narragansett and brought his scalpe to them.”

Yet, Joshua claimed that “Himselfe had no Arms at all” at his interrogation recorded by Roger Williams in Providence   He was subsequently extradited to Wickford into the custody of General Josiah Winslow, Governor of Plymouth, and Richard Smith on January 16, 1676. Two days later at Smith’s garrison, Joshua was executed for high treason, the only Englishman to suffer such a fate in all New England history. Major William Bradford of Plymouth wrote: “The Englishman that was taken had his doom yesterday, to be hanged and quartered; which was done effectually.”

As set out in the Incorporation of Providence Plantations in 1647, the following provision details the process, presumed to have been used against Joshua Tefft at Smith’s Castle. Frequently, the victim’s body or head was publicly displayed as a warning to others.

For high treason, if a man, he being accused by two lawful witnesses or accusers, shall be drawn upon a hurdell unto the place of execution, and there shall be hanged by the neck, cut down alive, his entrails and privie members cut from him and burned in his view; then shall his head be cut off and his body quartered; his lands and his goods all forfeited.

What happened after Joshua Tefft’s execution seems to suggest that he was not guilty of high treason, but merely of seeking to preserve his own life and property under duress. The Rhode Island government swiftly admonished the soldiers of the United Colonies as unwelcome intruders, but there was little else that they could do.

After the war, the colonial government of Rhode Island took an almost solicitous posture towards the Tefft family. Joshua’s brother, Samuel Tefft, and his brother-in-law, the future Governor Joseph Jenkes, became freemen of the colony in 1677  In 1681, Joshua’s orphan son, Peter Tefft, was appointed three guardians: Jireh Bull, Justice of the Peace of Pettaquamscutt; the prominent John Greene of Warwick, who later became deputy governor of Rhode Island; and Peter’s uncle, Samuel Tefft.  The guardianship order made it clear that Peter, a nine year old boy in 1681, was a landowner apparently having right to all the possessions of his father, even though Joshua was executed as a felon by Puritan authorities, and even though colonial law required a convicted traitor’s lands and goods to be forfeited.

The Tefft Historical Park consists of at least five loci with American Indian artifact deposition, and multiple loci representing historic period occupation between the mid-17th to early 20th century.

Posted in History | 8 Comments

Great Swamp Fight – Regiments

The Great Swamp Fight on December 19, 1675 was the most significant battle of King Philip’s War, what has been called the bloodiest (per capita) conflict in the history of America.  It was a critical blow to the Narragansett tribe from which they never fully recovered.  In April 1676, the Narragansett were completely defeated when the Wampanoag sachem Metacom was shot in the heart by John Alderman, a Native American soldier.  The Narragansett tribe was not recognized by the Federal Government until 1983 and today includes 2,400 members.

As I worked out our family genealogy, the Great Swamp Fight kept appearing again and again.  Our family seems to have an especially intimate relationship with this battle, but I’m beginning to think that every family was equally involved.  Nine direct ancestors participated, four were officers and one was killed.  27 close relatives were part of the fight of whom 6 were officers, six were killed or died of their wounds and six were wounded and survived.  Of the three small regiments involved, eleven officers were our ancestors or their children.

Navigate this Report
1. Overview
2. Background
3. The Battle

4. General Staff
5. Massachusetts Regiment
6. Plymouth Regiment
7. Connecticut Regiment

8. Joshua Tefft – the Only American Drawn & Quartered

9. Aftermath

4. Roster of the Officers of the Army of the the United Colonies

As organized for the Naragansett Campaign, and mustered at Pettisquamscot, December 19, 1675.

General Josiah Winslow, Governor of Plymouth Colony, Commander-in-Chief  Severely wounded in the fight.

General Staff

Daniel Weld, of Salem, Chief Surgeon

Joseph Dudley, of Boston, Chaplain

Benjamin Church, of Little Compton, RI., Aid severely wounded in this fight (c. 1639-1718), considered the father of American ranging was the captain of the first Ranger force in America (1676). Church was commissioned by the Governor of the Plymouth Colony Josiah Winslow to form the first ranger company for King Philip’s War. He later employed the company to raid Acadia during King Williams War and Queen Anne’s War.

Church designed his force primarily to emulate Indian patterns of war. Toward this end, he endeavored to learn to fight like Indians from Indians. Americans became rangers exclusively under the tutelage of the Indian allies. (Until the end of the colonial period, rangers depended on Indians as both allies and teachers.)

Church developed a special full-time unit mixing white colonists selected for frontier skills with friendly Indians to carry out offensive strikes against hostile Indians and French in terrain where normal militia units were ineffective. His memoirs “Entertaining Passages relating to Philip’s War” were published in 1716 and are considered the first American military manual

Capt. Benjamin Church

5. Massachusetts Regiment

Samuel Appleton, of Ipswich, Major and Captain of First Company  (b. 1625 in Little Waldingfield, Suffolk, England – d. 15 May 1696 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.) m1. . 2 Apr 1651 in Boston to Hannah Paine (1627  – 1656)   Hannah’s parents were William Paine and Anna North.  Her grandparents were William PAYNE and Agnes NEVES.

In November 1675, John HARVEY enlisted from Charlestown, Massachusetts as a soldier in Major Samuel Appleton’s Battalion and marched with it from Dedham into the Narragansett country and was “wounded but not disabled,” at the ‘Great Swamp Fight.”

Regimental Staff

Richard Knott, of Marblehead, Surgeon

Samuel Nowell, of Boston, Chaplain

John Morse, of Ipswich, Commissary

On the Narragansett Expedition which was appointed for the next December, the three colonies of Plymouth, Connecticut, and Massachusetts united in furnishing military forces to be under the command of Josias Winslow, of Plymouth, as general.

William WOODCOCK Sr.’s son John Woodcock’s Garrison in North Attleboro, Mass was a place of rendezvous for the Massachusetts portion of the army. Six companies under the command of Captains Mosely, Gardiner, Davenport, Oliver, Johnson, and Major Appleton, who commanded this portion of the force, and who, on the ” 9th Dec. 1676 marched with them from Dedham to Woodcock’s, the well known place of rendezvous, 30 miles from Boston, and there encamped for the night.”

His companies numbered four hundred and sixty-five foot, and one company of horse under command of Captain Prentice, so that the whole number must have been over five hundred. This was a large army for the infant colony of Massachusetts forty-six years only after the settlement at Boston. They marched over the ” Oulde Bay Road.” Here they rested, and then marched on to Seekonk, where they met the army of Plymouth Colony, under General Winslow, and where the two forces were united and moved on their way to the great Narragansett fight. These same forces must have rendezvoused at Woodcock’s on their return.

Officers of the Line

First Company: Samuel Appleton, of Ipswich, Captain of First Company and Major of the Massachusetts Regiment, Jeremiah Swain, Lt. Ezekiel Woodward, Sgt. (Acting Ensign) [son-in-law of William BEAMSLEY]

136 troops, 4 killed, 18 wounded including Lt. Swain

The official account read:

“A List of Major Saml Apleton Souldjers yt slayne & wounded The 19th Decemb ’75 at the Indian fort at Narragansett

Samuell Taylor of Ipswich, Isaac Illery of Glocester, Daniel Rolfe on Newberry, Samuel Taylor of Rowley,- 4 men slayne

Lieft. Jerrimyah Swayne of Redding, Roger Markes of Andiver, Isaac Ilsley of Newberry, Wm Standley of Newberry, Dani. Somersby of Newberry, Jonathan Emery of Newberry, Jn. Dennison of Ipswich, Jn Harvey of Newberry, George Timson of Ipswich, Tho: Dowe of Ipswich, Symon Gowen of Rowley, Benj. Webster of Salem, Ellja Thathan of Oborne, Tho: Abey of Wenham, Benj. Langdon of Boston, Solomon Watts of Roxbury, Jn. Warner of Charlestowne, Samuell Boutericke of Cambridge, eighteen men wounded who are at Road Island except ye Left. & Roger Marks – January 6 ’75”.

One of the four killed, Daniel Rolfe, was the grandson of Humphrey BRADSTREET.

Ezekiel Woodward was the son-in-law of William BEAMSLEY marrying his daughter Ann Jan 1649/50.  After Ann died, he married 20 Dec 1672 at Age: 48 in Wenham, Essex, Mass to Mrs. Elizabeth Soldart and became the step-father of Sarah (Soldart) Good (wiki) was the first person accused of witchcraft in 1692.

29 Feb 1675/76 – A bill presented by Serg’t Ezekiel Woodward of Maj Appleton’s company, in which his pay was for nine weeks as a common soldier £2 14 00 and he petitions for a sergeants pay. This shows the term of service in the Narragansett campaign to begin Saturday, Dec 4th as it closed, on Feb. 5.”

In May, 1676, the Court voted to repay the losses of divers persons who were “damnified” by the burning of Major Appleton’s tent at Narraganset.  Ezekiel was grantee for Narragansett Township No. 1. (now Buxton, Maine)

Thomas Hazen, son of Edward HAZEN Sr.  servied in Major Samuel Appleton’s company in the Narragansett campaign, 1675-76; Great Swamp Fight.  Thomas was an enlisted man at the time of this fight, but he was known as Corporal in 1689, Sargent in 1699, Ensign in 1700 and Lt in 1711.  As a reward for this service he was made one of the grantees of Narraganset Township No. 4 (later Greenwich, Mass.), the grant being confirmed about 1738-40.

Samuel RICHARDSON‘s son Joseph was admitted freeman 15 May 1672.  He was one of Major Samuel Appleton’s soldiers, and was engaged in the fierce assault on the Narraganset fort on 19 Dec 1675. He was a selectman of Woburn, 1693, 1694, and 1702.

Samuel PERKINS of Ipswich was a cordwainer by trade. He served as a soldier in the Narragansett war, for which he received a portion of land at Voluntown, on the eastern border of Connecticut, which land afterward came into possession of his son Ebenezer PERKINS, who settled upon it, and in 1735 sold it to John Wildes of Topsfield, Mass.

Greenwich was established in 1739 as Quabbin, incorporated as Quabbin Parish in 1754 and became the town of Greenwich in 1754. It was located along the East and Middle branches of the Swift River.   It was well known for its lakes and ponds, which were popular vacation spots. It was disincorporated on April 28, 1938 as part of the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir.It is now largely below water, except for the hilltops of Curtis Hill, Mount Liz and Mount Pomeroy, which are now islands.

Credited under Capt. Samuel Appleton

December 10. 1675

Thomas Davis 04 18 06
John Ford 03 10 00
Israel Thorn 03 18 00
Thomas Waite 03 18 00
Francis Young, Corpl 04 11 00
Ezekiel Woodward  son-in-law of William BEAMSLEY  05 17 00
Samuel Rust 04 00 00
Sylvester Hayes 05 03 00
Stephen Gullifer 02 10 06
Thomas Hastings 02 14 00
Roger Vicar 02 10 06
Stephen Butler 03 18 00
Robert Sibly 02 10 06
William Knowlton 04 16 10
Thomas Brown 02 10 06
Thomas Ferman 04 16 10
Isaac Ilsley 02 10 06
Samuel Brabrook 02 10 06
Arthur Neale 02 10 06
John Boynton (Son of John BOYNTON) 04 16 10
Israel Henerick 03 18 00
Robert Simson 03 18 00
Samuel Very 03 18 00
Philip Matoone 02 10 06
Philemon Dean 05 17 00
Gershom Browne 03 18 00
Andrew Heding 02 10 06
Robert Downes 03 18 00
Robert PEASE 03 18 00
Thomas Tenny 03 18 00
Thomas Hazen (Son of Edward HAZEN Sr.) 03 18 00
William Webb 02 10 06
Solomon Watts 02 10 06
Nathaniel Masters 04 16 10
Isaac Ellery 02 10 06
Daniel Ringe, Corpl 04 11 00
John Pengilly, Corpl 02 19 00
Stephen Greenleaf (Son of Edmund GREENLEAF) 08 16 10
Richard Hancock 03 18 00
John Whicher, Sergt 05 17 00
William Williams 03 18 00
Joseph Blancher 02 14 10
George Stedman 02 10 06
Thomas Sparke 03 18 00
John Raymond 03 18 00
Samuel Foster 03 18 00
Henry Cooke 03 18 00
Samuel Hebard 03 18 00
John Davis 03 18 00
Samuel Ierson 03 18 00
Joseph Eaton 02 10 06
James Brearly 04 16 00
Abial Sadler 03 18 00
William Wainwright 03 18 00
Benjamin Webster 04 16 10
John Warner 02 10 06
Ephraim Cutter 03 04 06
Thomas Abbey 03 18 00

Second Company: Samuel Mosely, Captain, Perez Savage, Lt.

Dainell Mathews and James Junson, Serjeants; James Smith, Dennis Siky, Clerke; Edward Wesson, Jno. Fuller, Richard Barnum, Samuell Fosdicke, Corporalls;

92 troops, 6 killed, 9 wounded including Lt. Savage.

Third Company: James Oliver, Capt. [son-in-law of our ancestor Thomas DEXTER Sr.], Ephraim Turner, Lt., Peter Bennett, Sergeant (Acting Ensign)

83 troops, 5 killed, 8 wounded

On Nov 17 1675, James Oliver was appointed to command the Boston company for the Naragansett campaign. He was one of the few officers who made it through the Swamp Fight uninjured.

Fourth Company: Isaac Johnson, Captain, Phineas Upham [grandson of our ancestor Richard UPHAM], Lt, Henry Bowen, Ensign.

75 troops, 4 killed including Capt. Johnson, 8 wounded including Lt Upham

On July 6, 1675, Capt. Johnson was sent with a small escort to conduct 52 friendly Indians to the army at Mount Hope. On July 15, 1675, on news of the attack upon Mendon, he was sent out there to relieve the town and was ordered back on July 26th. Upon mustering at Dedham Plain for the Naragansett campaign, Capt. Johnson was placed in command of a company made up of men from Roxbury, Dorchester, Milton, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, and Hull, numbering 75 all told. At the battle of the Great Swamp fight Capt. Johnson was killed when leading his men against the barrier at the entrance to the fort. After his death and the mortal wound of Lt. Upham, the command of the company passed to Ensign Henry Bowen, later promoted to lieutenant.

Phineas Upham was grandson of our ancestor Richard UPHAM].,  In September, 1675, Lieut. Upham was a subaltern officer under Capt. John GORHAM, of Barnstable, and out on a scout after Indians in what is now the towns of Grafton, Oxford and Dudley, and the city of Worcester, then an almost unbroken wilderness.

Under date of Mendon, Oct. 1, 1675, Lieut. Upham addressed a letter to the Governor and Council of Massachusetts, in which he said, “Now seeing that in all our marches we find no Indians, we verily think that they are drawn together into great bodies, far remote from these parts,” and thus it in fact proved to be, and that drawing together into a great body was then being done on the island in the swamp, in what is now the town of Kingston, in Washington County, Rhode Island.

Phineas was assigned to Capt. Johnson’s company, and after that gallant officer’s fall, was himself fatally wounded, at the head of the company, inside the fort. He was among the wounded at Rhode Island, January 6, 1675/76. He died at Boston, October, 1676,

Thomas Holbrook, son of Thomas HOLBROOK Sr., Thomas served under Capt. Isaac Johnson in King Philip’s war and presumably was at the Narragansett Fort battle.  For this service his heirs received a share in the land granted to soldiers at Narragannsett No. 5 (Bedford, NH) in 1733.  He lived in Braintree.

Fifth Company: Nathaniel Davenport, Captain, Edward Tyng, Lt., John Drury, Ensign

75 troops, 4 killed including Capt. Davenport, 11 wounded including Lt. Ting.

In December 1675 Nathaniel Davenport was serving on the jury at the Court of Assistants when he was summoned to take command of the 5th Company in the Massachusetts Regiment for the Naragansett Campaign. This company was made up chiefly of men from Cambridge and Watertown. The company mustered at Dedham Plain and marched to Naragansett with the army. On December 19th , at the Great Fort fight, Capt. Mosely and Capt. Davenport led the way and were the first officers to enter the fort. The death of Captain Davenport follows:

“Before our men came up to take possession of the fort, the Indians had shot three Bullets through Capt. Davenport, whereupon he bled extreamly, and immediately called for his Lieutenant, Mr. Edward Ting, and committed the charge of the Company to him, and desired him to take care of his Gun, and deliver it according to Order and immediately died in his place….. And it is very probable the Indians might think Capt. Davenport was the General because he had a very good buff Suit on at the Time and therefore might shoot at him.”

Capt. Davenport left no children, and his nephew, Addington Davenport, inherited his Naragansett claim.  Lieutenant Ting (or Tyng) commanded the company during the rest of this campaign, and many credits are given under him as Captain.

Daniel WOODWARD , John BURBEEN and  John POLLEY are included on a list of men impressed in several towns where Capt. Davenport’s company was raised. Daniel is listed under Cambridge which is five miles from Medford where he lived most of his life and John Burbeen and John Polley are listed under Woburn.   Of course, many impressed were either excused for disability or escaped from the service in some other manner. The returns were dated from Nov. 25 t0 Dec. 3, 1675

Sixth Company: Joseph Gardiner, Captain, William Hawthorne, Lt., Benjamin Sweet, Ensign (promoted Lieutenant), Jeremiah Neal, Sergeant (promoted Ensign)

95 troops, 7 killed including Capt. Gardiner at the first charge of the gate, 10 wounded

Joseph Gardiner was the husband of Anne Downing, grand daughter of our ancestor George DOWNING.  Anne’s father Emanuel Downing  gave this house to his daughter Anne and her husband Capt. Joseph Gardiner. After Joseph was killed at the Great Swamp Fight, Anne remarried to the last Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony,  Simon Bradstreet

File:Gov Simon Bradstreet's Mansion.jpeg

Emanuel gave this house to his daughter Anne and her husband Capt. Joseph Gardiner. After Joseph was killed at the Great Swamp Fight, Anne remarried to Gov. Simon Bradstreet

Historians in Salem believe the house burnt or was torn down in the the late 1700′s or early 1800′s.  The lot is now the site of the Peabody -Essex Musuem which  may be considered one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States.

On May 12, 1675, the militia of Salem was divided into two companies by order of the Court, and by the same order the election of Joseph Gardiner as captain of the First Company in Salem was confirmed. When the expedition against the Naragansetts was organized, Capt. Gardiner was appointed, November 3, 1675, to command a company raised at Salem and the adjoining towns, and mustered his men, ninety-five strong, at Dedham Plain, December 10th , and marched with his army towrds the rendezvous at Wickford. During the march several skirmishes took place, and Mr. Hubbard relates that some of Stone-wall-John’s crew “met with some of Capt. Gardiner’s men that were stragling about their own business contrary to order, and slew his Sergeant with one or two more.” In “Capt. Oliver’s Narrative” it is related that on this occasion the Indians “killed two Salem men within a mile of our quarters and wounded a third so that he his dead.” The fall of Capt. Gardiner is related in Church’s “Entertaing History”:

“Mr. Church spying Capt. Gardiner of Salem amidst the Wigwams at the east end of the Fort, made towards him; but on a sudden while they were looking each other in the face, capt. Gardiner settled down, Mr. Church stepped to him, seeing the blood run down his cheek lifted his cap and calling him by name, he looked up in his face but spake not a word, being mortally Shot through the head.”

After the death of Capt. Gardiner, the command of his company fell upon his lieutenant, William Hathorn, under whom the men served the remainder of the campaign, until disbanded about February 7th to 10th. It is thus that the men were credited sometimes under Gardiner, sometimes under Hathorn, occasionally both; the latter’s name signed to the voucher on “debenter” which each soldier presented to the paymaster, doubtless confused the clerks and caused this appearance of double command.

His widow, then aged about thirty-four, married June 6, 1676, Gov. Simon Bradstreet, whose age was about seventy-three. She died April 19, 1713, aged 79. Leaving no children, Capt Gardiner’s Naragansett claim fell to the oldest male heir of his eldest brother Thomas. This heir was Habkkuk Gardiner, son of the Captain’s nephew Thomas, who in the list of claimants claims in the “right of his uncle, Capt. Joseph Gardiner.”

19 Dec 1675 – Joseph BATCHELLER’s son Mark  Batcheller was a soldier in the company of Capt. Joseph Gardner of Salem,    Mark Bachelder of Wenham along with Joseph Peirce and Sam’l Pikeworth, of Salem, and, were killed outright while endeavoring to force an entrance at the gate of the Indian fort.   Mark’s estate was valued at £131.

Another version of Joseph Gardner’s story from Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II, by Charles Upham

Captain Gardner’s company was raised in this neighborhood. Joseph Peirce and Samuel Pikeworth of Salem, and Mark Bachelder of Wenham, were killed before entering the fort. Abraham Switchell of Marblehead, Joseph Soames of Cape Ann, and Robert Andrews of Topsfield, were killed at the fort. Charles Knight, Thomas Flint, and Joseph Houlton, Jr., of Salem Village; Nicholas Hakins and John Farrington, of Lynn; Robert Cox, of Marblehead; Eben Baker and Joseph Abbot, of Andover; Edward Harding, of Cape Ann; and Christopher Read, of Beverly,–were wounded. An account of the death of Captain Gardner, in detail, has been preserved. The famous warrior, and final conqueror of King Philip, Benjamin Church, was in the fight as a volunteer, rendered efficient service, and was wounded. His “History of King Philip’s War” is reprinted, by John Kimball Wiggin, as one of his series of elegant editions of rare and valuable early colonial publications entitled “Library of New England History.” In the second number, Part I. of Church’s history is edited by Henry Martyn Dexter. Church’s account of what came within his observation in this fight, with the notes of the learned editor, is the most valuable source of information we have in reference to it.

He says, that, in the heat of the battle, he came across Gardner, “amidst the wigwams in the east end of the fort, making towards him; but, on a sudden, while they were looking each other in the face, Captain Gardner settled down.” He instantly went to him. The blood was running over his cheek. Church lifted up his cap, calling him by name. “Gardner looked up in his face, but spoke not a word, being mortally shot through the head.”

The widow of Captain Gardner (Ann, sister of Sir George Downing) became the successor of Ann Dudley, the celebrated poetess of her day, by marrying Governor Bradstreet, in 1680. She died in 1713.

John PERKINS’ grandson Zacheus Perkins must have been the cause of much sorrow.  To his credit he was a soldier under Captain Joseph Gardner of Salem in King Philip’s War and was at the Great Swamp Fight in 1676.   Found guilty of stealing at his trial on May 4, 1680 he was sentenced to be branded on the forehead with the letter “B” and publically whipped which was carried out on May 6 “immediately after lecture.”

Cavalry Company ( “Troop”): Thomas Prentice, Captain, John Wyman, Cornet (promoted Lieutenant)

20 troops, 1 killed, 3 wounded

John Wyman, the son of our ancestor Francis WYMAN Sr.  was wounded in Great Swamp Fight.     He was the second officer in the only cavalry troops the English had at the Narraganset Fort fight.   In this fight his son John was killed, but he escaped with a wound in his cheek from an Indian arrow.

John Sr. had an indentured servant named Simpson working in the Wyman tannery. Simpson was a Scot who had fought against Cromwell and when captured was sent to New England as an indentured servant. Simpson also fought in King Philip’s War.  After his son’s death, John petitioned the General Court to excuse Simpson from further duty;

To the Honorable Govers: ye Council now Sitting in Boston

The Petition of John Wyman.

Humbly Sheweth that yore Petitioner Hath beene often out in the service of ye Country against the Indians: his sone also was out and slaine by the enemy: and his servants hath beene long out in the warrs and now being reduced to greate wants for clotheing: desires liberty to come downe from Hadly where he now remains a garrison souldier: and he is a taner by traid and yore Petitioner bought him on purpose for that management of his tan yard: and himselfe being unexperienced in that calling doth humbly request that favore of your honors to consider the premisses and to grant his said servant Robert Simpson a dismission from this present service that so his lether now in the fatts may not be spoyled but yore Petitioner be ever engaged to pray &c.

Jno. Wyman.

John Baker, son-in-law of George POLLEY was “pressed into service” in December of 1675, when preparations for the Narragansett Expedition were being made.  He was one of 16 men from Woburn, Massachusetts who fought in the December 19, 1675 “Great Swamp Fight” against the Indians. He was wounded by musket fire and was crippled the rest of his life.

Years later, in the pension letters he wrote (to prove his military service) he said: “… arm being broke by shott, and ye shott whent thru part of my body below my shoulder. I was sent to Road Island, to ye doctor.  When I was able, my father detached me home, gott so much of a cure as I learned ye trade of a weaver. ”

In 1700, Massachusetts Bay Colony voted to pay £10 and an annual pension of £4 to John Baker of Swansea, Massachusetts. To obtain this pension, John had to write a series of letters describing his military service. There is a lot of information in these letters. For John’s service in King Phillips War and King Williams War, he was given a grant of land in Narragansett Township #4 (now Greenwich, Massachusetts).

Six other Woburn men were wounded in the fight:  Nathaniel Richardson [son of Thomas Richardson and Mary Baldwin and grandson of Thomas RICHARDSON Sr.] was wounded in the “Great Swamp Fight,” Dec. 19, 1675.  Eliah Tottingham, Caleb Simonds, Zachariah Snow,  Francis Wyman, Jr [son of Francis WYMAN], and Peter Bateman

6. Plymouth Regiment

Maj. William Bradford, of Marshfield, Major and Captain of First Company (father-in-law of Rev. James FITCH’s son James and grandson of Alexander CARPENTER) He was pierced with a musket ball that he carried through life and which found a lodgment with his corpse in the grave.  It is also said he was severely wounded in the eye.

Regimental Staff

Mathew Fuller, of Barnstable, Surgeon

Thomas HUCKINS, of Barnstable, Commissary   (1617 – 1679) Thomas was one of the twenty-three original members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, charted in 1638. Thomas bore its standard in 1639.

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts is the oldest chartered military organization in North Americaand the third oldest chartered military organization in the world.   While it was originally constituted as a citizen militia serving on active duty in defense of the northern British colonies, it has become, over the centuries primarily an honor guard and a social and ceremonial group in Massachusetts. Today the Company serves as Honor Guard to the Governor of Massachusetts who is also its Commander in Chief.

Officers of the Line

First Company: Robert Barker, of Duxbury, Lieutenant

Private Soldiers – The History of Rehoboth by Leonard Bliss, page 117, says, “The names of the Rehoboth soldiers who served in Philip’s war have been preserved, and are as follows:” Those engaged in the Narraganset expedition were, John Fitch, Jonathan WILMARTH , Jasiel Perry [son of Anthony PERRY], Thomas Kendrick [son-in-law of Anthony PERRY], Jonathan Sabin, John Carpenter, John Redeway, John Martin, John Hall, John Miller, Jun., John Ide, Joseph Doggett, Sampson Mason, Jun. “Those who served under Major Bradford were, Preserved Abell [son of Robert ABELL],  Samuel PERRY Stephen Paine, Jun., Samuel Miller, Silas T. Alin, Samuel Palmer, James Redeway, Enoch Hunt, Samuel Walker, Nicholas Ide, Noah Mason, Samuel Sabin, Thomas Read, Israel Read, George Robinson, Nathaniel Wilmarth. [son of Thomas WILMARTH]”’

Jasiel Perry died in Sep 1676 and was a soldier in King Philip’s War.  So far I have not found a specific record of his death. The fighting had ended by then, so maybe Jasiel died of his wounds,

Second Company: John GORHAM, of Barnstable, Captain, Jonathan SPARROW, of Eastham, Lieutenant, William Wetherell, Sgt. Non-commissioned Officers – William Wetherell, William Gray, Nathaniel Hall, Sergeants; John Hallet, Corporal.

The following Yarmouth men under Capt John GORHAM were paid for the hire of horses, the loss of arms, ammunition and money, loss in saddles and bridles in the Second expedition to Narragansett — William CHASE (not sure if the father or son)  £3 16 00, John WINGE II’s son Ananias £2 14 00, Francis BAKER’s son Samuel £4 10 00

Of the sums paid by the Plymouth Colony towns, as their proportion of the general assessment of £1000, voted by the court in 1676, the amount assigned to Yarmouth was £74 15s. 6d. In June, an additional levy of men was made, and £14 was assessed to Yarmouth for this purpose. In July the tax of the colony was £3692 16s 02d ; of this, the proportion of Yarmouth was £ 266 01. Large sums given that the estate of a typical freeman was £100 – £200.

John GORHAM died  5 Feb 1675/76 after being wounded 15 Nov 1675  by having his powder horn shot which split against his side, and he was severely weakened further from exposure. He died of the resulting fever.While John and Jonathan are both related to us, they are five generations removed from each other.

Johns son  Jabez, born Aug. 3, 1656, was wounded in King Philip’s War; his son Capt. John Gorham died of a fever in Swansea (where he was then stationed with his company), Feb. 5, 1676.

As a reward for service in the war with King Phillip, soldiers were given lands in Maine.   The town was named Gorham, Maine in John’s honor.  First called Narragansett Number 7, it was one of seven townships granted by the Massachusetts General Court to soldiers (or their heirs) who had fought in the Narragansett War of 1675.  The population was 14,141 at the 2000 census.

7. Connecticut Regiment

Robert Treat, of Milford, Major

Regimental Staff

Gershom Bulkely, Surgeon

Rev. Nicholas Noyes, Chaplain

Stephen Barrett, Commissary

Officers of the Line

First Company: John Gallop, of Stonington, Captain.  In 1672 a company of forty horsemen was organized; this was the first company of troopers in the county.

10 killed

Joshua Raymond was the cornetist, and is occasionally alluded to on the town records as Cornet Raymond, a title which was quite as familiar as that of captain or lieutenant.  He was later made commissary.  Joshua married Elizabeth Smith 10 Dec 1659 in New London, CT and was the son-in-law of  Rev. Nehemiah SMITH and Sarah Ann BOURNE.  He died 24 Apr 1676  New London, Connecticut as a result of wounds from the Great Swamp Fight.

Thomas MINER was a lieutenant in the Narragansett Campaign of King Phillip’s War in  1675-76 and reportedly took part in the “Great Swamp Fight” near Kingstown, RI even though he would have been 67 years old.  Almost all of the able-bodied men of Stonington were engaged in the Indian wars of their time.  Thomas was appointed Member of a Court Martial to meet in New London, January 2, 1676.

No list or roll of the Stonington men who participated in the early Indian wars has been preserved. The nearest approach to which may be found in “a list of the English volunteers in the late Narragansett war,” as prepared by a committee for that purpose in order to secure a grant of land for their services, as follows: Capt. George Denison, Sergt. John Frink, Capt. John Stanton, Capt. Samuel Mason, Rev. James Noyes, Lieut. Thomas MINER, Samuel Youmans, John Fish, George Denison, Jr., William Denison, Nathaniel Beebe, Henry Stevens, Edmund Fanning, Thomas Fanning, John Bennet, William Bennett, Ezekiel Main, William Wheeler, [son of Walter PALMER] Gershom Palmer, Samuel Stanton, Daniel Stanton, Manasseth Miner,Joseph Stanton, James York, Henry Bennett, Capt. James Pendleton, Robert Holmes,Thomas Bell, Henry Elliott, Isaac Wheeler, John Gallup, Nathaniel Chesebrough, [Thomas’ sons] Ephraim Miner, Joseph Miner, Samuel Miner, John Ashcroft, Edmund Fanning, Jr., John Denison, William Billings, and Samuel Fish.

Second Company: Samuel Marshall, of Windsor, Captain

14 killed

Third Company: Nathaniel Seely, of Stratford, Captain

20 killed  – Capt. Seely was wounded by Joshua Tefft and later died(See 8. Joshua Tefft below)

Fourth Company: Thomas Watts, of Hartford, Captain

17 killed

Fifth Company: John Mason, of Norwich, Captain, To the First and Fifth Connecticut Companies were attached Indian Scouting Companies, numbering seventy-five to each, made up mostly of Indians from the Mohegan and Pequod tribes.

9 killed including Capt. Mason

John Mason was son of our ancestor Maj. John MASON    John died of his wounds 12 Sep 1676.  It is probable that he was brought home from that sanguinary field by his Mohegan warriors on an Indian bier.  His wounds never healed. After lingering several months, he died, as is supposed, in the same house where his father expired, and was doubtless laid by his side in the old obliterated graveyard of the first comers. Though scarcely thirty years of age at the time of his death, he stood high in public esteem, both in a civil and military capacity. He had represented the town at three sessions of the Legislature, and was chosen an assistant the year of his decease. In the probate of his estate before the County Court he is called “the worshipful John Mason.

Second Letter of Joseph Dudley

Mr Smith’s, 21, 10, 1675

May it please your honour

The comming of the Connecticut force to Petaquamscott, and surprisal os six and slaughter of five on Friday night, Saturday we marched towards Petaquamscott, though in snow, and in conjunction about midnight or later, we advanced: Capt. Mosley led the van, after him Massachusetts, and Plimouth and Connecticut in the rear; a tedious march in the snow, without intermission, brought us about two of the clock afternoon, to the entrance of the swamp, by the help of Indian Peter, who dealt faithfully with us; our men, with great courage, entered the swamp about twenty rods; within the cedar swamp we found some hundreds of wigwams, forted in with a breastwork and flankered, and many small blockhouses up and down, round about; they entertained us with a fierce fight, and many thousand shot, for about an hour, when our men valiantly scaled the fort, beat them thence, and from the blockhouses. In which action we lost Capt. Johnson, Capt. Danforth, and Capt. Gardiner, and their lieutenants disabled, Capt. Marshall also slain; Capt Seely, Capt. Mason, disabled, and many other officers, insomuch that, by a fresh assault and recruit powder from their store, the Indians fell on again, recarried and beat us out of, the fort, but by the great resolution and courage of the General and Major, we reinforced, and very hardly entered the fort again, and fired the wigwams, with many living and dead persons in them, great piles of meat and heaps of corn, the ground not permitting burial of their store, were consumed; the number of their dead, we generally suppose the enemy lost at least two hundred men; Capt. Mosely counted in one corner of the fort sixty four men; Capt. Goram reckoned 150 at least; But, O! Sir, mine heart bleeds to give your honor an account of our lost men, but especially our resolute Captains, as by account inclosed, and yet not so many, but we admire there remained any to return, a captive women, well known to Mr. Smith, informing that there were three thousand five hundred men engaging us and about a mile distant a thousand in reserve, to whom if God had so pleased, we had but been a morsel, after so much disablement: she informeth, that one of their sagamores was slain and their powder spent, causing their retreat, and that they are in a distressed condition for food and houses, that one Joshua Tift, an Englishman, is their encourager and conducter. Philip was seen by one, credilbly informing us, under a strong guard.

After our wounds were dressed, we drew up for a march, not able to abide the field in the storm, and weary, about two of the clock, obtained our quarters, with our dead and wounded, only the General, Ministers, and some other persons of the guard, going to head a small swamp, lost our way, and returned again to the evening quarters, a wonder we were not prey to them, and, after at least thirty miles marching up and down, in the morning, recovered our quarters, and had it not been for the arrival of Goodale next morning, the whole camp had perished; The whole army, especially Connecticut, is much disabled and unwilling to march, with tedious storms, and no lodgings, and frozen and swollen limbs, Major Treat importunate to return to at least Stonington; Our dead and wounded are about two hundred, disabled as many; the want of officers, the consideration whereof the Genreal commends to your honer, forbids any action at present, and we fear whether Connecticut will comply, at last, to any action. We are endeavoring, by good keeping and billetting oue men at several quarters, and, if possible removel of our wounded to Rhode Island, to recover the spirit of our soldiers, and shall be diligent to find and understand the removals on other action of the enemy, if God please to give us advantage against them.

As we compleat the account of dead, now in doing, The Council is of the mind, without recruit of men we shall not be able to engage themain body.

I give your honor hearty thanks for your kind lines, of which I am not worthy

I am Sir, your honors humble servant

Joseph Dudley

Since the writing of these lines, the General and Council have jointly concluded to abide on the place, notwithstanding the desire of Connecticut, only entreat that a supply of 200 may be sent us, with supply of commanders; and, whereas we are forced to garrison our quarters with at least one hundred, three hundred men, upon joint account of colonies, will serve, and no less, to effect the design. This is by order of the council.  Blunderbusses, and hand grenadoes, and armour, if it may, and at least two armourers to mend arms.

The Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, of New London, records his death in these terms:

“My hon’d and dear Friend Capt. Juo Mason one of ye magistrates of this Colony, and second son of Major Jno Mason, dyed, Sept. 18, 1676.”

Posted in History | 17 Comments

Puritans v. Quakers

There’s a kind of sucker punch in many presentations of American history, wherein we are told that the Puritans left England for America because they had suffered religious persecution—and then the Puritans persecuted other religions here!  We’re given the impression that they were looking for freedom of religion and then denied it to others.

In the 1650’s several of our ancestors became Quakers and enduried escalating fines,  prison, banishment, whipping and ear cutting.   Some of these ancestors were closely involved when four Quakers were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs in Boston in 1659, 1660 and 1661.   Richard SCOTT’s daughter Patience, in June, 1659, a girl of about eleven years, having gone to Boston as a witness against ‘the persecution of the Quakers, was sent to prison; others older being banished.  Today we ask, “What kind of people put an 11 year old girl in jail? ”

In our 2011 imagination, the Quakers are the conscientious objector good guys while the Puritans are the hypocritical tyrants.  Almost any book you read about the Massachusetts Bay Colony gives you the feeling that the moment those people set foot on shore in America they started betraying their own values. Objectivity is hard to come by when you’re reading about the Puritans.  Is our modern perspective accurate?

Navigate this Report
1. Puritan Perspective

2. Quaker Perspective
3. Trials & Tribulations

4. Boston Martyrs
5. Aftermath

Posted in Dissenter, History, Storied | 8 Comments

Edmund Freeman Sr.

Edmund FREEMAN (1566 – 1623)  He was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of  4,096 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Edmund Freeman - Coat of Arms

Edmund Honington Freeman was born about 1566 in Pulborough, Sussex, England. (Also have birth as 1570 in Pulborough, Sussex, England).  His parents were John FREEMAN and [__?__] Isham.  He married Alice COLES 1 Jan 1591 in Pulborough, Sussex, England. . He signed a will on 20 May 1623.  He died on 6 Jun 1623 in Pulborough, Sussex, England.  He was buried on 6 Jun 1623 in St. Mary’s, Pulborough, Sussex, England.

Edmund and Aliced were married in St Mary's Church Pulborough The oldest part of the church dates from about 1180 or 1220.

Alice Coles was born about 1576 in Pulborough, Sussex, England. Her father was George COLES. She signed a will on 13 Nov 1650. She died on 14 Feb 1651/52 in Reigate, Surrey, England. She was buried on 14 Feb 1651/52 in Pulborough, Sussex, England.

Children of Edmund and Alice:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Ellen Freeman 30 Jul 1592
Pulborough, Sussex, England
2. Edmund FREEMAN 25 Jul 1596
Pulborough, Sussex, England
16 Jun 1617
Cowford, Sussex, England
Elizabeth Beauchamp
10 Aug 1632
2 Nov 1682
Sandwich, Mass.
3. Capt. William Freeman 1598
Pulborough, Sussex, England.
Christian Hodsoll
between 1617 and 1624
County Essex, England.
Jane Skinner
15 May 1638
Cowfold, Sussex, England.
15 Sep 1666
Cowfold, Sussex, England
4. Alice Freeman  1601
Pulborough, Sussex, England
John Beauchamp
27 Dec 1615
Pulborough, Sussex, England
Feb 1651/52
Reigate, Surrey, England
5. Eleanor (Elinor) Freeman before
25 Aug 1603
Pulborough, Sussex, England.
7 Apr 1618
Pulborough, Sussex, England
6. John Freeman bapt.
24 Jan 1604/05
Pulborough, Sussex, England
Mary Lloyd
Elizabeth Noyes about 1644
Sudbury, Middlesex, MA.
7. Elizabeth Freeman baptized
27 Aug 1609
Pulborough, Sussex,
8. Thomas Freeman 1611 Last record Abigail manifest 1636

Edmond Freeman, senior, yeoman, and his wife Alice Coles lived at Pulborough, county Sussex, England, where he was buried on June 6, 1623. His will, dated May 20, 1623, and administered June 18, following, made his sons Edmond and William his executors, and disposed of over £800 besides his various lands and tenements aside from a bequest to Edmond, it gave £20 to each of his children. The testator’s widow, Alice, sister of George Coles, of Amberly, county Sussex, spent her later years at Reigate, county Surrey, in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Alice and John Beachamp; and her will, dated Nov. 13, 1650, and proved Mar. 5, 1651/2, included a bequest to Edmond Freeman and his wife.

Alternate spelling “Edmond”. Edmund was a well-to-do yeoman of Pulborough. Marriage date not found. Will dated 30 May 1623 made bequests to wife, £200 and benefit of copyhold wherein I dwell and thirds of my lands for life; dau Alice Beauchamp £50; son John Freeman, three tenements in Pulborough now in occupation of the widow Sommers, Wepham and named Fouks in fee, also £100; to youngest dau. Elizabeth, £300; by seven grandchildren, £20 apiece, to my sister Harte £5; to kindred 20/ apiece; to the poor of the parish £5; to servants and others; to wives brother George Coles, £5; Edmund Freemand and William Freeman, my two eldest sons, to be my executors; rest of goods and lands to my executors; to Ligh church at Chichester, 6d. George Coles of Amberley and Nicholas Bell of Arundel (County Sussex) were to oversee will and have £5. My wife to have benefit of the lease for her life of the “brookes.” Testator made his mark. Admininstration 18 Jun 1623 (P.C.C., Swann 59.) Buried in Pulborough church, as requested in his will.

There were a lot of Freemans on board the Abigail .

Freeman John 35, #45
Freeman Marie 50, #58 (Age is probably an error.  John’s wife Mary Lloyd Freeman was born in 1608 and would have been 27 years old.)
Freeman Jo: 9, #59
Freeman Sycillie 4, #60
Freeman Thomas 24, #91 (Only record)
Freeman Edmund 45, #107
Freeman Edward 34, husbandman #135 (Probably our Edmond as age and wife’s and children’s names line up.  Who, then, is the Edmond passenger #107 above born in 1590? Edmund Freeman Sr did not marry Alice Coles until 1591.
Freeman Elizabeth 35, wife of Edward #136
Freeman Elizabeth 12, #149
Freeman Alice 17, #150
Freeman Edmund 15, #152
Freeman John 8, #153


2. Edmund FREEMAN Jr (See his page)

3. William Freeman

William’s first wife Christian Hodsoll was born in 1601 in Pulborough, Sussex, England.  She was baptized 23 Apr 1602, All Hallows by the Tower , London.  Her parents were John Hodsoll and Anne Maundy. Christian died before 15 May 1638 in Pulborough, Sussex, England.

William’s second wife Jane Skinner was baptized 27 Mar 1611 in Henfield, Sussex, England.  She had first married William Gratwick on 14 Oct 1630 in Cowfold, Sussex, England.

4. Alice Freeman

Alice’s husband John Beauchamp was born in 1593 in London, England. His parents were Thomas Beauchamp (1550 – 1613) and Dorothy Clarke (1572 – 1613). John died in 1652 in Pulborough, Sussex, England.

John Beauchamp (wiki) was an influential member of the company that financed the Mayflower.  He was granted two large tracts of land in Massachusetts.  He also patented tracts of land in Virginia and there is evidence that he traveled to Virginia.

John Beauchamp Plymouth's Silent Partner

“William Paddy, skinner, merchant from London, came in the James April 5, 1636, deputy, 1639.  Rem. to Boston.  He was one of the lessees of the trade at Kennebeck up to 1650.  Mr. John Beauchamp, one of the partners in Plymouth Company, calls him cousin in letter in Plym. Deeds, II; refers also to bro. Freeman, Paddy’s father, and to bro. Coddington.  He m. 24 Nov 1639, Alice, dau of Edmund Freeman; she d. 24 Apr 1651″

Children of Alice and John:

i. John Beauchamp, d. 1615

ii. Thomas Beauchamp,

iii. Alice Beauchamp, m. John Doggett

John Doggett was the son of John Doggett (or Dogett), “Mercer and Merchant Adventurer of Hamburg” (from his will), who (according to his descendants) was English, born in Suffolk, but operated a textile business in Hamburg for many years; will proved 1653 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. This senior John was a member of the Merchant Adventurers of England (London merchants organized to trade with Europe). I’ve never seen evidence that John Beauchamp was actually a member of the Merchant Adventurers, but he probably was. He is referred to as a Merchant Adventurer often enough, and as a young man he worked for his uncle John Beauchamp, merchant of London and Amsterdam (from Uncle John’s will). We know he had investments in the American colonies, so it’s entirely likely that he also had investments or traded with merchants in Europe.

The younger John Doggett, eldest son of his family, was born in Hamburg (proved by his will) and was also a successful merchant of London (he left Alice well fixed in her widowhood). He was very likely a mercer (textile merchant) like his father. John Beauchamp was a dry salter (chemicals and the production of dyes), so he no doubt had dealings with textile merchants or was himself involved in the textile trade, a booming industry of that era in England. He and the senior John Doggett might have been friends (so that young John and young Alice met), or perhaps the Beauchamps and the Doggetts all lived in St. Swithin’s Parish, London, and Alice fell in love with the boy next door, or two streets over. Possibly Alice and John moved into the Beauchamps’ house in London after her parents moved to Reigate, or maybe they found their own house in the neighborhood, but they lived in St. Swithin’s or at least had their children christened there between 1645 and 1663, at the same church where Alice’s younger siblings may have been baptized.

iv. Mary Beauchamp, m. [__?__] Woolsey

v. Edmund Beauchamp, b. 16 Dec 1625 in Cosgrove, Northamptonshire, England; d. Sep 1691 in Annamessex, Somerset, Maryland will executed April 10, 1691, probated October 12, 1691. m. 22 Jun 1668, to Sarah Dixon;

File:Somerset County Maryland Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Crisfield Highlighted.svg

Annemessex Neck now Crisfield, Somerset, Maryland

Sent to the Eastern Shore of Maryland by Governor Calvert in 1666.  Received 50 acres of land from Lord Baltimore.  Served as clerk to the court from June to August 22, 1666. Then became clerk and keeper of the records of the proceedings of the court of Somerset County until his death.  Took part in the expedition against the Nanticoke Indians.  Speaks of himself in his will as “weaver, of London”.  In Maryland by 1665.  In 1665 assigns 50 acres to William Smith.

Sarah Dixon  b. 1655  baptized April 21, 1671, previously Quaker
m.(2) John White d. 1730  Supposed to have died leaving 5 minor children:  Mary, Sarah, Henry, Rachel, and Martha White

Edmund Beauchamp, who arrived in Maryland well educated and well heeled (since he bought Contention outright, without headrights, and promptly signed it over to his wife), was also a mercer of London, involved in the textile trade, and he had a son named Doggett. If he was John Beauchamp’s son, he may have gone to work for his father or (perhaps with brothers) carried on John’s business after John died. Or he may have gone to work for his brother-in-law, John Doggett. He may have lived with John and Alice Doggett when, unmarried, at least in 1653, he set off for London to make his own mark. If Edmund was about age 21, when his father wrote his will, about 23 when his father died, then John Doggett may well have been the person who guided him as a young mercer on his own in London.

vi. Richard Beauchamp,

vii. George Beauchamp,

viii. Elizabeth Beauchamp.

6. John Freeman

John’s first wife Mary Lloyd was born in 1608 in London, England . Mary died 14 Jun 1633.

John’s sccond wife Elizabeth Noyes was born about 1624 in Penton, Southampton, England.  Her parents were Peter Noyes (1592 – 1657) and Elizabeth [__?__] (1594 – 1636). After John died, she married Josiah Haynes, son of Walter Haynes and Elizabeth Goure, on 13 Nov 1649 at Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.   Elizabeth died 1649 in Sudbury, Middlesex, Mass.

Elizabeth’s father Peter Noyes was born about 1591 in Penton, Southamtpon, England He died on 23 Sep 1657 in Sudbury, Middlesex, MA. He is called Peter Nyoyes, Deacon of the Church at Sudbury, 23 Sept 1657. Beneath is: Rec’d of Ens. Thomas Noyes, Clerk, as attests Tho. Danforth, Recorder The children, other than Thomas and Elizabeth attached to Peter are speculative. They may be children of an unknown relative. Given their approximate birth dates, they were almost certainly born in England, as Peter and the rest of the settlers did not arrive before 1638. Their birthdates are also speculative, other than Thomas who is specifically mentioned as being age 15 when he arrived with his father.

In one record, it is said Peter the emigrant, came on the ship “Confidence” in 1638, age 47. With him were a son Thomas, age 15, and a daughter Elizabeth, no age mentioned. No wife is mentioned. In NEHG 47:72, “Walter Haynes and Peter Noyes,” however a heretofore unpublished document by an early Noyes, gives that he came with 3 sons and 3 daughters. No wife is mentioned. Those are listed as Thomas, Peter, Josephus, Dorithy, Elizabeth, Abigail.

Children of John and Mary

i. John Freeman b. 1626 –

ii. Cicely Freeman b. 1631 –

iii. Sucilla Freeman b. 1631 –

Child of John and Elizabeth:

iv. Sgt. Joseph Freeman. b. 29 Mar 1645 Sudbury, Middlesex, Mass. ; m. Dorothy Haynes, daughter of Deacon John Haynes and Dorothy Noyes, on 6 May 1680 at Sudbury, Middlesex County, Mass.; d. 2 Feb 1697/98 at Preston, New London, CT.

vi. James Freeman b. 10 Jun 1647, d. 18 Jun 1647

vii. Elizabeth Freeman b. 23 Jun 1648 in Sudbury, Middlesex, Mass.; d.  bef. 10 Jul 1723 in Norwich, New London, CT; m.  6 Jul 1670 Sudbury, Middlesex, Mass to Thomas Gates.

7. Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth’s husband John Coddington was born 1605 in Pulborough, Sussex, England. He died after 13 Nov 1650.

8. Thomas Freeman

Thomas was passenger #91, age 24 on  The Abigail left London, England April to July 1635 with her master, Robert Hackwell, arriving in Massachusetts Bay.


Posted in 13th Generation, Historical Church, Line - Shaw | Tagged | 4 Comments

John Bliss

John BLISS  (1561 – 1617) was Alex’s 12th Great Grandfather, one of 8,192 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Thomas Bliss – Coat of Arms

John Bliss was baptized 2 Feb 1561 in Daventry, England.  His parents were William BLISS b. ABT 1533 in Daventry, Northampton, England and Elizabeth OLIPHANT  b. 1540 in Daventry, Northampton, England.  His first wife was Agnes or Annes [__?__].  He married his second wife, Alice Smith in 1614.  John died 7 Sep 1617 in Preston Parva, England and was buried 8 Sep 1617 in St. Peters, Preston Capes, Northampton, England.

St. Peters, Preston Capes, Northampton

Agnes or Annes [__?__] was born in 1571 in Daventry, Northants, England. She died before 1614 in Preston Capes, England.

Alice Smith was born about 1553 in Preston Capes, Northampton, England.  Her father was Walter Smith (1525 – 1567). Alice died 26 Mar 1625 in Little Preston, Daventry, Northamptonshire, England.

Children of John and Alice:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Thomas BLISS c. 1588
Preston Parva, Daventry, Northamptonshire
22 Nov 1614
Holy Cross Church, in Daventry, Northampton, England.
7 Oct 1647
Rehoboth, Mass.
2. George Bliss 1591
Preston Parva, Northampton, England
Ann Shaw
30 May 1635
Holy Cross Church in Daventry.
 31 Aug 1667
Newport, RI
3. Elizabeth Bliss 1599
Preston Capes, Norths., England
4. Constance Bliss
5. Agnes Bliss 1593
Preston Capes, Norths., England
John Harding
12 Jul 1629,
Preston Capes, Norths., England
6. Joane Bliss 1595
Preston Capes, Norths, England
John Payne

John was a blacksmith at Preston Parva (a small village near Preston Capes)  His first wife, by whom he had all but one of his children, is unknown. His second wife, who he married in 1614, was Alice Smith, and she was the mother of John Bliss (born 1615, died 1616).


1. Thomas BLISS (See his page)

2. George Bliss

George’s wife Ann Shaw was born 1593 in Preston Parva, Northampton, Devon, England.

George  and his wife joined Thomas and his family in their crossing to America, landing probably at Boston around 1638.  George may have resided a short time at Lynn, then Sandwich, Massachusetts.  On April 16, 1640, George was granted 1.5 acres of land.  He later removed to Newport, RI where he practiced his trade as a blacksmith.  In 1650, George was appointed (along with others) to make and mend all arms in Newport.  In 1657, Gov. Benedict Arnold described George Bliss as one of the original purchasers of the Island of Quononicut.  Later, Gov. Arnold’s daughter, Damaris, married George’s son, John.  George is listed in the Colonial Records as a freeman in 1655/56.

George bought land in Newport March 22, 1660. On that date articles of agreement were made whereby Sosoa, an Indian captain of Narragansett, deeded (June 29, 1660) a large tract of land called Misquamicutt [the Indian name of salmon] to seventy-six of the colonists, George Bliss being one of the number.  In 1669 the territory of Misquamicutt was incorporated under the name of Westerly.

George Bliss died August 31, 1667 at Newport.

Persecuted Cousins

There was another Thomas Bliss who immigrated to Hartford, CT.  Several sources state that he was the cousin of our Thomas and George,  The relationship is unproven, but it is interesting coincidence that both family branches had a Thomas, Johns, George and Jonathan.  This Thomas was from Devon while our Bliss ancestors originated in Northampton.

Tradition has it that Thomas Bliss, the emigrant, was the son and name-sake of a well-to-do, locally influential citizen in the village of Belstone, county Devonshire. In the opening decades of the 17th century the father, Thomas, Sr. had become a determined advocate of the Puritan cause and had participated with like-minded neighbors in the acts of protest against religious oppression. On one particular occasion, he and three of his sons (George, Jonathan and Thomas, Jr.) had accompanied a party, led by the local member of parliament, in riding up to London to engage both king and archbishop in direct confrontation. The upshot was their imprisonment and the levying of heavy fines (said to have been in excess of £1000) in lieu of their freedom. Payment of the fines required the virtual liquidation of the family estate, and even then there was not enough money to free all four Blisses. Thus one of the sons, Jonathan, remained in jail some while longer, was severely whipped in the public square at Exeter, and never thereafter recovered his health.

Impoverished and broken in his own health, Thomas, Sr. subsequently returned to Belstone and lived in the household of his daughter, Lady Elizabeth Calcliffe. She was the wife of a knighted gentleman who had remained a regular communicant of the Anglican church (thus avoiding persecution). As the crisis of the realm deepened, the father summoned his sons, divided among them what patrimony he still retained, and advised them to remove to New England. Thomas, Jr. and George left soon thereafter; Jonathan was too ill to join them, but sent at least one of his sons in their care. During the years that followed, Lady Calcliffe sought to help her relatives across the sea by sending them periodic shipments of clothing and food. And it was in her personal correspondence — regrettably, long since lost — that this part of the Bliss family history was remembered for succeeding generations.

Thomas was born about 1590. The particular location of his birth is not known. He resided in Rodborough, Gloucestershire at one time, and a son Nathaniel was born there. However, there were very few Blisses resident at Rodborough at that time and in fact no Bliss testators lived there during Thomas’ stay. It was not the place of his birth nor the place of his ancestors. The reason for his presence was one Margaret Hulins (or Hulings) of Rodborough whom he married in about 1617. Numerous Bliss records are traced to the Painswick area which has been termed “Bliss Country” by other researchers.

Thomas’ wife Margaret Hulings was born 15 Jul 1595 Rodborough, Gloucestershire, England.  Her parents were John Hulings and Margaret Lawrence. She married Thomas Bliss 18 Oct 1620. Margaret died 28 Aug 1684 – Springfield, Hampden County, Mass., full forty years after the death of her husband, and nearly fifty after she emigrated.

Some sites say that Thomas Bliss Sr was the son of William BLISS, John BLISS’ father so maybe the two immigrant Thomas Blisses really were cousins. Thomas Bliss, Sr. was a wealthy landowner, and was a Puritan, persecuted on account of his faith, by civil and religious authorities, under the direction of the infamous Archbishop Laud, that he was maltreated, impoverished and imprisoned. He was reduced to poverty and his health ruined by the persecution of the Church of England. He is supposed to have been born about 1555-60, and he died about 1635.

When the parliament of 1628 assembled, Puritans or Roundheads, as they were called by the Cavaliers or Tories, accompanied the members to London. Two of the sons of Thomas Bliss, Jonathan and Thomas, rode from Devonshire on iron-grey horses, and remained for some time-long enough, anyhow, for the king’s officers and spies to mark them, and from that time they, with others who had gone on the same errand to the capital, were marked for destruction. The Bliss brothers were fined a thousand pounds for their non-conformity, and thrown into prison, where they lay for weeks. Even their venerable father was dragged through the streets with the greatest indignities. On another occasion the officers of the high commission seized all their horses and all their sheep, except one poor ewe, that in its fright ran in the house and took refuge under a bed. At another time the three sons of Thomas Bliss, with a dozen Puritans, were led through the market place, in Okehampton, with ropes around their necks and also fined heavily.

On another occasion Thomas Sr. was arrested and thrown into prison with his son Jonathan, who eventually died from the hardships and abuse of the churchmen. At another time the king’s officers seized the cattle of the family and most of their household goods, some of which were highly valued for their age and beauty, and as heirlooms, having been for centuries in the family. In fact, the family being so impoverished, by constant persecution, was unable to pay the fines and secure the release of both father and son from prison, so the young man remained and the father’s fine was paid. At Easter the young man received thirty-five lashes.

After the father died, his widow lived with their daughter, whose husband, Sir John Calcliffe, was a communicant of the Church of England, in good standing. The remnant of the estate was divided among the three sons, who were advised to go to America to escape further persecution. Thomas and George feared to wait for Jonathan, who was ill in prison;, and they left England in the fall of 1635 with their families. Thomas, son of Jonathan, and grandson of Thomas Bliss, remained in England until his father died, and then he also came to America, settling near his uncle of the same name. At various times the sister of the immigrants sent to the brothers boxes of shoes, clothing and articles that could not be procured in the colonies, and it is through her letters, long preserved in the original but now lost, that knowledge of the family was handed down from generation to generation.

Thomas Bliss sold his property in England and sailed for America, in 1635. The name of the ship has not been revealed. Thomas’ wife, Margaret, accompanied him, along with several of their children, born in England. The Bliss group landed in Boston, then settled for a while in Braintree, Massachusetts. In 1639 they accompanied the Thomas Hooker party to Hartford, Connecticut.

The street where they lived there was first known as Bliss Street but is now called Trinity Street. In 1646, Thomas Bliss was a member of the Hartford Train-Band but the family removed to Springfield, Massachusetts and he died there.

Thomas Bliss’ wife Margaret is said to have been a good looking woman, with a square chin, indicating great strength of character. After the death of her husband, which took place about 1638, she managed the affairs of the family with great prudence and good judgment. She was energetic, efficient and of great intellectual capacity. Her eldest daughter married Robert Chapman, of Saybrook, Connecticut., April 29, 1642, and settled in Saybrook, where Thomas Bliss Jr. also settled, removing to Springfield, Massachusetts, on account of the malarial fevers then prevalent in Connecticut. She sold her property in Hartford and purchased a tract a mile square in Springfield, in the south part of the town, on what is now Main street. Margaret Bliss died August 19, 1684, full forty years after the death of her husband, and nearly fifty after she emigrated.

A large “house lot grant” was given to the Widow Bliss in Springfield. In 1644 the widow Margaret Bliss became one of only two women recognized in her community as a “Freeman.” She earned the esteem of the people of Springfield. John Homer Bliss describes her as follows:

“The Widow Bliss was a handsome woman with broad brow, fair hair and blue eyes, who managed her family’s affairs with great prudence after her husband’s death (about 1639). She was considered a woman of unusual mental ability. She died in Springfield on August 26, 1688”

Margaret was then at least ninety at the time of her death. A long life indeed for her generation. She left her name “Widow Bliss” on many of the pages of the town records, dealing mostly with land acquitions and improvements that affected her properties. On one occasion she was fined two pence for having a defect in her fences, which allowed her cattle to range on other’s property.

One entry in the town records is interesting showing a concern on her part for the rights of the local Indians:

Here ffolloweth Severall Grants of Land, Made by this Towne Beginning wth ye Yeare, 1665″: “Widdy Bliss hath granted unto her soe much of the pond as is at ye end of her lott in Long meddow: provided ye Indians be not molested in comeing to or gathering of their pease”

The inventory of Thomas Bliss of Hartford , husband of Margaret afterwards of Longmeadow , MA was presented 14 Feb 1650 and appears in Longmeadow Centennial, as does his estate. His children, Lawrence, John, Samuel, Elizabeth, Hannah and Sarah are mentioned, as well as daughter Heather who is not mentioned elsewhere. Not mentioned are the children Nathaniel, Anne, Mary, and Thomas, all of whom survived their father. It is to be presumed that they had received their share of the estate upon their respective marriages.

Margaret Bliss house, Springfield. Built 1695, probably by Margaret’s grandson, Thomas Bliss. Photo circa 1890. Courtesy of the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, Springfield, Massachusetts

Children of Thomas and Margaret:

i. Ann Bliss b. 1620 in Rodborough, Gloucestershire, England; d. 20 Nov 1685 Saybrook, Middlesex, CT;  m. Robert Chapman b. 1 Jan 1616 in Hull, Yorkshire, England; d. 13 Oct 1687 in Saybrook, Middlesex, CT

ii. Nathaniel Bliss b. 1622 in Belstone, Devon, England or baptized 22 Dec 1622 at Rodborough, Minchin Hampton, Gloucestershire, England.   m. Catharine Chapin, daughter of Samuel Chapin, Deacon and Cicely Penny, on 20 November 1646 at Belstone, Devonshire, England.  He went to Springfield after his father’s death.  Nathaniel died on 8 Nov 1654 at Springfield, Hampden, MA, at age 31. He was buried on 10 Nov 1654 at Springfield, Hampden, MA.

After Nathaniel died, Catherine married Thomas Gilbert 31 Jul 1655.

iii. Samuel Bliss b. 1624 in Belstone, Devon, England; m. Mary Leonard Nov 10, 1665; d. 23 Mar 1720.

iv. Mary Bliss 16 Mar 1628 in Northampton, Hampshire, Mass.; d. 29 Jan 1712 in Springfield, Hampden, Mass.; m. 26 Nov 1646 Hartford, CT to Cornet Joseph Parsons (1620 – 1683)

Mary Bliss Parsons, wife of Cornet Joseph Parsons, daughter of Thomas and Margaret Bliss of Hartford, Ct., both very prominent families, was born in England about 1628 and came to this country with her parents when she was about eight years old. She was eleven or twelve when they decided on still another move, to the rude little settlement of Hartford. There for a time life stablized, and Mary grew to womanhood as an average member of an ordinary New England community. In 1646 she married Joseph Parsons, a successful merchant, and went to live in Springfield. Henceforth, her life would be increasingly set apart from the average.

This painting is often referenced as Mary Bliss Parsons, but it is not.

In 1654 the Parsonses moved to Northampton. The family, which included eleven children, became members of the church. Local tradition has remembered Mary as being “possessed of great beauty and talents, but…not very amiable…exclusive in the choice of her associates, and…of haughty manners.”

In 1656, Mary was accused of witchcraft by some of her neighbors who were envious of their prosperity and endeavored in this way to disgrace them. She was vigorously defended by her mother, Margaret, but in 1674 a formal charge was made. She was sent to Boston for trial, where the jury gave her a full acquittal of the crime, and she returned home to Northampton. She and her husband removed back to Springfield in 1679. Soon after her acquittal in Boston , her son Ebenezer,was killed by the Indians at Northfield (Sept. 8, 1675). Those who had been instrumental in bringing her to trial said, “Behold, though human judges may be bought off, God’s vengeance neither turns aside nor slumbers.”

Samuel Bartlett complaint against Mary Parsons

Samll Bartlet of Northampton having lately lost his wife to his greate greife as he expresseth and ye rather for ye he strongly suspects yt she dyed by some unusuall meanes, viz, by meanes
of some evell Instruemt he presented to this Corte diverse evedences to shew the grounds of his feares & suspicioun Alsoe Goodman Bridgeman finding so ye Corte & Intreateing that
Diligent inquisition may be made concurring ye Death of ye sayd Woeman his Daughter for yt he also Strongly suspects she come to her and by some unlawfull & unatureall means
& for ye Diverse of ye testemonyes doe reflect on Goodwife Parsones Sen of Northampton yeCorte haveing read ye testemonyes doe thinks it meete yt ye case should be ffurther lookt into & therefore doe refferr ye sayd case & all other things Concerning ye sayd Goodwife Parsons yhave beene now Presented to ye ajournmt of this Corte which is to be kept at Northampton ye 18th Day of November next, for further Disquition & doe order yt she be warned thereto attend to answer wt shall be objected agst her & ye wittnesses are to be warned to appeare to testify before her viva vere wt they have already given in upon oath concerning her.

In 1656, soon after the Parsons family moved to Northampton, Joseph Parsons brought an action for slander against Sarah Bridgeman, charging that Sarah had accused Mary, his wife, of being a witch. On the docket of the Middlesex County Court, for its session of October 7, 1656, is found the following entry: “Joseph Parsons, plaintiff, against Sarah, the wife of James Bridgman, defendant, in an action of the case for slandering her [Parson’s wife] in her name. This action, by consent of both parties, was referred to the judgment of the Honored Bench of Magistrates.” A separate document records the magistrates’ finding in favor of the plaintiff and their order that the defendant make “public acknowledgment” of the wrong she had done. The acknowledgment was to be a dual performance – once in the town of Northampton and again at Springfield. Failure to fulfill either part of this requirement would result in a fine of £10.

The testimony against Mary Parsons was that following hard upon the heels of any disagreement or quarrel between Mary Parsons and any member of the Bridgeman family, a fatal disease would seize upon some horse, cow, or pig, belonging to the Bridgeman family and, as the disease could not be accounted for in any other way, it must be the result of Mary’s uncanny influence exercised by way of revenge.

The first set of testimonies was recorded at Northampton on or about the 20th of June. For example: Robert Bartlett testifieth that George Langdon told him the last winter that Goody Bridgman and Goody Branch were speaking about Mary Parsons concerning her being a witch. And the said George told to the said Robert that my [Langdon’s] wife being there said she could not think so – which the said Goody Bridgman seemed to be distates with. As also [according to Langdon] they had hard thoughts of the wife of the said Robert [Bartlett] because she was intimate with the said Mary Parsons.”

The other depositions in this early group enlarge on the gossip theme. The same Hannah Langdon mentioned in Bartlett’s statement testified that “Sarah Bridgman … told her that her boy when his knee was sore cried out of the wife of Joseph Parsons.” Bridgman had also alleged widespread “jealousies that the wife of Joseph Parsons was not right.” For a time Langdon herself had entertained suspicions of Mary Parsons, but recently “it hath pleased God to help her over them, … and [she] is sorry she should have [had] hard thoughts of her upon no better grounds.” These depositions converged on the issue of what Goody Bridgman had said.

The second major group of papers in the case carries a date several weeks later. They were taken before a different official, and probably in a different place (Springfield). They expressed a different viewpoint, as the recorder noted at the top of the opening page: “Testimonies Taken on Behalf of Sarah, the wife of James Bridgman, the 11th day of August, 1656.” The Bridgmans themselves supplied lengthy testimony on the events which had caused them to suspect Goody Parsons.

The previous summer the Bridgemans’ eleven-year-old son had suffered a bizarre injury while tending their cows: “In a swamp there came something and gave him a great blow on the had…and going a little further he…stumbled…and put his knee out of joint.” Subsequently, the knee was “set” but it would not heal properly – and he was in grievous torture about a month.” Then the boy discovered the cause of his sufferings: “He cried out [that] Goody Parsons would pull off his knee, [saying] ‘there she sits on the shelf.’ …I and my husband labored to quiet him, but could hardly hold him in bed for he was very fierce. We told him there was nobody…’Yea,” says he, ‘there she is; do you not see her? There she runs away and a black mouse follows her.’ And this he said many times and with great violence…and he was like to die in our apprehension.” At about the same time the Bridgmans had also lost an infant son:

“I [Sarah] being brought to bed, about three days after as I was sitting up, having the child in my lap, there was something that gave a great blow on the door. And that very instant, as I apprehended, my child changed. And I thought with myself and told my girl that I was afraid my child would die…Presently… I looking towards the door, through a hole…I saw…two women pass by the door, with white clothes on their heads; then I concluded my child would die indeed. And I sent my girl out to see who they were, but she could see nobody, and this made me think there is wickedness in the place.”

The decision of the court was in favor of the plaintiff and against Mrs. Bridgeman, and she was ordered to make public acknowledgment of her fault at Northampton and Springfield, and that her husband, James Bridgman, pay to plaintiff 10£ and cost of court.

But the charge of witchcraft against Mary Parsons did not end with the judgment in the slander suit. Her name was cleared, but only from a legal standpoint. In the years that followed, her husband prospered ever more greatly, her children grew in number and (mostly) flourished, her mother and brothers sank the Bliss family roots deep into the CT Valley. But her reputation for witchcraft hung on.

In 1674 the whole matter was renewed in court – with the important difference that now Mary Parsons was cast as defendant. Unfortunately, most of the evidence from this later case has disappeared. All that survives is the summary material from the dockets of the two courts involved. In August 1674, a young woman of Northampton, Mary Bartlett, had died rather suddenly. She was twenty-two, wife of Samuel Bartlett and the mother of an infant son. More importantly, she was a daughter of Sarah and James Bridgman. Her husband and father jointly believed, as they later testified in court, that “she came to her end by some unlawful and unnatural means, … viz. by means of some evil instrument.” And they had distinct ideas about the person most likely to have used such means.

On September 29, the Hampshire County Court received “diverse testimonies” on the matter. Mary Parsons was also there – on her own initiative: “She having intimation that such things were bruited abroad, and that she should be called in question…”the fact that Mrs. Parsons voluntarily appeared before the court desiring to clear herself of such an execrable crime, and that subsequently she argued her own case before the court must not be overlooked. On both these occasions she met her accusers boldly, protesting her innocence, and showing ‘how clear she was of such a crime.’ In this trial Mrs. Parsons was called to speak for herself and from the meager report upon record, undoubtedly did so most effectively.” The court examined her, considered all the evidence, and deferred further action to its next meeting in November. There followed a second deferral “for special reasons” (about which the court did not elaborate).

On January 5, 1675, the county magistrates conducted their most extended hearing of the case. The previous depositions were reviewed and (apparently) some new ones were taken. Both Samuel Bartlett and Mary Parsons were present in person once again.

Mary was “called to speak for herself, [and] she did assert her own innocency, often mentioning … how clear she was of such a crime, and that the righteous God knew her innocency – with whom she had left her cause.” The magistrates decided that final jurisdiction in such matters belonged not to them but to the Court of Assistants in Boston. Still, considering “the season” and “the remoteness” [i.e., of their own court from Boston] and “the difficulties, if not incapabilities, or persons there to appear,” they determined to do their utmost “in inquriing into the case.” Among other things, they appointed a committee of “soberdized, chaste women” to conduct a body-search on Mary Parsons, to see “whether any marks of witchcraft might appear.” (The result was “an account” which the court did not disclose.) Eventually, all the documents were gathered and forwarded to Boston.

At the same court, and apparently as part of the same proceeding, “some testimony” was offered “reflecting on John Parsons.” John was Mary’s second son: he was twenty-four at the time, and as yet unmarried. How and why he should have been implicated in the charges against his mother cannot now be discovered; but the evidence was in any case unpersuasive. The court did “not find…any such weight whereby he should be prosecute on suspicion of witchcraft” and discharged him accordingly.

Meanwhile, the case against Mary Parsons moved towards its final round. On March 2, Mary was taken to Boston, “presented” at the Court of Assistants, and formally indicted by the grand jury. Thereupon the court ordered her commitment to prison until “her further trial.” The trial came some ten weeks later (May 13, 1675). An imposing roster of Assistants lined the bench: the governor, the deputy-governor, and a dozen magistrates (including her husband’s old associate, John Pynchon). However, her fate rested with “the jury of trails for life and death” – twelve men, of no particular distinction, from Boston and the surrounding towns. The indictment was read one last time: “Mary Parsons, the wife of Joseph Parsons…being instigated by the Devil, hath…entered into familiarity with the Devil, and committed several acts of witchcraft on the person or persons of one or more.” The evidence in the case was also read. And “the prisoner at the bar, holding up her hand and pleading not guilty, …[put] herself on her trial.” The tension of this moment must have been very great, but it does not come through in the final, spare notation of the court recorder: “The jury brought in their verdict. They found her not guilty. And so she was discharged.”

The jury gave her a full acquittal of the crime. Of Mary’s life subsequent to 1674 there is little direct information. She and her husband would eventually give up their home in Northampton and move back to Springfield. Joseph would died in 1683, leaving a substantial estate of £2,088, and Mary would enter a very long widowhood.

She remained thereafter in Springfield, completed the rearing of her numerous progeny, and saw her sons – and then her grandsons – assume positions of prominence in several CT Valley towns. Death claimed her in January, 1712, when she was about eighty-five years old. She was not again tried for witchcraft, but neither was she ever free from local suspicion.

v. Lawrence Bliss b. 628 in Of Rodborough, Gloucestershire, , England; d. 8 Nov 1676 in Springfield, Hampden, Mass.; m. Lydia Wright

vi. Thomas Bliss b. Rodborough, Gloucestershire, England went to Norwich. d. 15 Apr 1688 Norwich, CT  He went to Saybrook, CT after his father’s death.

vii. Hannah Bliss b. 1633 in Rodborough, Gloucestershire, England; d. single 25 Jan 1660

vi. John Bliss b. 1635 in Rodborough, Gloucestershire, England; d. 10 Sep 1702; m. Patience Burt.

vii. Elizabeth Bliss b. 1640 in Hartford, Hartford, CT; m. Miles Morgan (second wife) 15 Feb 1670 and had one child.

viii. Hester Bliss b. 1640 in Hartford, Hartford, CT, m. Edward Foster

Thomas Bliss Springfield – Bio


The first century of the history of Springfield: the official …, Volume 2 By Springfield (Mass.), Henry Martyn (Goody Parsons Witchcraft Case)

Posted in 14th Generation, Dissenter, Witch Trials | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Nine Men’s Misery – 1676

On March 26, 1676 during King Philip’s War, Captain Michael Pierce led approximately 60 Plymouth Colony colonial troops and 20 Wampanoag Christian Indians in pursuit of Narragansett Indians who had burned several Rhode Island towns and attacked Plymouth, Mass. as part of King Philip’s War.

Nine Men’s Misery Monument

Pierce’s troops caught up with the Narragansett Indians but were ambushed in what is now Central Falls, Rhode Island. Pierce’s troops fought the Narragansetts for several hours, but were surrounded by a larger force of Narragansetts. The battle was one of the biggest defeats of colonial troops during King Philip’s War with nearly all killed in the battle, including Captain Pierce and the Christian Indians (“Praying Indians”) (exact numbers vary by account somewhat). The Narragansetts lost only a handful of warriors.

Nine of the colonists who were among the dead were first taken prisoner (along with a tenth man who survived). These men were purportedly tortured to death by the Narragansetts at a site in Cumberland, Rhode Island, currently on the Cumberland Monastery and Library property. The nine dead colonists were buried by English soldiers who found the corpses and buried them in 1676. The soldiers created a pile of stones to memorialize the colonists. This pile is believed to be the oldest veterans’ memorial in the United States, and a cairn of stones has continuously marked the site since 1676.

A more personal and detailed account of the massacre of Pierce’s party by the Indians gives us a flavor of the emotion felt by the English:

“Sunday the 26th of March was sadly remarkable to us for the Tidings of a very deplorable Disaster brought unto Boston about 5 a Cloak that Afternoon, by a Post from Dedham, viz., that Captain Pierce (of) Scituate, in Plimmouth Colony, having Intelligence in his Garrison at Seaconicke, that a Party of the Enemy lay near Mr. Blackstones, went forth with 63 English and twenty of the Cape Indians, (who had all along continued faithful, and joyned with them;) and upon their March, discovered rambling in an obscure woody Place, four or five Indians, who, in getting away from us, halted, as if they had been lame or wounded.

But our Men had pursued them but a little Way into the Woods, before they found them to be only Decoys to draw them into their Ambuscade: for on a Sudden, they discovered about 500 Indians, who in very good order, furiously attacqued them, being as readily received by ours. So that the Fight began to be very fierce and dubious, and our Men had made the Enemy begin to retreat but so slowly that it scarce deserved that Name, when a fresh Company of about 400 Indians came in; so that the English and their few Indian Friends were quite surrounded, and beset on every Side. Yet they made a brave Resistance, for about two Hours: during all that Time they did great Execution upon the Enemy, whom they kept at a Distance, and themselves in Order.

For Captain Pierce cast his 63 English and 20 Indians into a Ring, and fought Back to Back, and were double-double Distance, all in a Ring, whilst the Indians were as thick as they could stand, thirty deep. Overpowered with those numbers, the said Captain, and 55 of his English and ten of their Indian Friends were slain upon the Place; which, in such a Cause, and upon such Disadvantages, may certainly be stiled ‘The Bed of Honour.’ However, they sold their worthy Lives at a gallant Rate; it being affirmed by those few that (not without wonderful Difficulty, and many Wounds) made their Escape, that the Indians lost as many Fighting Men, (not counting Women and Children,) in this Engagement, as were killed at the Battle in the Swamp, near Narraganset, mentioned in our last Letter, which were generally computed to be above three Hundred

The “Nine Men’s Misery” site was disturbed in 1790 by medical students led by one Dr. Bowen looking for the body of one of the dead colonists, Benjamin Bucklin, who was said to be unusually large with a double row of teeth. They were stopped by outraged locals. The site was desecrated several more times until 1928 when the monks who then owned the cemetery built a cemented stone cairn above the site. The cairn and site can still be visited on the Monastery grounds.

Pierce’s Fight was followed by the burning of Providence three days later, and then the capture and execution of Canonchet, the chief sachem of the Narragansetts. The war was winding down even at the time that Pierce’s party was destroyed, and in August, King Philip himself was killed.

John LOW (1629 – 26 Mar 1676)  died  at Nine Men’s Misery a site in current day Cumberland, Rhode Island where nine colonists were tortured by the Narragansett Indian tribe during King Philip’s War. A stone memorial was constructed in 1676 which is believed to be the oldest veterans memorial in the United States.  Cumberland was originally settled as part of Rehoboth, Mass  which is listed as the location of John’s death.

Our ancestors’ children, John Millard, son of John MILLARD , Benjamin Buckland, son of William BUCKLAND  and John Sprague, son-in-law of William BASSETT  also died in the battle.

Respecting Rev. John HOWSE‘ grandson Respecting Shubael Linnel little is known. He is named in 1667 as a guardian of the children of the second Thomas Ewer. A Samuel Linael of Barnstable was killed at the battle of Rehobeth, and as the only Samuel Linnel of Barnstable in 1776 was Samuel, son of David, and as he is named as living in 1688 he could not have been the man killed in 1676. To reconcile these conflicting statements Amos Otis supposed that there is an error in the records, that Shubael, the guardian, is the same person who is called Samuel in the returns of the killed March 26, 1676

John WHELDON served in Plymouth’s 4th expedition against the Narragansett Indians, March, 1675, otherwise known as Pierce’s Ambush, then was exempted from military training in October, 1677 “on consideration that hee hath three sons fitted with armes for publicke service.”.

The site is located on the grounds of the former Trappist monastery of Our Lady of the Valley, now the Cumberland public library, and is an approximately 15 minute walk behind the main building on a rise in the woods.

Directions:  Follow the road to the right past the main building, you will come to a low white building on your left and at that point should see a break in the chain link fence that is on your right. There is a low metal guardrail in the break, step over and you should be on a walking path. Turn right and not far up the path will divid, take the left path, it will bring you through a field. In the field, it again branches out – take the left again and keep walking out of the field through the trees. From leaving the field to reaching the monument is about the same distance that you walked to get out of the field from the start. Coming down over a small rise, there is a path to the right that brings you to the elevated area that the monument occupies – you can see the monument from the rise when on the path.


Posted in History, Violent Death | 13 Comments

Battle of Havana – 1762

The Battle of Havana had by far the most America deaths of any battle up until that time, especially for Connecticut, but until I found family casualties in this genealogy project, I had never heard of it.

File:British fleet entering Havana.jpg

The British fleet closing in on Havana in 1762

The Battle of Havana (1762) was a military action from March to August 1762, as part of the Seven Years’ War. British forces besieged and captured the city of Havana, which at the time was an important Spanish naval base in the Caribbean, and dealt a serious blow to the Spanish navy. During the siege the British had lost 2,764 killed, wounded, captured or deserted, but by 18 October also had lost 4,708 dead from sickness. One of the most depleted brigade was transferred to North America where it lost a further 360 men within a month of his arrival.  Havana was subsequently returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war, but Spain was required to cede Florida and Minorca to Great Britain and pay the Manila Ransom. Spain received French Louisiana as a payment for intervening in the war on the side of the French and as compensation for having lost Florida.

Capt. Joseph SEXTON’s (1666 – 1742) son Charles Sexton died 16 Sep 1762 at sea on the expedition from Somers to “the Havannah”.   According to the Barbour Collection, his son Charles Jr appears to have died on the expedition a week later 25 Sep 1762.

-Two sons of Stephen GATES IV (1690 – 1782) died in October and November 1762.  A 19th Century genealogy said they died in the French and Indian War.  I was confused because the French and Indian War ended that September.  I found their unit and commanding officer and through Major General Phineas Lyman found that they were casualties of the Battle of Havana.

Azariah Gates (1725 – 1762) was a solider in the Seven Years War, Battle of Havana from 25 Mar 1762 until 14 Oct 1762 when he died, probably of Yellow Fever in Cuba.   He was in the First Connecticut Regiment under Major General Phineas Lyman, Fifth Company under Captain John Stanton.   In 1762 Lyman was sent with 2,300 men to command the colonial contingent of Lord Albemarle’s army in the capture of Havana.

Phineas Gates (1731 – 1762) was a solider in the Seven Years War, Battle of Havana from 20 Mar 1762 until he was died 30 Nov 1762, like his brother probably of Yellow Fever in  Cuba.   He served with his brother Azariah in the First Connecticut Regiment under Major General Phineas Lyman, Fifth Company under Captain John Stanton.

On 28 Jul 1762  1,400 militia from Connecticut arrived in time to aid in the defense of the batteries from the one Spanish sally. Prado gathered together a rather motley collection of 1,200 militia and threw them against the English lines. Although the opening attack was a surprise, the English recovered quickly and beat back three charges. On the 30th the engineers mining the walls finally had their charges set and blew a breach in the Morro’s walls. Albemarle’s two brothers led the English charge and they made short work of the defenders. Luis de Velasco, commander of the Morro, died defending his flag.

I counted 43 dead and 27 survivors in Azariah and Phineas’s 5th Company, 1st Connecticut Regiment from the Rolls of Connecticut men in the French and Indian War, 1755-1762, Volume 2 By Connecticut Historical Society.   Extrapolating this 61% casualty rate to the entire regiment gives 860 deaths.  I couldn’t find the actual total from this little remembered conflict.  The Connecticut Colony’s total population was 142,000 in 1760.  A similar casualty rate if applied today’s United States would equal 1.8 million deaths.  This was a lot of carnage for a fight not much in the interest of the Connecticut settlers, though maybe the commander did benefit.

William CLARK’S grandson Capt. Israel Loomis (b. 29 Sep 1715 in Lebanon – d. 2 Oct 1801 in Lebanon)  was on the 1762 pay role of  Capt. Robert Durkee’s Ninth Company, Major General Phineas Lyman’s First Connecticut Regiment

Campaign of 1762 - 1st Regiment - Rolls of Connecticut Men in the French and Indian War, 1755-1762, Volume 2  By Connecticut Historical Society

Rolls of Connecticut Men in the French and Indian War, 1755-1762, Volume 2 By Connecticut Historical Society.   As you can see on this page, the casualty rate in Israel Loomis’ group was almost 50%, mostly from malaria and yellow fever.

In 1763, Phineas Lyman went to England where he remained until 1772, endeavoring to obtain a grant of land in west Florida, a tract near Natchez (now Mississippi) being granted by royal charter in 1772. Lyman led a band of settlers to the region in 1773.

Posted in History, Veteran, Violent Death | 7 Comments