Saturday, January 09, 2016


To recap, I noticed that in an article in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register
the first name of David Butterfield's youngest daughter Joanna was omitted although the full name
of her husband Dennis McLane is there. I surmised the author of the article, George A Gordon, may have gotten the information on the family from David Butterfield's probate file.

The images of pages in probate and pension files are often out of order, and this was the case in
David's probate file. There are 22 images in it, some hard to read and none with any mention of Joanna,  but eventually I found the image of a letter to a judge that gave me an answer as to why.
It seems there was a dispute over the estate, fueled by a distrust in Joanna's husband Dennis' involvement with how the estate was administered:
Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871.Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)Case_Number: 3715 Page 9

Here's my transcription:

To the Honorable Samuel Danforth Esq.Judge of Probate of the
& for the County of Middlesex------
          The Petition of Keziah Shed Widow, Jean Butterfield, Esther
          Butterfield, Jacob Manning and Sarah Manning My Wife,
          Children and Heirs of our Honoured Father Mr. David Butterfield
          Late of Chelmsford Deceased Humbly Showeth that your Petitioners
          Said Father had in his Life time a pritty Comfortable Estate both
          Real and personal and died so Seized thereof and Our Mother Mrs
          Keziah Butterfield administered on Said Estate and we fear is like
          to Ruin and waste the Same for that we have a sister who is
                                                            who is not a very good husband
          Married to one Dennis McLane ^whom our said Mother hath
          Taken in to Manage the Place Contrary to our minds, who we fear
          will utterly Ruin the Same. ________
          Wherefore your Petitioners Humbly pray, that your Honor would
          be pleased to Order Our Said Mothers Third to be Sett of to her So
          as She may have the Improvement of that Only, and that the
          other Two Thirds may be Lett out to best advantage to good
          Husbandry until Our Brother (for we have but one) comes of age
          to Settle it; Or any other way that your Honor in your Wisdom
          Shall think proper So that the Said Estate may not be wasted or
          Spent, and your petitioners as Duty Bound Shall ever pray.
                                                                  Keziah Shed
                                                                  Jean (her mark)Butterfield
                                                                  Esther (her mark)Butterfield
                                                                  Jacob Manning
                                                                  Sarah (her mark)Butterfield

I like that insertion of "who is not a very good husband". I wonder which Butterfield
sister insisted that be added?

The other side of the letter is dated April 16, 1764. From what I can make out from other
page the judge, Samuel Danforth granted the family's request and gave my 6x great grandmother
Keziah (Shuttleworth)Butterfield her third of the estate while the other two thirds were administered
by men appointed by the judge. Samuel Butterfield was granted control his inheritance himself
on 16Jan 1770.

Among those who assessed the estate was John Spaulding, my 6th great grandfather, who is
ancestor through the marriage of his son Lot to Esther Butterfield on 27Jun 1764,

As for Joanna (Butterfield) McLain, she and Dennis lived in Chelmsford long enough to
have a son Willard, but then the McLains seem to have left Chelmsford.

So I think I was right, George Gordon must have used that letter in the file in compiling his
list of the family, which solves one mystery.

There still remain two questions:

Did Joanna and her sisters ever reconcile, and where did the McLains go when they left


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