Sunday, June 28, 2009


Captain William Gerrish seems to have taken a lesser role in Newbury after the
"figures changing" incident. I've found no further mention of him commanding
the Newbury militia, either mounted or infantry after 1677 and believe he was
replaced. It mildly surprised me that he didn't argue or lodge an appeal. I've
come to think of him as "Wild Bill" Gerrish because of all the arguments and
lawsuits he was involved in. It seemed, at first, out of character for him to
give up without a fight.

By now William was around 60 years of age and perhaps it didn't seem worth
it to him to continue on as he had in Newbury. After his wife Joanna died in 1677
he seems to have concentrated his business pursuits in Boston where he was the
owner of Number 3 Long Wharf. He was such a prominent citizen there by 1686
that when the city celebrated its 50th birthday that year he gave the opening and
closing prayer at the commemorative ceremonies. He fell ill the following year
and visited his son Benjamin in Salem, where he died 9Aug 1687.

Another possible reason might have been family ties. William's daughter Elizabeth
married Stephen Greenleaf Junior on 23Oct 1676. William was now related by
marriage to the Greenleafs and the Coffins, families who'd been on the opposite
side in the decades long Newbury church fight. Did William Gerrish put aside
his long-running differences with the members of the Woodman faction for the
sake of his daughter's happiness?

That church dispute between the supporters of Rev. Parker and those of Edward
Woodman is fascinating because of how it seems to have affected the daily life
in Newbury. In the suits and counter-suits between William Gerrish and Thomas
Woodbridge, many of the witness were people who were also involved in the
church infighting. I could probably go on for several more posts just on that
alone. Perhaps some time in the future I will, but now it's time to move on to
new subjects.

This concludes my series of posts on Capt. William Gerrish of Newbury, Ma., my
9x great grandfather.


Tam said...

Thanks for this series on William Gerrish. I live in Newbury and went to first & second grade at the Woodbridge School and live on Parker St. - fun to have some background on the people they were (I assume) named for.

Bill West said...

Glad you liked them, Tam!

alan said...

I enjoy and appreciate your writings on William.

I have been reading much more on the religious aspects and earlier history of these folks going back to England and even makes me very interested in learning more.

Alan Emery

Jane Greenleaf Excell said...

Very interesting! William Gerrish is one of my grandfathers and Elizabeth and Stephen Greenleaf were my grandparents! Love learning about my ancestors.

Jane Greenleaf Excell

Bill West said...

Glad to meet you, Cousin Jane!

SarahJ said...

Thank you so much for the information on Captain Gerrish. He is one of my numerous times great grandfathers, as is Richard Dole which I was pleased to see info on as well. Thank you.

Bill West said...

Nice to "meet" you, Cousin Sarah!

Cheryl R said...

Just researching my ancestor Captain William Gerrish, thank you for your information on him. Glad to see replies from other relatives. I am also descendant of Elizabeth Gerrish Greenleaf.

Bill West said...

Hi there cousin Cheryl! (BTW, my sister is named Cheryl. :0