Nicholas NORTON (ca. 1610 – 1690) was Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation of the Shaw line. He was also Alex’s 9th Great Grandfather, one of 1,024 in that generation of the Miller line. The two lines didn’t come together for 350 years until I was born in 1959!
Nicholas Norton was born about 1610 in Broadway, Somerset, England. His parents were Nicholas NORTON Sr. and [__?__]. He emigrated to America in 1635, probably coming with the party of colonists accompanying Rev. John Hull. On the ship “Hopewell” which left England in Sept 1635 was: Norton William 25 – Sworn August 29, 1635.
He probably came with the party of colonists accompanying Rev. John Hull. (See my article The Hull Company.) He married Elizabeth ISAAC in 1637 in Weymouth, Mass. Nicholas died in 1690 in Edgartown, Dukes, Mass.
Elizabeth Isaac was born about 1617 in Weymouth, Dorset, England. Her parents were Joseph ISAAC and Elizabeth [__?__]. Elizabeth died about 1690 in Edgartown, Mass.
Children of Nicholas and Elizabeth:
|1.||Isaac NORTON||2 May 1641 Weymouth, Mass.|| Ruth BAYES
Martha’s Vineyard, Mass
|2.||Jacob Norton||1 MAR 1642/43 Weymouth||Elizabeth [___?__]||After 1691
|3.||Elizabeth Norton||ca. 1646
22 Apr 1706 Edgartown
|4.||Joseph Norton||MAR 1650/51 Weymouth||Mary Bayes
|30 JAN 1741/42 Martha’s Vineyard|
|6.||Priscilla Norton||1655 Edgartown||John Butler
4 OCT 1665 Edgartown
|1738 Great Neck, Dukes, Mass|
|7.||Hannah NORTON||ca. 1657 Edgartown||Augustine WILLIAMS
|1709 Lebanon, CT|
|8.||Ruth Norton||1657 Edgartown||Moses Cleveland
4 OCT 1676 Woburn, Mass.
|9.||Benjamin Norton||1659 Edgartown||Hannah Bolter
|10.||Esther Norton||1662 Edgartown||Samuel Huxford
ca. 1683 Edgartown
|APR 1724 Edgartown|
|11.||Mary Norton||ca. 1666
There is a will of Robert Norton of Wells, Somersetshire, dated Sept. 29, 1590 who mentions his nephew Nicholas. (17, St. Barbe.) This is too early for our settler, but may be a clue to the family. It will probably be found upon investigation that he emigrated from Somersetshire, and perhaps came from the vicinity of Batcombe or Broadway in that county, and there is some reason for inferring that he was one of the party of colonists accompanying the Rev. John Hull in 1635 to New England. Rev. Mr. Hull brought twenty families from the vicinity of Batcombe and Broadway, and in 1639 Nicholas Norton had some business dealings with one Standerwyck, a clothier of Broadway in the County of Somerset. In 1640 he had a suit at law with Parson Hull.]
1637 – Some sources state that Nicholas was a veteran of the Pequot War.
1637 – Nicholas first appears at Weymouth, Mass., where he married his wife Elizabeth, and in which place he maintained a residence for twenty years prior to his removal to the Vineyard.
1651 – Shared in the division of lands in Weymouth
1657 – Constable in Weymouth
1658 – That he was of a social station somewhat above the average appears from the fact that he kept a servant, whose “miscariages” brought the subject of this sketch into trouble with the magistrates of Massachusetts. The following petition explains the case as related by Nicholas Norton himself to the General Court. The Court granted his petition providing he should bring his servant to bar.
To the Honord Genll Court now assembled the Petition of Nicholas Norton humbly Sheweth
That whereas yor poore peti’or stood engaged to the Treasurer in the sume of five pounds to bring in his servant to a County Court held at Boston to give answer for sume miscariages Comitted, which accordingly he did, at which Court yor poore peti’ors servant was also pr’sented by the grand-Jury either for the same or for some other offenses, the Court was then pleased, to deferre the Issue of the Case, & to require the Coutynuatio of the sd bond of yor poore peti’or, where upon he did agayne engage himselfe in the foresd sume to bring in his sd servant to the last Court of assistants, but in regard he was under a pr’sentment, expected to have him sent for by warrens & that wittnesses should also have bin sent for to prove the same as is usueall in case of pr’sentments, where upon vor poore peti’r, through Ignorance of the manner of Courts p’ceedinges in such Cases hath forfeited his foresd bond.
Now although yor peti’r cannot blame any but himselfe, vet is bold to Crave the favour of this Honrd Court, that the forfeiture may not be required of yor poore peti’r, but short you would be pleased (out of yr woonted tendernes in offenses which p’ceed meerely out of Ignorance, to remits the same or so much of it as in yr wisdome you shall thinke meet, hopeing you will the rather be moved hereunto considering the great loss yor poore peter hath sustayned in the service of the Country in Collecting of the Country rate which he hopes is vet in yor mynds, & that the delinquent is ready when required suffer the Just sentence of the Court according to the merritt of his offenses, which if the Lord move yr harts to grannt it will abundantly engage yr poore pet’r ever to pray. [Mass. Archives, XXXIX, 39.]
1659 – While still called “of Weymouth,” Nicholas’ name first appears in the records of Edgartown, a town located on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown was first settled by the English in 1642. Rev. Thomas Mayhew, Jr. led a group of families to start a colony on the island after its purchase by his father. Edgartown is famous for being the site of Chappaquiddick and its population was 3,779 at the 2000 census. Nicholas was chosen a referee to represent the town in its controversy with John Daggett respecting his farm at Oak Bluffs.
22 Aug 1659, “Goodman” Norton was granted “a Lott of forty acres of Land” and on the same day it was” ordered by the town that Goodman Norton shall have Liberty to make use of any Pond about the Ox Pond for his Trade, except the Great Ponds.” It does not appear what trade Nicholas Norton followed, but the use of ponds suggests that he may have been a tanner.
1659 – Sued by Henry Goss in that year and was mulcted in the sum of five shillings “for charges about the cure of Mr. Gousse’s child: to pay one half in Wampam current and halfe in come and five shillings to the constable for the Tryall about the abuse of Mr. Gousse’s child.” The exact nature of this suit at law is not clear from the records.
1659 – Sued the Rev. Mr. Cotton, missionary to the Indians.
1661 – One of a committee to buy land of the Indians for the use of the town.
1662 63 and 1669, he again appears in litigation with various townsmen, and if not a pattern in this respect, his fence was deemed the pattern and lawful standard to which others were required to conform in the maintenance of boundary fences in the town.
1666 – Forbidden by the proprietors of the fish weir from taking any fish at Mattakeesett Creek, the right to which he claimed by purchase from the sachem Tewanticut, “contrary to our patent,” upon a penalty of £5 yearly so often as he disobeys the order.
1673 – Joined in the ” Dutch Rebellion ” with others of his townsmen, and when it had collapsed he was tried, convicted and forced to pay a fine of L51.
Through a maze of conflicting land grants, changing political allegiances, and settler unrest, Thomas Mayhew. (self-styled “Governour Mayhew”) began to rule his island with an iron hand. The attempt of the Mayhews to create a hereditary aristocracy on the Vineyard met with increasing opposition as more and more colonists arrived. When the Dutch temporarily recaptured New York in 1673, open rebellion broke out and lasted until the English re-won New York and restored the authority of the Mayhews on the island. An appeal to both the Governor and to the council of the Massachusetts Bay to return to the form of government originally intended in the Lord Stirling grant met with no success, Governor Mayhew refusing to the petitioners, who represented over half of the landowners on the island. Failing any concern from the Massachusetts Bay council over the matter, the ‘rebels’ attempted to form their own independent government, succeeding with the dual government for little over a year. During this time, Governor Mayhew “…was quietly putting the screws on individuals where he could, fining them so heavily that it amounted to a sequestration of their property. The following is the record in the case.:
Whereas Nicolas Norton upon Commission from the Right honorable Sr Edmond Andros Knight Governor of New York &c hath beene before the Court legally convicted of oppugning the Government established here under his Majestie wherein he acknowledgeth that he is ashamed and Sorry in his heart that he was Misled therein and hopes he shall be more careful for the future: The Court by virtue of the said Commission do adjudge the said Nicolas Norton to make a publique acknowledgment of the same at this Court and at the next quarterly Court holden at ‘Marthas Vineyard: or to pay the summe of fifty one pounds as a fine to the Country. [Dukes County Deeds, I, 65.]
Another version of the Dutch Rebellion Story
In the 1660s and ’70s, there was a little confusion regarding from which colony Martha’s Vineyard was governed: New York or Massachusetts. Thomas Mayhew, the original Yankee autocrat, preferred New York, which was farther away and therefore less likely to meddle in the benign monarchy he was trying to establish on the Vineyard. So he was pleased when he was officially informed in 1670 by Governor Francis Lovelace of New York that the Vineyard answered to Manhattan. At the governor’s suggestion, Mayhew went in person to New York. The trip began almost as a feudalistic show of homage, but Mayhew quickly turned it to his advantage. He so charmed Lovelace that when he returned to Martha’s Vineyard, Mayhew was – by official decree – Governor for Life and Lord of Tisbury Manor. As Charles Banks tells us, in response to this: “The spirit of Simon Athearn rose within him….He felt that there was no place in the Massachusetts system for governors for life.”
To be honest, it wasn’t purely Athearn’s democratic spirit rebelling. It was also his purse. As Lord of the Manor, Mayhew had the right to charge Athearn and others rent for land that they owned and already paid taxes on. The agitation and political proactivity of Athearn (and others) made the Island’s secessionist movement some three hundred years later look severely anemic. Most officeholders on the Island were Mayhews; most members of the judicial system, likewise. Because officers did not pay taxes, and the Lord of the Manor got to decide how taxes were spent, the effect was that non-Mayhews paid all the taxes and Mayhews (especially Thomas Mayhew) decided where all the tax money went. There was no incentive for the tax money to be spent on non-Mayhews’ welfare.
Simon Athearn was enraged by Mayhew’s assumption of titles and attendant privileges, but he had no means, or even right, to complain – until 1673 when the Dutch retook Manhattan and reestablished New Amsterdam. Thomas Mayhew’s Governor-for-Life-etcetera gig was legally founded in the power of the governor of New York. Suddenly, there was no governor of New York – because there was no longer a New York!
That meant Mayhew was no longer governor – at least, according to Simon Athearn and about half the European population of the Vineyard.
Mayhew himself, though, remained Zeus-like, supremely indifferent to his supposed loss of power. He carried on as though he were still in charge, and in effect, he was.
Simon Athearn and Thomas Burchard, the other leader of the “rebels,” found themselves in what must have been an infuriating Catch-22: The only person to whom they could petition for relief from their grievances was the exact person who caused their grievances. Following is a dramatized, but barely fictionalized, discussion between Athearn and Mayhew circa 1673:
Athearn: We’re petitioning to have Martha’s Vineyard made a part of Massachusetts rather than New York, seeing as how New York doesn’t really exist. We hope you’ll join with us.
Mayhew: I think things are fine the way they are.
Athearn: But Massachusetts is closer to us, and more efficiently run, and more democratic.
Mayhew: Three excellent reasons why I want nothing to do with them.
Athearn: Oh. Um. Okay. Well, we also have this other petition, which abolishes the role of Governor for Life, and says we’ll hold elections for a governor next year. So will you sign this one?
Mayhew: You’ve got to be kidding.
Simon Athearn’s 1694 rough Island map, now in the Massachusetts State Archives, was published in Arthur Railton’s The History of Martha’s Vineyard .
Athearn and the others, determined to bring about change, tried a new tack. They sent their petition directly to the governor of Massachusetts, asking that he make the Vineyard part of his colony. This would effectively dislodge Mayhew from his pedestal.
Governor John Leverett, however flattered he must have been to be so courted by unwashed, ragged rebels from an under-populated island, turned them down. “[It would be] His Majesty’s pleasure, whether [or not] to establish your own government or to settle you under some other…colony’s,” he cautioned them (in far worse English than that; I have taken the liberty to modernize his secretary’s spelling). In other words, only His Majesty the King of England could save them from His Majesty the Mayhew of Tisbury.
There is no record of Simon Athearn and his cohorts taking the logical next step of writing to the king. Instead, they warmed to their roles as rebels by forming a rebel government. It was entirely ineffective and does not seem to have done much of anything beyond protesting the validity of Mayhew’s governance.
This proved to be an unfortunate party platform for them: In November of 1674, per the above history lesson, the British retook Manhattan. Once again New York legally existed. As did the New York governor – and the validity of all the New York governor’s proclamations. Which meant Thomas Mayhew was officially, once again, Governor for Life.
Governor Mayhew accused the rebels of various crimes. Their status was determined, per the rule of law, by the chief magistrate of the courts – who happened to be Governor Mayhew. Some rebels were fined, and some fled the Island. Simon Athearn got the harshest treatment: He was arrested and faced deportation to New York for trial.
At this point, the impetuous Athearn did something uncharacteristically cowardly: He ratted out his compatriot Thomas Burchard in a plea-bargain arrangement. In exchange for naming Burchard as the head of the rebel conspiracy, Athearn escaped deportation to New York, gave the court (that is, Mayhew) a few head of cattle, and was allowed to go free. Burchard, strangely enough, was apparently never charged with any crime or even fined for malfeasance.
1685 – Committee “chosen to make the Govenors Rate” and this is his last appearance on the town records before his death.
There is no consolidated record of his real estate holdings such as was entered by others proprietors. He lived on his forty acre grant situated north of the Great Swamp and south of the present road to West Tisbury. He was an early owner of land at Sanchacantackett in the vicinity of Major’s Cove, where his descendants for two centuries resided and improved that beautiful estate. These purchases were made of the Wampamoag Indians or “Sam” and Thomas Sisseton, both of which are unrecorded, though it is said that the original deed from “Sam” was in existence in recent years in the hands of a descendant. It is not believed that he ever resided on this property. He also held the usual proprietor’s shares in the various divisions of town lands, besides a plot of meadow land at Aquampache. At the ripe age of four score years Nicholas Norton died, leaving four sons and six daughters, at least two of whom were born in Weymouth.
17 Apr 1690 – Date of Nicholas Norton’s will.
The last will and testament of me Nicolas Norton Being very weak in body but of perfect understanding and Souend memory After my death and desent Christian burial: I give and bequest my worry good as foloeth:-
Iprimes: I give my Son Izak Norton on half Comminig as also fouer Small Shares of medow
Secondly I give my Son Benjamin Norton all my medow at Saniacantick as also my medow at Morthals neck beach from the Crick dug into the Great pond westward as also my now dwelling hones and all my land aioyning to my Sayd houes after the deces of my wife Elizabeth Norton as also my lots at quompasha with all my devided land Elsewhere: provided my Sayd Son Beniamin deliver up his now dweling houes to my now wife Elizabeth Norton with the land aioyning to the Sayd houes: to be at my Sayd wifes sole will and pleseuer to dispose of at or before her desese, as also all that medow I have from a Creek to Izak Norton Medow
thirdly. I give Moses Cleveland the Remaynder of the Sayd medow to joyne with Weeks medow also on halfe Commonidg with all prevleges belonging there untoo
fourthly I give my Son in law Thomas Wolling on halfe Commonidg with all prevelidges belonging to it with a pese of medow from Izak Norton’s medow to the Creeke abofe named.
fifthly I give my Son Joseph Norton a tract of land lying at Saniacantacket joyning to the mill Creke which I bought of Mr Sam.
Sixtly I give that whole Commonidg which was Arys to my aforeSayd Son Beniamin Norton
Seventhly I give to Elizabeth Norton my wife all my Catle Coues oxen Steeres & Sheepe also all my hors kind & furder I give my Sayd wife Elizabeth Norton all my houeshold goods Beding pewter bras Iron tin wood wood as Chests trunks tables Chayers and all other things not named, also all plowes Carts Chayns yoks and all other utensells with all lumber: furder I leve my Sayd wife to give my dafter pese and my dafter wil (Wollong or Williams) and my dafter Stanbridg & my dafter Butler Something to Every one of them as much as shee sese cause: as also my dafter huxford to her my wife knows my mind
Eithly, my medow at the neck Caueled the Manado I leve to my wife Elizabeth Norton
Ninthly I doe apoynt my Sayd wife Elizabeth Norton to be my Sole Execitor and to performe my will as abof whritin.
The mark of N Nicklis Norton
His widow did not long survive to carry out the provisions of her husband’s will. She died a few monthes after him, between June 8, the date of her will, and Oct. 8, 1690, when it was proven in Court. The following is a copy of her will:
The Last will and testament of me Elizabeth Norton widow I doe give to my fouer dafters named in my husbons will, five Shillins to Each of them.
I give that houes & land to Ester huxford that my Son Benjamin Norton lives in and to be delevered before his Entering into mine I dwell in acording to my Said husbons will & mind he left with me to performe & I give my Sd dafter Ester huxford that pese of medow laying between Izak Nortons meadow and the medow of Moses Cleveland nere Mortols Neck. Then my will is after my death Christian buryall & funeral! Rights be performed first I give that pese or parsoll of medow laying at a place Caueled Manadoo to my Son Joseph Norton
Secondly I give to all and Every on of my gran Children on Shillin in money to Every one of them and to be payd wthin ten days after my buriall
thirdly I give all my lands houeses medows fences Commons Cattle Sheep horses and horskind & monys with all my household goods as beding & bed furnyture with all my Chests trunks tables Chayers with all my pewter bras Iron and tin vesels with all my plews Carts Chayns yoks wedges Siths with all other things and goods that is mine to all my Sons and darters to be Equally devided amongst them to Every on alick Equall portion and skier
fourthly I doe apoynt my Son Joseph Norton to be Exe citor to this my will to pay all my depts and delever out all my legasys treuly and faythfullv acording this my mind and will.
fifthly I doe Request Richard Sarson to be overser to see this my will performed soe far as he is able: and in witnes to this my will I have put too my hand and Sele the day and yere abof whritin
Sixtly doe Request my beloved son Izak Norton to be overser with Richard Sarson to this my will
The mark of U Elizabeth Norton
Witness here untoo
The mark of X Johnnathan danham
This abof mentioned will be profed in Coart is Exepted
Court held Octobr the Eight: 1690
pr Curiam Tho Butler Clarke
Whereas by the last will and testament of Elizabeth Norton is mentioned as bequeathed to hester huxford an hous and land according to the will of Nicolas Norton left with his wife sd Elizabeth Isaac Norton
The History of Martha’s Vineyard by Dr. Charles Banks:
Of the first of the name on the Vineyard, Nicholas Norton, a full biographical sketch has been given in this history (Vol. II, pp. 85-90 Annals of E.), and nothing of material importance about him has been found since that was written except the statements which follow concerning his English ancestry. [*One fact is worthy of record as being recently discovered. He served in the Pequot War, 1635-7 as shown by a petition of himself and others. (Sup. Jud. Court Mss. No. 477).]
The opinion hazarded in the sketch of his life above referred to that Nicholas “emigrated from Somersetshire and probably came from the vicinity of Batcombe or Broadway in that county” has been established to the satisfaction of the author after a long search of all the known sources of records which might throw light on the case. His business dealings with Richard Standerwicke, a clothier, of the parish of Broadway, has proved to be the important clue in locating this prominent pioneer as a resident and probable native of the same parish. [*Standerwicke sold to Norton in 1639 “all the cattle whether Bowes, steers or calves, whatsoever I have with Mr. Hull in New England.” (Plymouth Col. Rec.). The Standerwick family have been Lords of the Manor in Broadway for over four hundred years and possessed their memorial records for four centuries. I am indebted to the Rev. Mr. Standerwick for assistance in my search and notes from his family records on the Norton family.]
The Norton family was long settled in Somersetshire where the name was generally spelled Nourton and Nurton in the earlier records, and there are references to them as early as 1400 in wills and deeds. They are to be found in more than a dozen different parishes in that county before 1600, including the parish of Broadway. Wills, depositions, chancery suits, and other documents of the 16th century show that a Norton family, tanners, lived at White Lackington, an adjoining hamlet of Broadway, and the fact that Nicholas Norton of Edgartown was a tanner is quite significant. [*John Norton of White Lackington, a tanner, was a witness to the will of John Standerwick of Broadway in 1568, but the Manor Rolls of 1555 do not contain his name. William Norton wee churchwarden of Ilminster in 1543, a still earlier record of the family in that vicinity.] In those days occupations were continued in families from generation to generation.
The first known ancestor of Nicholas Norton was WILLIAM NORTON, tanner, of White Lackington about 1540 described as the eldest of the family, but his parentage is unknown. He had two younger brothers, JOHN, also a tanner who made his will in 1576, and ROBERT NORTON, who took up his residence in the cathedral city of Wells where he followed the occupation of innholder and was at the date of his death (1590) without issue. He left considerable property to his nephews.
WILLIAM NORTON of White Lackington was born abt. 1535 and was living in 1604 in Broadway. He had among other children two sons, namely:
I. NICHOLAS, b. 1562.
II. WILLIAM, executor of the will of his uncle, Robert of Wells.
Robert Norton of parish of S. Cuthbert, Wells, innholder, at his decease had four water mills, which he disposed of by will dated 1590, viz: two to his wife and two to his brother William.
In 37 Elizabeth (1594) Joan the widow, William and Nicholas began suit against William Norton the executor, and litigation was continued by John, the son of Nicholas. The latter had followed the prosecution of this suit for 22 years, according to the complaint of John, to the ruin of his estate and in the end “sickened & died with great greife & anguishe of mince leavinge behinde him a poor widdowe and 8 children (1616) whereof yor subject is the eldest, but not one pennye towards their reliefe & maintenance other than the hopes of the said decree, by means of whose death his wiffe & children have nott only lost a careful! pvider for them but also a possibilitie of an estate wch the said Nicholas had, after the said William the executor, worth at least 200 marks.” [*Star Chamber Proceedings, (James I) 221/10, John Norton of Broadway, Chapman, plaintiff vat William Norton et als defendants. The compiler has much other material on this family, which is omitted for want of space. Doubtless the complete pedigree of this family could be worked out in England from the authors’ notes.]
NICHOLAS NORTON, the father of the emigrant, removed from White Lackington with his father when a child, and died there at the age of 54 years (1616) as described in the chancery suit. That he was a man above the average is shown by the fact of his occupying the position of church warden of the parish (1599) but as the parish register does not exist prior to 1678 it is not possible at present to determine the names of but half of his eight children. The attested copies of parish registers then required by church law preserved the names of three of them and the chancery suit furnishes the name of his eldest son. Unfortunately, the Bishops Transcripts of Broadway Parish in the Diosceasan Registry at Wells for the years 1609-11 inclusive, the particular years in which we should undoubtedly find the baptism of our Nicholas whose birth fell, as we know, within those years are missing from the files. His known children are as follows:
1- JOHN, b. abt. 1590.
2- JOAN, bur. 1598.
3- JAMES (?) bur. 1678 at Broadway.
4- JOSEPH, bapt. 3 Feb. 1607.
5- NICHOLAS, b. 1610 (the emigrant). He deposed in 1676 aged 66 years.
6- ELIZABETH, bapt. 1612.
The occurrence of the names Joseph and Nicholas in the Broadway family which were also distinctive in the Vineyard family together with other collateral circumstances makes it practically certain that we have here the parentage and home of the first of this family to settle on Martha’s Vineyard. All other clues have been carefully followed out and give no such marked combination of the probabilities as does this, and the author is satisfied that it is the right solution.
Broadway, situated in the Hundred of Bulstone, is so-called, because it consists of one wide street leading from Ilminster two miles distant to the Forest of Roche on the West. It has about fifty houses with about 300 population and two religious edifices, one belonging to the Church of England, dedicated to S. Aldhelm, where the parents of Nicholas Norton worshipped, and a dissenting chapel of which latter named the present minister is the Rev. John W. Standerwick, a direct descendant of the Richard Standerwick, who had the business dealings with Nicholas Norton. [*Edward Poole, who was a neighbor of Nicholas Norton in Weymouth, was an emigrant from Broadway also.]
1. Isaac NORTON (See his page)
2. Jacob Norton
Jacob’s wife Elizabeth [___?__]
3. Elizabeth Norton
Elizabeth’s husband James Pease was born 15 Mar 1627 in Salem, Essex, Mass. His parents were John Pease and Lucy Weston. His grandparents were Robert PEASE Sr. and Margaret KING. James died 27 Mar 1719 in Edgartown, Dukes, Mass
4. Joseph Norton
Joseph’s first wife Mary Bayes was born 1654 in Dedham, Norfolk, Mass. Her parents were Thomas BAYES and Anna BAKER. Mary died 1696 in Edgartown, Dukes, Mass
Joseph’s second wife Ann Trapp was born 1681 in Edgartown, Dukes, Mass. Her parents were Thomas Trapp and Mary [__?__]. Ann died 7 Aug 1753 in Marthas Vineyard, Dukes, Mass
Joseph was one of the leading citizens of Martha’s Vineyard and its first representative to the General Court of Mass. in 1692. He was sheriff of the county in 1699 and was commissioned as Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1702.
One of the first houses built in what is now Oak Bluffs was built at Farm Neck by Joseph Norton before 1670. It stood near the half-way watering place on the highway that leads from Edgartown to Vineyard Haven. A description of this house will apply to nearly all the houses built at that time. With two or three exceptions they were of one story; large on the base and low in the post. They were always located near springs of fresh water, or where water could be had by digging shallow wells at which old-fashioned sweeps could be used. Another interesting fact is that near the site of these ancient dwellings can be seen old pear and cherry trees, which tradition says were planted soon after these houses were built The frames of these houses were of oak and pine which grew near. There was a saw pit he the neighborhood, to which these great trees, many of which were three feet in diameter, were hauled by oxen and sawed into convenient dimensions by hand, one man in the pit and another above.
Foundation and cellar walls were of old field stone; one hardly, if ever, finds a stone that has been split by drill or wedge. The chimneys were very large, many eight feet square at the base, made of crude bricks burnt in the neighborhood The lime used to make the mortar was as of the very best quality, made by burning oyster, clam, and other shells found along the shores. Specimens of it are as hard as rock at the present time. Another kind made mostly of clay was used where it didn’t come to the weather.
The rooms were arranged conveniently for use, a small front entry, with stairs leading to the chamber from it. Two large front rooms to the right and left, usually sixteen or eighteen feet square, and always on the southerly side of the house. The panel work over the fireplaces in these rooms was very elaborate and is now considered worthy of preservation. The “beaufat” must not he forgotten as it was the receptacle for the best china and silverware which the house afforded. Next was the large kitchen in the rear, with its fireplace eight by six feet, in the center of which hung the trammel used to hold the great kettle for the cooking of the savory meals for the large families of those days. To the right and left of the kitchen were four rooms used for sleeping and storerooms. The “up stairs part” of the house was divided into two sleeping rooms and the “open chamber,” which was used for storing everything from the India shawl to grandfather’s chair. This was also used as the spinning and weaving room, for the housewife made all the cloth and linen used by the family.
5. Sarah Norton
Sarah’s husband John Stanbridge was born 1653 in Newport, Rhode Island. John died in 1730
6. Priscilla Norton
Priscilla’s husband John Butler was born 6 Jul 1651 in Dorchester, Mass. His parents were John Butler and Mary Lynde. John died in 1738 in Great Neck, Dukes, Mass
7. Hannah NORTON (See Augustine WILLIAMS‘ page)
8. Ruth Norton
Ruth’s husband Moses Cleveland was born 1 Sep 1651 in Woburn, Middlesex, Mass. His parents were Moses Cleveland and Ann Winn. His maternal grandparents were Edward WINN and Joanna SARGENT. Moses died 30 Oct 1717 in Southold, Suffolk, New York.
9. Benjamin Norton
Benjamin’s wife Hannah Bolter was born 27 Jun 1665 in Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Her parents were Nathaniel Boulter and Grace Swain. Hannah died 1693 in Hampton, New Hampshire
10. Esther Norton
Esther’s first husband Samuel Huxford was born 1660 in Edgartown, Mass. His parents were Nicholas Huxford and [__?__] Samuel died in 1691 in Out Boston, Mass
Esther’s second husband Jonathan Dunham was born 1661 in Falmouth, Barnstable, Mass. His parents were Jonathan Dunham and Mary Cobb. Jonathan died in 1745 in Edgartown, Dukes, Mass.
11. Mary Norton
Mary’s husband Thomas Woolen was born 1666 in Edgartown, Dukes, Mass. Thomas died in 1722