Monday, April 30, 2018


My immigrant ancestor and 8x great grandfather Thomas Totman is one of those ancestors who seems to have lived an unremarkable life. It is believed his wife was Mary Parker, daughter of William Parker and Dorothy Rawlings of Plymouth. Sadly, it is the manner of  Thomas and Mary's deaths that is the most common information about them.

From Samuel Deane's History of Scituate, Massachusetts:

came from Plymouth 1660. He resided south side Church hill. His son was Stephen, whose children were Samuel born 1693, Stephen 1695, Mary 1696, Christian 1699. Of these, Stephen had a son Ebenezer born 1720, who left two sons, Thomas, who removed, and Stephen born 1756, a Revolutionary soldier; and who deceased 1830, leaving descendants in Scituate, Weymouth and Boston. Ebenezer married Grace, daughter of Hawkins Turner: she is said to be living now at Brookfield. She was born 1732.

* Mary, wife of Thomas Totman, died suddenly 1666. Verdict of a Jury of 12 men, "That she did gather, dress and eat a root (which she judged the same she had eaten of before) of a poisonous nature, which we believe the sole cause of her death." Thomas Totman died suddenly 1678, Jury's verdict: "his own wilful abstractinge of himself from food.”

History of Scituate, Massachusetts: From Its First Settlement to 1831 James Loring Pub. Boton, Ma

Friday, April 27, 2018


There are over 540 thousand new records in the Findmypast Friday releases today:


Scots-Irish in North America Histories

OVER 800 PAGES Explore these records taken from 12 publications on the Scots-Irish in North America. Covering a variety of date ranges and regions, these publications will enable you to learn more about the history of the Ulster Scots and their descendants in the United States and Canada.


Surrey Baptisms

OVER 476,000 RECORDS Explore transcripts of original parish records to discover when and where your ancestor’s baptism took place, their birth date, the names of their parents, their parents’ residence and occupations. The collection covers 180 parishes across the county and spans the years 1538 to 1901.


Yorkshire Burials

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PERiodical Source Index

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Irish Newspapers

New articles: 17,904
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Covering: Lurgan Mail & Irish Citizen
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Thursday, April 26, 2018


The next branch of my Barrows family involves the ancestors of Moses Barrows Jr.'s  wife Deborah
Totman. Here's a relationship chart showing her descent from Thomas Totman:

Through her mother Experience Rogers she was descended from several Mayflower passengers. I haven't done a lot of research on some of these people so some information may change as I dig in further.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


My 8x great grandmother Mary (Hedge) Barnes was the daughter of William Hedge and his first wife who may have been named Ann. William is best known for his bequest to his second wife Blanche Hull.

Here's  the entry for William Hedge in Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts:

William Hedge, "gentleman," of Lynn, 1634, settled in Sandwich and was a proprietor in 1640, freeman in 1651; was town officer. He removed to Yarmouth. He married (second) Widow Blanche Hull. His children were: Elizabeth, born May 21, 1647, who married Jonathan Barnes, of Plymouth; Mary, born in 1648, who married a son of Edward Sturgis; Sarah, who married a Matthews; Abraham; Elisha; William; John; Lemuel, and Mary. His will was probated Aug. 11, 1670.-p1168

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: Containing Historical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families . J.H. Beers & Company,, Chicago, Il, 1912

Apparently the second marriage was an unhappy one, because Blanche Hull deserted William, and in his will he left her only 1 shilling which he said was "11 pence more than she was worth."

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Over 1.1 million  new records were added in this week's Findmypast Friday releases:


British Army Officers' Widows' Pension Forms 1755-1908

OVER 13,000 RECORDS  Explore more than 150 years of pension applications. Released online for the first time in association with The National Archives, the collection includes forms and evidences of vital events extracted from widows’ pension files, including application forms, death certificates, marriage certificates, births and baptisms.

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Northumberland Registers & Records

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5 NEW PUBLICATIONS These publications cover parish registers from the parishes of Gedling and Warsop, Archdeaconry Court Marriage Licenses and Parish Register Transcripts from the Peculiar of Southwell, the history of the county and its highways and byways.


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Friday, April 20, 2018


 (First posted in May 2013)

In one of my posts about John Barnes I wrote about how the Plymouth Colony
government struggled to deal with his drinking problem. At one point they even
made it a crime in 1661 to sell him any liquor.  Even that didn't seem to work, and
I wondered how effective that strategy could have been, given that John imported
and sold liquor as part of his business as a merchant. I think this next record shows
one way he could get plenty of liquor.

Up until the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies merged most of  the towns
south of Boston, such as Yarmouth on Cape Cod  were part of Plymouth Colony. This
record from 1667 deals with how much rum and sacke(white wine from Spain) were
brought into Yarmouth during 1666m and certain discrepancies of amounts on the
invoices of the shipments. Among the people practicing what might be considered
"creative bookkeeping" were Jonathan Barnes and his brother in law, Abraham Hedges.

5Jun 1667
The Account of the Liquors brought into Yarmouth the Year last past, giuen
                                                             in by Mr Thacher.
The 15 of the first month, Elisha Hedge, one barrell of rum.
Mr Hedge, 9 gallons of sacke.
September 14, (66,) by John Barnes, for Elisha Hedge, fifty gallons of rum.
For Mr Sprague, 10 gallons of rum.
For Samuell Sturgis, 30 gallons of rum.
For Edward Sturgis, Junir, 25 gallons.
Jonathan Barnes brought sundry barrells of liquors to the towne, since which
hee did not invoyce with vs, but did after some distanceof time invoyce it
with the Treasurer.

The first weeke of Aprill, (67,) Edward Sturgis, Senir, 22 gallons of sacke, which
was invoyced, tho not in due time according to order.

Att that time, there were fiue or six barrells of rum bought of the merchant att
Satuckett, whcih was not invoyced, but concealed one barrerll ; Jonathan Barnes
had another barrell ; Joseph Ryder three more,  hee seized for the countrey,
which haue bine since condemned, viz : Samuell Sturgis, one barrell of rum ;
Edward Sturgis. Junir, one barrell of rum ; and Abraham Hedge, one barrell of rum,
which lyes responsible for his father to cleare betwixt thia and the Court in July

Boardman, halfe a barrell, or somwhat more, which hee invoced.

The first week in June, 67, Jonathan Barnes invoyced oNe barrell of rum for
John Mokancy, Abraham Hedge had about three barrells last sumer, which it is
vncertaine whether invoced or now. 
Plymouth Court Records Volume 4

I'd be willing to bet that some of the misinvoiced rum ended up in a tankard that
Jonathan's father John drank with gusto!

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Today is the 243nd Anniversary of the Battles of Lexington & Concord which
started the American Revolution on 19Apr 1775. They were celebrated Monday in
Massachusetts on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April, when the Boston Marathon is run.

These are our colonial ancestors from our Dad's family lines for whom I have
so far been able to discover records that they took part in those battles and served in the

Jonathan Barker Jr. My 5x great grandfather
Was a Minuteman from Methuen Ma with rank of Sergeant.
He responded to Lexington and Concord with his sons
Served in Captain Samuel Johnson's Company in
Colonel Titcomb's Regiment for 2 months in 1777 in Rhode
Island and then with Nathaniel Gage's Company in Colonel
Jacob Gerrish's guards from Dec 1777 to l Apr 1778 guarding
the captured troops of General Burgoyne.

Jonathan Barker 3rd  My 4x great grandfather
Enlisted on 19 Apr 1775 in Continental Army, Capt. John
Davis' Company, Col. James Frye's Regiment, in the
Massachusetts line for 8 months in Cambridge, Ma. At the
conclusion of the term, he reenlisted for another 3 months in
Capt John Allen's Company, Colonel John Waldron's Regiment,
General Sullivan's Brigade in the New Hampshire Brigade at
Charlestown, Ma. He then enlisted a third time in June 1778
at Methuen, Ma., joining Captain Samuel Carr's Company, Col.
James Weston's Regiment, in General Lerned's Brigade at
White Plains, N.Y. and serving for another 9 months.

John Ames   My 5x great grandfather
Was a Minuteman under Capt. Asa Parker on April 19th,
1775. He then enlisted in the Continental Army under Captain
Oliver Parker, Col. William Prescott's Regiment and
in the Brigade that was commanded in turn by Generals
Putnam, Lee, and Washington and served for 8 1/2 months.


Asa Barrows    My 4x great grandfather
A member of the militia from Middleborough , Ma. (south of
Boston) in the Company of Captain Joshua Benson, in Colonel
Cotton's Regiment, and General William Heath's Brigade for
8 months during the siege of Boston. In December 1776 he
joined a militia Company commanded by Captain Joshua
Perkins and marched to Barrington, R.I. and was stationed
there for 6 weeks. In July 1780 he again enlisted, this time
in a militia company commanded by Captain Perez Churchill
that marched to Tiverton, R.I. .

Moses Coburn  My 4x great grandfather
Moses Coburn got into the War late and by reason of being
"hired by a certain class of men in the then town of Dunstable
to go into the Continental Army in the summer of 1781."
When he reached Phillipsburgh in New York he was placed in
Captain Benjamin Pike's Company, in the Regiment of the
Massachusetts line commanded by Lt. Colonel Calvin Smith in
which he served for nearly two years until it was broken up.
He then transferred to the Company of Judah Alden in the
Regiment commanded by Colonel Sprouts until his discharge
in 1783.

Samuel Haskell   My 5x great grandfather
Samuel served in Captain Joseph Elliott's Company in Colonel
William Turner's Regiment and then under Captain Hezekiah
Whitney in Colonel Josiah Whitney's Regiment.

Amos Hastings   My 5x great grandfather
Amos  responded to the Lexington Alarm as part of
Captain Richard Ayer's Company and Colonel William
Johnson's Regiment. He later served in Captain Timothy
Eaton's Company in Colonel Edward Wigglesworth's Regiment
and was at the taking of the British General Burgoyne at

Elisha Houghton   5x great grandfather
Enlisted at Harvard Ma as a Private in May of 1777 in the
Massachusetts militia and was at the Battles of Bunker Hill
and Stillwater. He then enlisted for three years in the infantry
company commanded by Captain Joshua Brown in Colonel
Timothy Bigelow's 15th Regiment of the Massachusetts line.
and took part in the Battles of Monmouth and Newport and
was at Valley Forge. He twice was promoted to Sergeant and
twice was busted back down to the ranks.

Amos Upton    My 5x great grandfather
Responded to the Lexington Alarm and marched there from
his home in Reading. He later joined the militia company
commanded by Captain Asa Prince as an orderly sergeant
and then enlisted for eight months in the Continental Army
under Colonel Mansfield. He was at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
He was discharged in October of 1775.

John Griffith  My 5x great grandfather
Enlisted in 1781 as a Matross (he swabbed out the barrel of
the cannons after they fired, or so I've been told) in Captain
William Treadwell's Company in Colonel John Crane's
Artillery Regiment.

Reuben Packard   My 5x great grandfather
A Sergeant in Captain Josiah Hayden's Company in Colonel
Bailey's militia. They marched to Lexington at news of the
Alarm. He also responded several more times as a Minuteman
for a total of nearly 8 months duty.

Jonathan Abbott   My 5x great grandfather
Served as a Sergeant in the Militia under Captain Henry
Abbott and responded to the Lexington Alarm

Samuel Stowe  My 5x great grandfather
Minuteman from Sherborn, Ma. Served in Capt. Benjamin Bullard's
Company in Col. Asa Whitcomb's 5th Massachusetts Bay
Provincial Regiment.

Besides those direct ancestors, these other relatives fought
in the Revolution:

Moses Barrows, brother to Asa Barrows.

Samuel, Jesse, and Benjamin Barker, sons of Jonathan
Barker, Jr. and brothers to Jonathan Barker 3rd.

James Swan, brother in law to Jonathan Barker.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


John Barnes' son Jonathan was born 3Jun 1643 and as I'll show later was
involved in his father's merchant business. But this post is about his one
appearance at Plymouth Court for an offense that resembled some of his
father's drinking exploits.

In 1666 the twenty three year old Jonathan had been married for a year
to his wife Elizabeth Hedge. This particular case involved two of his
wife's brothers; Abraham Hedge was a co-defendant and Elisha was a
witness. The third co-defendant Thomas Starr was already in hot water
for some statements criticizing the colonial government.

It also didn't help matters that Anthony Thacher was a deputy to the
General Court from Yarmouth.

The following  is from the Plymouth Court Records:

6Mar 1666
Att this Court, Mr Anthony Thacher complained against Thomas Starr,
Jonathan Barnes, and Abraham Hedge for abbusive carriages towards him in
his house ; in reference whervnto the said Starr, Barnes, and Hedge were
sentenced to pay vnto the said Mr Thacher the sume of fkiue pounds, viz :
the said Thomas Starr the sume of forty shillings, Jonathan Barnes the sume
of forty shillings, and Abraham Hedge the sume of twenty shillings; and in
reference vnto theire rietus carriages att the same time in breakeing the
Kings peace, for the which bonds were taken of each of then vntil this Court,
the court sentences them to bee comitted to prison, and theire to remaine
during the pleasure of the Court ; which accordingly was pformed, and the
next day after their comittment were sett at libertie, and theire bonds
deliured to them.

And in reference vnto  the said Thomas Starr and Jonathan Barnes theire
abusiue carriage to Francis Baker att the same time, they, the said Starr and
Barnes, were sentanced by the Court to pay vnto the said Baker, each of them,
the sume of twenty shillinges.

And in reference vnto the said Francis Baker and John Casley theire breach of
the peace att the same time, they were fined by the Court, each of them, the
sume of three shillinges and four pence to the vse of the collonie.

And whereas Elisha Hege hath giuen testimony that the said Baker and Casley
were drunke att the same time, incase any concurrent testimony shall appear
to cleare vp the truth thereof, they shallbee lyable to suffer the penaltie of the
law for the same.

The stay in prison might have been the Plymouth equivalent of spending the night
in jail to sleep it off and ponder the error of your ways. If it was, it seems to have
worked for Jonathan as this was the only instance I can find of him misbehaving.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


The estate of John Barnes was submitted to the Court five months after his death by
the four men appointed to take the inventory. (One of them was  Samuel Dunham, another
of my ancestors.) John was successful merchant and his belongings reflect that fact. It's
a long list and I won't go through the whole thing here, but here's a section from the
beginning of it. It certainly is more proof that much of our culture's view of Pilgrim
culture is incorrect. The stereotype is that the male Plymouth colonists all dressed
in black with those tall buckled hats, and in fact there are some black ("sadcolored") items
in John's wardrobe. But there are also red "wascoates" (waistcoats), silver buttons, and
a beaver trimmed ("demicastor" ) hat.

There were a few terms I had never encountered before and had trouble finding defintions
for when I Googled them. So I asked my friends over on Facebook if anyone had any
idea what they meant and several were able to help me out.

Ernie Wallace and Pamela Wile found that a "Parropus coat" was a coat made from
Peropus which was a double layer of camlet fabric. Camlet was made from camel's
hair and silk and originated in Asia.      

Drew Smith and Jennifer Zinck told me that a "Carsey suite"  was made of a woolen
cloth whose name is usually spelled as "kersey".

My thanks to all of them for the assistance!


A true Inventory of the estate of Mr John Barnes lately deceased taken and aprised by us whose names are underwritten this 30th day of August Anno Dom 1671 as followeth

Impr*. his apparell one [Parropus] Coate 00-15-00

Item a sadcullered Carsey suite 01-15-00

Item a broadcloth Coate 01-00-00

It. a serge heire Cullered suite 01-05-00

It. a gray serge Coate 01-00-00

It. a broadcloth suite and a troopers Coate all of them worne 01-10-00

It. a great Russed Cloth Coate 01-05-00

It. 2 old troopers Coates and an old paire of briches 01-05-00

It. 3 Red wascoates 00-18-00

It. 4 paire of drawers 00-18-00

Ite. a night uper garment and a tufted fustian wascoate 00-07-00

Item 3 old dubletts 00-12-00

Item 3 paire of wosted stockens 00-10-00

Item 6 paire of stockens 1 of them holland 00-10-00 /. s. d.

Item a black demicaster of the new fashion; & 1 old satten capp . . 00-12-00

Item 2 Cullerd hatts 00-06-00

Itm 4 old hatts 00-04-00

Item 2 new Cullered hatts 00-10-00

Item 1 hatt more 00-02-06

Item 5 blacke silke hatt bands 00-03-00

Item 2 paire of Cotton gloves and 2 paire of lether gloves fringed . 00-07-00

Item 1 Remnant of sad cullered cloth in bitts and one pair of gater lashes 00-05-00

Item a paire of mittens and a paire of blacke Garters 00-01-00

Item 2 dowlis shirts almost new 00-16-00

Item 2 shirts more 00-16-00

Ite. 2 shirts more 00-10-00

Ite: half a dozen of bands and band stringes and an old wrought capp. . 00-12-00
Item a silk neckcloth.
His cash.

Item io* sent into the bay by George Watson and by him Returned: . . 00-10-00

Item in cash more which we find exstant 05-08-07

Item a set of silver buttons and a silver thimble 00-06-00

Item 7 whole silver spoones and 2 broken ones 03-04-00

Item a silver bason 03-00-00

Item a silver beer bowle 03-00-00

Item a silver dram cupp:& 2 other small peeces of broken silver . 00-16-00

Item a smale psell of Gould and silver case 00-03-00

Item a knot of silver buttons 00-03-00

Item 2 bibles one English and another Indian 01-00-00

Ite old Psalme booke and 2 other old bookes 00-01-06

Nathaniel : Morton
John Morton
Gyles Rickard Senor
Samuell donham 

- "The Plymouth scrap book: the oldest original documents extant in Plymouth archives, printed verbatim (Google eBook)"  by Charles Henry Pope (C. E. Goodspeed & company,  1918 Boston, Ma.) p102

The Inventory goes on and on, counting livestock, armor, weapons, and more clothes. The Estate was valued at  226 pounds, 18 shillings, 8 pence.

John Barnes left behind a sizable estate for his era and place. Despite his bouts of drunkenness he'd
been a productive and valued member of the Plymouth Colony.

Still, I can't help feeling that there may have been some in the Plymouth Colony government who might have been relieved that they no longer had to deal with the problem of John Barnes. 

Monday, April 16, 2018


My ancestor John Barnes must have had an intimation of his own mortality four years
before his death, because his will was drawn up in 1667and presented in 1671. He didn't
have many relatives to whom he could leave his estate: his second wife Joan, his son Jonathan
(my ancestor), his two grandsons, the children of his deceased daughter Lydia (Barnes)
Marshall and an unnamed cousin who was married to Henry Sampson. I found this
transcription of his will online in a Google ebook,  Charles Henry Pope's 1918 book "The Plymouth scrap book: the oldest original documents extant in Plymouth archives, printed verbatim (Google eBook)" (C. E. Goodspeed & company, Boston, Ma.) p56-57

New Plimouth
6th of March,  1667
New England
The Last will & Testament of John Barn's which is as ffollows.
To All whome these may concern. (Know you That I John Barn's (being of my Sound Understandinge: doe declaire This to be my Last will and Testament. Knowing not how soon ye lord may call me out of this world, doe theirfore Labor to give noe occasion of strife unto those that shall survive me. But that peace may be Among them. 1. In the first place I doe desire that my body; be decently buryed (and) that Funerall charges to be Expended out of my psonall Estate.
2. That all Legacys be payd . before any division of my estate be mayd.
3. I doe apoynt yt my dear wife Joan Barn's & my son Jonathan Barn's be ye Exectors of this my Last will and Testament.—4. I doe Bequeath unto my wife Joan Barn's half of Every pt. and pcell of my housing and Lands yt I doe now psess in ye Township of New Plimoth dureing The Tearme of her life.—5. I doe bequeath unto my sonn unto my sonn Jonathan the other half part of my above said housing Lands &c. unless my sayd Sonn shall forfitt it on condittions as follow's in an oyr pt of this my will.-6. I doe bequeath all my Land lying Near to Road Island unto my grand-Sonn John Marshall, as also ye silver dish yt I doe usually use to Eat in. - 7. I doe bequeath to my Cozen ye wife of henery Samson forty shilling's out of my Estate to be payd Beffore division of my Estate.8. I doe Bequeath my moveable Estate as follow's one third to my wife for ever in Case she shall not molest any pson to whome I have fformerly sould any Lands unto in Case she shall so doe, yn it shall fall to my Sonn or grandson John Marshall. ye Next third I doe bequeath to my Sonn Jonathan In Case he doe not demand any pt of That Estate yt fformerly I gave to my daughter Lyddyah: Now deceased, in case he shall Soe doe yt third shall fall unto my grandson John Marshall ffor ever. The Next third I doe bequeath to my grandchildren now in being togeither wth my Kinswoman Ester Ricket to pay to each of ym an Equall pt of yt my Estate, hoping That my Last will may be an instrument of peace; shall cease waiting for ye Time of my chang. -9. I doe Further Request and desire Elder Thomas Couchma Lt. Ephraim Morton and Joseph Warren to be the overseers of this my Last will and Testament.
his mark
John x Barnes   (Seal)

Signed & Sealed In
ye presence of
george Soule Senr:
Sam1: Seaburij
Samuell hunt

This Will is Recorded according to
order p me Nathaniel Morton Secretary
see book of Wills and Inventoryes
Recorded beginning att 71; in folio 31

I'll conclude this series with a look at the inventory of the estate of John Barnes.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


I think the Plymouth authorities had become resigned to my ancestor John Barnes'
drinking bouts towards the end of his life.Either that, or he became a discreet drunk
and wasn't caught drinking in public. But ultimately, it was a very public and very
foolish display that led to his death at the age of 61 in 1671. A jury of 12 men
were called together to rule on the cause of death. Two of them were also my
ancestors, Samuel Dunham and Sergeant William Harlow:

5March 1671-2
Wee, whose names are vnderwritten, being sumoned together by order
from the Gov to view the corpes of Mr John Barnes, and to giue in a verdict
how wee judge hee came by his death, doe judge, that being before his barne
dore in the street, standing stroakeing or feeling of his bull, the said bull
suddenly turned about vopn him and gaue him a great wound with his horne on
his right thigh, neare eight inches longe, in which his flesh was torne both
broad and deep, as wee judge ; of which wound, together with his wrinch of
his necked or paine thereof, (of which hee complained,)hee imediately
languished ;  after about 32 hours after he died. Vnto the thruth whereof wee
haue submitted our hands.


Plymouth Court Records p88

Some of his Pilgrim neighbors probably shook their heads and murmured about how
he was warned that someday his drinking would kill him. But despite his excessive
drinking, John Barnes died a wealthy man by the standards of his day, and I'll discuss
that in the next post of this series,

Saturday, April 14, 2018


There are over 378 thousand new records in this week's Findmypast Friday release:


New South Wales, Deceased Estate Files 1880-1923
Over 137,000 records  Discover your ancestor in this index of deceased estate files from New South Wales for the years from 1880 to 1923. Each record will reveal the date of your ancestor’s death, their duty date, locality and any additional remarks.

Waterford Registers & Records
OVER 211,000 RECORDS Search for your Irish ancestors in a collection of registers and records from the city of Waterford that includes deaths and burials, emigration records, freemen records, registers of war dead, rental records and rate books.

New Jersey Death Index 1901-1903 Image Browse
OVER 1,000 RECORDS Explore digital images of the New Jersey death index covering the years 1901 to 1903. From the index, you can learn your ancestor’s name and death year. This collection has been obtained through Reclaim the Records.

New Jersey Marriage Index 1901-1914 Image Browse
OVER 1,000 RECORDS Explore digital images of the New Jersey marriage index covering the years 1901 to 1914. From the index, you can learn your ancestor’s name and marriage year. This collection has been obtained through Reclaim the Records.

Surrey Feet of Fines 1558-1760
OVER 20,000 RECORDS Explore the feet of fines for Surrey created during the time period from 1558 to 1760. Feet of fines were documents of a fictitious suit of law created to obtain a secure transfer of land. The document recorded the final agreement written in triplicate, between the buyer and seller.


Cornwall Burials
New records: 667
Total records: 281,247
Covering: Falmouth and Penryn Dissenters' Burying Ground Registers 1808-1928
Discover: Name, date of death, age & location


Being a fairly successful merchant, John Barnes had several indentured servants
in his household and apparently at least one slave. He seems to have not been a
cruel master since there are no records of runaways from his service, but there
are a few cases where his servants requested their contracts be taken over by
another colonist.

Two of the cases involving John's servants interested me. The first involves a
servant named John Wade who had taken a boat trip to Duxbury with a man
named Edward Holman, another merchant of Plymouth Colony who would
have been a business rival of John Barnes.:

2Feb 1657
John Barnes complained against Edw Holman for intertaining John Wade, his
seruant, and for carrying the said Wade to Duxburrow in his boate, without
his masters concent. The Court finding the said Holman, vpon examination of
him, to bee faulty both att this time and att other times in like manor, hee was
fined ten shillings ; and the next time hee, the said Holman, shalbee found faulty
in such like carryages, on due proofe, towards any of the seruants of the said
John Barnes, hee is centanced by the Court to pay vnto him the sume of twenty

Att the same Court, the said John Barnes complained against his said seruant,
John Wade, he ran vp and downe like vnto a runagate, and hee could haue noe
comaund ouer him, and therefore desired hee might bee freed from any further
care or inspection ouer him ; on which the Court ordered the said Barnes to keep
his said seruant vntill hee could send word to his father, and take further order
with him about him.  Plymouth Court Records   Vol3 p126

Reading how John Barnes described his "runagate" servant, I wonder just how old
John Wade was. Children were indentured sometimes at a young age and his behavior
seems to indicate that John Wade was perhaps just a a normal active boy.

The second case caught my attention because it involves a man from Boston, a
Mr Rocke. Boston was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony's

5Jul 1666
In reference vnto Thomas Barnes, servant vnto Mr John Barnes, of Plymouth, vpon
complaint vnto the Court of the nott agreement between the saiid mr and servant,
the case being refered by such as were interested therein, viz, the said Mr Barnes,
and Mr Rocke, of Boston, in the behalfe of the said Thom Barnes, for a full and finall
determination,vnto our honored Gov, he hath ordered, with the consent of the Court

aforsaid, that the said Thomas Barnes shall be surrendered vp vnto the said Mr Rocke,
to be att his dispose, and that he is released from his master, John Barnes, prouided
that the said Mr Rocke pay or cause to bee payd vnto the said John Barnes the sum of
 ^  ^. Vol 4 p133

The amount to be paid by Mr Rocke is missing from the transcription. All there is are those
two "^ ^". The "Gov" referred to was Governor Thomas Prence, with whom John had once
exchanged indentured servants.

Next, the story of the unusual death of John Barnes,.

Friday, April 13, 2018


Besides being a successful merchant my ancestor John Barnes did a lot of wheeling
and dealing in real estate. His name appears in the Plymouth Court Records more
for land deals than for any other reason. Several times he was appointed by the Court
to settle land disputes between some of the colonists. On one such occasion he was
part of a committee which included a man named Thomas Pope. The irony is that
eventually the Court would be asked to deal in a dispute between Barnes and Pope.

Relations between the two men may have soured first because of a fight Pope had
with Gyles Rickard which came to blows and in which Pope hit Rickard's wife. That
incident took place in 1663. About a year later all three men were in Court:    

7Feb 1664-5
In reference vnto diuers complaints amongst some of the naighbours of
Plymouth, in pticulare John Barnes against Thomas Pope, and the said Pope
against Gyles Rickard, concerning bounds of land whereof they complained
each of the other of encroahment and treaspas by cuting of wood and makeing
of hiewaies ouer the said Barnes his land, the Court haue ordered Leiftenant
Morton and Gorge Bonum, with the healp of some other for a third man, to
measure and bound the said lands in controuersy, the ancient bounds being
lost, that soe all controuersyes about the same might sease for the future. 
V4 pp79-80

("Gorge Bonum" was my 8x great grandfather George Bonham.)

Whatever suggestions Morton, Bonham, and the unknown third man may have
made to deal with the situation, it does not appear to have worked. Thomas Pope
had been involved in several confrontations with other colonists over property
boundaries before and in this case he appears to be the instigator, although we
only have the Court Records to go by. Barnes could have very well done something
to provoke Pope that was never recorded anywhere.

Then the following May the pair were once more in Court:

3May 1665
In reference vnto the complaint of John Barnes against Thomas Pope, for
treaspasing vpon his land in carting ouer it, and the complaint of the said
Pope against the said Barnes for violently oposing the children of the said
Pope in the cart way when they were about theire honest labour, and for
beating the horse of the said Pope, and in strikeing of the horse struck his
boy, the Court ordered, that forasmuchas these contrversyes arose rather
out of prejudice then out of any reall cause, that they should addresse
themselues to the healp of naighbours for the settleing of those matters,
and that the said Pope should goe noe more through Barnes his land.
v4 p89

Despite the accusations that Barnes had hit the horse and the Pope boy, no
action was taken against him by the Court. There were no witnesses called
for either side and it's possible the boy had not been hit. What had happened,
though, was that Pope had trespassed again on John Barnes'  land and was
warned by the Court not to do it again.

Whether it was the Court's warning or the intervention of neighbors that was
responsible, John Barnes and Thomas Pope did not appear in Court as adversaries

Thursday, April 12, 2018


My ancestor John Barnes must have really perplexed the leaders of Plymouth
Colony. He apparently drank to excess often and in such a way that it was
impossible for the authorities to just ignore it. Yet he was also too important
a member of the Colony to be punished by exile or imprisonment. Finally, in
March of 1657, some limit must have been reached because they tried a
new tactic:

 2March 1657
John Barnes, for his frequent abusing himselfe in drunkeness, after former
punishment and admonition, is fined fiue pounds ; and in case any shall
entertaine him in theire house in a way of drinking, shallbee fined the sume
of twenty shillings ; and if any of the towne of Plymouth shallbee found
drinking in his companie, eury such to pay two shillings & sixpence.
 Plymouth Court Records v3 p128

I think they were trying to use the modern bar tactic of "shutting him off "
but there was a very large hole in it: John Barnes was a merchant, and there
must have been things like wine and rum among the goods he stocked.  He
would also have been traveling to Boston for business where he could find
someone to drink with him. The attempt to curb his drinking problem

Next the Colony government turned to a different method:

6Oct 1659
Att this court, John Barnes, William Newland, and Henry Howland appeered,
being sumoned, and were convicted by law, and sentanced by the Court to bee
disfranchised of their freedome of this corporation ; the said John Barnes, for
his frequent and abominable drunkenes,  and William Newland and Henry Howland
for theire being abettors and entertainers of Quakers, contrary to the aforesaid
order ; likewise Richare beare of Marshfeild, for being a grossly scandalouse pson,
debaughed having bine formerly convicted of filthy, obseane practises, and for the
same by the Court sentanced ;  as alsoe faling vnder the breach of the aforsaid law,
was summoned by the Court psonally to appeer to receiue the said sentance of being
disfranchised as aforesaid, but he appeered not. Notwithstanding his facts and
course of life being pspecuouse and mannifest, hee was likewise sentanced to bee
disfranchised of his freedome of this corporation. V3 pp176-177

This time, John and the others named were now denied the right to vote in Colony
affairs. Even this did nothing to keep John away from drink, because two years later
a new stricter version of the first Court order was issued:

10Jun 1661
The  ordinary keepers of the towne of Plymouth are heerby prohibited to lett John
Barnes haue any liquors, wine, or strong drinke, att any time, within dores or without,
on the penaltie of being fined fifty shillings if they shallbee found to doe, to bee
to the vse of the collonie. V3 p219

Up until now it looks like there was a pattern: the Colony's leaders would try something
to deal with Barnes' public drunkenness and it would seem to work for about two years. But
either this last time was more successful than the other times, or John finally learned
how to be a discrete drinker. Whatever the case, this time it was four years before the
next appearance in Court for John: 

3Oct 1665
John Barnes, being lately detected of being twise drunke, is fined twenty shillings.

Gyles Rickard, Senr, for suffering John Barnes to bee drunke in his house, is fined
five shillings. V4 p106

This was the next to last mention in the Plymouth Court Records of John Barnes'
drunkenness. The last one came six years later and that was on the occasion of his death.

But John had other affairs that needed to be brought up in Court, and we'll discuss those

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


(More about my ancestor John Barnes who I have to believe may have given 
the authorities of Plymouth Plantation a headache with his behavior. One of the 
things I didn't mention in this post was the description of his servant as a "neager".
John Barnes owned a female black servant. First posted in May 2013.)

As I wrote in an earlier post, my 9x great grandfather John Barnes was known as
a drunk in Plymouth Colony. It was such a problem that the authorities took
stern measures to deal with the problem, which will be the subject of another
post. But whatever the may have thought about his excessive drinking, John
was also a productive member of Plymouth society. I doubt they would have
been as lenient with someone who was a a layabout alcoholic.

This particular incident caught my attention first because it involves another
of my ancestors,  8x great grandfather Samuel Dunham. The case was originally
about an accusation against a John Smith, Sr. that he had received stolen property
from a servant of John Barnes, but Smith may have tried to get some revenge om
Barnes by bringing up one my ancestor's recent escapades where he arrived at
Samuel Dunham's house after a drinking binge at the house of another neighbor.
It was sort of a "he said that he said" story.

Two things should be explained about the meaning of two phrases in Smith's
accusation. The first is that it was common to say "drink a pipe" rather than
"smoke a pipe" in the 17th century.

The second is that I'm not too sure exactly what John meant about "two rodds"
except that a rod is a unit of measurement, and I think he is referring to the
end result of drinking a lot of beer.

The case is in Volume Three of  Records of the colony of New Plymouth in
New England
, page 27.

2May 1653
A neager maide seruant of John Barnes, att this Court accused John
Smith, Senr. of Plym, for receiueing tobacco and other things of her which
were her said masters, att sundry times, in a purloining way. The Court
what could bee said on both sides, and because sufficient testimony could
not be at psent produced for the clearing of the case, it was ordered, that the
said pties should attend the next Court of Assistants for further hearing, and
then produce  what testimony the haue for the clearing thereof.

Upon occation of the difference betwixt the said neager and the said
John Smith, the said Smith accused John Barnes in open Court, and said that
Samuell Dunham said , att the house of Gorge Watson,on Tusday last past,
before the date heerof, that there was soe much liquore drunke att the house
of John Rickard the same day, whereof John Barnes dranke soe much as hee
coming into the house of the said Samuell Dunham, and assaying to drinke a
pipe of tobacco, hee filled his pipe and could not light it, and that he should
in a threatening way  say hee had two rodds in pise for him and Goodwife

Smith was to be disappointed if he'd thought to get John Barnes in trouble
that day. I suspect the Pilgrim version of eye-rolling took place as they heard
another story of my ancestor having too much to drink because there is no mention
of any punishment being handed down to Barnes at that particular court session.

As to the original case of John Smith and the servant, a final judgement was given
later that year, on 2Aug 1653 before Gov. William Bradford:

Wheras a contravercy depending betwixt  John Smyth, Senr, of Plym, and a neager
maide maide servant of John Barnes, was refered, for want of clearer euidence,
unto this Court bee ended ;  and accordingly whatsoeuer could bee said on either
side was heard ; and with admonission, both pties were cleared.

John Smith Sr was cleared of the charge against him. His attempt to cause trouble
for John Barnes hadn't worked but my ancestor was wearing the patience of the
authorities thin, and as I'll show, there would be consequences.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


(I've posted about John Barnes in previous years. He's one of my favorite ancestors. This 
is what I first posted about him back in 2007)

I don’t know about other folks tracing their genealogy but I have some favorites on the West
side of the family. It’s a bit unfair, I know, because there’s so much about the Whites and
McFarlands that I’ve yet to discover. The majority of Dad’s ancestors were “salt of the earth”
people, ordinary folks dealing with the daily struggle to survive. But there are a few rare souls
who stand out for one reason or another. Among these are some who did things that made me
(and probably their friends and neighbors) wonder “What WAS he thinking?”

Case in point: John Barnes of 17th century Plymouth, Massachusetts,

I found John while researching backgrounds of Mayflower ancestors a few Thanksgivings
back at The Plymouth Colony Archive Project website. I discovered other later ancestors
listed there and John was among them.

He lived between 1633 and 1671, apparently a prosperous merchant and citizen most of
that time. All that seemed to changed in 1651 when his first wife Mary Plummer died.
By 1653 John had married a woman whose name is recorded only as Joan and began a
long spiral down from respectability, most of which is attributed to drunkenness.

In May 1648 he was granted permission to brew and sell his own beer in Plymouth.
There were a few incidents of fines for public drunkenness during the next few years
but they were much more frequent after he married Joan who was herself quite a
contentious woman). The details can be read at the Plymouth Colony Archive Project,
along with John’s will and other information about his life.

It wasn’t the sad story of John’s trouble with alcohol that struck me when I first read his
story. It was the manner of his death.

John lost his license to brew and serve beer and in 1661the General Court forbade any
one from selling orserving him beer or liquor at all. This seemed to help because he had
only one recorded drunken incident after the Court took that drastic measure. Judging
from the inventory of his estate at his death he was still fairly well off by March of 1671.

This is where the “WHAT was he thinking?” comes into the story. One day in early March,
1671, according to the Plymouth Court Records, John Barnes stood at his barn door and
stroked his bull. The bull took exception to that, turned, and gored John Barnes, giving
him a wound which caused his death approximately a day and a half later.

Among those on the coroner’s jury who ruled on his death was another ancestor of mine,
Samuel Dunham.

My Dad had passed away long before I first read the story of John Barnes’ death but I
had no trouble imagining what a Maine country boy like him would have said about it:

“Damn idiot. That’s what happens when you pet a bull!”

Monday, April 09, 2018


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