Wednesday, June 07, 2017


My 9x great grandfather Roger Conant is one of those people who were important figures in the early history of Massachusetts but aren't well know today. There's a statue of him in the city he helped to establish, Salem, Ma., but tourists are probably more interested in the Salem witches.

Here's the entry for the Conant famliy in one of William Richard Cutter's  regional genealogies.I've included the entries for his father and grandfather which helped me push my family tree back a few more generations:

John Conant lived in the parish of East Budleigh, Devonshire, England,  probably born about 1520 at Gittisham, an adjacent town; was a taxpayer at East Budleigh, 1571, and in 1577 warden of the church there; was buried March 30, 1596, probably son of John Conant, who died September, 1659, at Gittisham.

(II) Richard Conant, son of John Conant, was born at East Budleigh about 1548, and in 1588 was assessed for land there; church warden in 1606 and 1616. He married, February 4, 1578, Agnes, daughter of John Clarke Sr., of Collyton, who married, June 9, 1544. Anne, daughter of William Macy, of Collyton.. Richard and Agnes Conant were buried September 22. 1630. Children: John, Richard, Robert, Jane, John, Thomas, Christopher, Roger, mentioned below.

(III) Roger Conant, son of Richard Conant, was the immigrant ancestor. He was baptized at East Budleigh, April 9, 1592, and received a good education. He married, November, 1618, and had probably been seven years in London as an apprentice to a salter, doubtless living  there until 1623, when he came to America. He was first at Plymouth, but owing to differences in religious beliefs he followed Rev. John Lyford to Nantasket (Hull). It was probably while there that he used Governor's Island, which was known for some time as Conant's Island. In 1624-25 he was chosen by the Dorchester Company as governor of the Cape Ann colony, and after a year there he moved with those who did not return to England, to Naumkeag, later Salem, Massachusetts; his house was the first built there. Although he is not universally recognized as the first governor of Massachusetts, he is fairly entitled to that honor, for the colony of which he was the head was the first permanent settlement in the Massachusetts Bay territory. Roger Conant was admitted a freeman, May 18, 1631, and held many important offices; justice of the quarterly court at Salem three years: selectman 1637 to 1641, 1651 to 1654, 1657 and 1658; in 1667 he was an original member of the Beverly church. He had large grants of land in Salem, Beverly and vicinity. He died November 19, 1679. He married, November I1, 1618, in the parish of Blackfriars, London, Sarah Horton. Children: Sarah, Caleb, Lot, mentioned below; Roger, Sarah, Joshua, Mary, Elizabeth, Exercise

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 1  Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, New York   1915

Roger's occupation as salter would have been an important one in colonial New England. He would have been involved in the process of salting fish and meat, a common way of preserving food, something vital to the survival of the colonies.

To be continued...

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