Monday, July 28, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. For
this prompt I've tried to concentrate on ancestors I haven't researched as much
as I have others in my family tree, This week I'm writing about my 7x great grandfather
Robert Swan's dispute with one of his neighbors in Haverhill, Ma. 

The story unfolds in the records of an Essex County, Ma. court session held at Ipswich
on September 26, 1665 :

Robert Swan, complained of by Stephen Webster for stealing wheat, was ordered to pay treble damages.*

*Stephen Webster deposed that upon Aug. 4, 1665, he and Robert Swan were in company with some of their neighbors, and they tried to agree about the wheat, etc. Zeackriah Whitt, aged about twenty-three years, deposed that he was employed to shock his master Webster's wheat, which grew upon land near to Robert Swann's house, and the last day they were reaping said wheat, Joseph Johnson was helping him. The next morning much of the wheat was gone, etc. He also mowed wheat for Swan near his orchard. Sworn, 10 :6 : 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

John Heasellton, sr., testified that he and his son Samuell plowed the land for Steven Webster, which land adjoined the little river near the saw mill, etc. Sworn, Sept. 25, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

John Griffen, aged about twenty-four years, deposed that Swan told him that he had the wheat in exchange, etc.

Joseph Johnson, aged twenty-seven years, deposed that he worked upon the land that Steven Webster sold to Robert Swan, etc. Sworn, 10 : 6 : 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Samuell Heazellton deposed. Samuell Gilde (also Guill), aged about sixteen years, deposed that his master Swan's cart, etc. Sworn in court. John and Joseph Johnson deposed. Sworn in court. Thomas Davis deposed that part of the land was sown with "silpy" and the other part with wheat, etc. Sworn, Sept. 22, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Edward (his mark) Brummidge deposed that Steven Webster's lot was near Abraham Whittiker's house, etc. Sworn, Sept. 22, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

John Hazeltine and Stephen Kent, sr., deposed that Samuell Guile, jr., etc. Sworn, Sept. 25, 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

Jno. Griffin, aged about twenty-four years, deposed. Sworn, 10 : 6 : 1665, before Simon Bradstreete.f

-pp276-277  Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1662-1667 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, 1913

As usual when I find one of these things, there is the unanswered question of
exactly how much money was the "treble damages" Robert Swan had to pay?

But it didn't end there. Like all the best of these colonial court cases, there was
a counter suit against Stephen Webster. I'll go into what my ancestor accused him
of doing in the next part.

To be continued.

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