Jonathan Fairbanks

Jonathan FAIRBANKS  (1594 – 1668)  (wikipedia) was an American colonist who in 1637 built the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts which is today the oldest surviving wood framed house in North America. Through Mary and Susan, he was Alex’s 9th Great Grandfather twice, two of 1,024 in this generation of the Shaw line.

The Jonathan Fairbanks House, ca. 1637, is considered the oldest wood frame house in America

Jonathan Fairbanks was born about 1594  in  Heptonstall, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. His parents were John FAIRBANKS and Isabel STANCLIFFE. He married Grace SMITH Lee 20 May 1617 in Yorkshire, England   He came from Sowerby, in West Riding  Yorkshire, England, with his family to Boston in 1633.  Jonathan died 5 Dec 1668 in Dedham, Mass.

In their signatures to the Dedham Covenant, Jonathan, senior, John and George wrote their surname Fayerbanke, and Jonathan, junior, wrote it Fayerbank. Jonothan, senior, signed a petition to the selectmen of Dedham, Aug 30, 1658

Grace Smith was born about 1600 in Yorkshire, England.  Her parents were Daughter of Samuel SMITH and Grace GAWKROGER.  Nothing is known of Grace’s prior marriage, but she was  known as Grace Lee Smith at the time of her marriage. Grace died 28 Oct 1673 in Dedham, Mass.

Children of Jonathan and Grace:

Name Born Married Departed
1. John Fairbanks ca. 1618
Sowerby W Riding, Yorkshire, England
Sarah Fiske
16 JAN 1640/41
Dedham, Mass
13 NOV 1684 Dedham, Mass.
2. Capt. George Fairbanks 26 Nov 1619
York, England;
Mary Adams
26 Aug 1646
10 JAN 1682/83 Sherborn, Middlesex, Mass.
3. Mary FAIRBANKS 18 APR 1622 Sowerby, Yorkshire, England Michael METCALF Jr.
2 FEB 1643/44
Dedham, Mass
Christopher Smith
2 Aug 1654
10 MAR 1675/76 Dedham
4. Susan FAIRBANKS baptized
23 Dec  1627
Thornton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire, England
Ralph DAY
12 Aug 1647
8 Jul 1859 Dedham, Mass.
5. Jonas Fairbanks ca. 1626 England Lydia Prescott
28 May 1658 in Lancaster, Middlesex, Mass
10 FEB 1675/76 Lancaster, Mass.Killed with his son Joshua during a raid in King Philip’s war
6. Jonathan Fairbanks ca. 1628 Sowerby, York, England Deborah Shepard (daughter of Edward SHEPARD)
4 Oct 1649 Dedham
28 JAN 1711/12 Dedham
7. Martha Pidge (Fairbanks) Adopted from the Michael METCALF combined family of 19) 1642 Benjamin Bullard (son of our ancestor Robert BULLARD)

Fairbanks  spelled his name  Fairbanke, Fairbank, Fayerbanke and on his will, Fairbanck. His sons and grandsons began spelling the name Fairbank or Fairbanks.

23 Mar 1637 – Jonathan Fairbanks was admitted Freeman.

The Fairbanks family remained in Boston about three years, before settling in Dedham, as one of the earliest settler families. Jonathan Fairbanks signed the Covenant when the town was founded and named.

Fairbanks House Floor plan, first floor

Fairbanks House
The house was built in several stages; the center portion of the present house is oldest, with a gable-roofed portion at the center. It was once a lobby-entry, hall-parlor house of two stories with a center chimney bay. The lean-to was added later, contrary to the note on the first floor plan (see image). The oak lintel over its parlor fireplace has been dated by dendrochronology to 1637. Since timber was not seasoned before use in the 17th century, this provides a plausible date for the house’s initial construction.

In 2001, the Fairbanks House, which has the year 1636 painted on its chimney, sent some of its timbers to be tested by the Oxford Dendochronology Laboratory  as part of a broader effort to establish accurate dates for New England buildings. The results showed the oldest timbers from the Fairbanks House dated to 1641. Other houses claiming to be older have yet to be scientifically dated.

Fairbanks Archeology

(See Boston Globe Story)

Abbott Lowell Cummings, the former Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts at Yale University and author of The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1626-1725, is unequivocal: “It may be said quite simply that no other house of the mid-seventeenth century in New England has survived in such unbelievably unspoiled condition. It is extraordinary that so early a structure should preserve such a high percentage of original features.”

The earliest section of the house is a great hall and parlor with a central chimney. A full second floor was built above with attic and storage space beyond. This was a pretty impressive structure for this period, indicating that Jonathan Fairbanks was what we might call comfortable – neither rich nor poor. The staircase in this section curves up to a pair of bedchambers. This is believed to be a replacement stairway, because visible evidence of an earlier one survives.

Three fireplaces were constructed in the original house. There was one in the hall, one in the parlor, and another in the second floor chamber. According to Curator/Director Jan Eakins, the technology of installing one on the second floor wasn’t easy, but the Fairbanks family clearly cared about comfort, and this chamber very well could have held the best bed, though no inventory supports this theory. It is fortunate that Jonathan Fairbanks’ 1668 inventory, as well as his eldest son John’s 1684 inventory, both survive. The next important inventory is that of Ebenezer Fairbanks in 1833. He and his father, also called Ebenezer, probably made most of the later additions to the house..

Jonathan Fairbanks  finished the first section of this home in 1636. It is located at the intersection of East Street and Eastern Avenue in Dedham, Massachuestts and is open to the public.

Exterior walls were covered with wide oak clapboards at the front, narrower oak on the west gable end, and narrow cedar on the rear. Its front door was originally located to the west side of the chimney-bay, while the rear door is still located at the west end of the north wall. Original front windows included wide banks on each floor and small windows lighting the chimney bay. A well-preserved four-light window survives in the east gable end, but the north and east ends of the house apparently had no windows.

Jonathan Fairbanks House Framing Detail

A lean-to was later added at the back of the house and, perhaps in 1641, a wing on the east side. The west wing was added around 1654. The east wing was probably added circa late 1700s, assembled from two earlier buildings elsewhere. A chimney was then built for it; later its roof rafters were raised and reused in a new gambrel roof. The next major change was the expansion of the parlor to the east, under a hip roof, and the addition of the small entry to this expanded space, probably around 1800. A new wing was added to the west side of the house, including two rooms. The last addition to the house, completed by 1881, was a privy added behind the west wing.

Fairbanks House Kitchen

It has been claimed that this house was built in 1636. This claim has been the subject of considerable discussion among historians, and is disputed on historical grounds. One, at least, expresses the belief that it was not built until about the year 1640. The chief reason assigned for his belief is that the old house is a framed building of massive oak timber, and that there is no historical evidence that any framed dwelling houses were erected in the town as early as 1636. Against this alleged fact is the tradition that the frame of the main part of the house, together with the bricks and tiles and windows, was imported from England, and remained in Boston for several months before it was carried to Dedham.

The house was not built as it stands at one time, or in one year; and it is certain that Jonathan owned a house situated probably on the same lot in 1648. Subsequently, perhaps as late as 1654, a large addition was made to the original building, which was called the new house, which is said to have been built for the occupation of his son John after his marriage.

The house was occupied by Fairbanks descendant and passed down to succeeding generations of the family until the early twentieth century. In all, eight generations of the Fairbanks Family lived in the house and the Fairbanks family still owns the property. Over the years, the original portion was extended with additions as the family’s needs and as the fashions of the times dictated including the east and west wings added in the early nineteenth century.

The earliest section of the house is a great hall and parlor with a central chimney. A full second floor was built above with attic and storage space beyond. This was a pretty impressive structure for this period, indicating that Jonathan Fairbanks was what we might call comfortable – neither rich nor poor. The staircase in this section curves up to a pair of bedchambers. This is believed to be a replacement stairway, because visible evidence of an earlier one survives.

Three fireplaces were constructed in the original house. There was one in the hall, one in the parlor, and another in the second floor chamber. According to Curator/Director Jan Eakins, the technology of installing one on the second floor wasn’t easy, but the Fairbanks family clearly cared about comfort, and this chamber very well could have held the best bed, though no inventory supports this theory. It is fortunate that Jonathan Fairbanks’ 1668 inventory, as well as his eldest son John’s 1684 inventory, both survive. The next important inventory is that of Ebenezer Fairbanks in 1833. He and his father, also called Ebenezer, probably made most of the later additions to the house.

Fairbanks House 1870’s — Seen here are two of the three sisters who owned the Fairbanks House from 1843 to 1879. The eldest sister, Prudence, died first, at age 89 in 1871. These are probably the two younger sisters, Sally (1790 – 1877) and Nancy (1794 – 1879). For this photograph the sisters posed outside the Fairbanks House with some of their prized family heirlooms, along with their cat.

Early and Late Additions 
It is clear that by 1668, there was already an addition to the Fairbanks House, probably to the west end of the original dwelling. And by 1700 a lean-to was added at the back of the house. Unlike later homes, this section was not integral to the structure.   It was common to move the kitchen out to the lean-to.  The home doesn’t have a separate kitchen because the hall is incredibly intact and was used for cooking the whole time.” The last descendent lived in the house until 1904 and used a Monarch wood-burning range in the same space.

Just after the Revolution, the two Ebenezer Fairbanks came along and decided that the house should be renovated. They moved the parlor to a new wing and installed a visitor’s entrance there. They also tore down the west wing that had been added in 1668, and rebuilt it.

Distinctive Features Preserved

One of the extraordinary things about Fairbanks House is that, despite the additions, so many features of the original house have survived.

The Hearth
First of all, the family never moved its cooking facilities from the hall, so the hearth is astonishingly intact and the chimney is quite original. Seventeenth-century paneling in this room survives as well as a seventeenth century dresser. The latter is a series of shelves similar to the upper portion of a Welsh Dresser.  The dresser was used for storage, and thus survived.  It’s interesting that through the hall, we can trace many of the changes in the technology of cooking over the years.   Scholars marvel at the survival of the lintel over the cooking hearth. A sign featuring two overlapping ‘V’ shapes remains on the lintel, which was intended to protect against witchcraft. It’s the only known example to survive in New England.

Some of the earliest surviving paint in New England remains in the parlor: It dates from about 1690-1700. The paneling was covered with whitewash and huge donut-shaped decorations were painted over it. Paint was not something that was homemade in this period, but was a commercial product. There is evidence that this decoration was on the ceiling and at least two walls. One could assume that all four walls were decorated this way.

A door leading out to the lean-to from the parlor is painted as well. The paint on this particular door is a challenge. The decoration is flaking off because the whitewash beneath is unstable.

Wattle and Daub
On one end of the second floor of the first period house is a wattle and daub wall between the posts. Gravity unfortunately is pulling it down and it is cracking. Many architectural scholars are stunned that it still remains untouched. It is such a rare survivor that it’s difficult to find conservationists who know how to conserve it.   Most of the wattle and daub is still behind the paneling.

Abbott Lowell Cummings has been examining the house since at least the 1960s. His study revealed the original siding on the house, some of it quite visible, especially on the second floor of the lean-to. There is beaded siding on the south-facing exterior; and lapped cedar clapboard appears on the north side and the east side. Each surface has slightly different materials and on the west side the builders used red oak. This surface was slightly less expensive and was used on the least visible side. All of the siding is fixed by hand-forged nails.

Challenges in Preservation

One of the serious challenges in preservation of this structure is the increasingly heavy traffic close to the house. Vibrations from truck traffic are a particular problem.  The last descendent in 1904 was living with things from the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s.”

The house has the flavor of a dwelling lived in until 1904, and isn’t arranged with period rooms. It’s fun; it’s dynamic; and you learn a lot from the house just by seeing it.

Fairbanks Reunon — A longstanding tradition at Fairbanks Family reunions has been for cousins to dress in Puritan costume in honor of their immigrant ancestors. Included in this 1910s reunion photo are first Fairbanks House Curator Henry Irving Fairbanks (standing fourth from left) and his wife, Ida (standing far left).

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.

Religious Dissension
Jonathan Fairbanks had “long stood off from the church upon some scruples about public profession of faith and the covenant, yet after divers loving conferences.”  In 1646 he made such a declaration of his faith and conversion to God and profession of subjection to the ordinances of Christ in the church that he was readily and gladly received by the whole church.” Fairbanks became a member of the First Church in Dedham, which espoused a Reformed theology (Calvinist) in the seventeenth century.

Of the immediate English ancestors of Jonathan Fairbanks little is known. He was evidently not of the ignorant lower classes, but had a fair education and was, as tradition says, a man of strong commonsense, sound judgment and good executive ability. His name appears frequently in the town records, though he held only minor town offices. There are good grounds for the inference that he had more ample means than the average pioneer. He built a better house and seems to have lived in better style than most of his neighbors. And he left considerable property.

1 Jun 1668 – Will of Jonathan Fairbanke

In the yeare of our Lord one thousand sixe hundred sixty and eight, the first day of the fourth month, com’only called June; I Jonathan ffarbanke of dedham in the Countie of Suffolke Senioe, Being sicke and weake, And expecting that the day of my desolution is drawing neere doe in the name and feare of God ordaine and make this my Last will & Testam’ for the disposeing and settling of the things of this life, with which the Lord hath at p’sent Intrusted me in manner & forme as followeth ; viz first I commit my soule to God that gaue it, Trusting in the alone Righteousnes & mediation of Jesus Christ my Redemer & aduocate, & my body to the earth whence it was taken, to be after my decease Desently buried therein in christian buriall at the discretion of my Executor.

In prims I giue & bequeath vnto grace my Deere & well beloved wife, All and Every prt & prcell of my whole moueable Estate whatsoeuer as well within dores as without, namely all my household stuffe, of all & Euery sort & kinde as allso all my cattell of all kinds all my come cartes ploughs workeing tooles &° vtensils of husbandrye all debts due to me & whatsoeuer Ells come within the denomination of moueable Estate & all this I giue and Bequeath to my said wife, to despose of when And to whom shee shall at any time see meete. And more I giue to grace my said wife an Annuitie of Eight pounds pr Annam to be paid to her or her assignee to her vse yearely & euery yeare, in two equall prts. » »

Ite I giue & bequeath to George (ffarbanke my second sonne & to his heyers for euer, sixteene pounds the one halfe whereof shall be payed to him within the space of one yeare next ensueing after the decease of my said wife; And whereas I haue allready giuen and doe herby confirme to my said sonne George all that my prt in the generall deuident [dividend?] already laid out thro Meadfield & some workinge tooles & such like small things, my will & my mind is, That the said percell of lande and those tooles and other small thing soe giuen shall be all indifferently & Equally aprized and if they shall together amount to the value of eight pounds then it shall be accounted for his first payment.

And I giue & bequeath to my daughter Mary the wife of Christopher Smith the sume of sixteene pounds, which sixteene pounds I giue to my said daughter in prticuler, And distinct from her husbans Estate & to be allwayes at her dispose, this sixteen pounds to be payed in two equall (sum’es ?) of Eight pounds.

Item More I giue to my said daughter Mary Three pounds to purchase her a suite of aparrell to be paid within the space of three months next after my decease. Ite,n. I giue and bequeath to Jonas ffarbanke my third sonne & his heyers for euer the like sume of sixtene pounds to be allso payed in two equal sumes.

Item I giue & bequeath to Jonathan ffarebanke my yongest sonne & to his heighers the like sume of sixteene pounds, to be paid allso in two Equal Sum’es.

Item I giue and bequeath to Sarah the Eldest daughter of my sonne John ffarebanks one young beast betwixt one and two yeares of age, & more three pounds to be payed by my Executor when she shall attaine lawfull age, the young beast before mentioned I Reserue out of the cattell bequeathed to Grace my wife;

Item I giue & bequeath to my sonne in lawe Ralph Daye ffoarty shillings to be payed within six monthes after my wives decease;

Item. I giue & bequeath to each of the foure Children of the said Ralph which he had by my daughter Susan his late wife the sum’e of ffourtie shillings to be payd them seuerally as they shall attaine lawfull age pruided all my other Legacies to my three sonnes & my daughter be first payed in manner as is aboue Expressed ;

Item my mind & my will is that all these my legacies aboue bequeathed, the specie or kind of payment whereof is not named shall be all payed in current Contrey payment at price then Currant In ded (ham I giue & bequeath) To John ffarebanke my Eldest sonne all my houses & lands whatsouer, not being foremerly aboue (mentioned ? togeth)er with all my common Rightes 6° towne priviliges whatsoeuer, to haue posses & injoy the same ( ) & his heyers ( to) enter vpon all my lands forthwith after my decease; and all my houses and yardes at the end of foure mo’nthes n(ext followin)g the same;

Item I doe nominate apoint and ordayne John Fairebancke my afforesaid Eldest Sonne To be my sole Executor to whom I committ all nessary trust & power Requisite for the due and full performeance & Execution of this my last will as it belongs or is necessary for an Executor to doe in all & euery prt as is aboue expressed ;

Item, I allso name & intreate my very loueing friends Eleazer Lusher & Petter Woodward Sene to be ouerseers to the performance of this my present will & to be assisting to my aboue named Executor therin as themselues shall see cause, & I doe hereby reueoke & make null & voide all other or former wills whatsouer by me formerly made; & doe auouch & decleare this prsent wrighting, as is aboue herein entered, to be & contayne my true onely & last will & testemant.

In wittnss whereof I the said Jonathan ffarebanke Senc haue herevnto subscribed my hand & affixed my seale the day & yeare first aboue written.

This a true copy of the will of Jonathan Fayerbank senyore.
as attest Daniell ffisher.
Wiliam Avery.



1. John Fairbanks

John’s wife Sarah Fiske was born 9 Jan 1625 in St James South Elmham, Suffolk, England. Her parents were Nathaniel Fiske and Alice Henel Leman. Sarah died 26 Sep 1683 in Dedham, Norfolk, Mass

John  held offices and various commissions to explore the Charles river, Deerfield, etc;  and inherited the homestead.

2. Captain George Fairbanks

George’s wife Mary Adams was born 1625 in Dedham, Norfolk, Mass. Her parents were Henry Adams and Edith Squire, the 2nd Great Grandparents of President John Adams. Mary died 11 Aug 1711 in Mendon, Worcester, Mass.

Captain George resided in Dedham until about 1657, when he removed to the southern part of Sherborn, afterwards East Medway, now the town of Millis. He was one of the first settlers there and was an esteemed citizen. The stone house originally occupied by him was the garrison house built by the settlers on the Bogistow Farms, on the borders of Bogistow Pond, as a place of refuge and defence in time of Indian troubles. It was sixty-five or seventy feet long and two stories high. The walls were built of flat stones laid in mortar. It had a double row of port holes on all sides and was lined with heavy planks of oak.  In 1662 he signed the first petition for the town of Sherborn, and again in 1674 he signed the successful petition, becoming one of the proprietors of Sherborn, including the present towns of Sherborn. Holliston and parts of Framingham and Ashland. He was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston,  four years selectman of Sherborn, and was on the committee to engage and settle a minister. His sudden death by drowning in 1682 was a severe loss to the new settlement.

3. Mary FAIRBANKS (See Michael METCALF Jr.‘s page)

4. Susan FAIRBANKS (See Ralph DAY‘s page)

5. Jonas Fairbanks

Jonas’ wife Lydia Prescott was born 1657 in Watertown, Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were John Prescott and Mary Gawkroger Platts. After Jonas was killed by Indians. she married in 1678 in Lancaster Mass. to Ellis Barron (b. 22 Apr 1633 in Watertown – d. 7 Oct 1712 in Lancaster) Lydia died 31 Dec 1723 in Sowerby, Yorkshire, England.

Lancaster, Mass. Lots Jonas Fairbank’s lot is in the southwestern portion of this map.

Jonas, removed to Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1657; signed the Covenant Mar 7 1659, and was called one of the “fathers of the town:” he was a farmer and believed to be also a carpenter: in 1652 he was fined for wearing great boots before he was worth two hundred pounds, which was contrary to a statute of 1651; he and his son Joshua were killed by the Indians February 10, 1676. during a raid in King Philip’s war;

On February 10, 1676, several hundred Indians attacked ,Lancaster, setting many homes on fire. More than 50 English were killed, and twenty four taken captive with the Indians, who roamed about with their prisoners for the next few months.  Our ancestors John HOUGHTON and Jonas HOUGHTON were made homeless  in this same attack and they fled  to Charlestown under escort. (See John Houghton’s page for the story of Indian captive Mary Rowlandson.)

6. Jonathan Fairbanks

Jonathan’s wife Deborah Shepard was born in 1633 in England. Her parents were Edward SHEPARD and Violet CHARNOULD . Deborah died 7 Sep 1705 in Dedham, Norfolk, Mass

Jonathan Jr. was  admitted townsman in Dedham, Jan 1, 1654/55, and signed the Covenant; resided at Dedham; died Jan 28, 1711/12; was a soldier in King Philip’s war, serving in the first or Mount Hope campaign in 1675, and in several subsequent campaigns.

19 Apr 1676 – Petition of Jonathan Fairbanks

To the Honed Govr & Council conveened in Boston — Aprill 19th 1676

The Petition of Jonathan ffairebankes humbly Sheweth That yor petition’ hath been a considerable time abroad in the Country’s Service, & of late a Voluntier under the command of Capt Benjamin Gibbs, & in or march. wth the army towards Quabaug, [now Brookfield, Mass.] upon the information of Job the Indian, that there was a wigwam about ten miles from the Rhode, where were some of his Children — with other Indians, the sd Cap’ Gibbs with 9 or 10 more of which yor petition’ was one by permission of Major Savage, went thither., where wee found some of the sd Jobs Children — with some others amongst which a young girle of about ten or twelve yeares of age, whome yor petition’, upon m’ Gibbs his promiss that Shee should bee his own, tooke her up upon his horse & brought her to Quabaug, which was about 30 miles & the Army proceeding further Shee was there left wth some others, who yo’ petition’ understands are since brought down — & carried to Deere Island.

Wherefore the premisses considered, yo’ petition’, doth request yo’ Hono’s would bee pleased to grant him the sd girle & hee shall willingly Satisfy the necessary charges the Country have been out upon her & bee obliged to pray for yo’ Hono’s peace & prosperityes.

(on reverse)
Jn° fairebanks peticon
to ye Council 20 Aprill 76.

7. Martha Pidge Fairbanks

Martha’s husband Benjamin Bullard was born 1630 Sherborn, Middlesex, Mass. His parents were  Robert BULLARD and Anne MARTYN. Benjamin died 27 Sep 1689 Sherborn, Mass.

Martha’s parents were Thomas Pidge and Mary Sothy.  Martha’s mother Mary Sothy Pigge (Pidge) was born about 1599 in Saffron Walden, Essex, England. She was the widow of Thomas Pigge of Roxbury, Mass. Thomas died of Dec 30, 1643 in Roxbury of dropsy, a godly Christian man. He had a fall & a bruise on his back, which hurt his kidneys & not carefully cured they utterly wasted away & many other of his entrails. Mary Pigge the wife of Thomas Pigge was admitted to Roxbury church as member #85.” She married as his second wife [our ancestor thru his 1st wife] Michael METCALF on 13 Aug 1645 in Dedham, Mass. Because the combined Metcalf/Pidge family now had 19 children, Martha was adopted by Jonathan FAIRBANKS. Jonathan’s daugther Mary had married Michael Metcalf’s son Michael METCALF Jr. a couple of years earlier.


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