George SEXTON (1632 – 1690) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096 in this generation of the Miner line.
George Sexton was born in 1632 in Limerick, Ireland. He married Katherine COWING on 10 Jun 1663 in Ireland. His parents were James SEXTON of Limerick, Ireland (a descendant of Denis) and [__?__]. In the Irish probate records is the will of a “James Sexten, Lemerick, Burgess,” dated December 14, 1669; sons, George, Symen, Patrick, Joseph, Stephen, and a daughter Joane, to whom are left certain legacies in case the estate be recovered.
George Sexton and his wife Katherine and their family fled to New England, making them among the first Sextons to arrive in this country. George moved to Westfield, Mass. before 1671, where his son Benjamin was born, said to be the first white child born in the town. This would put George’s presence there at 1666-1667. George died 31 Oct 1690 in Westfield, Mass.
Because George Sexton lived at Windsor for a time, it has been said that he was a brother of “Richard Saxston.” This seems unlikely, for the two families did not use the same baptismal names. It is more likely that he was a nephew or even a more
distant relative. It is possible that the similarity of surnames was merely a coincidence.
Katherine Cowing was born in 1620 in Ireland. Alternatively, her last name was Bird. Katherine died 19 Sep 1689 in Westfield, Mass.
Children of George and Katherine:
9 Sep 1679
|19 Sep 1689
Huntington, Suffolk, NY
28 Dec 1680
|3.||James Sexton||c. 1665
29 Apr 1680
22 Jan 1701/02
14 Feb 1734/35
|31 Oct 1756
|4.||Joseph SEXTON||3 Feb 1665/66
20 Nov 1690
Enfield or Lebanon, CT
|3 May 1742
|5.||Benjamin Sexton||10 Dec 1667
13 Jul 1717
|8 Apr 1754
|6.||John Sexton||26 May 1673 Westfield, Mass.||Boston|
The orginial form of the name was O’Seisnain, which has been anglicized to its present form Sexton. The Sexton family can trace their descent to very remote times, but the pedigree is generally taken as beginning with On Carthann Fionn Orge Mór of Munster, who was a son of Blad, born in the year 388, the was a son of Cas, from whom the famous names Dalcassians orginated. The 388 AD date places Blad in 4th century, but it’s still remarkable to know the “First” in the known line of Sextons. Sexton is one of the three oldest families in Limerick. The Sexton History around Limerick has them originating near Lough Gur or Lough Dearg–both within 10-20 miles of Limerick City.
The antiquity of the Sexton Family shows itself when it is pointed out that a son of Carthann Fionn Orge Mor, Eochaidh Ball Dearg was baptized by Saint Patrick himself. Three generations we come to Aodh Caomh, who was King of Cashel, and of him it was recorded by Lodge: “He was the first Christian King of his family that became King of Munster, and his investiture with the Authroity and Title of that province was performed at his own court in the presence of St Brennan of Clonfort, and his domestic poet, McClemein, who afterwards became the first Bishop of Cloyne; and also the Concurrance of Aodh Dubh, the then Chief of the Euginian Race” All the above records are the connecting ties in the pedigree of the Sexton Family, and the links with the ruling family of the O’Brien’s, King of Thomond, in whose line the family of Sexton has the proud privilege to belong.
A castle, built on the orders of King John and bearing his name, was completed around 1200. Under the general peace imposed by Norman rule, Limerick prospered as a port and trading centre. By this time the city was divided into an area which became known as “English Town” on King’s Island surrounded by high walls, while another settlement, named “Irish Town”, where the Irish and Danes lived, had grown on the south bank of the river. Around 1395 construction started on walls around Irishtown that were not completed until the end of the 15th century.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Limerick became a city-state isolated from the principal area of effective English rule -the Pale. Hence our phrase “beyond the Pale.” Nevertheless, the Crown remained in control throughout the succeeding centuries. During the Reformation tensions arose between those those loyal to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the newly established state religion – the Church of Ireland.
In 1537/40 King Henry VIII granted the Castle in Limerick to Edmond Sexton (St. Marys Abbey House) the Sextons were the wealthiest and most powerful family there. Edmond was Mayor of Dublin & Edward Sexton was Mayor of Limerick in 1536.
Denis Saxton and Edmond Saxton both served 8 years as Lord Mayors of Limerick, the latter arraigned as “of Irish blood and corrupt affection to traitors,” (ie., the Irish who resisted English aggression), but still a friend and favorite of Henry VIII who knighted him in the year 1538 and granted him the title and rights of Prior of the Cathedral.
The Census of Ireland (1659), also known as Petty’s or Pender’s Census, provides town census returns of the inhabitants of most of the country, arranged in counties, baronies, parishes, and townelands. In addition to the number of inhabitants and their racial classification, the returns supply the names of the principal occupiers, referred to as ‘Tituladoes.’ The returns also give names and numbers of the pricipal Irish, by barony. The original manuscripts were discovered among the Lansdowne Papers in Bowood House, Wiltshire, England and are now in the British Library (Petty Papers Vol. XXVII. Add. MSS. 72876). The Census was published by Manuscripts Commission (Dublin, 1939), edited by Seamus Pender.
Barony of Bunratty Parish -Quinhy Townelands – Cullane
Tituladoes Names – James Sexton and George Sexton; his sonne gent
George Sexton left Ireland for England before traveling to America due to repression during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland Lands were confiscated; towns destroyed; taxes increased; people sent in chains to West Indies in chains or forced to toil on their own lands now run by the English. Many say that the Sextons traveled to America on the Blessing. George may have been a trader or agent.
Since the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Ireland had been mainly under the control of the Irish Confederate Catholics, who in 1649, signed an alliance with the English Royalist party, which had been defeated in the English Civil War. Cromwell’s forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country – bringing to an end the Irish Confederate Wars. He passed a series of Penal laws against Roman Catholics (the vast majority of the population) and confiscated large amounts of their land.
Limerick, in western Ireland was the scene of two sieges during the Irish Confederate Wars. The second and largest siege took place during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1650-51. Limerick was one the last fortified cities held by an alliance of Irish Confederate Catholics and English Royalists against the forces of the English Parliament. Its garrison, led by Hugh Dubh O’Neill, surrendered to Henry Ireton after a protracted and bitter siege. Over 2,000 soldiers of Cromwell’s New Model Army were killed at Limerick, and Henry Ireton, Cromwell’s son-in-law died of Plague.
By 1650, The Irish Confederates and their English Royalist allies had been driven out of eastern Ireland by the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. They occupied a defensive position behind the River Shannon, of which Limerick was the southern stronghold. Oliver Cromwell himself had left Ireland in May 1650, delegating his command of the English Parliamentarian forces to Henry Ireton. Ireton moved his forces north from Munster to besiege Limerick in October of that year. However, the weather was increasingly wet and cold and Ireton was forced to abandon the siege before the onset of winter.
Ireton returned the following June with 8,000 men, 28 siege artillery pieces and 4 mortars. He then summoned Hugh Dubh O’Neill, the Irish commander of Limerick to surrender, but was refused. The siege was on.
Limerick in 1651 was split into two sections, English town and Irish town, which were separated by the river Abbey. English town, which contained the citadel of King John’s Castle, was encircled by water, the Abbey river on three sides and the Shannon on the other, in what was known as King John’s Island. There was only one bridge onto the island – Thomond bridge – which was fortified with bastioned earthworks. Irish town was more vulnerable, but was also more heavily fortified. Its medieval walls had been buttressed by 20 feet (about 6 metres) of earth, making it difficult to knock a breach in them. In addition, Irish town had a series of bastions along its walls, mounted with cannon which covered its approaches. The biggest of these bastions were at St John’s Gate and Mungret gate. The garrison of the city was 2,000 strong and composed mainly of veterans from the Confederate’s Ulster army, commanded by Hugh Dubh O’Neill, who had distinguished themselves at the siege of Clonmel the previous year.
Because Limerick was very well fortified, Ireton did not risk an assault on its walls. Instead he secured the approaches to the city, cut off its supplies and built artillery earthworks to bombard the defenders. His troops took the fort at Thomond bridge, but the Irish destroyed the bridge itself, denying the Parliamentarians land access to English town. Ireton then tried an amphibious attack on the city, a storming party attacking the city in small boats. They were initially successful, but O’Neill’s men counter attacked and beat them off. After this attack failed, Ireton resolved to starve the city into submission and built two forts known as Ireton’s fort and Cromwell’s fort on nearby Singland Hill. An Irish attempt to relieve the city from the south was routed at the battle of Knocknaclashy. O’Neill’s only hope was now to hold out until bad weather and hunger forced Ireton to raise the siege. To this end, O’Neill tried to send the town’s old men, women and children out of the city so that his supplies would last a little longer. However, Ireton’s men killed 40 of these civilians and sent the rest back into Limerick.
After this point, O’Neill came under pressure from the town’s mayor and civilian population to surrender. The town’s garrison and civilians suffered terribly from hunger and disease, especially an outbreak of plague. What was more, Ireton found a weak point in the defences of Irish town, and knocked a breach in them, opening the prospect of an all out assault. Eventually in October 1651, six months after the siege had started, part of Limerick’s garrison (English Royalists under Colonel Fennell) mutinied and turned some cannon inwards, threatening to fire on O’Neill’s men unless they surrendered. Hugh Dubh O’Neill surrendered Limerick on the 27th of October. The inhabitants lives and property were respected, but they were warned that they could be evicted in the future. The garrison was allowed to march to Galway, which was still holding out, but had to leave their weapons behind. However, the lives of the civilian and military leaders of Limerick were excepted from the terms of surrender. A Catholic Bishop Terence Albert O’Brien, an Alderman and the English Royalist officer Colonel Fennell (who the Parliamentarians said was a “soldier of fortune”) were hanged. O’Neill was also sentenced to death, but was reprieved by the Parliamentarian commander Edmund Ludlow and imprisoned instead in London. Former mayor Dominic Fanning was drawn, quartered, and decapitated, with his head mounted over St. John’s Gate.
Over 2,000 English Parliamentary soldiers died at Limerick, mostly from disease. Among them was Henry Ireton, who died a month after the fall of the city. About 700 of the Irish garrison died and an unknown, but probably far greater number of civilians – usually estimated at about 5,000.
The Parliamentarian reconquest of Ireland was brutal, and Cromwell is still a hated figure in Ireland. The extent to which Cromwell, who was in direct command for the first year of the campaign, is responsible for the atrocities is debated fiercely to this day. It has recently been argued by a some historians that the actions of Cromwell were within the then-accepted rules of war, or were exaggerated or distorted by later propagandists; these claims have however been challenged by others
George Sexton in New England
If George Sexton was an Irish refugee, it would be easy to understand why the records of Windsor have so little to say concerning his presence there. At Windsor, the neighbors would have been partisans of Cromwell and hence potential enemies. Remaining quiet, he would be content to avoid further persecution than what he remembered from Ireland. It’s unlikely that he would join the church that wielded the tyranny from which he had barely escaped. Because of that, he was unable to become a freeman, or a citizen, of Windsor.
The earliest mention of George is in a book of “deeds” of Springfield, Mass., a deed from Thomas Cowper to George Sexton, now resident of Windsor, Conn. on June 10, 1663 which states that George was at that time a resident of Windsor. The deed was the purchase of two parcels of meadow and upland at Waronoco (after 1669, Westfield) from Thomas Cooper (or Cowper). When he settled at Waronoco/Westfield, he was one of the first three settlers at the place.
George moved to Westfield, Mass. before 1671, where his son Benjamin was born, said to be the first white child born in the town. This would put George’s presence there at 1666-1667.
Westfield was originally inhabited by the Pocomtuc tribe, and was called Woronoco (meaning “the winding land”). Trading houses were built in 1639-40 by settlers from the Connecticut Colony. Massachusetts asserted jurisdiction, and prevailed after a boundary survey. In 1647, Massachusetts made Woronoco part of Springfield, Massachusetts. Land was incrementally purchased from the Indians and granted by the Springfield town meeting to English settlers, beginning in 1658. The area of Woronoco or “Streamfield” began to be permanently settled in the 1660s. In 1669, “Westfield” was incorporated as an independent town; in 1920, it would be re-incorporated as a city.
From its founding until 1725, Westfield was the westernmost settlement in Massachusetts Colony and portions of it fell within the Equivalent lands. Due to its alluvial lands, the inhabitants of this area were entirely devoted to agricultural pursuits for about 150 years.
24 Sep 1678 – At Westfield, George and his wife were called before the county court for “abusive words and actions to Samuel Root, constable.”
13 Jul 1682 – Catherine Sexton was admitted to the church at Westfield, but George seems never to have become a member of the church in New England. And no record has been discovered showing that he had his children baptized at Windsor or Westfield.
By the 1680s, debts mounting, he had to mortgage his lands and crops. Then, on 25 January 1687/88, he sold his housing and lands at Westfield for £160 to his sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
George was the eldest surviving son and was executor of his father James Sextens will and was left tthe stone house of his father and the tenanties lying and being in Boufileds land. The will was dated December 14, 1669
1. George Sexton
George’s wife Hannah Spencer was born 15 Apr 1653 in Haddam, Middlesex, CT. Her parents were Thomas Spencer and Sarah Bearding. Hannah died 1 Apr 1715 in Haddam, Middlesex, CT.
Alternatively, Hannah died 19 Sep 1680 Westfield, Connecticut; only 10 days after borth of son Charles on 9 Sep 1680, though if she died at that early date, the mother of Nathaniel Sexton born 5 Dec 1682 in Westfield, CT is left unexplained.
They were living at Newton, Long Island in October of 1690.
One family historian, V. O. Gehrke speculates George was born 1656 Limerick, Ireland and died at sea; possibly buried there. He was a sea captain trading with the West India Islands.
He executed a quit claim deed to his brothers on 31 October 1690 after fathers death.
2. Daniel Sexton
Daniel’s wife Sarah Bancroft was born 26 Dec 1661 in Windsor, Hartford, CT. Her parents were John Bancroft and Hannah Duper (Draper). Sarah died 1697 in Queens, New York.
Daniel and Sarah removed to Long Island, probably before 1687. Of Smithtown, Long Island, he sold land at Springfield, Mass., by deed 25 Apri 1743. Had six children.
3. James Sexton
James’ first wife Hannah Fowler was born 20 Dec 1654 in Windsor, Hartford, CT, Her parents were Ambrose Fowler and Joan Alvord. Hannah died 10 Mar 1701 in Westfield, Hampden, Mass
James’ second wife Ann Bancroft was born 5 May 1663 in Enfield, CT. Her parents were Thomas Bancroft and Margaret Wright. She was the widow of of Thomas Gilbert, with whom she had had several children. Ann died 16 Mar 1733 in Westfield, Mass.
James’ third wife Mary Burbank was baptized 24 Jun 1666 at Rowley, Mass Her parents were John Burbank and Susanna Merrill. She first married Lazarus Miller and next William McCrannay. The banns were published on 19 January 1734 for her third marriage, to James Sexton. Mary died 16 Dec 1740 at Westfield, CT.
James remained a resident of Westfield for the balance of his long life, dying there on December 12, 1741, earning his livelihood as a “yeoman,” or a farmer who cultivates his own land. He served for a while as a “surveyor offences” in Westfield — a position created by colonial communities to maintain proper boundaries between individual properties, which were normally fenced to indicate where one property began and another ended.
Sometime before October 1724, one of the Sexton (Saxton) family who was a surveyor undertook to survey the line between the towns of Rockingham and Westminster along the Connecticut River in Windham County, in what is now southeastern Vermont. While astride a floating login the process of crossing a small river there, he fell into the rivet, but survived. To this day, the small river’s name is “Saxtons River,” and a small village along its banks is named “Saxtons River.” Which Saxton (Sexton) was the surveyor is not known, but he could well have been James or one of his brothers or one of his sons or nephews.
James bought or inherited, and sold, various parcels of land in Westfield and vicinity. In 1698 he sold land to Joseph Maudeley. In 1703 he sold land to John Bancroft (likely an uncle or brother of his wife, Anna). In 1711 he sold land to Joseph Phelps. On June 17, 1728, at age about 68 years, he sold “all my lands and tenements,… horses, cattle, household goods, tools, and utensils” at Westfield to his two sons, John and James3 Sexton, for 500 pounds, a substantial sum at that time.
2 Oct 1678 – He and his father took the oath of allegiance to the English King.
1683 – James and his brother Joseph were fined five pounds for taking hay belonging to Thomas Dewey Senior and Nathaniel Bancroft. In 1686, the grand jury of Westfield indicted James for “breach of peace of the Sovereign Lord the King by force” … “striking…3 blows and threatening.” He was fined 20 pounds.
4 Nov 1689 – Hannah Fowler Sexton, his first wife, joined the Westfield church.
4 Apr 1703 – Anna Bancroft Sexton, the second wife of James, joined the Westfield church by letter from the Springfield church.
4 Oct 1704 – James Sexton acquitted John Barber of Springfield and Samuel Barber of Windsor regarding the estate of Thomas Bancroft, the father-in-law of James Sexton.
1714 – The town paid James a bounty of 15 shillings for lolling a wolf in Westfield; wolves were considered a threat to settlers and their livestock. Bounties were paid also to whoever killed a woodchuck, a skunk, or a crow.
12 Dec 1741 – At age about 81 years, James Sexton died at Westfield. His burial site is not known.
4. Joseph SEXTON (See his page)
5. Benjamin Sexton
According to the Journal of Rev. John Ballantine, “April 8, 1754, died Benjamin Sexton, aged 88, who was the first white person born in the town of Westfield.”
Benjamin’s wife Mary Strong was born 1683 in Northampton, Hampshire, Mass. Mary’s parents were Jedediah Strong and Abigail Stebbins. She first married Ebenezer Pixley (b. 13 May 1678 in Westfield, Hampden, Mass. d. 19 Dec 1716 in Westfield, Hampden, Mass). Mary died 17 Apr 1759 in Westfield, Hampden, Mass.
Benjamin was the youngest son of the original George and remained in Westfield while the other sons moved away. The old homestead was at what was known as “Little River,” near Westfield and the house was used as a fort and refuge from the Indians in the early days, as it was strongly built. This place was occupied by four successive descendants named Benjamin Saxton, the last one died in 1858, being great-great-grandson of the original George.