Wednesday, June 12, 2013


John Dunham had eight sons, most of whom survived to adulthood. Besides
John Jr. four others had occasion to appear in the Plymouth Court and while
some were for rowdy acts, for the most part they seem to have outgrown
their bad behavior as they reached adulthood.

Take Thomas, second oldest of the Dunham boys, who was born around 1626
in Plymouth. His first brush with the law came at age 18. This is one of those
Court Records that gives you a little tidbit of information and leaves you
wondering what the story is behind it: 

5Jun 1644
Samuell Jenney, for strikeing of Thom Dunhame, is fynd 3 shillings 4 pence

Thomas Dunhame, for challenging Samuell Jenney to fight wth him, and
came to his bed side to do it, &c, is fyned ten shillings. Vol2 p73

What had Samuel Jenney said that so enraged young Thomas enough to have
him burst into Jenney's bedroom and challenge him to a fight? Did Samuell
Jenney hit Thomas in the bedroom, or had he hit him elsewhere and so had
provoked Thomas into his challenge?

We'll probably never know.

The next case had to do with a bit of romance. From what I've been able to
find, Thomas was in love with Martha Knott and supposedly had proposed
marriage. Unfortunately for them, Martha's father George opposed the marriage
(even though he named Thomas in his will in case they did marry) and may have
been the person to bring the matter to Court:

4Oct 1648
The Court haue ordered , concerning Thomas Dunham, that hee abstaine from
coming att or sending vnto Martha Knote, of Sandwidge, from this psent day
vntell the first Tuesday of Tusday of Desember next, vntell the Court can do
better deserne the treuth of his pretended contracte with the sd Martha Knot,
vnles the Gouerner, vppon clearing of thinges, shall giue him leaue.
Vol2 p136

Older genealogies give the young couple a happy ending and say they were
married. Newer research says that was not the case and that Martha married
another man. I need to look more into this.

The youngest of John Duham Sr.'s sons was Benajah and in 1655 the fifteen
year old apparently was feeling his oats while in Taunton, Ma. a smaller town
to the west of Plymouth:

5March 1655
"Att this Court, complaint was made against Benajah Dunham for foolish and
provoking carriages, in drawing his knife vpon sundry psons at Taunton, which
might have proued of ill consequence ; but being examined by the Court, and
decrying the mayne pte of the accusation, it rested for further proofe." 
Vol3 p97

It appears the Court let young Benajah off a warning,

This seems to be Benajah's only Court appearance. He may have been the
Benajah Dunham who moved to the Piscataway New Jersey settlement.

We'll finish with the Dunham sons in the next post.

No comments: