Lucius B. (Lucius Bolles) Marsh.

Bronsdon and Box families. Part I. Robert Bronsdon, merchant, and his descendants. Part II. John Box, ropemaker, and his descendants online

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Online LibraryLucius B. (Lucius Bolles) MarshBronsdon and Box families. Part I. Robert Bronsdon, merchant, and his descendants. Part II. John Box, ropemaker, and his descendants → online text (page 27 of 32)
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10 shillings." (Town Records of Boston.)

About the year 1707, Capt. Bant retired from active sea-faring life, and
engaged in building a mansion house on Middle, now Hanover Street.

Feb. 7, 1703, he had purchased of Jeremiah Taylor a piece of land on
the street leading to Mill Bridge, near the mill pond. (See Book 21,
leaf 483, Suffolk Deeds.)

May 8, 1706, he increased his holdings near Mill Creek (afterward
Blackstone Street).



The Mansion Honse, which he erected on this land, was ready for occn-
paney about the time his daughter Mary married Benjamin Bronsdon, Mr.
Robert Bronsdon's son. Doubtless the wedding took place there. (See p. 70.)

This house stood until 1870, and was finally known as the '^Blackstone
House," having then been a public house for many years, part of the time
under the name of the '' Mansion House." Although it brings us some-
what in advance of our history of Capt. Gilbert Bant, this seems the place
to quote an article from the Boston Eoeyiing Transcript, which was printed
in the edition for April 13, 1870.

It relates to the demolition of the Bant Mansion, and incidentally gives
some reminiscences of William Bant, who had inherited the mansion from
his father, Capt. Gilbert Bant.

The name of the writer is unknown to us. The article is as follows :

" The further widening of Hanover Street will cause the removal of
another of the ancient landmarks of our city — the Blackstone House —
situated between Blackstone and Cross Streets. The Philistines have
already laid violent hands upon the venerable structure, and in a few days
it will be numbered with the things that were. There is no particular
interest associated with this building save its antiquity and its former
grandeur. From the records, it appears to have been built about the year
1714 by Gilbert Bant, who is described in the deeds as " mariner and mer-
chant" of Boston. The house was an elegant and spacious edifice for
those days, built of brick and three stories high, and was elaborately orna-
mented in front with pilasters, balconies, etc., and in the interior was finished
in the highest style of elegance and magnificence, and was undoubtedly
a first-class mansion. Mr. Bant died in 1732. In his will this estate was

bequeathed to his son William F)ant, who was also a merchant

He was fond of high life and extravagant living, in which he freely
indulged, maintaining a splendid establishment of horses and carriages, and
a large retinue of servants. He died in 1754. After his death, the estate
passed into the hands of his friend and executor, Ezekiel Goldthwait, Esq.,
who had for seven years occupied the mansion, and maintained the same style
of luxurious living. He was considered to be a man of Avealth, and for many
years his family held high rank among the most autocratic and fashionable
circles of the town.

"The estate measured upwards of one hundred feet on Hanover street,
and included the land and brick building on the north side. Part of this
building was originally the stable attached to the Bant or Goldthwait man-
sion, and was used as such and for the accommodation of the numerous
servants belonging to the establishment. There was also a large garden in
the rear of the mansion house extending more tlian one hundred feet from
Hanover street, which was always kept in a high state of cultivation.

" The old staircase is to be removed intact and sold elsewhere, and kept
as a specimen of the style of 150 years ago.* Cuff Goldthwait, a slave,

* Note. The balusters are the same as those of the Hancock House and the old
Craigie House, in Cambridge. Three kinds of twists on each stair, made of oak wood,
and probably carved in England. The purchaser of the old staircase was the late Mr.
Greeley Curtis of Boston.

Al'PJiNDIX I. 259

stole money from Mr. Goldtliwiiit, ami liid it about the premises, as he
deelared. He was sold to the West Indies as a ]iunishment, b\it never
revealed the hiding place of the gold, w liich has been diligently searched
for ever since."

There are errors in the foregoing article, one of which is the state-
ment that Mr. Goldthwait occupied the house before the death of William
Bant. 'Mv. Goldthwait lived in a smaller house on the Bant estate at
that time.

Capt. Bant having decided to stay ashore, became a merchant of Bos-
ton. He was still a ship owner, and imported his wares, some of which he
sold from his mansion, as we note by his advertisements in the News Letter,
a few of which we quote :

'' Dr}^ Succots or Pomcittron to be Sold at two shillings a pound at the
House of Capt. Gilbert Bant, Middle Street."

" A very likely negro woman aged about eighteen years that has had
the Small pox lately arrived who speaks English. To be sold by Capt.
Gilbert Bant and to be seen at his house in Middle Street Boston." {News
Letter, January, 1719, in the " Boston Library " of the Boston Public Library.)

Capt. Bant took part in town affairs, and held various offices. He was
elected constable in 1706, but declined, and paid his line instead of serving.

In the year 1711, he was chosen " Tything-man," and in 1713, 1715
and 1717, he was "Auditor " of the Town of Boston.

" 1709. Cap^ Gilbert Bant ik, W Johnlndecott possessors of the wharf
at foot of Cross Street did consent that the said wharf should be released to
the Town of Boston and did sign and seal a quit claim thereof on the back
side of Lease." (See Suffolk Deeds for this transaction.)

" Cap^ Bant collected a subscription of £50 which he presented to the
selectmen towards widening the ^lill Bridge which was carried out."
(Town Records.)

Committee on Portifications.

''Jan. 23, 1718. It was voted that certain persons including Cap' Gil-
bert Bant and Samuel Greenwood be committee to view and consider the
state of the Fortifications of the Towne and report what they think proper
to be done thereon and whether they think it advisable that a Battery be
planted on the end of the Longe Wharfe, and that the same Committee be
Impowered to repair the North Battrey in the most manner they can not
exceeding One Hundred and Fift}^ pounds."

XoTE. In 1706 the North Battery had been carried out 120 feet in lengtli and 40
feet in breadth. At tlie October Town Meeting of tliat year, 1000 pounds were voted
for securing and finisliing tlie wharves already begun at Merry's Point, and for the
Fortification to be placed there, and also for some additional wharf "to face the Old
Wharfe where the Guns formerly stood in order to improve the same."


To Regulate Emigration.

'' Nov. 22, 1715. Evan Daviss brought in sick on a ship of which Capt.
Gilbert Bant is the owner it is required of Bant to take the care of said
Evan and provide him with medicine and subsistance and save the town
from that charge."

"Aug. 26, 1720. Cap* Gilbert Bant went Surety for Anthony Under-
wood who was admitted a new inhabitant." (Town records.)

Additional Landed Property.

" Aug. 13, 1709. John Jepson to Gilbert Bant. Middle Street."
"Nov. 4, 1712. Ship Street. Wharf purchased from Mary Downes."
(Book 26, leaf 256, Suffolk Deeds.)

Capt. Bant also purchased land " near Charlestown Ferry " and 400
acres of land at Worcester, in the year 1716. He built two additional
houses on Middle Street. His son, William Bant, was master of a ship in
1726. He followed the sea until his father's death in 1732, when he also
developed into a Boston merchant and a successful one, like his father
before him.

Mrs. Mercy Bant died before her husband and was buried in the Bant
Tomb on Copp's Hill, which is on the Hull Street side and now belongs to
the heirs of the late Frederic Walker Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln, when asked
for the history of the tomb, replied that he did not know how it came into
the possession of his ancestor, Amos Lincoln.

Capt. Bant was probably about 70 years old when he died, in November,
1732. His Will is preserved in the Suffolk Probate Registry, and is copied
in Book 31, on leaf 187. It bears date 1726.

Will of Capt. Gilbert Bant.

In the Name of God Amen. I Gilbert Bant of Boston in the County
of Suffolk, Merchant, being of sound and disposing mind and memory
(praised be God for the same) and being desirous to settle that temporal
estate that God hath blest me with do make and ordain this my last Will
and Testament in manner and form following :

First and principally I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty
God my Creator hoping through the Merits, Death and passion of my Dear
Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ to obtain free pardon and remission of
all my sins and my body I commit to the earth to be decently buried at the
discretion of my Executor hereinafter named and as to my temporal estate
I Give and Devise the same as followeth :

Imprimis : my mind and will is that all my just debts funeral expenses
and other charges be paid and discharged.


Item : I give and bequeatli to my daughter Mary Bronsdon wife of Mr
Benjamin l>ronsdon of Boston, merchant, Five Hundred jjounds eurrent
money of the province to be paid her for her own separate use by my exec-
utor hereafter named within twelve months of my decease.

Item: I give and bec^ueath to my grandson Gilbert Bronsdon the like
sum of Five Hundred pounds to be put out for him at interest until he shall
arrive at the age of twenty one years the interest thereof to be paid yearly
for his education at the college at Cambridge and at the age of twenty one
years the principal sum to be i)aid unto him but in case my s'' Grandson
shall die before he attains s*' age then I give and bequeath the s** sum to the
next male child of Benjamin and Mary Bronsdon for the education of s^
next male child at the College in Cambridge.

Item : T Give and bequeath unto my grandchildren Benjamin, Kobert,
Marcy, Mary and ]>ant Bronsdon fifty pounds each of like money when they
shall attain the age respectively of twenty one years, or the day of their
respective marriages which shall first happen.

But my mind is touching these legacies afores*^ . . . that whereas
my beloved wife Mercy died siezed in fee of a real estate in Boston in her
own right without making any alienation thereof and whereas after my
death my daughter Mary may be entitled to a childs portion thereof. Xow
the terms and conditions of the above legacies are that my s*^ son in law
Benjamin Bronsdon and Mary his wife shall within thirty days after my
decease execute a sufficient deed whereby they shall for themselves and
their heirs and assigns convey and release to their brother William Bant
(my executor hereafter named) all their right and inheritance therein or any
part of any lands and estates of their s** mother Marcy of which she died
siezed in fee and in case my s*^ son Benjamin Bronsdon and daughter Mary
his wife shall not release and convey as afores*^ then my mind is that I give
and devise unto my s'' son William Bant the above s'' legacies hereby giving
to each the sum of ten shillings and my mind is that if there should be no
male heir of my son and daughter Bronsdon to take the s** legacy of five
hundred pounds but they should all die before their respective ages of
twenty one then in that case the legacy shall go to my son William Bant
and in case of death before the day of marriage I hereby give the sum of
fifty pounds so devised to William Bant my executor forever.

Item : I give to my sister ]\Iartha Oliver in case she survive me two
hundred pounds.

Item: I give and bequeath to the daughter of my s^' sister fifty
pounds when she shall attain the age of twenty one otherwise to my

Item : I give to the poor widows of the Old North Church in Boston
afores^ the sum of fifty pounds of like money.

Item : I give and bequeath to Nicholas Cosens, Matthias Cosens and
Matthias Bant each twenty pounds of like money to buy them mourning.

Item : I give device and bequeath unto my son William Bant and his
heirs and assigns forever all my houses lands tenements and hereditaments
with their appurtenances, moneys, goods, bills, bonds, ships, wares and
merchandises whatsoever real and personal.

And Lastly I ordain and constitute and appoint my s** son William
Bant my Avhole and sole executor of this my last Will and Testament
hereby revoking all other Wills by me heretofore made.


In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixth
day of September anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and twenty
six Anno Georgii Magna Brittanite &c decimo tertio.

(Signed) Gilb. Bant (and a seal)
in presence of

Benjamin Elliott, Robert Auchmutv and Joseph Marion. Probated
Dec. 1, 1732. Exam^ by John Boydell Keg'"."

The Bronsdon's heirs refused to accept the conditions of the Will.
Gilbert and Robert had died before their grandfather Bant. We do not
find that either of the surviving grandsons, Benjamin and Bant Bronsdon,
went to the '' College at Cambridge." They were educated in England,

There is little to be learned concerning AVilliam P>ant in the town
records. He was chosen Constable in 1726, but at that time was a sea
captain. In 1735 he and others signed a petition for a "Township at the
Back or Rear of North Yarmouth to be called Gray." He was a Proprietor,
but dwelt in Boston. The township had previously been known as New
Boston, and was about seventeen miles from Portland, Me.

William Bant continued to reside in the Bant IMansion. In 1754 he
died. In his Will he divided his estate between his son, William Bant, who
was born 1742, and his nephews and nieces, children of his deceased sister,
Mary Bronsdon.

Ezekiel Goldthwait, Esq., was made executor and guardian of young
Bant, who inherited from his father his books, plate, half of personal estate
(the other half being devised to Benjamin and Bant Bronsdon, nephews),
portraits of his father and himself (but his mother's portrait he gave to
Mercy, daughter of Mary Bronsdon) and his gold watch. He ordered his
entire landed property to be sold and the proceeds divided between William
Bant and his Bronsdon relatives. He gave mourning rings to Hon. Josiah
Willard, Esq., Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton and Samuel IVIather. He released
"brother Benjamin Bronsdon" from all claims on account of his or his
father's Will.

The Will was witnessed by I'enjamin Mulberry, Richard Dana and
Alexander Chamberlain, and a codicil was witnessed by John Durham,
Jose})h Bradford and Richard Dana.

By the courtesy of Mr. John T. Hassam, we are furnished with a copy
of his valuable historical contribution entitled " Suffolk Registers of Deeds."
On page 27, in a foot-note, Mr. Hassain gives an account of the Bant-
Goldthwait Estate, to Avhich the reader is referred :

" The buildings numbered 173-189 Hanover Street stand on the Bant-
Goldthwait estate, some 20 feet of which was taken to widen Hanover
Street." (See Goldthwait Geneal. for history and portrait of Ezekiel Gold-


William Bant' (William'^, Gilbert').

William Bant' was a boy of 14 years when liis father died. He went
to live in the family of Ezekiel Goldthwait, his father's most valued friend.
He married, May IG, 1675, by Rev. Jos. Sewall, D.I)., a relative of Mrs.
Goldthwait, Miss Mary Anne Lewis, daughter of Ezekiel Lewis, Esq., and
grand-daughter of Jonathan Clarke. Mary Anne Lewis had two brothers,
one of whom lived in Warren, Rhode Island ; the other, Jonathan Clarke
Lewis, lived in Boston and Avas a sea captain. Mr. Bant carried on business
as a merchant in Dock Square. The Boston Eveniyig Post of Oct. 17, 1774,
has his advertisement, as follows :

"William Bant l>egs leave to inform his friends customers and others
that he has to sell by wholesale and retail at his store fronting Dock Square

"A General Assortment of English and India Goods suitable for the
approaching season the whole of which were imported before the ol»' of
August last.

" A Great Variety of Cotton, Woolen and Silk Goods to be exchanged
for an article more convenient to the advertiser. Cash."

William Bant was a stanch patriot. When 17 years old he joined the
''Anti-Stamp Fire Society," which combined politics with service. In 1769
he was one of the " Sons of Liberty." He was on the famous Committee to
prevent "Monopoly and Oppression" in 1774. He was a member of the
'< Independent Company " formed at Boston, Dec. 7, 1776. (See State
Archives.) He was also interested in other ways in the public welfare, for
we find his name as one of a Committee to Secure Subscriptions for the first
street lamps in Boston, in 1774.

Adino Paddock, the Royalist, left William Bant in charge of his affairs
when he hurriedly left for Nova Scotia; and, later, proceeded to the Isle
of Jersey, where he died in 1804, and is remembered in Boston chiefly in
connection with the " Paddock elms," which he set out by the Common.

During the British occupation the Lewis family withdrew to Rehoboth.
Mrs. Bant was there with her father. (See Diary of Ezekiel Price.) Mr.
Bant was also going and coming between that place and the army on
" important business." Ezekiel Price was a cousin to the Lewises.

Extracts from Price's Diary.

"Aug. 8, 1775. At Attleborough. Got to Daggetts at Rehoboth about
11 oclock forenoon. We all visited M'" Bant and lady, M'"^ Gray and Ezekiel
Lewis. Drank coffee."

"Thursday, Jan. 6, 1776. M'" William Bant called here (Stoughton)
on his way to the army &c."


In 1777 John Hancock, in a note to the corporation of Harvard College,
speaks of '•' Mr. William Bant my Attorney in Boston." (Given by Mr. W.
G. Brown, in charge of the archives at Harvard University.)

We find mention, in the newspapers of that period, of business trans-
actions in which Mr. Bant was acting for John Hancock, who was at that
time in New York attending Congress.

The following extracts from Hancock's letters to his wife explain them-
selves, and incidentally show in what estimation he held William Bant :

York Town, Oct. 18"^ 1777.
My Dear Dolly.

. . . My present Intention is to leave Congress in eight
days but more particulars in my next. I shall hope & desire that you will
meet me on the road. I have desired M"' Bant to accompany you in the
carriage & when we meet he can take my sulkey and I return with you in
the carriage to town. M'' Bant must hire or borrow a servant to attend you
on horseback. My dear I hope your health will admit of your coming with


(signed) John Hancock.

Dover within GO miles of Hartford.
Saturday, one of Clock.
8"^ Nov. 1777.

My Dear . . . What if you should on Monday set out to meet me
on the Litchfield road and then if I am not able to reach Hartford on that
day I shall have the satisfaction of seeing you on the road. If you think
the ride will be too much for you I would not have you undertake it but I
hope you will not ride many miles before we meet as I trust M'' Bant is with
you. My Reg''* to him and my best wishes attend him.

(signed) Yours forever, John Hancock.

William Bant was a member of St. John's Grand Lodge (Masonic) of
Boston, the records of which have been published. Under date of Nov. 18,
1769, his name is in a list of eighty or more brethren who were present at a
dinner served at the "British Coffee House." He there offered a petition
in behalf of " Bro^ Jon'* Clarke Lewis who in his passage from Ireland to
Boston lost all he had by the Ship's foundering under him and taking to the
Boat was after Several Days taken up by a Vessel bound to South Carolina
and carried in there;" after due consideration, this business was \mt over
until the " 23''^ Instant after Dinner." This Dinner on the 23rd of Novem-
ber was nothing less than a part of the celebration incident to the Installa-
tion of Grand Master John Rowe.

At the banquet succeeding the procession (a grand affair, enlivened by
" Bauds of Musick ") " after the cloth was taken away and the Tables were


properly covered Bro' Fitch moved for the Consideration of tlie ]*etition of
Bro"" William Bant in behalf of Bro"" Jonathan Clarke Lewis referr** over to
this time. When the circumstances of the Affair were made known to the
Brethren ])resent it was immediately agreed that a Collection should be
made forthwith Whereupon the Grand Secretary carried about a Hat to the
Brethren in the Order as they sat and upon returning to his Place found
that he had gathered the Sum of Twenty-nine Pounds One Shilling and Four
Pence Lawful Money.

"After this Affair . . . the Musick went on till Xight when the
Hall was finely illuminated by Seventy-two Candles in the Chandiliers and
Sconsces and by Nine Large Candles in the Several Lodges Candlesticks."'
(See Kecords of the Grand Lodge of Mass., printed by Grand Recorder S. D.

William Bant did not live to see the close of the Eevolutionary War.
His health failed to such an extent that he was forced to remove to the
country and went to Groton, where some of his wife's relatives were living.
There he died, Nov. 27, 1780.

This beautiful and tender tribute to his excellent character was pub-
lished in the Continental Journal of Dec. 14, 1780. The author is unknown^
but the enthusiasm of his style suggests Hancock as the writer.


'• On Monday the 27"' ult. died at Groton after a few days illness in the
42*^ year of his age William Bant Esq. formerly an inhabitant of this town.

'•' In this gentleman were united an uncommon assemblage of amiable
qualities. In his family he was a most affectionate and tender husband, the
kindest master and the most affable and obliging friend. He possessed that
share of good nature and ease of manners w^hich rendered him agreeable at
the very first acquaintance and by a sincerity — a frankness and generosity
of mind he in an unusual degree won the hearts of those who more particu-
larly knew him.

"His actions were regulated by the strictest rules of honour and integ-
rity. He used not to turn aside from beholding the sorroAvs of those around
him. From his table the poor were often supplied with bread and by his
purse the wants of the distressed were often relieved.

"He was a zealous friend to the liberties and independence and was
much respected in that part of the country where, for the last eighteen
months of his life, he has resided.

" His death is a memento of the shortness and uncertainty of human
life and should teach us who are the living so to member oiir days that we
may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

"He was taken away suddenly and in the prime of life. This is the
consolation left his friends that he did not live unmindful of another state
but to those who were connected w^ith him he made the concerns of his
immortal part the subject of much conversation.


"His remains were interred the 29"' iilt. and followed to the grave by a
large concourse of people who appeared to be deeply affected on the melan-
choly occasion.

"It may indeed be said that as in life he was beloved so at his death
he is lamented b}'^ all who knew him. He has left behind him an amiable
widow whose loss is inexpressible and can only be made up by a participa-
tion of that good which religion affords.''

He left no children to perpetuate his virtues. His widow married at
Groton, three years later, the Hon. Caleb Davis,. Esq. (See Boston Gazette
for Sept. 1, 1783.) She lived but a' short time, and we find in the Massa-
chusetts Gazette of Jan. 16, 1787 :

" Died. In this town (Boston) on Friday last (Jan. 12"') Mrs. Mary
Anne Davis, Consort of the Hon. Caleb Davis Esq."

Mr. Davis was, in 1780, Speaker of the first Massachusetts House of

Ancestry of Abigail Baker.

[Wife of John Box Bronsdon, see Xo. (282), of Milton (p. 100).]

Richard Baker^, the emigrant, arrived in Boston, Nov. 28, 1635, from
London, in a " Norsey Barque " called the "Bachelor," which had cleared
from Gravesend, below London, Eng., Aug. 18, 1635. He was master's
mate, but came with the intention of remaining in the colony. (See Baker
Geneal. by Edmund J. Baker, Esq.)

Richard Baker was a man of superior mould and capacity. He had
relatives in America who were prosperous and respected. He brought
property from England himself. He settled in Dorchester and became
influential in church and town matters, achieved wealth, and married into
one of the leading families. He was a Proprietor in all town Divisions
■except the " Great Lots." He drew Lot No. 5 in the Milton (6th) Division,
which he sold to S. Trescott. In 1639 Faith Withington was his wife.

Richard Baker was made freeman in 1642 ; became a member of the

Online LibraryLucius B. (Lucius Bolles) MarshBronsdon and Box families. Part I. Robert Bronsdon, merchant, and his descendants. Part II. John Box, ropemaker, and his descendants → online text (page 27 of 32)