Robert FLETCHER (1592 – 1677) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather, one of 4,096 in this generation of the Shaw line.
Robert Fletcher was born in 1592 in Chelmsford, Essex, England. His parents may have been William FLETCHER and Ann FINNEY, but recent DNA puts this lineage in doubt and this Robert is probably not connected to the principal Fletcher family of Cockermouth Hall. (Actually, almost all linkages to gentry in my tree have turned out to be false. The vast majority of early immigrants were what we would call now middle class.) He married Sarah HARTWELL about 1612 in England. Robert died 3 Apr 1677 in Concord, Middlesex, Mass.
Sarah Hartwell was born in 1593 in Chelmsford, Essex, England. Sarah died 12 May 1677 in Concord, Middlesex, Mass.
Children of Robert and Sarah:
|1.||Grissell FLETCHER||c. 1618 Chelmsford, Essex, England.||Thomas JEWELL I
1640 Braintree, Norfolk, Mass.
1 Nov 1655
Braintree, Norfolk, Mass
12 Nov 1661 Braintree, Norfolk, Mass.
|9 Jul 1669 Chelmsford, Middlesex, Mass.|
||1621 Chelmsford, Essex, England||Betsy Shattuck
|21 May 1665
|3.||William Fletcher||1 Sep 1622 Harewood, Yorkshire, England||Lydia Bates
7 Oct 1645 Concord, Middlesex, Mass.
|6 Nov 1677
Chelmsford, Middlesex, Mass
|4.||Samuel Fletcher||1632 in Concord, Middlesex, Mass||Margaret Hailston
14 Oct 1659 Chelmsford, Middlesex, Mass
|9 Dec 1697
Chelmsford, Middlesex, Mass
|5.||Francis Fletcher||10 MAY 1636
Concord, Middlesex Co, Mass
11 Oct 1656 Concord, Mass
|14 Jun 1704
Robert Fletcher was born in 1591 in Chelmsford, England. He came from England at the age of 38, with his wife, Sarah Hartwell, and three sons, Luke, William, and Samuel, and a daughter Grissell. According to The History of Hancock he settled in Concord in 1630. I have found no other data to document his presence in America at this early date and this date may simply be an oral tradition which was exagerated and later printed.
It was five years later, on Sep 2, 1635, that Concord was organized, the twentieth town incorporated in Massachusetts, and, according to The History of Hancock again, ‘his name appears in the earliest records of that town. Whenever he arrived there, Robert Fletcher was, however, established well enough by 2 Nov 1637 to be chosen constable of Concord on that date. Robert and two of his sons and their families were among the first settlers of Chelmsford Massachusetts. He returned to Concord where he died April 3, 1677 at the age of 85. His will is dated February 2, 1672.
Chelmsford was founded in settlers from the adjacent communities of Woburn and Concord. An act of the Massachusetts General Court in the last week of May 1655 town incorporated Chelmsford, and it was named after Robert’s home town of Chelmsford, England. The nearby communities of Groton and Billerica were incorporated at the same time. Chelmsford originally contained the neighboring town of Westford, and parts of Carlisle, Tyngsborough, and a large part of Lowell (formerly known as East Chelmsford).
Fletcher family researchers, such as Edward Hatch Fletcher and Winifred Lovering Holman, have attempted to identify and document Robert Fletcher’s ancestors for more than 150 years. Unfortunately, their exhaustive examination of the available records failed to produce any evidence to support the various theories regarding the Fletcher patriarch’s lineage. However, several published genealogies haveidentified Yorkshire, Shropshire, and Cumberland as possible locations for the birth of Robert Fletcher.
A letter alleged to have been written by Lydia Bates Fletcher from Concord in 1632 to her sister-in-law, Ruth Fletcher of Scrooby, England, has recently surfaced and appears to shed some light on the long-standing mystery. A transcription has been reproduced in two historical references. See Muirhead, J.F., AmericanShrines on English Soil, (1925); Bahin, Mrs. Louis Joseph, Collectionof Genealogy Records, National Society, Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, (1985) p. 72.
The letter at issue, in addition to providing a remarkable narrative of the pleasures and hardships experienced by early settlers of the “New Land”, if genuine, establishes Lydia Bates as the wife of Robert Fletcher, not as the wife of his son William as previously asserted. It also mentions a previously undocumented daughter named Johna who was born in 1631 and refers to Moses Fletcher of the Mayflower as “brother.” Finally, the letter identifies Ruth Fletcher of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, as the sister of Robert, thus suggesting that Robert hailed from Scrooby as well.
Suggesting that the aforementioned letter is not genuine is the fact that the Concord Registers have William Fletcher and Lydia Bates marrying on September 7, 1645, and giving birth to a daughter, also named Lydia, on January 30, 1647. Conversely, the English separatists that originally colonized Plymouth and Concord lived in Nottinghamshire, England, until their resettlement to Leiden, the city from which they departed for the “New Land”, in 1608. This fact tends to support the proposition that the letter from Lydia Bates Fletcher is authentic. Accordingly, further research need be undertaken to determine whether the letter is fact or fiction.
History of the Town of Concord; Middlesex County,Massachusetts, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1832, (1835) p. 18. Shattuck, Lemuel,
“November 2, 1637, Robert Fletcher was chosen constable of Concord.”
“Robert Fletcher was here in 1635; d. April 3, 1677, a. 85.Children-1. Francis, m. Elizabeth Wheeler 1656, and had Samuel, Joseph, John, Elizabeth, Sarah, Hannah, and Benjamin, who lived in Concord. 2. Luke, d. 1665; 3. William, m. Lydia Bates 1645, removed to Chelmsford, 1656, d. Nov.6, 1677; 4. Samuel, removed to Chelmsford. The name is extinct in Concord, but descendants are found in the adjoining towns, in Worcester county, and in New Hamphire.” Id. p.370.
Fletcher, Edward H.,Fletcher Genealogy: An Account of the Descendants of Robert Fletcherof Concord, Mass., (1871) p. 2-3.
“ROBERT settled at Concord, Mass., in 1630; in which year seventeen ships arrived in Massachusetts Bay and at Plymouth. He had then threesons, Luke, William, and Samuel, and was himself thirty-eight years ofage. It was five years later that Concord was organized, the twentieth town incorporated within what are now the limits of Massachusetts, and his name appears in the earliest records of that town. In the court files of Middlesex County, his name frequently occurs as petitioner for bridges, as juryman, etc. He became a wealthy and influential man,and died at Concord, April 3, 1677, ae. 85.”
Bates, Theodore C., Bates and Fletcher Genealogical Register, (1892) p. 47.
“The first of that name known to have come to this country was Robert Fletcher, who was born in Oxford, England, in 1592, as shown by therecords of his death found in the Town Records of Concord, Mass. Hesettled in Concord, Mass., in 1630, being 38 years of age when he came to America. He brought with him his wife and two sons, named Luke and William, and a daughter named Carey, also a brother, William, who afterwards settled in Middletown, Conn.
Robert Fletcher was a wealthy and influential man. He died in Concord, Mass., April 3, 1677, aged 85 years. He had five children: Luke,William, Carey, Samuel and Francis.”
New England Historical Publishing Company,American Series of Popular Biographies, New Hampshire Edition, (1902)p. 395.
“The family name of Fletcher, or Fledger as it was originally spelled,has been long known in New England, as the first immigrant, Robert Fletcher, came over with Sir Richard Saltonsall and Governor Winthropin 1630. He emigrated from Yorkshire, England, bringing with him three sons, Luke, William, and Samuel, and settled in Concord, Mass., where he subsequently lived until his death on April 5, 1677, at the age of eighty-five years.”
1. Grissell FLETCHER (See Thomas JEWELL I‘s page)
2. Luke Fletcher
Luke’s wife Betsy Shattuck was born 30 Dec 1627 – Somersetshire, England
3. William Fletcher
William’s wife Lydia Bates (Fairbanks) was born 13 Jun 1622 in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Her parents were Richard Fairbanks and Elizabeth Daulton. Lydia died 12 Oct 1704 in Chelmsford, Middlesex, Mass.
There is a document, originally reported by Wyman, oft-cited to show Grissell’s maiden name, “Motion to Court by William Fletcher of Chelmsford his sister Cary on her deathbed desired him & her husband to take care of her children. Willing to be engaged for the child Sherebiah Kibby.” A further discussion ensues to show that the name should be Gurny. Interestingly, one person reported to Mary Lovering Holman possession of a photograph of the original, and claims it actually says Burge (roughly the same shape as Cary?) It then turns out this document is missing from Middlesex Court Files.
This single document connects Grissell’s brother, William Fletcher, the children of her first husband Thomas Jewell, the child by her third husband Henry Kibby (misspelled in this document), a mention of her being a widow Gurney, and of her last husband John Burge.
“To the Selectmen of Mendon: Theas are to Informe you by us William ffletcher and John Burge, both of us of the towne of Chellmsford, apointed by the Corts order to be gardians to the child of the widdow Gurney that was and Last of all wife to the a bove said John Burge, she being of a sound understanding did will unto her son Joseph Juell all that A Commodation that was there at the Towne of Mendon, Laid and given unto her the said widdow Gurney, with all the apurtenances and priveledges In any wise apertaining or be longing there unto, upon this condition that the said Joseph Juell do pay to Nathaniel Juell and Mercy Juell fifteen pound and Sherrabya Reby tenn pounds. Our desire and request is unto the Select men of the said towne of Mendon that ye would Record the said a Commodation to Joseph Juell for his security.
Witness our hands Chelmsford this 5 of the 4 month 1675.
William ffletcher John Burge.”
“This is a true Coppy of the lettre sente from William ffletcher and John Burge to the Select men of Mendon and now Recorded by yr order 21, 4 month 1675”
4. Samuel Fletcher
Samuel’s wife Margaret Hailston was born 1632 in Chelmsford, Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were William Hailstone and [__?__]. Margaret died 9 Dec 1697 in Westford, Mass.
5. Francis Fletcher
Francis’ wife Elizabeth Wheeler was born 3 Jan 1636 in Chelmsford, Essex, England. Her parents were George Wheeler and Catherine Pin. Elizabeth died 14 Jun 1704
Fletcher Family History, the Descendants of Robert Fletcher ofConcord, Mass.Author: Edward H. Fletcher
Publication: Boston, MA: Rand, Avery, & Co., 1881; book online athttp://www.genealogylibrary.comPage: Page: 11
Concord, Massachusetts Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1635-1850Publication: undated; reproduced on CD by Search & ReSearch Publishing Corporation,Wheat Ridge, CO 1998
>History of the Town of Westford By Reverend Edwin Hodgman