John Houghton

John HOUGHTON (1630 – 1684) was a founder of the town of Lancaster, Mass. He was Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather, one of 2,048 in this generation in the Shaw line

John Houghton – Coat of Arms

John  Houghton was born on 24 Dec 1630 in Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, England.  His parents were John HOUGHTON and Damarius BUCKMASTER.   He married Beatrix WALKER on 24 Feb 1647/48  in Elland, Yorkshire, England.  John or his father may have paid a visit to New England when he was a young boy as early as 1635, in the ship “Abigail,” from London, but returned later to his native England.  John Houghton again arrived in New England in 1651 or 1652, with his wife Beatrix; his son John; and his cousin Ralph; and settled on a large landed estate in Lancaster, west of Boston, where he died 29 Apr 1684.

John Houghton – Headstone – Old Settlers Burial Yard  LancasterWorcester, Massachusetts

Beatrix Walker was born about 1623 in Elland, Yorkshire, England. Her parents were William WALKER and [__?__].   After her husband’s death she married Benjamin Bosworth, The graves of both are to be found in the burying ground at Lancaster and the inscriptions on the head stones are still  legible.  Beatrix died on 8 Jan 1711/12 in Lancaster, aged eighty-nine.

Children of John and Beatrix:

Name Born Married Departed
1. John Houghton Jr. 1649
Eaton Bray, Bedford, England
Mary Farrar
22 Jan 1671
Hannah Atherton
27 Jan 1725 Lancaster
3 Feb 1737
Lancaster, Worchester, Mass.
2. Robert Houghton 28 Jan 1659
Esther Leppingwell
7 Nov 1723
3. Mary Houghton 22 Mar 1660
Thomas Wilder
25 Jun 1668
John Harris
23 Jun 1688 Lancaster
4. Jonas HOUGHTON 1 Apr 1663 Lancaster, Mass Mary BURBEEN
15 Feb 1680/81
20 Sep 1723  Lancaster, Mass.
5. Beatrix Houghton 3 Dec 1665
John Pope
30 Sep 1683 Lancaster
6. Benjamin Houghton 25 May 1668
Jerthema Moore
20 Jul 1720 Lancaster
20 July 1721 Lancaster, Mass
7. Sarah Houghton 30 May 1672
Daniel Goble
23 Jun 1698 Lancaster
Between 1717 and 1723 in Morristown, NJ

John’s father, John HOUGHTON was baptized on 19 May 1593 in Eaton Bray, Bedford, England and had ten children.  His father was also John HOUGHTON (c. 1553 – 28 Apr 1618 Eaton Bray, England)

He may have been a passenger on the ship Abigail, Heckwell, Master, fron London to New England in 1635. Maybe the age 4 was a misprint and it should have said age 40.  He did not stay in New England, but returned to his family in England. In 1629 and 1630, he was warden of St. Mary’s church, Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, England. During his wardenship of the church, which was built in 1205, the tower was repaired under Bishop Ely and Vicar Mr. Sutton. The ancestry of John gives Houghton Conquest, about 15 miles from Eaton Bray as his ancestrial residency.

The name of the village Houghton Conquest originated from the Conquest family who held a manor and lands in the area from the 13th century to the 18th century.   The church of All Saints was constructed in the village during the 14th Century, and is today the largest parish church in Bedfordshire.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Eaton Bray

John’s mother, Damarius BUCKMASTER was christened on 8 March 1593 in Eaton Bray, Bedford, England.  Her parents were Andrew BUCKMASTER and Mary ROBERDS.

Children of John and Damaris:

i. John  HOUGHTON, b. 24 Dec 1624, Eaton Bray, Bedford County, England; d. 29 Apr 1684, Lancaster,Ma..

ii. Damaris Houghton, b. 1627, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England.

iii. Mary Houghton, b. 1629, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England; d. 1638, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England.

iv. Daniel Houghton, b. 1632, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England; d. 1648, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England.

v. Deborah Houghton, b. 1634, Eaton Bray, Bedford County England.

vi. Thomas Houghton, b. 1640, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England; d. 1640, Eaton Bray,Bedford County England.

vii. Jonathan Houghton, b. 1644, Eaton Bray, Bedford County England.

viii. Richard Houghton, b. 1646, Eaton Bray, Bedford County England.

There are a couple alternate traditional stories of John’s arrival in America. These are fun,  but can’t be verified, so I think it’s most likely that William and Beatrix married in England and came together.

Story 1 – John immigrated as child with father John and mother in 1635 , in the ship “Abigail,” from London, but returned later to his native land.  John Houghton  again arrived in New England in 1651 or 1652, with his wife Beatrix; his son John; and his cousin Ralph; and settled on a large landed estate in Lancaster, west of Boston, where he died April 29, 1684..

Story 2– John traveled with the family of Ralph Shepherd on the ship “Abigail” from Plymouth England to Boston, arriving about 8 Oct 1635 and infected with smallpox. There was a John’s age was listed as 4, “of Eaton Bray, county Bedford”, bound for Dedham.  Sworn June 20, 1635 at Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, Houghton Jo. 4, #25

Ralph Shepard b. 1603 -1606 in Stepney, London, England. d. 11 Sep 1693 m. Thank ye the Lord 21 May 1632 in Towcester, England. (daughter of Dr. Thomas Lord and Dorothy Bird)

I can’t find any mention of John Houghton in Ralph’s story. With the exception of two or three facts, we know little about Ralph before his departure for America. He was a tailor, and probably an officer in the Draper’s (tailor) Guild. The first Lord Mayor of London was a draper. For citizenship of London it was required by Edward II that it must be obtained through Craft. So, due to Ralph being a member of the Drapers’ guild we can supose that he was also a citizen of London.

24 Apr 1634 – When Archbishop Laud was persecuting the non-conformists, Ralph was summoned before the Court of High commissions. This was an “ecclesiastical court” of very extensive jurisdiction. The sentence pronounced against “Ralph Shepard of Limehouse, Midd,” it is not given what his offense was, but it is most probable that he left England on account of the sentence of the court.

30 Jun 1635 – Ralph Shepard age 29, with his wife Thanklord aged 23 and his daughter Sarah, aged 2 came to America from Stepney Parish, London, England. on the ship “Abigail” (and the captain was Robert Hackwell.), He was furnished with a certificate from the minister of Stepney Perish. (note grave stone may indicate he was 32). After living for a short time in Dedham, Waymouth and Rehoboth, settled in Malden, MA.

Ralph was the 8th signer of the petition to have the town named Dedham. He was one of twenty who instituted a government of nine men, in founding of Rehoboth. Ralph was admitted a “Freeman” at Malden, MA in 1651.

Houghton Chest

Robert Trent and Robert St. George, to records that identified the makers of the pulpit as John Houghton (1624-84) and his master, John Thurston (1607-85), who had come to the new world from County Suffolk, in Old England. Thurston brought with him knowledge of woodworking skills known as joinery, framing, and carving – all of which he passed on to his apprentice, John Houghton, of Dedham, MA, who had come to New England at age eleven and not having trained as a woodworker abroad. The works of these two joiners were subsequently identified with a group of furniture made in Dedham and Medfield by both men (see St. George, Winterthur Portfolio 13 (1979), pp. 1-46). While the identification of carvings by these men was taking place, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston was able to acquire chests made by each man. Works by Thurston, not surprisingly, produced crisply carved ornament with much assurance based on his experiences abroad as a master woodworker. By contrast, the chest made by his apprentice, Houghton, was more tentatively carved. Comparing these two pieces side by side and under good light gives the viewer a sense of the subtle drift that took place between generations of craftsmen. This is not to say that Houghton’s work was not as good as his master’s. Houghton’s work was simply different. .

Thoughts on the Eve of the Homecoming of a Carved Oak and Pine Chest, Original to the Old Fairbanks Homestead. By Jonathan L. Fairbanks, an eleventh generation descendant of the original Jonathan FAIRBANKS of Dedham

On Wednesday, June 18, 2003, Lynn Fairbank, the President of our Association and I, together with the famous dealer, Leigh Keno, were seated in the auction room of Christie’s, at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York. We wer e awaiting the bidding that was to take place for a chest made in Dedham, Massachusetts, by John Houghton (1624-84).

Fairbanks Chest

This chest was once a part of the original furnishings of the Old Fairbanks Homestead. The catalogue for this auction listed the chest with its venerable history on page 69, fig. 133 — illustrated in full color, with an estimate for its purchase price to range from $6,000 to $9,000. Knowing that this was a low estimate, I had discussed matters with the members of the board of the family Association, and was given permission by Lynn to seek donors who would help achieve the funding necessary to return the chest to the family Homestead.

The chest was probably sold by the last family resident, Rebecca, at or around the time of the sale of the house and land– and its subsequent purchase by the Family Association from Mrs. J. Amory Codman and her daughter, Martha C. Codman.

This month of June, a hundred years later, the chest, once lost, was about to be redeemed and returned. Lynn and I were confident that we would be able to meet the challenge of the auction. By numerous phone calls and letter-writing, I’d managed to obtain funds beyond the high estimate listed in the catalogue. I’d also obtained a list of pledges from both family members and friends that would sustain a potential bid to $50,000.. Also, just in case of a runaway auction, I had in my pocket names of persons who had promised to help in such an emergency. Yet little did we realize that two eager buyers lurked anonymously on phone lines. The first one dropped out when the bidding passed the mid $50K mark. The second bidder held on firmly until the final count that brought the gavel down (with buyer’s premium) to $71,700.

Thurston/Houghton Chest Detail

The family relic that had vanished into the antiques world a hundred years ago was redeemed at a dear ransom. For the two weeks after the auction, it has been an honor and joy for me to experience the positive response of those who care about history and who, with open-handed generosity, have mailed in donations to make this acquisition possible –not just for the Homestead and its history, but also for Dedham, the Historical Society of this Town, and all who seek to learn about America’s ear ly past. This week, the Fairbanks Family Association in America will send to Christie’s a check for the purchase and delivery of the chest to the Homestead. This is made possible by more than fifty generous donors, many of whom wish to remain anonymous. Every board member made either a pledge or donation. Later this summer, those donors who wish to be honored and listed as special friends will be made public.What makes this acquisition so expensive?

What makes this acquisition so expensive? Also, how do we know that this chest was actually owned by the family homestead? Firstly, all surviving examples of American furniture made in seventeenth century New England are r are and precious. That reason alone justifies a high auction price. But this work is extra special because it was pictured as part of the furnishings of the Fairbanks House in a precise drawing illustrated in plate 26 and published by the American Architect & Building News Company of 1898, part I.

This publication, entitled “The Georgian Period” being Measured Drawings of Colonial Work [the book itself is on sale for $5,000], was the first significant architectural publication to record measured dr awings of early historic homes in America. That the Old Fairbanks House of Dedham was selected for this publication is no accident, for this old house had been the focus of antiquarian attention since the mid nineteenth century. But we are especially fortunate that the artist also decided to illustrate the “Oak Chest In Store Room 2d Story” as part of his measured drawings. That drawing is what identifies this chest specifically to the family homestead. The image and the chest itself are unmistakably one and the same. By the 1890’s the chest was no longer a useful, functioning part of the home’s furnishings. But still appreciated for whatever reasons, it was tucked away in storage.

How the chest is attributed to having been made by John Houghton of Dedham is a much more complex piece of detective work. That story leads back in time to 1980 when, at the Museum of Fine Arts, I was curator of a developing exhibition: New England Begins, The Seventeenth Century. It was my great good fortune to be working with a team of brilliant scholars, including Dr. Abbott Lowell Cummings, who had already published much of his extensive research on the architecture of the Fairbanks House. In the Medfield Historical Society I discovered two foliate carvings made of oak that were identified as fragments of the pulpit of the First Church of Medfield of 1655. These fragments led scholars Robert Trent and Robert St. George to records that identified the pulpit with both John Houghton and his master, John Thurston (1607-1685) who had come to the New World from County Suffolk, in Old England. He brought with him knowledge of woodworking skills known as joinery, framing and carving — all of which he passed on to his apprentice John Houghton who had come to New England at age eleven– not having trained as a woodworker abroad. The pulpit carvings are clearly related to furniture owned by the Dedham Historical Society. The workmanship is so distinctive that an attribution to Houghton is without question.

Several other works are related. A chest remarkably similar to the Fairbanks house example was acquir ed by the Museum of Fine Arts in preparation for the exhibition, and illustrated in its catalogue: New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1982), 3 vols, Vol. 3, pp. 534-536. Subsequent research by Dr. St. George led to his publication “Style and Structure in the Joinery of Dedham and Medfield, Massachusetts, 1635-1685,” in Winterthur Porfolio 13 (1979), pp. 1-46. The Fairbanks chest was spotted by Robert St. George while touring the collections of the executive offices of the Seagram & Sons Corporate headquarters in downtown Manhattan, New York. It is from this remarkable building famous for its design by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the 1950’s that the chest migrated to auction at Christie’s, despite my previous attempts to obtain the chest as a gift to the House. A paper label within the chest records the famous firm of Ginsburg & Levy, Inc./Antiques/ 815 Madison Ave./ New York as the source from which the chest was probably acquired by the firm of Seagram. Further research is needed to track the ownership of the chest backward in time to the early years of the last century.

Much has yet to be learned about our remarkable survivor, the Fairbanks chest, which comes to us containing potential stories yet untold. This brief report is but the beginning. Yet this moment highlights the fact that what was lost is now redeemed and returned. As Lynn and I left the auction one perceptive and admir ing writer observed, that “such a return of a seventeenth century object back to its original site could only happen in New England.” It should be added that this could not have happened without the many donors who generously gave to this need and opportunity to bring the chest back home.


John  removed to Lancaster, where he became a prominent citizen. He had aleady signed the town and church Covenant, 24  Sep 1653, and was therefore a freeman. He possessed a large estate for the time in the present towns of Lancaster, Bolton, Clinton, and Berlin. Lancaster, Bolton and Milton were names of the villages around Hoghton Tower in England.

Lancaster, Mass. Lots John Houghton’s lot is in the lower portion of this map.

  • 5 Feb 1659 – John received the 18th lot in the second division of meadow.
  • On 1 (12) 1663 John Houghton, who had been given one and a half home lots, was given permission to lay down another half.
  • On 30 (12) 1666 John was given the right to take timber from the commons for his trade use.
  • On 7/8 (12) 1670 John was granted 20 acres of second division land to lay down a highway.

    John Houghton – Signature

His first home was between Clinton and South Lancaster on Dean’s Brook; after the massacre he. settled on theold Common south of the road, nearly opposite the present reform school. He had a very large landed estate, situated in Berlin, Clinton and Bolton, as the territory of old Lancaster is now divided. After the Indian massacre in 1676 he removed with his cousin’s family to Woburn, where he remained some years.

His estate extended  from near Clamshell Pond to William Fife’s land, thence to and including Baker Hill. Houghton chose as names for his property such titles as “Houghton’s Park,” “Rosemary Meadows,” – “Cranberry Meadow,” “Three Fountain Meadow,”  “Little Meadow Plain,” “Job’s Conveniency.” “Three Fountain Meadow” was in the region of the N. M. Allen place.  Cranberry Meadow was the northwest corner of the Allen Sawyer farm.  Little Meadow included the meadow and upland near the Bolton railroad station.  The Beaver Dams mentioned in his deeds have been recognizable to a recent date. .

Ralph Houghton was also a founder of Lancaster, Mass.  It is tempting to think John and Ralph were cousins, but the exact relationship has not been proven.  Ralph’s relationship with Hoghton Tower and the Hoghton Baronets is clearer than John’s. For example, John’s family originated in Houghton Conquest Bedfordshire,  while Ralph’s orginated in Lancashire.

Ralph Houghton  was born 1 May 1623 in Lancaster, Lancaster, England and died 15 Apr 1705 in Milton, Hampshire, Mass. His parents may have been De Sir Richard Houghton and Catherine Gerard.  Sir Richard and Catherine had 12 children between 1590 and 1613.  Ralph would have been the 13th child born ten year later in 1623 when Catherine was around 50 years old.

Ralph married Jane Stowe in 1653.  Ralph Houghton came to America because of his religious and political opinions. Ralph Houghton fought under Cromwell against King Charles I of England. He landed at Charlestown, MA sometime between the years 1645 and 1647 and was briefly at Watertown, near Boston. He took oath of fidelity in 1652.  Later with John Houghton and eight others, purchased land from the Indians and founded the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1653.  Being the best penman of the pioneers, he was made Town Clerk and held that position until the massacre.

De Sir Richard Houghton was born Sep 1570 in Hoghton Towers, Lancashire, England and died 12 Nov 1630 in England. His parents were Thomas de Houghton and Anne Keighley. Sir Richard Houghton, baronet, of Houghton Towers, Lancashire, England,  was a progenitor of the Houghton family, of Worchester county. Sir Richard fought against King Charles, although the rest of the family fought for the king. The Houghton ancestors are traced to Roger de Bushi, one of the followers of William the Conqueror, and according to to the National Biography published in London, England, in 1898, he was descended from Adam de Houghton, Bishop of St. David and Chancellor of England, who died in 1389.

Thomas de Houghton was born 1541 or 1549 in  Hoghton Tower,  Lancaster, England, and died 21 Nov 1589 in Lea Hall, Preston Parish, Lancashire, England.  His father was Richard de Houghton.  He built Hoghton Tower during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Hoghton Tower

Hoghton Tower is fortified manor house near the village of Hoghton in the Borough of Chorley to the east of Preston in Lancashire, England. It has been the ancestral home of the De Hoghton family since the time of William the Conqueror. It features a mile long driveway to the main gates. The original driveway extended far further and the cost of lining it with red carpet for the arrival of King James I of England nearly bankrupted the family.

The Hoghton family has been at Hoghton since the 12th century, but the dramatic manor house that you can see today is primarily a product of the mid-Tudor period. The house is built in an elongated figure-8, encompassing two inner courtyards entered through a fiercely castellated gatehouse.

The house was completed by Thomas Hoghton in 1565, but Thomas, a Catholic, stayed in it only four years before fleeing to the Low Countries, where he died.

There are several romantic tales about the Hoghtons.   In the 1500s, the Catholic Houghtons of Lancashire England were underground supporters of Catholicism. These were the days when the Catholic Faith was outlawed.  They formed a secret underground society called The Gunpowder Plot. William Shakespeare, Thomas Houghton his brother Alexander Houghton, their cousin Richard Houghton his brother in law Barthotomew Hesketh John Cottom’s, Cottom’s cousin, Thomas Jenkins, Father Edmund Compain , John Finch, Debdale, Hunt, Robert Catesby were some the recruited members of this secret society of gunpowder plotters who’s base was Houghton Tower. Many were Lancastrians. All roads lead to Houghton Tower.

In his book Shakespeare: The “lost years”, Ernst Honigmann revealed to the public a theory – first proposed in 1937. That the dramatist William Shakespeare spent some early years in Lancashire, as a servant in a chain of Catholic households; and that he is identifiable with William Shakeshafte, a player kept by the Hoghton family of Hoghton Tower near Preston. The theory now appears to be substantiated by the discovery that John Cottom, Stratford schoolmaster from 1579 to 1581, who was William’s teacher, belonged to the secret Lancashire gentry who were relatives and clients of the Hoghtons.


Thomas’ nephew Richard enjoyed rather more politically correct views, and earned the favour of James I, who made him a Baronet in 1611 (see de Hoghton Baronets) and visited Hoghton in 1617. Sir Richard, who was hoping to convince the king to relieve him of money-losing alum mines, laid out the red carpet for James’ visit – literally. Red carpeting was laid for the entire length of the half mile avenue leading to the house. The king must have been impressed by the lavish welcome, and the feasting which followed, for he did buy the mines.

An amusing but unsubstantiated tale has it that at the feast in the banqueting hall given in James’ honour the king was so moved by the excellent loin of beef he was served that he took his sword and knighted it “Sir Loin”, giving us the term ‘sirloin’ (now also the name of a local pub). Richard’s good fortune did not last long; only a few years later he was imprisoned in Fleet Prison for debt.

Richard’s son, Sir Gilbert, fought for Charles I in the Civil War, though Gilbert’s own son (named Richard, like his grandfather), chose the Roundhead cause, and Hoghton Tower was besieged by Parliamentary troops in 1643. Eventually the defenders capitulated, but when the Roundheads entered the house the powder magazine in the tower between the two courtyards exploded with terrifying force, killing over 100 Parliamentary men. The tower was never rebuilt.

Following in Richard Hoghton’s footsteps, succeeding generations of Hoghtons were fervent Presbyterian Dissenters, and the banqueting hall was often used as a Dissenting chapel (quite a change from the gaiety of entertaining the royal court).

Richard de Houghton was born 1473 in Hoghton Tower, Lancaster, England, and died 1558 in Hoghton, Lancashire, England. His parents were William de Houghton and Mary Southworth.

Location of Lancaster in Massachusetts

Lancaster is the oldest town in Worcester County, and was the original “mother town” for much of north central Massachusetts, including what are now Leominster, Sterling, Harvard, Bolton, Clinton, Berlin, Boylston and West Boylston. The first early settlers came to what is now Lancaster in 1642, and the town was officially incorporated in 1653 with nine families including the Houghtons.

John Houghton Memorial

John removed to Lancaster, where he became a prominent citizen. He had aleady signed the town and chruch Covenant, Sept. 24, 1653, and was therefore a freeman. He possessed a large estate for the time in the present towns of Lancaster, Bolton, Clinton, and Berlin

Deed from Indians to John Houghton

On 9 Aug 1675,  the Native Americans attacked at Lancaster The New England Confederation officially declared war on the Native Americans on 9 Sep 1675.  Of all the towns affected by King Philip’s War, Lancaster probably fared the worst. Being on the western edge of the English settlements, with a huge gap between Lancaster and the Connecticut River settlements, the town was easy prey for the Indians.

The first attack occurred on Aug 22, 1675, when eight persons were killed. In six months, on Feb 10, 1675/6, came the massacre. There were about 50 families living in Lancaster at this time,with five garrison houses. The Indians attacked three of the garrisons, with the worst outcome at the house of the minister, Mr. Rowlandson, where 42 people fled. After two hours of attack in the early morning, the Indians found a way to set fire to the rear of the house.

Only one person escaped; the rest either died or were taken prisoners. In the entire town, 50-55 people were slain. The survivors congregated in two of the remaining garrison houses, and included John Houghton’s family. A petition was immediately sent to Boston requesting carts to remove them all to a place of safety. Every white person left, and when they did, the Indians finished the job and burned all of the remaining houses except for the meeting house and one dwelling. Later that spring, most of the captives including Mrs. Rowlandson were ransomed. But the town of Lancaster was gone, completely empty for a year or two. The return of settlers happened slowly, until 17 or 18 families had returned by 1681. Lancaster was attacked by Indians one more time in its history, during Queen Anne’s War in 1704. Four men were killed in that raid.

10  Feb 1676, a Wampanoag party attacked Mary Rowlandson’s town, Lancaster, Massachusetts (30 miles west of Boston). As a result, Mary was taken captive

At sunrise on 10 Feb 1676, during King Philip’s War, Lancaster came under attack by Narragansett, Wampanoag, and Nashaway/Nipmuc Indians and was destroyed. Both John and John Jr. were members of the garrison on the east side of the North river.  Mary Rowlandson and her three children, Joseph, Mary, and Sarah, were among the hostages taken. For more than eleven weeks and five days,she and her children were forced to accompany the Indians as they fled through the wilderness to elude the colonial militia.She later recounted how severe the conditions during her time of captivity were for all parties. On May 2, 1676, Rowlandson was ransomed for £20 raised by the women of Boston in a public subscription.

After her return, Rowlandson wrote a narrative of her captivity recounting the stages of her odyssey in twenty distinct “Removes” or journeys. She witnessed the murder of friends, the death of her youngest child Sarah, and suffered starvation and depression, until she was finally reunited with her husband. During her captivity, Rowlandson sought her guidance from the Bible; the text of her narrative is replete with verses and references describing conditions similar to her own. She saw her trial as a test of faith and considered the “Indians” to be “instruments of Satan”. Her final escape, she tells us, taught her “the more to acknowledge His hand and to see that our help is always in Him.”

Rowlandson’s book became one of the era’s best-sellers, going through four editions in one year. The tensions between colonists and Native Americans, particularly in the aftermath of King Philip’s War, was a source of anxiety. People feared losing their connection to their own society. They had great curiosity about the experience of one who had been “over the line”, as a captive of American Indians, and returned to colonial society.

Her book earned Rowlandson an important place in the history of American literature. A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is a frequently cited example of a captivity narrative, an important American literary genre used by James Fenimore Cooper, Ann Bleecker, John Williams, and James Seaver. Because of Rowlandson’s close encounter with her Indian captors, her book is interesting for its treatment of cultural contact. Finally, in its use of autobiography, Biblical typology, and homage to the “Jeremiad“, Rowlandson’s book helps the reader understand the Puritan mind.

After the massacre, John Houghton fled to Charleston, along with others of the fleeing and homeless settlers, under escort, for a time to secure the safety of his family. The Houghtons returned to Lancaster soon after and settled east of the Nashua River on Bridecake Plain, now the Old Common, opposite the present (1908) Girls’ Reform School, where he died. John’s estate was situated in what are now the towns of Lancaster, Bolton, Milton and Clinton.

John’s  gravestone has the oldest engraved deathdate in the cemetery. (Source: Anna Burr and Thomas Gage, “Some Descendants of John Houghton of Lancaster, Massachusetts”, NEHG Register, Oct. 1925, pp. 392-400.)


1. John Houghton Jr.

John’s first Mary Farrar was born 1648 in Halifax, Lancashire, England. Her parents were Jacob Farrar and Hannah Smith.  Mary died 7 Apr 1724 in Lancaster, Worcester, Mass.

Mary Farrar Houghton Footstone


Here Lies Buried

ye Body of

Mrs. Mary Houghton

ye Wife of John Houghton Esq’r.

Who Died Apriel ye 7th Ano DM, 1724,

& In ye 76 Year of Her Age.

John’s second wife Hannah Atherton was born 10 Feb 1658 in Lancaster, Worcester, Mass. Her parents were James Atherton and Hannah Hudson. She first married 17 Jul 1672 in Lancaster, Worcester, Mass to John Wilder (b. 1646 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Mass. – d. 9 Jan 1681 in Lancaster, Worcester, Mass.) Hannah died 4 Jan 1738 in Lancaster, Worcester, Mass

After the massacre of 1675 at Lancaster, John’s son John Jr. fled to Woburn. There, he was appointed to and served the General Court for fourteen years, between 1693-1724 and was often referred to as Justice Houghton.

John Houghton Jr – Headstone  – Here Lies Buried Ye Body of John Houghton, Esquir, As You Are So Ware We. As We Are So you Will be. Who Died February ye 3d Anno Domini – 1736/7 and in ye 87th Year of his Age. Burial: Old Common Burial Ground, Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts

2. Robert Houghton

Robert’s wife Esther Leppingwell was born 16 May 1657 in Woburn, Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were Michael Leapenwell and Isabel Cox. Esther died 13 Jan 1740 in Lancaster, Worcester, Mass

Robert Houghton is buried at the Old Common Burial Ground, Lancaster, Worcester,  Massachusetts

Robert Houghton – Headstone Here Lies Buried Ye Body of Mr. Robart Houghton Who Dec’d November ye 7th A.D. 1723 In ye 65 Year of His Age.

3. Mary Houghton

Mary’s first wife Thomas Wilder was born 28 Jan 1658 in Dedham, Mass.  His parents were Thomas Wilder and Martha Eames Higgs. Thomas died 28 Oct 1690 or in  1717.

Mary’s second wife John Harris was born August 1658 in Boston, Mass. John died 16 May 1739 at Lancaster, Worcester, Mass.

4. Jonas HOUGHTON (See his page)

5. Beatrix Houghton

Beatrix’s husband John Pope was born 30 Jul 1635 in Chew Magna, Somerset, England. Our ancestor Thomas MINER was also born in Chew Magna. His parents were John Pope and Jane Clapp. John died 18 Oct 1686 in Suffolk, Mass

6. Benjamin Houghton

Benjamin’s wife Jerthema Moore was born in 1670.

7. Sarah Houghton

Sarah’s husband Daniel Goble was born 21 May 1669 in Concord, Middlesex, Mass. His parents were Daniel Goble and Hannah Brewer. Daniel died 1733 in Morristown, Morris, New Jersey


Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine – Google Books

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  10. Wow! Thank you for posting this! I finally went down the genealogy rabbit hole – after years of listening to the story of how and when we came to America. My grandfather was Halbert Greenleaf Horton, Jr. A google search brought me to this posting. We lived in Wenham, MA for a couple of years while I was growing up and I never could put my finger on why it felt so much like home. Now I know! Next time I am in MA I can’t wait to see where my ancestors lived. Thanks again for this!!

  11. Darlene Houghton says:

    my genealogy starts with John Houghton b. 1560 in in England D. April 28, 1592 in Eaton Bray, Bedford County , England. , Then John b. 1592 c. 1592, then John B.may1593 d. 1650, then john b. dec 24 England D. april 29 1684 Lancaster mass. and clear down to my great grandchildren . my husband was Donald Ray Houghton b. feb 12, 1938 my E. mail is

  12. T Holford says:

    Thank you and again thank you for all your work and posting of the historic information on this site. I rejoice every time a search for one of my ancestors intersects with your ancestors – and there are many – because I know that the information I find here will be bounteous and well researched! Having just come upon my Houghton connections – and primarily the founders of Lancaster – I found this pdf linked here. You may well be aware of it, but I thought I would share in care you are not. Thank you again for all of your excellent work; it is appreciated by someone who must be a cousin of some sort – for all of my direct ancestors I have found on your site – including this John Houghton my maternal line 10GGrandfather and your name sake, Thomas Minor, my paternal line 9GGrandfather.

    Click to access The_Houghton_Genealogy_New.pdf

  13. Phyllis Jean Moore says:

    Is the John Houghton born 1670 in New Castle Delaware died 1720 New Castle Delaware related to these Houghton’s or do you or anybody know who John Houghton’s parents were? Phyllis Moore

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