John Ayre

John AYER (1582 – 1657) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096 in this generation of the Miller line.

There were two unrelated Ayer families in 17th Century in the Ipswich area.  There were two Captain Johns and two Marys whose stories are often co-mingled.  We are descended from the unknown Ayres, but I thought the clearest way to present the story would be to put both families on one page.

Immigrant Ancestor - Ayers Coat of Arms

Immigrant Ancestor – Ayers Coat of Arms

John Ayer was born 2 Sep 1582 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. His parents were Thomas EYRE and Elizabeth ROGERS. He married once prior to 1619, but it is unclear what happened to her. He married Hannah EVERED in 1620 in Cockfield, Durhamshire, England. John died in 31 Mar 1657 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass

Hannah Evered (alias Webb) was born 2 Sep 1582 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. Sometimes she is called Hannah Webb. Her parents were John EVERED and Mary WEBB. Hannah died 8 Oct 1688 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

Hannah is said to be a sister of John Evered alias Webb (wiki) of Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, and later of Boston, Chelmsford, and Darcut, Massachusetts. In his will of February 10, 1666 he named his wife Mary and six of the children of John Ayer, calling them his niece Rebecca, wife of John Arsleby of Andover, and her brothers, John, Robert, Thomas, Peter and Nathaniel Ayres of Haverhill.   Doubt has been cast on this relationship by the fact that John Evered alias Webb did not name a sister Hannah in his will.  John Evered alias Webb did mention his cousins as the children of John Ayer: and not as the children of his sister Hannah. It’s most logical to think John Evered alias Webb knew what he was doing and not try to second guess him.

Children of John and Hannah:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Capt. John Ayer 1621
Sarah Williams (Daughter of John WILLIAMS)
5 May 1646
Mary Wooddam
26 Mar 1663
between 1694 and 1711.
2. Rebecca Ayer  1627
John Aslet
8 Oct 1648
6 Jun 1671
Andover, Mass
3. Sgt. Robert Ayer  1625 Elizabeth Palmer
27 Feb 1650/51
1711 Haverhill, Mass.
4. Thomas Ayer 1630
Elizabeth Hutchins (daughter of John HUTCHINS)
1 APR 1656 probably at Haverhill, Essex County, Massa
9 Nov 1686 Haverhill, Essex County, Mass
5. Cornet Peter Ayer 1632-1633 in England Hannah Allen
10 Nov 1659 Salisbury, Mass
3 Jan 1698/99
6. Mary Ayer 1634
Ipswich, Essex, Mass
Nathan Parker
1652 in Andover, Essex, Mass
22 Sep 1692
Ipswich, Essex, Mass
7. Obadiah Ayer 1 Oct 1635
Salisbury, Essex, Mass
Hannah Pike
19 Mar 1660/61 Haverhill, Mass.
14 Nov 1694 Woodbridge, Middlesex, New Jersey
8. Nathaniel Ayer 1638
Salisbury, Mass
Tamesin Turloar
10 May 1670 cHaverhill, Essex, Mass
17 Nov 1717
Haverhill, Essex, Mass
9. Hannah Ayer 21 Dec 1644
Salisbury, Mass
Stephen Webster
24 Mar 1662/63
Haverhill, Essex, Mass
 22 Jun 1676
Haverhill, Essex, Mass


Children of [__?__] Ayres 

Erwin W. Fellows’ research points to the possibility that Mary, was the daughter of Humphrey Eyre of Foxton, England. Humphrey Eyre was buried at Foxton, Aug 10, 1628. Records of baptism, list two children; a daughter, Goodithe, Sep 9, 1607, and a son, John, Jan 7, 1609. The name “Goodithe” was quite common and although no Mary is listed, the time and place are right. .

Name Born Married Departed
A. John Ayres About 1620
Wiltshire or Essex, England
Susannah Symonds (daughter of Mark SYMONDS)
2 Aug 1675 Killed by Indians
Northfield, Franklin, Mass
B. Sarah AYRES  1621 in England. William LAMSON
1640 in Ipswich, Mass.
Thomas Hartshorn
10 Apr 1661 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass
 1692 in Dedham, Essex, Mass.
C. Mary Ayres William Fellows
Ipswich, Mass.
D. Susannah Ayres 1635 Jonathan Stanhope
16 Apr 1656 Charlestown, Mass
2 Jun 1676
Sudbury, Middlesex, Mass

On June 3, 1635, John Ayer set sail for the New World with his family, including his two brothers-in-law, John and Stephen, aboard the ship James. As they approached New England, a hurricane struck, and they were forced to ride it out just off the coast of modern-day Hampton, New Hampshire. According to the ship’s log and the journal of Increase Mather, whose father Richard Mather and family were passengers, the following was recorded;

“At this moment,… their lives were given up for lost; but then, in an instant of time, God turned the wind about, which carried them from the rocks of death before their eyes. …her sails rent in sunder, and split in pieces, as if they had been rotten ragges…”

They tried to stand down during the storm just outside the Isles of Shoals, but lost all three anchors, as no canvas or rope would hold, but on Aug 13, 1635, torn to pieces, and not one death, all one hundred plus passengers of the James managed to make it to Boston Harbor.

New World settlements

It is reported that John and Hannah first moved to Ipswich before being part of the new settlement of the “plantation at Merrimack” on September 6, 1638. A year later the plantation was named “Colchester”, then finally Salisbury in 1640. The idea was to establish a plantation-style settlement with the following criteria, as reported to the General Court in March 1638:

“At a meeting at merrimack of Mr Simone Bradstreet, Mr Samuell Dudly, Mr Danniell Dennisonn, Christopher Batt, Samuell Winsley, John Sanders: “It was ordered that there shall be 2 divisions of Meadow, the one nerrer, the other farther, the nerrest shall haue fower Acres to Each 100h(£), the other left to farther Consideration. “It was further ordered that vpland for planting lotts shall be divided so as he that hath vnder 50h shall haue 4 Acres, and he that hath aboue 50h to 150h shall haue 6 Acres, and all aboue shall haue 4 Acres to Euerie 100h. “Allso, it was ordered that all lotts granted to singlemen are on Condition that they shall inhabit here before the 6 of may next, and such as haue families that they shall inhabitt here before the last of october next.”

“The names of those yt have lotts & proportions granted pr the Toune of Colchester in the first division; Mr. Sam: Dudley, Mr. Willj Hooke, Mr Willj Worcester, Mr. Christopher Batt, Mr Sam: Winsley, Mr. Henry Biley, John Sanders, Mr Francis Doue, Jno Rolfe, Mr. Tho: Dummer, Mr Henry Monday, George Carr, Mr Tho. Bradbury, Jno Harrison, Mr John Hodges, Abra: Morrell, Jno Fullar, Phili.Challis, Luke Heard, Josiah Cobbet, Jarret Haddon, Anthony Colby, John Bayly Sen, John Stephens, John Seuerans, Robert Pike, Robt Ring, Richard Singleterry, Tho Macy, Tho. Hauxwell, Jno Clifford, John Eyres, Roger Eastman, Anthony Sadler, Fittz, Rowell, Widdow Browne. “This is A true copie of the originall list taken out of the old book of Reccords for Salisbury as Attests.2 “Vera copia Atest THO. BRADBURY rec. EDWARD RAWSON Secrety”

In the year’s end report, dated December 25, 1650, it states that “John Ayres Sen:” was assigned land grant No. 52 of the original 71 plots of the plantations, but by this time was reporting no crops.

Around 1646, Ayer and his family moved one settlement over, to the newly formed Puritan settlement of Haverhill. Haverhill, originally called Pentucket by the native Indians, was just granted by the General Court on May 13, 1640, but not official until the representatives of Passaconaway signed the purchase agreement on November 15, 1642 for 3 pounds, 10 shillings, as signed by Passaquo and Saggahew, of the local Pentucket tribe.

Today, Ayers Village is a neighborhood in Haverhill, Mass.

Ayers Villiage in Haverhill Massachusetts

John Ayers’ Will

The last will and Testament of John Eyers ye Elder of Haverhill made ye twelfe of March one thousand six hundred fifty six: fifty seaven:

ist ffirst I giue vnto my Sonne John Eyers my dwelling house and house Lott, butt my wyfe to haue the [my] house and Archyard & the psture of English grass by the barne, and the leantoo att the South end of ye barne and to haue livertie in ye Same Nue barne to lay in such hay or corne as shee shall haue occasion to make vse of duering the tyme of hir Naturall life and att hir death to returne to my Sonne Jno Eyers, and duering the tyme of my wiues life my Sonne is to haue the vse of my house Lott and barne, and to pay vnto my wife tenn shillings an acre for every acre of broken vpp land in this my house Lott, and after the end of my wyues life when this falls into my Sonne John Eyers hand then hee shal pay as followes, fiue pound the first yeare after my wyfes death to my Sonne Nathaniell . . .and that young Sowe, whose eare hangs downe and all my flaggy meadow

I giue to my Sonne Peter the other halfe of my decond division of meadow & vpland, & two Oxe comons with all privilidges belonging to two Oxe commons and three acres of land in ye upper playne which hee hath allreadie in his possession:

I giue my third division of land which is agreed on by the town to bee lay’d out, I giue vnto my Sonne John Eyers & Peter Eyers to bee equally divided beweene them. . .

I giue to my wife my best Cowe, and to my daughter Hannah my second best cowe, & my other Cowe and three yeare old heifer to my daughters rebecka & Mary: And all my other goods and Cattell and Swine and house hold stuff vndisposed of I giue vnto my wyfe Hanah Eyers whom I make my Sold Executrix and whom I appoint to discharge all my debts & to take care for my buriall: [No signature.] Proved in Hampton Court 6:8:1657 by Henry Palmer. Copy of will. Norfolk Deeds, vol. 1, leaf 58.)


1. Capt. John Ayer

John’s first wife Sarah Williams was born 1628. Her parents were John WILLIAMS and Jane GOULD.. Sarah died in 25 Jul 1662 Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

John’s second wife Mary Wooddam was born 1634 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass. Mary was living in 1694 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.

John  was a farmer. He received his fathers estate.  He lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts until 1679, when he moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts.

He took the oath of freeman in Ipswich November 4, 1645. He could write and in 1658 was constable of Haverhill, serving on the trial jury in 1652, 1657, 1664, 1665 and 1666; and on the grand jury in 1663.

John and Sarah conveyed to his brother Obadiah their interest in a dwelling, barn and 8 acres May 18, 1659.

He took the oath of Allegiance and Fidelity in Haverhill. Nov. 1677. He with his brothers Peter and Nathaniel, sons of John deceased, quit claimed land in Dec, 1692, in Salisbury, to one Abram Clements, his mother, Hannah, also signed the deed so he was living then.

2. Rebecca Ayer

Rebecca’s husband John Aslett was born 1614 in England. John died 6 Jun 1671 in Andover, Essex, Mass.

“The term ‘alias’ at that time was the joining symbol between two family names, similar to the hyphen today. John Evered alias Webb registered as from Marlborough, Wiltshire, on the passenger list of the James of London when he and Stephen Evered alias Webb embarked at Southampton about April 5, 1635 . . . In this will [dated 1665] he named as cousins the elder children of our John Ayer. Wiltshire origin is thus indicated for the Ayer family of Haverhill. Previous genealogists may well have gone astray in assuming that this interfamily relationship was through John Ayer’s wife Hannah and that her maiden name was Evered alias Webb. Research has disclosed no Hannah in that family at so early a date.

A new theory is that the relationship was through John Ayer’s sister Rebecca and that she is to be identified with John Evered Sr.’s wife Rebecca, whose maiden name is not yet known. This theory is summarized on the accompanying chart. [delineates theory that John Ayer is son of Robert Eyre, clothier of Bromham, c1564-1619 and Cicely Crosse (bur. 1619), who was baptized 1596 at Bromham – details to be entered.] . . . Robert Eyre of Bronham was a woolen manufacturer (clothier). . . . By way of summary, let’s look again at the chart. Of the two Massachusetts settlers, John Evered alias Webb’s origin and his father’s family are fully proved and we have built up a good case both for his mother’s identity as Rebecca Eyre and – through her – for the origin of John Ayer of Haverhill. To confirm this circumstantial evidence, it is hoped that baptisms of John Ayer’s children will be found and that John Evered, Sr.’s wife Rebecca will be located in Draycot or her maiden name determined by some record. Meanwhile, the existance of so many contemporary John Eyres prompts the query again: Did the Haverhill settler come from Bromham in Wiltshire?”

3. Robert Ayer

Robert’s wife Elizabeth Palmer was born 1634 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass. Her parents were Henry Palmer and Elizabeth Parker. Elizabeth died 24 Apr 1705 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass

Robert was a freeman in Haverhill May 1666. He was a constable in 1671. He was called Sergeant. He died between 1713 and 1723.

I Hannah Ayer Relict of John Ayer Senr formerly of Salisbury & Lately of Haverhill on ye north of Merrimack for & in Consideration of my love to my Son Robert Ayers of said Haverhill & In Consideration of my former Imploying of him in my Service & haveing given him by letter of atturney my full power to recover my right of lands & comons belonging to me in . . . Salisbury aforesaid, by Vertue of my Said husband, who formerly had . .. privelidges there . . . Doe . .. Confirme to my Said Son Robert all that Right . . . in. . . Lands. . . which my Said Husband had . . . in . . . Salisbury,’ 3 Feb. 1681. Wit: Daniel Lad, Jr. Recorded 4 June 1691 (Ipswich Deeds, 5:384.)”

4. Thomas Ayer

Thomas’ wife Elizabeth Hutchins was born 1636 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass. Her parents were John HUTCHINS and Frances ALCOCK. Elizabeth died 9 Nov 1686 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

In July, 1663, Peter Eyer witnessed a deed for a hundred and eight acres made by his brother Thomas of Haverhill.

5. Cornet Peter Ayer

Peter’s wife Hannah Allen was born 17 Jun 1642 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass. Her parents were William Allen and Ann Goodale. Hannah died 22 Dec 1729 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

Peter was a merchant in Boston. They lived in Haverhill. He was made a freeman in May 1666. He represented Haverhill in the general court in 1683, 1685, 1689 and 1690. He died in January 1698-1699 in Boston, but his death is recorded in his home town of Haverhill. The Haverhill records say 2 January, but his gravestone in Boston says 3 January.

6. Mary Ayer

Mary’s sister Nathan Parker was born 1622 in Andover, Essex, Mass. Nathan died 25 Jun 1685 in Andover, Essex, Mass.

Mary (Ayer) Parker of Andover, Mass., was executed September 22, 1692, with several others, for witchcraft in the Salem witch trials. She was 55 years old and a widow. Mary’s husband, Nathan, died in 1685.     Her daughter, Sarah Parker, was also accused.

In Sep 1692, Mary Ayer Parker of Andover came to trial in Salem Massachusetts, suspected of witchcraft. During her examination she was asked, “How long have ye been in the snare of the devil?” She responded, “I know nothing of it.” Many people confessed under the pressure of the court of Oyer and Terminer, but she asserted they had the wrong woman. “There is another woman of the same name in Andover,” she proclaimed. At the time, no one paid much attention. Mary Ayer Parker was convicted and hanged by the end of the month.

Mary Parker Memorial

Modern historians have let her claim fall to the wayside as well, but what if she told the truth?  Was there another Mary Parker in Andover? Could it be possible that the wrong Mary Parker was executed?

The end of her story is recorded for every generation to see, but the identity of this woman remained shrouded in mystery for over three centuries. We still don’t know why she was accused in 1692. Puritan women were not particularly noteworthy to contemporary writers and record-keepers. They appeared occasionally in the court records as witnesses and plaintiffs but their roles were restricted to the house and family. Mary Parker was a typical Puritan wife. She appeared in the records only in birth notices and the records associated with the will of her late husband Nathan Parker. Notably, the records included no legal trouble at all, for witchcraft or anything else.

John and Hannah Ayer gave birth to their daughter Mary sometime in the early to mid 1600’s. Mary and her siblings may have been born in England, and later moved to America with their parents. The Ayers moved several times during the early stages of their settlement in America but resettled for the last time in 1647 in Haverhill.

The family was apparently of some prominence. Tax records from 1646 showed that John Ayer possessed at least one hundred and sixty pounds, making him one of the wealthiest settlers in Haverhill.

Mary Ayer married Nathan Parker sometime before her father’s death in 1657. Although no marriage record survived in the hometowns of either Nathan or Mary, the wording of her father John Ayer’s will made it obvious that she was married with children when it was written.  Nathan married his first wife Susanna Short on Nov 20, 1648. Within the next three years, the couple relocated to Andover, where she soon after died on August 26, 1651. Andover’s Vital Records listed the birth of Nathan and Mary Parker’s first son John in 1653.  Nathan could have remarried and had children within the two years after the death of his first wife.

Mary and Nathan marriage was not documented but we do know Nathan and his brother Joseph settled in Newbury, Massachusetts sometime in the early 1630’s. They settled in Andover where they were amongst its first settlers. Nathan came over from England as an indentured servant, but eventually he became rather wealthy in Andover. The original size of his house lot was four acres but the Parker’s landholdings improved significantly over the years to 213.5 acres.  His brother Joseph, a founding member of the Church, possessed even more land than his brother, increasing his wealth as a tanner. By 1660, there were forty household lots in Andover, and no more were created. The early settlers, including the Parkers, would be those of importance. By 1650, Nathan began serving as a constable in Andover. By the time he married Mary Ayer, his status was on the rise. It continued to do so during the early years of their marriage as he acquired more land.

Mary and Nathan continued to have children for over twenty years after the birth of John Parker in 1653. Mary bore four more sons: James in 1655, Robert in 1665, Peter in 1676, and a son Joseph.   She and Nathan also had four daughters: Mary, born in 1660 , Hannah in 1659, Elizabeth in 1663, and Sara in 1670. James died on June 29, 1677, killed in an Indian skirmish at Black Point. Robert died in 1688 at the age of 23. Hannah married John Tyler in 1682. Nathan and Mary’s daughter Elizabeth married John Farnum in 1684.

When Nathan died on June 25, 1685, he left an ample estate to his wife and children. Mary Ayer Parker brought an inventory of the estate to court in September of the same year, totaling 463 pounds and 4 shillings. The court awarded her one-third of the house and lands, equal shares to Robert, Joseph, Peter, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Sarah, and a double share to John.  Mary Parker widow obtained an estate of over 154 pounds-a good amount of money in the late 17th  century.

Mary Parker did not appear in Essex County records after Sep 29, 1685 when she brought the inventory to court. We know little about her interaction with her neighbors and the community after her husband’s death. The Parkers were a respectable family that continued to root itself in the community. So why, less than a decade after her husband’s death, was Mary accused as a witch? There was no documented friction with any of her neighbors, any no prior accusations. The closest tie Mary had with witchcraft was a distant cousin on her father’s side, William Ayers whose his wife Judith was accused of witchcraft in 1662.  But this was not enough to justify Mary’s accusation. What really happened in 1692 to Mary Ayer Parker?

The Salem crisis had spread to Andover when William Barker Jr. named her in his confession on Sep 1, 1692. He testified that “goode Parker went with him last Night to Afflict Martha Sprague.” He elaborated that Goody Parker “rod upon a pole & was baptized at 5 Mile pond,” a common reference to a union made with the devil. The examination of Mary Parker occurred the next day. At the examination, afflicted girls from both Salem and Andover fell into fits when her name was spoken. The girls included Mary Warren, Sarah Churchill, Hannah Post, Sara Bridges, and Mercy Wardwell. The records state that when Mary came before the justices, the girls were cured of their fits by her touch-the satisfactory result of the commonly used “touch test,” signifying a witch’s guilt.

When Mary denied being the witch they were after Martha Sprague, one of her accusers, quickly responded that is was for certain this Mary Parker, who had afflicted her. Sprague and Mary Lacy effectively fell into fits. Historian Mary Beth Norton discovered that Mary Parker was related to Sprague; she was Sprague’s step-great-aunt.  Mary Parker’s son-in-law John Tyler’s father Moses Tyler had married Martha’s mother. >Martha also lived in Andover, and the Tylers and the Parkers were friendly for sometime before their families were joined in marriage.  Still, it was a distant relation and Martha was only sixteen years old at the time of the trial, so it is doubtful she knew Mary Parker personally.

Nevertheless, Mary Parker’s defense was ignored, both by the courtroom, and most historians until now. However, Mary Ayer Parker told the truth: there was another Mary Parker living in Andover. In fact there were not one, but three other Mary Parkers in Andover. One was Mary Ayer’s sister-in-law, Mary Stevens Parker, wife of Nathan’s brother Joseph. The second was Joseph and Mary’s daughter Mary. The third was the wife of Mary and Joseph’s son, Stephen. Mary Marstone Parker married Stephen in 1680. To complicate things even further, there was yet another Mary Parker living nearby in Salem Towne.

Confusion could easily have arisen from the multitude of Mary Parkers abound in Essex County. However, similarities between Mary Ayer Parker and her sister-in-law may have instigated confusion in even her accusers. The two Mary’s married the Parker brothers by the late 1640’s, and began having children in the early 1650’s. They had children of the same name including sons named Joseph and daughters Mary and Sara (Mary, daughter of Nathan and Mary may have died soon after her father). Nathan and Mary Parker’s son James, born in 1655, and Joseph and Mary Parker’s son John born in 1656, died on June 29, 1677, killed by the Indians at Black Point  In 1692, both Mary Parker Sr.’s were reasonably wealthy widows. Joseph’s wife received their house and ample land from his will, dated Nov 4, 1678. The two women shared almost fifty years of family ties. But in September of 1692, it was only Nathan Parker’s wife who was accused, tried, and found guilty of witchcraft. Why was Mary Ayer brought to trial?

On the surface, the two Mary Parkers seemed almost interchangeable but the will of Joseph Parker revealed something important about his branch of the Parker family. Joseph made some peculiar stipulations regarding the inheritance of his son Thomas. The will described Thomas as “who by god’s providence is disenabled for providing for himself or managing an estate if committed to him by reason of distemper of mind att certain seasons.” The management of his portion of the estate was given to his mother Mary until her death, after which, Thomas would choose his own guardian.

This “distemper of mind” seemed to run in the family. Stephen Parker later petitioned in Sep 1685 that his mother be barred from the management of her own affairs for the same reason. Stephen revealed that his mother was in a “distracted condition and not capable of improving any of her estate for her owne comfort.” Whether mental illness influenced the reputation of Joseph Parker’s wife cannot be ascertained, but it is likely that if she was mentally instable, it was well known in the tight-knit community of Andover.

Mental illness was often distrusted and feared. In fact, a case in 1692 involved a woman with a history of mental illness. Rebecca Fox Jacobs confessed to witchcraft in 1692 and her mother Rebecca Fox petitioned both the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Massachusetts Governor Phips for her release on the grounds of mental illness. According to her mother, it was well known that Rebecca Jacobs had long been a “Person Craz’d Distracted & Broken in mind.”  Evidently mental illness could have made someone more vulnerable to witchcraft accusations. This does not guarantee the girls intended to accuse Mary Stevens Parker but it does make the case for Mary Ayer Parker’s misidentification stronger.

A notorious figure in Salem Towne, also named Mary Parker muddled the case further. This Mary Parker appeared multiple times in the Essex courts and made a reputation for herself beginning in 1670’s. In 1669, she was sentenced for fornication.  In 1672, the court extended her indenture to Moses Gillman for bearing a child out of wedlock. A year later, she went back to court for child support from Teague Disco of Exiter.  The court sentenced her ten stripes for fornication. She came to trial two more times for fornication in 1676.  A scandalous figure indeed, Mary from Salem further sullied the name “Mary Parker.”

Mary Ayer Parker told the truth about the other Marys, but the court ignored her. William Barker Jr. came in to speak against her. He testified “looking upon Mary Parker said to her face that she was one of his company, And that the last night she afflicted Martha Sprague in company with him.” Barker Jr. pointed Mary out in court but he may have been confused himself. In his own confession, William accused a “goode Parker,” but of course, he did not specify which Goody Parker he meant.There was a good possibility that William Barker Jr. heard gossip about one Goody Parker or another and the magistrates of the court took it upon themselves to issue a warrant for the arrest of Mary Ayer Parker without making sure they had the right woman in custody.

Mary Parker’s luck plummeted when Mary Warren suffered a violent fit in which a pin ran through her hand and blood came from her mouth during her examination. Indictments followed for the torture and other evil acts against Sarah Phelps, Hanna Bigsbee, and Martha Sprague. Martha’s indictment was rejected, returned reading “ignoramus,”  but the indictments for both Hannah Bigsbee and Sarah Phelps were returned “billa vera”, and the court held Mary Parker for trial. Sara claimed that Mary tortured her on the last day of August as well as “diverse other days and times.” Hannah said that Mary tortured her on the first day of September: the indictment stated that she had been “Tortured aflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented and also for Sundry othe[r] Acts of Witchcraft.

Capt. Thomas Chandler approved both indictments. Significantly both Sarah and Hanna were members of the Chandler family, one of the founding families in Andover. The Captain’s daughter Sarah Chandler married Samuel Phelps on May 29, 1682. Their daughter Sara Jr. testified against Mary Parker in 1692.  Hannah Chandler, also the daughter of Capt. Thomas, married Daniel Bigsbee on December 2, 1974.  Capt. Thomas Chandler’s daughter Hannah and granddaughter Sarah.gave evidence that held Mary for trial. Did the Chandler family have it out for the Parkers?

Thomas and his son William settled in Andover in the 1640s.  Elinor Abbot wrote that they originally came from Hertford, England. The revelation of strong Chandler ties to Mary’s case is peculiar because until then, the relationship between the Parkers and the Chandlers seemed friendly. Public and private ties between William, Thomas, and the Parker brothers were manifest in the public records. Nathan and William Chandler held the responsibility of laying out the land lots, and probably shared other public duties as well.  Joseph Parker’s will called Ensigne Thomas Chandler  his “loving friend”, and made him overseer of his estate. Nathan Parker’s land bordered Thomas Chandler’s and there was no evidence of neighborly disputes.  It is difficult to understand where the relationship went bad.

The only hint of any fallout between the families came more than a decade before Joseph Parker’s 1678 will. On June 6, 1662, Nathan Parker testified in an apprenticeship dispute between the Tylers and the Chandlers.48 The Chandler family may have felt Nathan Parker unfairly favored the Tyler family in the incident. Bad blood between the Chandler and Tyler families could have translated into problems between the Chandler and Parker families. This discord would have been worsened by the alliance between the Tyler and Parker families through Hannah Parker and John Tyler’s marriage in 1682.

This still does not seem enough to explain the Chandlers’ involvement 1692. Perhaps after Nathan Parker’s death in 1685, neighborly tensions arose between Mary’s inherited state and the bordering Chandler estate. The existing records betray nothing further. Perhaps these speculated neighborly problems were coupled with the desire to distract attention from an internal scandal in the Chandler family.

IIn 1690 Hannah and Daniel Bigsbee testified in the trial of Elizabeth Sessions, a single woman in Andover who claimed to be pregnant with the child of Hannah’s brother Joseph. The Bigsbees refuted her claim and insisted she carried the child of another man. The Chandlers were respected people in Andover; even Elizabeth referred to them as “great men,” and they surely resented the gossip. The crisis of 1692 was a perfect opportunity for them to divert attention away from the scandal. When Mary Parker was arrested, they found the ideal candidate to take advantage of: her husband and her brother-in-law were no longer around to defend her and her young sons could not counter the power of the Chandlers.

After the initial indictments, Hannah Bigsbee and Sarah Phelps dropped from documented involvement in the case. Here, the documentation gets rather sloppy and confused. Essex Institute archivists erroneously mixed much of the testimony from Alice Parker’s case in with Mary Parker’s. When the irrelevant material is extracted, there is very little left of the actual case.

The only other testimony came from two teenage confessors: Mercy Wardwell and William Barker Jr. On Sep 16, fourteen-year-old Barker told the Grand Inquest that Mary “did in Company with him s’d Barker : afflict Martha Sprag by: witchcraft. the night before: s’d Barker Confessed: which was: the 1 of Sept’r 1692”.  Eighteen-year-old Mercy did not name Mary a witch, but did say that “she had seen: the shape of Mary Parker: When she: s’d Wardwell: afflicted: Timo Swan: also: she: s’d she saw: s’d parkers Shape: when the s’d wardwell afflicted Martha Sprage”.

Nothing else remains of Mary Parker case. It appeared that Mary’s trial was over on Sep 16, 1692. She was executed only six days later. Evidence seems lacking. In essence, Mary was convicted almost solely from the testimony from two teenage confessors. Her examination, indictment, and grand inquest all took place expediently, and within one month, Mary was accused, convicted and executed.

Her death seems irresponsible at the least, and even almost outrageous. She was convicted with such little evidence, and even that seems tainted and misconstrued. Amidst the fracas of 1692, a woman died as the result of sharing the unfortunate name “Mary Parker.”

7. Obadiah Ayer

Obadiah’s wife Hannah Pike was born 26 Apr 1643 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass. Hannah died 31 May 1689 in Woodbridge, Middlesex, New Jersey

Obadiah lived in Haverhill until 1669, when he sold his house and land and moved to Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Hannah Ayers of Haverhill in Norfolk, widow of John Ayers of same town acknowledges that she has received of her Obediah Ayers full satisfaction according to my husband’s will for what land he held for which he was to pay an annual rent to me while he had it, and do also own that since my son Obediah left ye land and sold his right to my son Nathaniel, he also has fuly satisfied me according to sd. will as he ought to do until ye date of these presents. I also agree with my son Nathaniel to take the land which he bought of my son Obediah into my own hands and in payment for the time to come during my life, convenanting also with my son Nathaniel that he shall be freed from paying nay rent according to my husband’s will during my life, allwoing the improvement of the land and its being at y disosal during my life shall be owned at all taimes for full satisfaction according to ye will as if Nathaniel or any other of my sons had kept sd. land and paid full rent according to my late husband’s will. AThe sd land mentioned being ye same lott and oarchyard that, I, ye sd Hannah now live upon. Sept 9, 1672. Ack. by Hannah (her H mark) Ayers. Wit: Nath. Saltonstall, Israell Hendrick. .

8. Nathaniel Ayer

Nathaniel’s wife Tamesin Turloar was born 1647 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass. Her parents were John Treloar and Johanna Pascoe. Tamesin died 13 Dec 1700 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

Nathaniel was apprenticed to a Mr. French in 1656-1657.  They lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Hampton Quarterly Court, Oct. 13, 1674:
“Widow Hannah Eyer and Nathll. Eyer having been bound for said widow’s appearance at this court, and she not appearing on account of illness and inability to come to the court, the bond was remitted, and she having acknowledged the offence charged upon her acccording to Capt. Saltonstall’s return, for selling cider, was fined, which fine was also remitted.

9. Hannah Ayer

Hannah’s husband Stephen Webster was born 1637 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass. His parents were John Webster and Mary Shatswell. Stephen died 10 Aug 1694 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.

A. Capt. John Ayers

John’s wife Susannah Symonds was born 1617 in Essex, England. Her parents were Mark SYMONDS and Joanna [__?__]. Susannah died 2 Feb 1682 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.

John was of Ipswich in 1648, and was then a tenant of John Norton’s. His parents are not known, but it seems highly probable that he was accompanied there by two of his brothers-in-law, William Lamson and William Fellows.

Brookfield, Worcester, Mass.

John Ayres removed to Brookfield, Mass, when the settlement of that place was commenced, and in Nov. 1672, sold all his rights at Ipswich, including those “belonging to my father-in-law Mark Symonds, and used by me while I was a tenant upon Mr. John Norton’s farm.”

John was killed by Indians 2 Aug 1675 in Northfield, Franklin, Mass. with seven others, at the fight at Brookfield.. Though he had received large grants of land at Brookfield, some 2,000 acres, his family undoubtedly returned to Ipswich and its vicinity, the settlement having been broken up, and rendered unsafe.  His widow presented an inventory of his estate, now recorded at Salem, on which she wrote, “I have seven sons and one daughter.”

John’s parentage is unknown,  but it seems highly probable that he was accompanied to New England by two of his brothers-in-law, William Lamson and William Fellows.   The ground for the conjecture is this. William Lamson died at Ipswich in 1659, leaving eight children. His widow Sarah wished to marry one Thomas Hartshorn, but was opposed by her brothers William Fellows and John Ayres. Now as Ayres married a Symonds, and there is no record of any sisters of his wife who married Lamson and Fellows, it is fair to conclude that their wives were own sisters of John Ayres.

28 Oct 1717 – A petition, was made by Thomas, Joseph, Mark, Nathaniel, and Edward Ayres Sons & Heirs of John Ayres heretofore of Quaboag alias Brookfield, Dec’d Intestate, Shewing that in or about the Year 1669, the Petitioners Father with others bought & purchased of the Indian

Again in 1741 there was recorded at Worcester a deed dated 14 Jany 1716, from Thomas, Mark and Edward Ayres, all of Portsmouth, Nathaniel Ayres, of Boston, black-smith, Samuel Ayres, of Ipswich, son of Samuel of the same, and Robert Day, of New Roxbury, “whose mother was Susanna Ayres,”–to Joseph Ayres, of Ipswich; it conveyed the land which was formerly possessed at Brookfield by their honored father John Ayres.

Here is a more detailed  biography of Capt. John Ayres

The first concrete fact we were able to associate with the family, is the appearance of the name of John Ayres in the early records of Ipswich. This appears in the year 1643, which indicates the approximate date of coming to Ipswich, but not necessarily exactly, since grants were frequently recorded sometime after they had been made. He was also listed as an inhabitant of Ipswich in 1648, and married Susanna, daughter of Mark SYMONDS of who’s (Mark Symonds) estate he was appointed administrator. In such capacity, on Nov 24, 1659, he sold a house and a three acre lot to another son-in-law of the deceased, Edward Chapman . He was allowed the privilege of commonage in Feb 1667, and admitted a commoner at Ipswich in March of the same year.

Captain John, as he was known at Ipswich, came to Quaboag Plantation before May 1667. The time of his removal can be estimated fairly accurately from known facts. He was named one of a prudential committee for the new plantation in the Regrant of 1667. At the time of his removal, he has his full family, consisting of seven sons and one daughter, all of whom came with him to Quaboag. They were: John Jr., about 18; Samuel, about 17; Thomas, 15; Joseph, 12; Susanna, about 11; Edward, 9; Mark, 6; and, Nathaniel, under 3 years of age.

This father and head of family certainly had need for provisions to maintain his large dependency, and it is not long after his arrival that he begins what is to be an extensive trade with John Pynchon, son of the founder of Springfield, William Pynchon. The first entries in the Account Book on July 14, 1668 are for bacon, corn, salt, and white meal – all household necessities.

John Ayres was owner of much land within the Plantation. The amount which he paid John Pynchon for his original grant was “£5 12s 6p, or four and a half times the value of a single house lot with its usual allowance of meadow and planting ground. In addition to this, he leased a large meadow (Matchuk-19 acres) from John Pynchon from June 28, 1671, until the time of his death. Record of this appears in his account on: Jun 28, 1671; Nov 28, 1672; Oct 23, 1673; and, Aug  18, 1674. This large acquisition and usage of land indicates that he had grown sons, that he was relatively wealthy, and that he was capable of maintaining such an amount of this most precious commodity. He can certainly be classified as a substantial husbandman.

Property Plots Brookfield

Probably from the time of construction of his home and establishment of himself at Quaboag, he provided accommodations for travelers. Although his first actual license for maintaining a tavern was not granted until the Fall of 1671, the following entry leads us to believe that he offered food and shelter prior to that time. On Jun 28, 1671, the following: ‘By my expense at his house last summer and once this Spring 00 12 00’. That Ayres was a respected planter is confirmed by the following found in the Record of Hampshire County Court for Sep 26, 1671: ‘Goodman Ayres of Quabauge licensed to sell wine, etc.’  This permit was renewed on Sep 24, 1672: ‘Goodman Ely of Springfield hath his license continued for the year ensuing to keep ordinary and to sell wines and strong liquors, providing he keep good rule in his house. Also Goodman Ayres of Quaboag hath his license continued on the same terms’ . And for the last time on Sep 29, 1674: ‘John Aires of Brookfield hath his license renewed for the year ensuing’.   As we know, this tavern was still in operation at the time of the Indian assault on August 2, 1675, and being the strongest building at the Plantation, was converted into a fortified house to provide protection during the siege which followed.

Ayres Homestead Brookfield 1675

In addition to his maintaining a large farm and keeping the tavern, John Ayres found it advantageous to devote much of his time to the mill of John Pynchon. He was associated with this most essential enterprise from the very beginning of the construction of the mill. The first link with the project comes in the following account of the Plantation with John Pynchon: ‘The Towne Dr. Aug. 1669 £2  steel G Aires had for Web more £4 Steel G. Aires had Nov. 8, 1669’. Also, on Nov  8, 1669, Goodman Ayres received delivery of nails and a ‘spindle in Rine’ for the mill. On Jun 28, 1671, he was paid £2 1s 8p for his part in building the mill house, and £12 14s 7p for other matters relating to the mill, by John Pynchon. The large amount of money involved certainly indicates that Ayres either sold a considerable piece of property or rendered valuable services to Mr. Pynchon in connection with the mill.

John Ayers invested in and was in charge of John Pynchon’s Quaboag Grist Mill

In Nov 28, 1672, is recorded the beginning of a business arrangement with John Pynchon which was to last for the remainder of Ayres life: ‘Agreed with G. Aires, to keep my mill at Quabauge and tend it, to grind corn brought there, for one year, he to take the tole allowed, viz., one half peck out of a bushel, on all the corn that shall be ground by one and all; and for his tending the mill, he is to have one third of the tole, I am to have the rest for my part paid. He is to grind all the corn at the mill except Gdm. Pritchard’s corn. Gdm. Pritchard having liberty to grind his own corn only’. On Dec 18, 1673, this agreement was renewed ‘for the year coming or longer on the same terms as formerly’. The final determination of this contract is recorded as follows Aug 28, 1675: ‘Goodman Aires owes me more for corn of mine, which he had at the mill, as he told me being, in June 1675, when I left my expenses at his house on acot, he spoke of eight or ten bushels to allow me for, and what he had about 14 bushels 1/2 as he gave me an acot on April 28, 1675. That he did not proportion that wheat because he said it would be more, he having disposed of it, and would give me an acot of altogether; and malt of mine, he took it all, so that I acot he owes me near about £4, whereof I have received as per contra about £2 so rests due to me about £2. The account was settled by discount of £1 Li 7s 11p on Aug 28, 1675. This last was of course after the violent death of John Ayres at the hands of the Indians.

John Ayres, farmer, taverner and miller, still had time and energy left to devote to civil affairs of the infant plantation.  He was one of those appointed by the General Court in 1667 to the committee to oversee the affairs of Quaboag Plantation – a position of considerable responsibility. He continued in that capacity until the incorporation in 1673. His name appears on the ill-fated petition of Oct 9, 1670, requesting a grant of additional lands at Quaboag to provide an inducement for increased settlement. The Petition for Incorporation contains the names of John Sr., John Jr., and Samuel Ayres, indicating the importance of the family in the affairs of the community. John Sr. served as Constable for a period, as revealed by the following in the Magistrate Book on Nov 2, 1670: ‘James Hovey and Priscilla Warner of Quaboag joined in marriage. Constable John Aires attesting their legal publication’.

In a controversial court case between John Younglove and the inhabitants of Quaboag Plantation on Jun 19, 1672, John Ayres and William Prichard represented the interests of the people in a losing battle with their unstable minister. However, in an other encounter with Mr. Younglove on Mar 31, 1674, he was more successful: ‘John Ayres, Sr., of Brookfield being complained of to this Court for that he refuses to pay certain arrearages of which he has been assessed toward Mr. Younglove his maintenance. Also, he brings the fact to make his defense sayeth: It was for that the arrearages for which he is now assessed for keeping the ordinary formerly: the Court doth acot that such arrearages ought to be paid by the people therein, in general some other way, and it is belaid on him for keeping the ordinary past: And as to the question, the Court they should like that Mr. Younglove may have his due. The Court decrees that the law doth – determine it. Therefore do accordingly order that which is to be yet due him his acot, for to the selectman there to assess the inhabitants there for it, in the way which they formerly paid by hand, levy the same by the Constable according to law’.

On the same day, Mar 31, 1674, John Ayres along with Thomas Parsons were referred to by the Court as available consultants for the committee appointed to construct a bridge over Coy’s Brook, as a connecting link of the Hadley Path, then under construction . Here again we find our subject busy in the affairs of the community.

The personal affairs of the family saw changes in the years 1672 and 1673. On Aug 28, 1672, John Ayres Jr., married Abigail Hovey, as recorded in the Magistrate Book. Soon after this, in Nov 1672, John Sr., sold all his lands and rights in Ipswich. On Nov 28, 1672, he purchased a lot at Quaboag for his son Samuel for a few shillings more than the customary price for a single house lot. The entry specifies that the lot contained 30 acres. On Dec 18, 1673, John Sr., and John Jr., ‘Tooke the Oath of Fidelity to This Government’.

On Jun 18, 1675, an action in the office of Magistrate Pynchon substantiates the strength of character of the subject of this biography. This man had no intention of sitting back and allowing the Selectmen of Brookfield to force upon him what he considered to be an unjust restraint. He used a legal form of appeal for review by higher authority of the actions of town officials. Here is the record in the Magistrate Book: ‘June 18th, 1675. John Aires Sen. of Brookfield plaintiff (according to Replevy) against William Pritchard & Samuel Kent, Selectmen of Brookfield: for unlawfully distreining some pewter dishes of his, which the Constable did by occasion of their order: William Pritchard and Samuel Kent appearing & putting it upon, profess that they gave order for the distress, and plainly not owning it, and John Aires not proving it: I allowed theire charges vis., for 3 days each, which is sixe shillings apiece, in all 12s for Jo Aires to pay to William Pritchard and Samuel Kent, and likewise sixe shillings for Corporal Coy’s appearance as a witness by warrant:’

In addition to his other activities, Sergeant Ayres was commander of the small detachment of militia. Although he held the rank of captain during his residence at Ipswich, he had had to accept the lower rank at Quaboag because of the small size of the military contingent. He was assisted in his duties by Second Sergeant William Prichard and Corporal Richard Coy. John Ayres, as commander of the local detachment of militia, and his subordinate non-commissioned officers Sgt. Prichard and Corp. Coy, were the ones to accompany Captain Wheeler and Captain Hutchinson in the mission of peace to the Indians on that fateful Aug 2, 1675. All three of these valiant men were to die with others of the military troops sent from Marlboro to treat with the Indians.  See my post Siege of Brookfield for more details.

Capture of Brookfield

Attack on Brookfield

On June 13, 1675, messengers were sent by the government to ascertain the disposition of the Nipmucs and Quaboags. These messengers visited the Indian towns of Hassanamesit, Manchage, Pakachooge, Maanexit, Chabonokingkomun, Quantisset, and Wabaquasset. A treaty was made with each of their rulers. When the messengers arrived at Quaboag, they received this Subscription:

“The Ruler of Quabage being examined by us, where his men were; he said that they were at home. Then we asked him whether there were none of them gone to help King Philip to fight against the English of Plymouth; he said No; and neither would he help him, for he has been false to him already, and therefore I will not help him: but I will still continue out subjection unto the English of the Massachusetts Colony; neither will I suffer any of my men to go to help him; and in confirmation of the same I do set my hand; 25. 4. 75

[June 25, 1675] Conkcaskogau alais Conkganasco”

It was assumed that they did not want to join the confederacy for the destruction of the English.

At least four of these Rulers; Black James of Chabonokongkomun, Keehood of Wabaquasset, John of Pakachooge and Conkganasco of Quaboag were found among the enemy at Menameset, the middle of July.

The settlers confidently expected to adopt and observe this treaty. A place for the meeting was agreed upon, at the north end of Wickaboag Pond. Captain Hutchinson was appointed by the governor and council to form the treaty and arrive with twenty horsemen.

On the 2nd of August, some of the principle unarmed settlers rode with Captain Huthinson and his men, to meet the Indians, to which the Indians did not appear. They rode up the valley towards the area in which the Indians lived. As they were passing between a steep hill on one side and a swamp on the other, they were attacked by the Indians. Eight of the company were killed and three mortally wounded. Those who survived, rode back towards town by way of an alternate route. They were informed by friendly Indians not to return by which they came, as the Indians were waiting for them. Three men killed from Brookfield were, Capt John Ayres, John Coye and Joseph Pritchard.

Attack on Brookefeild

The settlers collected into the fortified house which stood on Foster’s Hill. When the Indians arrived in town, they set fire to most of the buildings. They next attached the fortified house. The Indians almost constantly attacked the house for three days. Numerous attempts were made to set it on fire. At one point they loaded a cart with hemp, flax and other combustible items, attached long poles and rolled it into the fortified house. However, just then a thunderstorm kicked up and poured rain down on the fire and extinguished it.

Attack on Ayers Tavern

Major Willard learned of the incident and with 48 horsemen hastened to their relief. Late at night on the 4th of August he arrived. The noise of the men arriving was great and the Indians quickly set fire to the meeting house and the only other house and barn, and bolted.

Stone Marker at the site of the Meeting House at Brookfield

As soon as others heard of the distress, soldiers from all quarters arrived. A company under Captain Watts from Hartford, a band under Lieutenant Cooper of Springfield, and others from county of Essex under Captains Lathrop and Beers, marched together as far as Meminimesset, but found no trace of Indians.

A garrison was maintained until winter when the Court ordered the people to leave.

John Ayres Epilogue

Site of John Ayres’ Tavern in Brookfield

Even the death of John was not to end the contribution of this man to the welfare of the community, since it was to be his house which was to provide a haven of relative safety and to be occupied and defended by the surviving inhabitants and soldiers through those three gruesome days in August 1675. After the Indian siege of Brookfield had been relieved by the arrival of Major Willard and his troop, the inhabitants left for scattered areas, looking for security and peace. Suzannah Ayres and her children returned to the familiar surroundings of Ipswich where still remained some of her kinship. She presented to the Court at Salem an inventory of the estate of her deceased husband amounting to £195 13s and 6p. In 1678, she is found as the owner of a house in Ipswich. Among those of the family listed as residents of Ipswich in 1678, in addition to Suzannah, we find John Jr., Joseph, Samuel Sr., Samuel Jr., and Thomas Ayres . In 1682, a former resident of Massachusetts Bay Colony, named Samuel Hall, left a bequest of £100 to be distributed among the victims of the great fire in Boston and of the Indian wars in the Colony. Suzannah received 33s of this, but died soon after on February 2, 1682/83.

In 1703, Samuel, John and Thomas were appointed executors of the estate of John Sr. On Jan 14, 1716, as recorded in Worcester in 1741, the land formerly possessed at Brookfield by John Ayres Sr., was conveyed to Joseph Ayres of Ipswich by Thomas, Mark, Edward, and Nathaniel, sons of Sgt. John; and by Samuel, son of Samuel and grandson of Sgt. John; and by Robert Day, son of Suzannah (Ayres) (Day) Waite and grandson of Sgt. John.

There apparently was discord, for on Oct 28, 1717, appeared the following petition to the General Court, which summarizes the situation and will be quoted in toto:

The petition is dated Jun 17, 1717, but was read in the House of Representatives on Oct26, 1717: ‘A petition of Thomas Ayres, Joseph Ayres, Mark Ayres, Nathaniel Ayres and Edward Ayres sons and heirs of John Ayres heretofore of Quaboag, alias Brookfield, deceased in testate, showing that in or about the year 1660, the petition of father with others bought and purchased of the Indian natives tract of land of about eight miles square then known and called by the name of Quaboag, after which, viz in the year 1673, the General Court erected the said land into a township by the name of Brookfield, then in the year 1675 a war broke out with the Indians, who killed the petitioners’ father and several other inhabitants, and the rest being drawn off by order of the government, the whole town was left desolate, and all the houses burned down by the enemy, after which, about 1690, the said town of Brookfield was in a likely way to be settled. And in the year 1703, the petitioners having obtained an administration on their father’s estate lying in Brookfield aforesaid, petitioned the General Court that a committee might be appointed by make inquiry and cause a record to be made of the lots, rights, and proprieties of land within the said plantation belonging to the ancient settlers thereof, that so the petitioners might have and enjoy what belongs to them in the right of their father, which prayer of the petitioners was accordingly granted, and Samuel Partridge Esq., and others appointed a committee were ordered to make inquiry and cause a record to be made of the said lands, rights, and proprieties, but the said committee neglecting in that service, then petitioners renewed their petition to the General Court, who appointed a hearing thereon; however the petitioners withdrew their petition at the request of the said committee, and upon their promise that they would forthwith proceed to settle the petitioners in their rights which accordingly they did to the satisfaction of the petitioners, who were at the expense of £150 at least in obtaining the said settlement, but after all the committee did at last declare all their proceedings in the premises to be null and void under no other pretense, but that the said lands were not improved by the petitioners, and the very lots that the petitioners father died possessed of, and particularly his home lot which he defended against the Indians at the loss of his life, are granted by the said committee to other persons very unjustly and contrary to the order of the General Assembly, by all which the petitioners are kept out of the possession of father’s estate. Upon the whole the petitioners pray the honorable Court will confer upon them the lands which the said committee have laid out to them containing by estimation no more that 1,500-1,600 acres, although they have heard their father and many others say that he had 2,000 acres of land in Brookfield. Which lands so laid out by the said committee they shall rest satisfied and contended, unless the Court shall please to make them some further consideration: Read in the House of Representatives October 26, 1717 and ordered that the Committee of Brookfield be served with a copy of this and the petitioners former petition, and that they appear before this Court on the second Thursday of the next May session, to show reason why they declared the petitioners land to be forfeited. Sent up for concurrence. Read and concurred. Consented to: Samuel Shute’ .

B. Sarah AYER (See William LAMSON‘s page)

C. Mary Ayer

Mary’s husband William Fellows was born 22 Oct 1609 in Foxton, Leicestershire England. His parents were Noble Fellows and Elizabeth [__?__]. William died 29 Nov 1676 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.

William Fellows was possibly born either to Willyam Fellows of Foxton, Leicestershire County, England or possibly the son of Willyam also named William around the year 1609.

With a certificate from St. Albons Perish in Hertfordshire England, he is believed by many as the William Fellows who sailed from London to America aboard the ship “Planter”on March 22, 1635. Listed as a shoemaker, William’s age was recorded as 24 years. The ships’ Captain was Nicholas Travice and their arrival in Boston was on April 11, 1635. His wife, Mary Ayres and his oldest son Isaac William were not listed. William settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was to remain his entire life.

The first date that cements William in Ipswich is a Jan 26, 1639 court appointed estate sale of the late Humphrey Wisse of Ipswich where William Fellows bought “the house and house-lot of one acre and a planting lot of six acres, with appurtenances”. During the first day of the first month, 1639, William engaged in tending the Ipswich village herd of cows. His contract read;

“to drive them out to feed before sunne be half an hour high and not bring them home before half an hour before sunset”.

The contract ran from April 15th to November 15th and the pay was either in corn or money, a total of fifteen pounds. In 1640 William was associated with Mark Quilter and Simon Tompson as the Cow keeper on the North side of the river at Ipswich.

There is a list of those men taking freeman’s oath June 2, 1641. Among the names is “Willi ff_”. This may have been William Fellows.

William achieved the status of “Commoner” in October 1643. The term “Commoner” refers to an arrangement between settlers, who for purposes of protection, arranged their homes next to a “Common”, consisting of land of sufficient size to mutually protect all their livestock. He and his family became owners of considerable property in the local area. Williams’ name appeared on numerous real estate transactions including, 15 acres sold to John Pierpont on the Great Brook towards the north on November 15, 1649 and a farm conveyed to William on the south side of the river, bounded by the Mill Brook West on February 07, 1658.

Substantiation over William’s birth year is found in court records during a trial over the boundary line between the farms of Mr Richard Saltonstall and Mr Wade which began in the Mar 29, 1659 session of court at Ipswich and carried over to a September session, and on the 27th of the month William Fellows himself testified. The court recognized him as ” William Fellows, aged about fifty years, deposed that about fourteen years ago……..” This matches fairly well with the age of the William Fellows aged 24 years who sailed on the Planter in 1635.

Around the year 1660, William bought the John Andrews farm and took up residence in the ancient Candlewood neighborhood of Ipswich. Historians believe that the name “Candlewood” came from the local pine forests in the area, whose clear grain and rich pitch were use by the inhabitants to light their homes for many years.

Residents of each community had to establish their own local defenses and were required to become members of a militia, providing for the defense of the town against Indians. Each settler had to bring his own rifle, but could draw upon town supplies of gun powder and lead for use in it’s defense. In October 1643, William and 26 other townsmen were fined for not returning their gun powder supply to the town. One year later William was listed as a subscriber to a fund for Daniel Dennison as head of the town militia of Ipswich. William was admitted to the County Court as a “Freeman” of the Colony on March 28, 1654. “Freeman status” was a social position achieved through a combination of land ownership and orthodox church membership.

In 1666 William along with John PROCTOR Sr, jointly purchased a four rod lot with a house on the west corner of Green Street and the Meeting House Green. The double ownership continued during his life, but on Dec 21, 1676, Williams’ executors bought the Proctor interest from the family heirs.

An active member in town affairs, Williams’ name shows up on many documents, including selection for duty on a County Court jury September 24,1667 and as a signer of a petition in March 21, 1669 for restricting tree cutting on town lands. William and Mary’s children were as follows; Isaac, Ephraim, Abigail, Elizabeth, Samuel, Sarah and Mary.

Records show that William died on December 29, 1676 in Ipswich, with his Will being executed on November 27, 1677. He was buried at the Parish of St. Michael, Ipswich. Fellows Road , which run next to the ancient property of William and his family, still exists today in the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

29 Nov 1676 – The last will of William felows

I having perfit memory I commit my soull to god and my body to ye graue and bequea my earthly goods as followeth my will is yt my wif shall have one rome in my house to her self and for her uese dewring her life yt is to say ye parler and to have twelve pounds yearly paid her in merchantable pay by my three Sons /Ephram Samuel Joseph/ and likewis it is my will yt my wif should have two of my /best/ Cowes and to be kept by my sonns winter and Somer for my wifs uese and my wif shall have liberty to keep two swine and like wise my sons shall maintain her with convenient fiering winter and somer as long as she lives a widow and like wise tis my will yt my wife shall have a conveanant peice of land for a gearing and a quarter of a acker of good land yearly to sow flaxe on and it is my will yt my wif shall have all ye household goods at her dispossel tis my will yt my sonne Isack shall have my march lote at hog Iland adid to that which I have giving him already and my will is yt my other three sonns yt is Ephram Samuel and Joseph shall have ye other half of my farme and ye rest of my sault march with ye buildings and stock /and corn/ upon ye farme to be posest of it after my deseas only to fulfill to thr mother what is above menchoned and to pay all /my/ debts and legisis as foloweth tis my will yt my daughter mary shall have ten pounds paid her within two yeare after my deseas and it is my will yt my othr three daughters Elisebeth abegill Sary shall have tewenty pounds a peice one half paid them two years after my deseas ore one thr day or mariag and ye othr half two years after yt and after my debts are all paid my will is yt my daughters should be maid equale with ther three brothers Ephram Samuele Joseph only fifty pounds yt my Sonne Isack is to pay after my wifs deseas shall be devided equaly amongst my three daughters Elisebeth abigil Sary and then to be equallised with thr brothers aboue menshnd.

William Fellowes
Witness: William (his X mark) Story, Senear, Thomas Burnon, senier, Samuel Ingals, Seanir.

D. Susannah Ayre

I don’t have evidence that Susannah was the sister of John, Sarah and Mary, but I do know that she was NOT the daughter of John AYER (1582 – 1657).

Susannah’s husband Jonathan Stanhope was born 1632 in England. Jonathan died 22 Oct 1702 in Sudbury, Middlesex, Mass

Their children were born in Sudbury. According to A History of Framington Massachusetts, the Stanhope place was between Mr. Ezekiel How’s home and the How Tavern.

On April 21, 1676, Jonathan participated in the Sudbury fight of King Philip’s war where Native American warriors attacked Sudbury. The colonists living west of the Sudbury River fled to garrisons and none of them were captured. The most severe attacks were at the Haynes garrison which was set afire by rolling a wagon full of flax down a hill to it. The colonists were still able to defend it. Eventually soldiers arrived from nearby towns.


Quaboag Plantation – Alias Brookfield: A Seventeenth Century Massachusetts Town by Louis E. Roy, M. D., West Brookfield, MA; Worcester, MA: Heffernan Press, Inc., 1965.

This entry was posted in 13th Generation, Immigrant - England, Line - Miller, Tavern Keeper, Violent Death, Witch Trials. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to John Ayre

  1. Pingback: William Lamson | Miner Descent

  2. Pingback: John Williams | Miner Descent

  3. Pingback: John Hutchins | Miner Descent

  4. Pingback: Siege of Brookfield – Aug 1675 | Miner Descent

  5. Pingback: John Johnson | Miner Descent

  6. barbara says:

    Hi, I would I get in touch with Alex? John ayer sept 2 1582-March 31, 1657 would have been my 10th great grandfather.

  7. Pingback: Origins | Miner Descent

  8. Pingback: William Payne | Miner Descent

  9. This Ayers coat of arms is copyright of Please remove it, or at least add a link to our website and remove any advertising to outside companies, such as…. This amounts to you using my images to collect ad dollars for yourself. Please cease and desist. You have quite a huge number of my graphics on your site at

    Mike Kennaugh

  10. John Ayre was my 10th great grandfather. I am a descendant through Mary Ayre Parker, Hannah Parker, to Robert Tyler, to Dorcas Tyler, to Simeon Fiske, to Jonathan Fiske, to Georgianna Fiske, to Maria Burt, to Burt Johnson, etc.

  11. Barbara Boyd ( says:

    Good Morning, Can you tell me who Alex is? John Ayer and Sarah Williams would have been my 9th great grandparents. I am a descendant through their son Joseph who married Sarah Corlis, to Joseph-Elijah-Elijah-William-Mariner-Eliza Ann=Matthewman Thompson

  12. Barbara Boyd (Thompson) says:

    Good Morning, Can you tell me who Alex is? John Ayer would have been my 9th great grandfather. I am descendant through the son Joseph who married Sarah Corlis to Joseph-Joseph-Elijah-Elijah- William-Mariner-Eliza Ann-Matthewman Thompson

Leave a Reply to Coat of Arms Gifts Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s