Saturday, August 31, 2013


Despite his many letters to neighboring churches looking for support, Edward
Woodman's campaign to dismiss Rev. Thomas Parker from the ministry of
the Newbury church never succeeded. It seems rather odd because his position
on church governance was solidly in line with the Congregational majority of
the Massachusetts colony and Rev. Parker was one of only two ministers that
had Presbyterian views. But there were some things that may have caused
Woodman's failure.

One might have been the man himself. His outbursts against Rev. Parker verged
on the personal and Rev. Parker was well regarded by his fellow clergymen even if
they didn't agree with him. Also, the maneuver to oust Parker that divided the
Newbury parishioners would probably not have been something the other ministers
in the colony would want to see repeated.  Finally, Rev. Parker had important
family connections. His nephew Rev. John Woodbridge was the son in law of the
late Gov. Thomas Dudley.

But Woodman did win one concession: upon the recommendation of another
council of churches, John Woodbridge resigned his position as his uncle's assistant
in 1672 and became town magistrate instead. By this time, both Parker and Woodman
were in their seventies. Parker was going blind and John Richardson was hired
to  assist him. When Rev. Parker died in 1677, Richardson became the next minister
of the Newbury church. Time had succeeded where Edward Woodman had failed.
Within two generations, families that had been on opposite sides of the split
in the church would see their grandchildren marry.

I am the descendant of several of those marriages

Most of what I've found online about the split in the Newbury Church seems to favor
Edward Woodman as a champion of Congregationalist principles. The website for
the First Parish Church of Newbury describes it as a victory for Congregationalism
democracy of a "clerical invasion". With all due respect to the church, it's somewhat
difficult for a minister to "invade" a church he had established in the first place. But as
I said in the start of this series of posts, I am not concerned with the theological
aspects of the dispute.

I'm grateful it happened, though, because I learned something of what my ancestors
believed about their religion.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


When April 1671 came around, it brought yet another go-round in Court between the
Parker and Woodman factions. In this case two of the Parker supporters, Richard
Kent and Daniel Pierce presented the case against Edward Woodman and several
others. They named Archelaus Woodman(Edward's half-brother), Caleb Moody,
William Titcomb, Richard Bartlett, Samuel Plumer, and Stephen Greenleaf as
being "...guilty of promoting the disturbance of the church".
-A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 
to 1845
,  by Joshua Coffin & Joseph Bartlett  (Sameul G Drake, Boston, 1845) p91

Parker faction members gave testimony about Woodman's disruptive behavior:

TESTIMONY of Abiel Somerby. 'December 19, 1670. In the school house Mr. Woodman expressing himself highly, Mr. Parker said, soft, sir, your ways are ungodly, you neglect publick worship and withdraw from the communion of the church. Mr. Woodman said Mr. P.'s ways were ungodly. After further discourse Mr. Woodman began to call for witness of what Mr. Parker said. I said, Mr. Woodman, vou said Mr P.'s ways were ungodly, and therefore it is but quid pro quo. Who is that that saith so, Biel? I answered, you, sir. He broke forth with a strange expression, the Lord help us, or the Lord have mercy on us. A man had need to have a care what he speaks before such men.

Sworn to March twenty-eighth, 1671. 'I Abiel Somerby was present when my father in law Richard Knight asked Mr. Woodman for the church book. Mr. Woodman said that he would not let it go till the church sends for it. My father Knight said that Mr. Parker and the church had voted that he should come to fetch it. Mr. Woodman answered I do utterly disown such a church. My father Knight said, is this your answer? Mr. Woodman said yes, that is my answer, only I think you do very sinfully to hold with such a church. Sworn to April eighteenth, 1671.

'Henry Jaques affirmeth that on January twenty-ninth, 1671 when Mr. Woodman desired the church to stay, that he stayed, but it was not to joyne with them, and speaking to Mr. Woodman he said he thought it unreasonable that Mr. Woodman should desire a church meeting to deal with Mr. Parker, when there was more need for him to be dealt withal for his offences. He also affirmeth that he heard Mr. Woodman publickly affirm that Mr. Parker had broken three covenants already, and that no covenant would stand before him.
Sworn to, April eighteenth, 1671.

'Deposition of Tristram Coffin and John Knight.
'On the sixth of February in a publick meeting in the meeting house Mr. Woodman affirmed that when he went to deal with Mr. Parker according to rale and two brethren with him, that Mr. Parker refused to hear him, and told him his ways were ungodly. Tristram Coffin said, sir, you delude the people for those words were spoken the nineteenth of December on another account and it was that day fortnight that Mr. Woodman with others went to deal with Mr. Parker. Swom March twenty-eighth 1671.'

-Ibid pp98-99.

Of course there were statements and counter-charges made by Woodman, but for the
first time, the Court took a firm position as to who was to blame for ther uproar in
Newbury and decided that the Woodman group was ".... guilty of very great misdemeanors, though in different degrees, deserving severe punishment....the said Mr. Woodman and party adhering to him to pay the several lines under written with the charge of the witnesses and fees of court, and that they all stand committed till the said fines, charges and fees be satisfied and paid." - Ibid pp99-100

This is the list of those fined. My ancestors and relatives are in red:
"'Mr. Edward Woodman, twenty nobles. Mr. Richard Dummer, Richard Thorlay, Stephen Greenleaf, Richard Bartlet and William Titcomb four nobles each. Francis Plumer, John Emery senior, John Emery junior, John Merrill and Thomas Browne a mark each.f Nicholas Batt, Anthony Morse senior, Abraham Toppan, William Sawyer, Edward Woodman junior, William Pilsbury. Caleb Moody, John Poor senior, John Poor junior, John Webster, John Bartlet senior, John Bartlet junior.Joseph Plumer, Edward Richardson, Thomas Hale junior, Edmund Moores, Benjamin Lowle, Job Pilsbury, John Wells, William Ilsley, James Ordway, Francis Thorla, Abraham Merrill, John Bailey, Benjamin Rolf, Steven Swett, and Samuel Plumer. a noble each.' Robert Coker and William Moody were not fined. The whole number is forty-one.'
-Ibid p100

A footnote on the page says that :
"A noble is six shillings and eight-pence,
 A mark is thirteen shillings and fourpence."

So twenty nobles was a hefty fine.

This setback didn't deter Edward Woodman, who carried on his opposition to Rev.
Parker through a campaign of appeals to other churches for their support of his
faction. But thankfully, the dispute was nearing an end.

To be continued.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Not surprisingly, the matter of the Rev, Thomas Parker's removal by the
Woodman faction eventually ended up in the colonial court.  It's a good thing
that this and the earlier chapters of the dispute were taken to court, because
otherwise the documents would have been completely lost. Many of the early
records of the Newbury Church were destroyed in a fire. So thanks to the court
we have the text of Rev.Parker's reply to those who were trying to dismiss him
from the church he had founded. He was not about to meekly give in:

"....Once more I earnestly desire you to consider yourselves, and not go on in
such irregular courses, which though you seem to justify yourselves in, yet assuredly
will prove evil in the end. Do not thinke it a light matter to break the unity and peace
of the church, hinder the edification of the church, cast contempt on the ministry, grieve
your pastor and brethren, give offence to other churches, and bring up an evil report
and cast reproach upon the government of the churches here, and once more I entreat
you to think of some way of reconciling our differences, which we think will only be by consenting with us to call a regular council, resolving to submit to their advice. If we
cannot prevail with you by this motion, we shall be forced to consider what courses
shall be taken to defend ourselves, and blame us not for using any lawful meanes
whereby we redress your sin and our distractions.

Thomas Parker"
-A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 
to 1845
,  by Joshua Coffin & Joseph Bartlett  (Sameul G Drake, Boston, 1845)

This was sent on March 16, 1670. Three days later, on March 19th, Rev. Parker held a
meeting with those in the congregation who supported him.  As a result, the following
decision was reached:

"...In consideration of which premises (to mention no more) we the pastor and brethren of the church of Newbury, in the name and fear of the Lord Jesus Christ in way of defence of his poor flock here that they may not be left as sheep without a shepherd, and in vindicating the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ and his ordinances, not knowing any other regular way left according to the rule of the scripture, than to withdraw from them, who walk inordinately and cause division; we do hereby declare that for the future we do renounce communion with all those brethren that have so deeply violated the communion of Christ's church, nor shall we accept them as regular members of the church of Christ among us till God shall give them a mind to see and heart to acknowledge and confess their great offences, which we earnestly desire of him to grant through Jesus Christ."
-ibid p.85

On another document is the following list of those supporting Rev. Parker.The
names in red are my ancestors:
Names of those, who adhered to Mr. Parker and did not act in Mr. Parker's

Richard Dole.
John Kent.
Thomas Hale, senior.
John Knight, senior.
James Jackman.
Daniel Pierce, junior.
Nicholas Noyes.
Thomas Turvill.
Captain William Gerrish.
Tristram Coffin.

Nathaniel Clark.
Captain Paul White.
William Morse.
Jonathan Morse.
Abel Huse.
John Davis.
James Kent.
Richard Kent.
Richard Knight.
John Kelly.
Robert Long.
Henry Short, senior.
Samuel Moody.
Henry Jaques.
Robert Adams.
Joseph Muzzky.
William Chandler.
Mr. Richard Lowle.
Anthony Somerby.
Abiel Somerby.
Mr. Henry Sewall.
George Little.

Thirty-two regular members.

Mr. Joseph Hills.
Daniel Pierce, senior.
James Smith.
Mr. John Woodbridge.
Richard Pettingell.
John Smith.

Though no members"

-ibid p86

At this point it would seem the Newbury Church was irrevocably split. Amazingly,
it wasn't. A council of ministers and elders from nine neighboring towns tried once
more to bring the two sides together, and an agreement was reached.

It lasted for a year.

To be continued.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


As I noted in the previous post, the verdict of the Court held at Ispwich was
not unanimous; two of the judges, Samuel Symonds and William Hathorne
dissented and issued their own opinion. In part it said:

"That several words and passages in the writing or complaint presented to the court
and owned by himself or proved by others, especially taken merely in themselves
without his answer and the testimony of others then present, are highly offensive
and scandalous. But considering his answers and the testimony together with the
same, we find the matter to be much altered from what the naked words as they are expressed in the writing do hold forth. We perceive that a great part (if not a greater
part) of that church doe stand for the congregational way of church government and discipline to be exercised amongst them (which is the way the churches here doe
professe to the whole world to be the way and only way according to the gospel of
Christ,) and that it is and hath been for a long time a very great burthen and grievance
to them, that they have not freedom in that respect, (where there is occasion of actings)
as by the word of God they ought to have, and other churches have in this country, and
at the beginning their own church also quietly did enjoy for some space of time, and
that the alteration hath occasioned much differences and unquietudes amongst them."

-A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 
to 1845
,  by Joshua Coffin & Joseph Bartlett  (Sameul G Drake, Boston, 1845) p76

So the court, like the Newbury church was divided, and while Edward Woodman was chastised for his behavior, he and his followers could point to the dissenting opinion
that their position was correct.

Later that same year, in November 1669, a council of churches from the  nearby towns
was called to mediate between the two sides. The ruling of the council is in language
so convoluted I won't even attempt to explain it. Suffice it to say that it didn't resolve
the problem, and a few months later it surfaced again when a church member named
John Webster read a statement after a church service criticizing Rev. Parker. Again
the case was brought to Court but neither side was satisfied with the outcome.

Finally, two weeks later, Edward Woodman and his followers decided to take matters
into their own hands:

'The church having seriously considered of the complaint brought to us by Mr. Woodman against our reverend pastor, master Parker and do judge it clearly proved by sufficient evidences, and much of it known to our selves to be true, do judge that you have been instrumental of the divisions and troubles, that have a long time [been] and still are, continued in this church, partly by your change of opinion and practice and several times breaking promises and covenants or agreements with the church, and other things contained in the complaint, therefore we cannot but judge you worthy of blame, and do hereby blame you, and for the restoring of peace to the church we are enforced, though with great grief of heart, to suspend you from acting any thing that doth appertain to your office, in administring seals and sacraments, or matters of government as an officer, until you have given the church satisfaction therewith. We do desire and admonish you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ speedily to endeavour that God may have his glory by it and the hearts of your grieved brethren in the church may be comforted and in the mean time as a gifted brother you may preach for the edification of the church if you please. Your loving but afflicted brethren of the church of Newbury. Signed by us in behalf of the church.

Richard Dummer.
Richard Thorla.
'March sixteenth, 1670.
 'This was brought to Mr. Parker by Archelaus Woodman, William Titcomb,
Richard Bartlet and Samuel Plumer, and Samuel Plumer read it.'

Richard Knight. Anthony Somerby.
Nicholas Noyes, Samuel Lowle,

'After sunset William Titcomb, Stephen Titcomb, Stephen Greenleaf, Richard Bartlet and Caleb Moody came with a message to Mr. Parker and told him they were sent from the church to give him notice that the church had chosen two ruling elders, namely, Mr. Dummer and Mr. Woodman, and they were to send to the two neighbouring churches to join with them to ordain them upon this day sevennight. Witnesses to the message of the church, captain Gerrish. Richard Knight, Nicholas Noyes, John Knight, senior, Mr. Woodbridge and Anthony Somerby.'

'We whose names are here underwritten do consent to the writing, which do declare an act of the church laying Mr. Parker under blame, and suspending him from all official acts in the church. Dated sixteenth of March, 1670.

Me. Richard Dummer.    
Mr. Edward Woodman.
Archelaus Woodman.
William Moody.
William Ilsley.
Francis Plumer.
William Titcomb.
John Emery, senior.
John Emery, junior.

Richard Thorla.
John Merrill.
Francis Thorla.
Edmund Moores.
Stephen Greenleaf.
Thomas Browne.
Abraham Merrill.
Benjamin Lowle.
Richard Bartlet.
Samuel Plumer.
Josefh Plumer.
Thomas Hale, junior.

John Bailey                                                                
Job Pilsbury.
Steven Swett.
Benjamin Rolf.
John Wells.
Nicholas Batt.
Abraham Tot-van.
Anthony Mors, senior.
William Sawyer.
Edward WooDMAN.junior.
William Pilsbury.
Caleb Moody.
John Poore, senior.
John Poore, junior.
John Webster.
Robert Cokee.
John Bartlet, senior.
John Bartlet, junior.
Edward Richardson.
James Ordway.

- ibid. pp82-83

The names in red are my ancestors and relatives.

Forty one church members had decided to remove Reverend Parker. How would
he and his supporters respnd to this move?

To be continued.

Monday, August 26, 2013


There other statements concerning Edward Woodman's outburst about
Reverend Thomas Parker and also the exchange of words with my ancestor
William Gerrish. Again, several of my ancestors were involved, and I've
used red on their names:

The following depositions were also taken and put on file:

'The deposition of James Ordway, Abraham Merrill, and John Bayley.'

'These deponents say that when Mr. Woodman saith that Mr. Parker was the occasion of these contentions by his apostacy and declension (he added) from the principles that you have preached and practised, and also proved by the word of God, that men's consciences were engaged in it that they cannot depart from it unto this day.'

'Sworn in court, the thirtieth of March, 1669.' 'Richard Bartlet, James Ordway, and John Emery.'

'We testify that Mr. Parker in a public meeting said that for the time to come I am resolved nothing shall be brought into the church, but it shall be brought first to me, and if I approve of it, it shall be brought in, if I do not approve it, it shall not be brought in.'

Sworn as above.

'The depositions of John Emery, senior, John Emery, junior, Abraham Merrill, and John Bayley.'

'These deponents say that as Mr. Woodman was speaking in the meeting-, March first, 1669, captain Gerrish stood up and interrupted him, mentioning his gray hairs. Mr. Woodman said, captain Gerrish, my gray hairs will stand in any place where your bald head will stand.'

Sworn as above.

'The deposition of William Titcomb, John Emery, Robert Coker and Thomas Browne.'

'These deponents say that upon the Lord's day, the twenty-first of March, 1669, after the exercise was ended, Mr. Parker put this to the members.That those that are for the discontinuance of my cousin Woodbridge in the way of preaching, as formerly he hath done until farther order be taken, let them speak.

'Afterwards Mr. Parker expressed thus, those that are for the continuance of my cousin Woodbridge in the way of preaching as formerly he hath done let them express themselves by their silence.'

Sworn, and so forth -
 A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 
to 1845
,  by Joshua Coffin & Joseph Bartlett  (Sameul G Drake, Boston, 1845) p74

I get a kick out of that "and so forth". Edward Woodman sent a statement to the court to refute the accusations but it didn't help his case.  

 'March 30th, 1669. Having heard the complaint presented to this court against Mr. Edward Woodman we do judge some passages relating to Mr. Parker and Mr. Woodman to be false and scandalous, and that concerning captain Gerrish reproachful and provoking, and the whole greatly offensive, and have therefore ordered that the said Mr. Woodman shall be seriously and solemnly admonished and enjoined to make a publique confession at the next publique town and church meeting at Newbury of his sinful expressions and just offence that he hath given, or else to pay five pounds costs and fees.
'I dissent from this sentence, Samuel Symonds.
'And I dissent, William Hathorne.-ibid pp74-75

At this point it would seem that the issue was settled, but those two dissenting votes would be the basis for the continued division of the Newbury church.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


When the church in Newbury, Ma, was first established, Rev, Parker was
assisted by another minister, the Rev, James Noyse, who shared Parker's
Presbyterianism viewpoint. However,  Noyes died in 1656 and was eventually
replaced in 1663 by John Woodbridge, Rev, Parker's nephew. This seemed to
fan the flames of discontent among  those who agreed with Edward Woodman
about how the church should be run, to say nothing about how it angered
Woodman himself. It all finally broke out into the open and ended up in court
in 1669:

'To the honored court now sitting at Ipswich, March thirtieth, 1669.'

'We whose names are underwritten, for ourselves and others the inhabitants
of Newbury, doe humbly present, though to our great grief, that Mr. Edward
Woodman spake in a town assembly before strangers publiquely on March first,
1669, that Mr. John Woodbridge was an intruder, brought in by craft and subtilty,
and so kept in, notwithstanding he was voated out twice, which we know to be
untrue, and look upon as scandalous. Also he said to Mr. Parker that he was an
apostate and backslider from the truth, that he would set up a prelacy, and have
more power than the pope, for the pope had his council of cardinals, that his
practice or actings did not tend to peace or salvation, that he was the cause of
all our contention and misery. That you are an apostate and backslider.'

A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635  to 1845,  by Joshua Coffin & Joseph Bartlett  (Sameul G Drake, Boston, 1845) p74

It was apparently at this point that my ancestor Captain William Gerrish spoke
out against Woodman. We don't have a record of what Gerrish said, but we do
have one of how Woodman replied:

'Also he said to captain Gerrish that he was no lover of the truth, that his 
gray hairs would stand where captain Gerrish his bald pate would, all which
we humbly conceive tends not only to the reproach of the parties concerned, 
but to the great disturbance of our peace both civil and ecclesiastical, and 
therefore leave it to the serious consideration of this honored court for some 
suitable redress as they shall think meet.
Richard Kent. 

Henry Short.
Anthony Somerby

Nicholas Noyes. .
Ensign John Knight.
Tristram Coffin.
Thomas Hale, senior.
Joseph Muzzey.
Nathaniel Clarke.'

Ibid p74

So, thanks to the Newbury Church dispute nearly 350 years ago, I now know
that my 9x great grandfather William Gerrish was bald at the age of 52 in
the year 1669!

To be continued.

Friday, August 23, 2013


It's taken me longer to get around to continuing to write about the church
conflict in Newbury than I thought it would. It's a complicated issue and as
I said in the first post in the series, my understanding of the Protestant
theological issues is woefully inadequate. My intention is to concentrate on
the part my ancestors played in the argument but I do feel the need to provide
a bit of background information.

At the head of the two factions in the Newbury church were two men: Reverend
Thomas Parker and merchant Edward Woodman. Reverend Parker had been
part of the original party of settlers who founded Newbury and his influence can
still be seen there today. The river that flows by the town is named the Parker
River in his honor, and it is believed the town itself is named after a town in
England where Rev. Parker had taught before coming to the colony. Edward
Woodman was likewise an early settler of the town and had done very well for
himself in business. The differences between the two men lay in their views
about how the church should be governed.

The Reverend Parker in the Presbyterian viewpoint, that a church was best
led most effectively by a council of church elders. This made the Newbury church
one of only two Presbyterian churches in the colony, the other being in  the town
of Hingham south of Boston. The rest of the sites practiced Congregationalism, in
which church problems and policies were dealt with by the votes of the entire
church, and Edward Woodman wanted the church to be run on this principle. The
disagreement between the two sides was so contentious that the churches of
neighboring towns as well as the colonial government tried to mediate it.

At its height, there were long-winded letters with charges and counter-charges
flying back and forth from both sides. I'm surprised that any work at all got
done on those occasions. To be honest, I don't understand a lot of the points
that were being made. So I'll stick with those instances that involve my ancestors.

I'll begin in the next post in the series about an incident involving (once again)
my ancestor William Gerrish, among others.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


It's time to start thinking about the Fifth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry

Wow, I can't believe it's been five years since the first one.

This year I'm really giving everyone a lot of lead time.  As in the past , I'll
be posting the links to the submissions on Thanksgiving Day, which this
year falls on Thursday, November 27th. Deadline for submissions will be
a week before, on Thursday, November 20th. That gives everyone three
months from today to find (or write) and share their poem or song. If you
find one long before that deadline, you can post it on your blog now if you
wish, just don't forget to send me the link to it before November 20th!
These are the Challenge rules:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region
one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local
animal. It can even be a poem you or one of your ancestors have written!
0r if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video of someone
performing the song.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source
where you found it.)

3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's
home or life, or the area of the country where they lived.

4.Submit your post's link here to me by midnight Thursday, November 20th
and I'll publish all links to the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 27th!

If  you submit a humorous poem or song that will be entered under the
"Willy Puckerbrush" division. Willy was the late geneablogger Terry
Thornton's alias for some humorous posts and comments.

There you have it, and with three months to work with, I'm hoping that gives
everyone plenty of time to take part this year!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I've been blessed with a lot of information on many of my New England
ancestors. Now, this is a very good thing but the problem with that is that
I haven't gotten much work done on those ancestors for whom I don't have
much information. And the further back in time I am researching, the harder
it is to find and  like the dog in the movie Up! I'm easily distracted by finding
the "shineys".  Some of the families I haven't done much work on  include
those that originally settled in Charlestown, Ma. before branching out to
the west and north of Boston.

Last Thursday I saw Marian Pierre-Louis' guest on that day on her  Fieldstone Common Blogtalk Radio show would be Roger Thompson, the author of
From Deference to Defiance Charlestown, Massachusetts  1629-1692 and
I hoped I might learn more about my Charlestown ancestors.  It was a
very interesting hour, and when Marian offered a copy of Roger's book to
the first caller,  I called in with a question and won the book. It arrived
here Tuesday, and when I opened it I found it was graciously autographed
by Roger.

But that wasn't the best part.

I had run a list on RootsMagic6 of my Charlestown ancestors to check against the
names in the index but before I got that far I found three  with chapters in the
Table of Contents. The first was Stephen Fosdick(whose name has always conjured
up the image of Fearless Fosdick in my mind). He was one of the first settlers of
Charlestown and he is my 11x great grandfather through his descendant Arvilla Ames
who married John Cutter West.

Another chapter concerns the family of  my 10x grandfather Robert Long and his
son Zachary. I had never heard of the Three Cranes Inn before nor of its connection
with the Long family.

A third chapter contains two letters written by Arrald (Dunnington)Cole. She and her
husband Rhys Cole are my 10x grandparents as well. Both my Long and Cole descents
are through through my 2x great grandmother Florilla Dunham.

I'll be blogging more about them and what else I learn from Roger's book in future
blogposts. But if you have ancestors from Charlestown, you should get a copy for
yourself! It's available in paperback for 27.95 from the New England Historical
Genealogical Society.  And if you want to hear the show with Marian and Roger,
you can download the podcast here at Fieldstone Common.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The petition protesting the disenfranchisement  of Lieut. Robert Pike
was partially successful, as James Currier details in his History of Newbury Part 1

"The objectionable order relating to public preaching in the
colony was repealed August 30, 1653 ; but at the same time
it was enacted " that every person that shall publish and main-
taine any hetrodoxe and erronjous doctorine shalbe lyable to
be questioned and censured by the County Court where he
liveth according to the meritt of his offence." *

The sentence imposed upon Lieut. Pike was not revoked
until several years later, as appears from the following order
adopted by the General Court October 23, 1657 : —

In ansr to the peticon of Robert Pike, humbly desiring ye courts
favo"" his fine being paid, to remitt to him & release him from the other
pte of the Courts former sentence against him, M"" Worcester ye pastor
of ye church at Salisbury appearing on ye behalfe of the peticoner and
acknowledging himself much bound to the court if they would be
pleased to graunt ye said Pikes request, the court grants his request. t
* Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. iv., part I., p. 151.

 t ibid., p. 313.

Nathan Whitington's article in The New England Magazine gave me a bit
more background on what prompted the General Court's law and Robert Pike's
objections to it.

It seems that there were a Joseph Peasley and a Thomas Macy in Salisbury, who were accustomed to hold forth their doctrine to the people on the Sabbath in the absence of the minister. They were both of a Baptist sect in the town, and were inclined to Quakerism. Macy was the first settler of Nantucket afterwards, and Pike one of the proprietors of the island when Macy emigrated thither. In order to stop the preaching o fthe two sectaries the General Court enacted a law making it a misdemeanor for any one to preach on the Sabbath who was not a regularly ordained minister. With regard to this law Robert Pike declared "that those members who had voted for it had violated their oaths as freemen; that their act was against the liberty of the country, both civil and ecclesiastical, and that he stood ready to make his declaration good."

The old notion that the magistrate holds by divine right and is above criticism still prevailed extensively, notwithstanding the fact that the members of the General Court were chosen by the people of the towns. The Court had never been subjected to adverse criticism before, and the members were horrified at the blasphemy, as it seemed to their sensitive souls. Wherefore they passed an order declaring that Lieutenant Robert Pike had been guilty of defaming the General Court, and ordered that he should be disfranchised, disabled from holding any public office, bound to his good behavior, and fined twenty marks, equal to thirteen pounds, six shillings and eight pence.

Once I saw that the controversy involved Quakers I understood why some of my ancestors
had signed the petition. John Emery would be brought before the Salem Court ten years
after the Pike incident for entertaining Quakers in his house. Tristram Coffin likewise was
known to associate with Quakers and several of his children would become Quakers

For Robert Pike to speak up against the General Court took a certain amount of courage,
since Quakers in the eyes of the colonial government were only a little better than
Catholics. But it was in total character for the man. Four decades later he would speak out
again and criticize the abuses of the witchcraft trials. I recommend the Whittington article
for anyone interested in more information on his life.

The Robert Pike incident was troublesome, but it was not as divisive and long lasting in
Newbury as the controversy that was slowly simmering before it exploded.
To be continued.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Before I write about the outcome of the petitions in support of Robert Pike,
I thought I'd try to track down the names of the men who signed from the
other four towns. I was partially successful, finding those from two in Google
ebooks. Again, the names of my ancestors are in red.

The first list is from  a footnote in The History of Haverhill, Massachusetts: From Its First Settlement, in 1640 ... by George Wingate Chase, p 80 :

"The following are the names of the Haverhill signers, a s copied from the original
petition in the State Archives: —
Richard Littlehale
Robbert Eres
James Davis
John Heth
George Corlis
Joseph Peaslv
Job Clements
Bartholomew Heth
Tristram Coffin
Abraham Tvlar
Edw. Clarke
Peter Coffin
John Williams
James Davis Jr
John Davis
John Williams
Theophilus Sachwell
 John Eaton
Thomas Davis
Tho: Whittier
Thomas Eaton
Joh: Eyres
Tho: Dow
Robert Clements
James ffiske
Joseph Davis
Thomas Belfore
Dan: Hendrick
Peter Ayre
John Webster
Stephen Kent
Samuel Gild
George Brown
Richard Singitarv
Robbert Swan
Ephraim Davis
Henry Palmer"

The second list is from the town of Hampton, which is now in New Hampshire but in
1653 was still part of Massachusetts. The signers included men from other towns
near Hampton, and the information comes from a magazine article Samborne family
Monthly: A New Hampshire Magazine, Volume 23 p 324

"Christopher Husse, Robart Tucke, Richard Swaine, John Samborne, Francis Swaine,
Williem Samborne, Stephen Samborne, Moses Cox, William Fifield, ]ohn Redman,
Thomas Fletcher [?],Jeffery Mingay, Eliakim Wardell, John Wedgwood, Thomas Marston, The T Mark of Willim Maston, Philemon Dalton, Samuell Dalton, Robert Page, Will. Moulton, Samuell Fogge, Nathaniell Bachiler, Jasper Blake, Christopher Palmer, John Marston, The I' Mark of Josiah Meren, The Mark of Antoni Talier, The /' Mark of John Cass, The T Mark of John Merin [Marian], Thomas Coullman, Thomas Philbrock, Abraham Perkins, Henry Roby, The T Mark of William Cole, Nathaniell Boulter, Humphrie Humber, The Mark X of John Clifoord."

I was unable to find the complete lists for Andover and Salisbury, but did find the
names of five of the men from Salisbury in another magazine article,  ROBERT PIKE,
A FORGOTTEN CHAMPION OF FREEDOM. By Nathan N. Withington. The article was
widely printed back in the late 1890's. The Googlebook edition I found was in
The New England Magazine , Volume 17,  pp29-30 published in 1898:

"The majority was overawed and apologized more or less abjectly for their disrespect
toward the authority of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts; but a minority
of about one-fifth of the signers refused to make any apology, and defended and justified their action. Thus boldly stood out eight from Newbury, five from Salisbury, besides Pike himself, and two from Hampton. Here were sixteen men who, in an age of intolerance, in an age when the right of the ruler was held to be from God, and as against this the governed had no rights, asserted and maintained at considerable peril the rights of free speech, for sectaries included, and of petition on the part of the citizens. They deserve to have their names remembered; they were:

Of Newbury—John Emery, Sr., John Hall, Benjamin Swett, John Bishop, Joseph Plummer, Daniel Thurston, Jr., Daniel Cheney, John Wolcot.

Of Salisbury—Samuel Hollis, Philip Challis, Joseph Fletcher, Andrew Greeley, George Morton.

Of Hampton —Christopher Hussey, John Sanborn.

These fifteen were each bound in the sum of ten pounds to appear for trial in the county courts; and here the matter, so far as relates to them, appears to have dropped."

So my ancestor Philip Challis was also a signer of the petition.

To be continued

Sunday, August 11, 2013


The General Court (the legislature of Massachusetts) was not amused by the reaction
of the citizens of the towns that had presented petitions in support of Robert Pike, and
did what governing bodies in America have often done in sticky situations: they
appointed a committee to investigate why people had signed the petition. Among
those appointees was my ancestor, William Gerrish. I think the report submitted
about the signers from Newbury reflects his prickly temper. It also produced an
amusing and terse encounter with another of my ancestors, John Emery.

Again, the story is from John James Currier's History of Newbury Vol.1 pp163-4
My ancestors' names are in red:

"This petition, with several other petitions from neighboring towns, was presented
to the General Court at a session held May 14, 1654. The deputies as well as the
magistrates were evidently disturbed and irritated by this unexpected display of
friendship for Lieut. Robert Pike, and promptly appointed a committee of investigation.

In answer to the petiCon of Hampton, Salisbury, Newbery, Haverill & Andover, subscribed by severall in each toune, this Court cannot but deeply resent that so 
many psons of seuerall tounes, condiCons & relations, should combine together 
to psent such an vnjust & vnreasonable request as the revoaking the sentance past 
the last Court, agt Left Robe Pike & the restoring of him to his former libertie, 
wthout any peticon of his oune, or least acknowledgment of his great offence, fully
proved against him,  which was no lesse then defaming this Court, and charging them
with breach of oath  &c wch the peticoners call some words lett fall by occasion. 
The court doth therefore order in this extraordinary case, that Mr Bradstreet for 
Hauerill & Andover, Capt  Wiggins for Hampton, Capt Gerrish & Nicho Noies for Newbery, & Mr Winsly & Mr Bradbury for Salisbury, shall & heereby are appointed Comisioners to call at a time as they shall think meete & require a reason of theire 
vnjust request & how they came to be induced to subscribe the sd peticon & so make theire retourne to the next sessions, that the Court may consider how to pceed farther therein."

In October, 1654, Capt. William Gerrish and Nicholas Noyes reported to the General Court the reasons given for signing the petition by the men of Newbury: —

Francis Plummer and Robert Morse say the reason is because he is a useful man, and thought they might petition without offence. It was in the liberty of the Court to accept 
it or reject it and . . . they could not see they had done amiss in petitioning.

John Bishop being desired to go into the meeting house to explain .. . about the petition he said he could not stay, but the constable said he must. He came into the house before us; said, would the General Court have the reasons, they are in the petition, and that was all he would say, and so turned his back and away he went

Benjamin Swett saith every free subject hath liberty to petition for any that had been 

in esteem, without offence to any.

John Emery demanded our Commission and the sight of the petition, and then would answer. Being produced, he answered we had no power to demand who brought him the petition; and hearing John Bond make answer, told him he was a wise man in a bold, flouting manner. His carriage we conceive was (insulting). f

Others said they were friends of Robert Pike and out of respect for him they petioned for his release, while others confessed that they were ignorant of the words spoken by him & sentence imposed upon him by the Gen. Court and intended no offence to that 

honorable body in asking for his release.

After a careful examination of the answers returned by the men from Newbury and
other towns in the vicinity, the General Court ordered November 1, 1654, the petitioners whose answers were not satisfactory to appear at the county court and give bonds in
the sum of ten pounds to answer for their several offences. The names of the Newbury
men "to be summoned by warrant from the dark of the court" were: "Jno Emery, Sen
Jno Hull, Jno Bishop, Benjamin Swett, Daniell Thirston, Jun. Joseph Plomer, 
Daniell Cheny, Jno Wilcott." Ŧ

*Massachustts Colony Records, vol. Iv., part I., p. 104.
t Massachusetts Archives, vol. K., p. 299. "The New Puritan," pp. 44 and 45.
I Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. K., part I., p. sic."

I can imagine the scene between my two ancestors: John Emery giving his terse
answers to the questions and William Gerrish bristling at his "insulting" attitude.

I also need to see if I can find the petitions from the other towns to see if there
are others of my ancestors in the list of signees.

To be continued.

Friday, August 09, 2013


If you have Pilgrim or Puritan ancestors, you need to know how religion
affected their lives.
Religion was an integral part of life in early colonial Massachusetts. This is no
great surprise, considering it was founded by two religious groups. But I don't think
many of us understand how entwined it was with the colonial government. Awhile
back when I was doing a series on my ancestor William Gerrish, I came across two
stories that about religious disputes in the town of Newbury, Massachusetts. They
involved Gerrish and several other ancestors on both sides of the arguments. My
interest was caught by the fact that many of the men had known each other for years
and had served together as town officials peaceably (well, except for Gerrish). But these
two incidents divided Newbury, the first slightly and the second on a wider scale. One
was started by the government, the other by a congregation and soon involved the
General Court and several neighboring towns as well.

I have to admit here that as a Catholic (and wouldn't my Puritan ancestors be horrified
by that) I don't know much about the finer theological points of Congregationalist
church in 17th century New England, so my focus is more on the social and political
aspects of what took place in Newbury. The first incident took place in 1653, and involved a man named Robert Pike. This is from John James Currier's book History 
of Newbury, Mass., 1635-1902 , Volume 1 pp.162-163:  

The General Court passed an order, May 18, 1653, declaring it to be unlawful for any
person to preach in any town in the colony without the consent of the elders of four neighboring churches or by the approval of the county court. Robert Pike, of Salisbury,
boldly denounced this act as an unjustifiable interference with the personal rights and privileges of freemen, and farther said "several churches had called theire members to accompt which did act in that lawe making, and that some places were about to show
theire minds to the Generall Court about it." *

August 30, 1653, Lieut. Pike was ordered to appear at the General Court and answer for his intemperate zeal and seditious speech. He was disfranchised September 7, 1653) and prohibited from holding public office in the town or in the colony. A fine of twenty marks, equal to thirteen pounds, six shillings, and cightpence, was imposed as an additional penalty; and he was required to give bonds for his good behavior during the court's pleasure.*

The prompt and vigorous measures adopted by the General Court to assert its rights and protect its members from criticism and censure aroused a strong feeling of indignation among the inhabitants of Newbury, Haverhill, Andover, Hampton, and Salisbury. Petitions were prepared and circulated in these towns asking that the fine and punishment imposed upon "Lieutenant Robert Pike" be remitted. Several of these petitions are on file at the State House in Boston, but many of the signatures can hardly be deciphered and some are illegible. The petition from Newbury reads as follows : f—

The humble petition of the inhabitants of Newbury, to the honored General Court now assembled at Boston, showeth:

That whereas our loving friend, Lieutenant Robert Pike, of Salisbury, hath by occasion, as it is witnessed against him, let fall some words for which the honored Court hath been pleased [to censure him] we having had experience that he hath been a peaceable man and a useful instrument ... do therefore humbly desire this honored Court that the said sentence may be [revoked] and that the said Lieutenant Pike be . . restored to his former liberty. So . . . pray &c

* Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. hr., part I., p. 156.
t Massachusetts Archives, vol. B., leaf 209. See also " The New Puritan,** pp. 44 and 45

There followed a list of the men from Newbury  who signed the petition. In the
book the names are in three columns. I've used red to mark the names of those who
are my ancestors:
Richd. Kent, Jun.
Wm Moody
Daniel Peirce
Geo. Little
Saml Moody
Richd. Dole
John Poore
Dan Thurston
Joseph Plummer
Richd Thurly
John Wolcot
John Hull
Rob. Adams
Wm Chandler
John Tillotson
John Baily
John Wheeler
Rob. Cooper
Richd. Kent, Sen.

Wm Titcombe
John Bartlett
Tho. Browne
Richd. Bartlett
Gyles Cromlome
Aquilla Chase
Edw. Richardson
Wm Richardson
John Bishop
Sam Poore
John Hutchins
Wm Sawyer
Richd. Fitts
John Bond
Chris Bartlett
James Ordway
Edwd. Woodman
Stephen Swett
Wm Ilsly
Tho Smith.

Benj Swett
Joseph Swett
Steph. Greenleaf
Anthony Morse
Henry Lunt
Solomon Kyes
Tristram Coffin
Francis Plummer
Sam. Plummer
Dan Thurston
Wm Cottle
John Rolfe
John Muslewhite
John Emery, Sen.
John Emery, Jun.
Sam Moore
Nich. Batt
John Cheney Jr
Daniel Cheney

This petition, along with several others from other towns. would prompt a reaction
from the General Court, and a curt conversation between two of my ancestors.

To be continued..

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Some thoughts on the inventory of my 4x great grandfather  John Ellingwood Sr.'s

- It took me a few minutes to decipher the signature before I realized that one of
the assessors was a woman, Barbara Bartlett. It's not the first time I've seen this.
And it makes perfect sense. After all, while men had a pretty good idea of the
value of tools and livestock in earlier times, they probably didn't have a clue on
most of the clothing and household items.

-While John was a shoemaker I noticed that there was nothing connected to his
trade listed in the inventory. From what I read in A History of Bethel:formerly
Sudbury, Canada, Oxford County, Maine, 1768-1890;with a brief sketch of Hanover
and family statistics, his son Ebenezer Ellingwood had taken over the business so
he'd probably already taken possession of John's tools and equipment years before.

- John is one of my ancestors who owned books, Yet so far I haven't seen a bible
listed in an ancestor's estate inventory.

-John certainly had an interesting wardrobe. I think the "1 Frock" refers to a frock
coat rather than a dress, and  the "calico  gown" probably was a night shirt. But I
have no idea what a "Spencer" was.

And that concludes my series on the Probate File of John Ellingwood Sr.

Saturday, August 03, 2013


It took me longer than I wanted to transcribe the next part of my
ancestor John Ellingwood Sr's Estate file. I find dealing with legal
folderol late at night tends to make me even sleepier than I already am,
no matter how fascinating the Inventory itself is.

The Inventory consists of about one and a third pages. In the legal
form I transcribe the printed part in boldface and the handwritten
in italics. Spelling and grammar is as it appears in the document.
Again, my apologies for not being able to keep the money value column
in a straight line.
I'll have some thoughts about this Inventory in the next post:

                            State of Maine

 Oxford, ss- To Barber Bartlett, Timothy Chapman,
 Seth B Newell three suitable disinterested persons, GREETING:

YOU are hereby appointed and empowered to take an Inventory
 of all the Real Estate, goods and chattels, rights and credits, which
are by law to be administered, of which John Ellingwood late of
Bethel in the county of Oxford, aforesaid dec'd seized or possessed
in said county, and according to your best skill and judgment, truly
and justly to APPRAISE the same in dollar and cents, according to
the present value thereof: And when you shall have completed the
said Inventory you are to deliver the same together with this warrant,
to the Exec. of said Deceased's Estate who is to return the same
into the Probate Office of said county, within three months from the
date hereof.

GIVEN under my hand and seal official, at a Court of Probate held
at Paris, Bethel in said county, on the twentieth day of September
in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty-seven.

Job Prince, Judge

Oxford , ss Oct. 9, 1847  

The above named Barbra Bartlett Timothy Chapman  Seth B Newell
personally appeared before me, and made oath that they would
faithfully and impartially perform the service to which they are
appointed by the above warrant.  

William Potter Justice of the Peace

Recorded by Reg K Shaw Register

An Inventory of the estate of John Ellingwood, late of Bethel
County of Oxford deceased taken in pursuance of the annexed
                                Real Estate                                         $150.00
1 Lot of wild land with a small pasture on it
1 Pew in the Congregational meeting house                             3.50

                               Personal Estate
1 Cow $15.00 1 heifer 3 years old  $12.00                             27.00
1 yearling stear $7.00  1 calf  $4.00                                        11.00
8 sheep $14.00  2 swine  $8.00                                               22.00
1 old plough $1.00  4 old chains $4.00                                     5.00
1 old loom and weaving aperatus                                              2.00
3 old spinning wheels $1.50  old casks .50                               2.50
1 table and washtub $1.00 Iron ware & pails $3.25                  4.25
3 old chests 2 meat tubs $1.00 1 Baker .33cts                           1.33
2 set andirons $1.00 shovel & tongs $1.50 1 sod iron .25         2.75
9 chairs $3.50  2 cupboards $2.00  1 bellows .25                     5.75
1 set of draws $4.00 1 table & light stand $2.00                       6.00
8 silver spoons $6.00  crockery & glassware $3.00                  9.00
pewter & tin ware $2.00  warming pan & skimmer                   4.00
1 Quilt $4.00 1 Quilt $1.50 1 Quilt1.00 1 calico Quilt $1.00    7.50
8 pair sheets $4.00 4 bed blankets $3.00                                   7.00
6 pair pillowcases .75 7 table sashs (?) $3.00                           3.75
7 towels $1.25 old books $1.00 1 chest .50                               2.75
1 Feather bed & bedding $8.00 1 Feather bed $7.00                15.00
2 bedsteds and cords $1.00                                                         1.00
1 Frock 3 pair striped pants $1.00 underflannel $1.50                2.50
7 cotton shirts $2.00 1 calico gown $1.00                                   3.00
3 pair stockings 1 pair mittings .60  coat & pants $3.50              3.50
1 over coat $3.00 1Spencer .50 gloash & trimming $4.00           7.50
1 pair boots $1.00 1hat .25 2 belts .75                                         2.00

Dated at Bethel Oct.9, 1847

Carried over

And the second page:

Amount brought over                                                                 311.65
1 old saddle .50  1 waggon cushing .50                                        1.00
2 bed puffs $1.50  1 iron crane & hooks .75                         2.25
6 tin milk pans $1.25                                                                     1.25

Dated at Bethel Oct.9 1847

Barbr Bartlett
Seth B Newell
Timothy Chapman