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Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass. online

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Richard Church

Of Plymouth, Mass.


New York


The Tuttle Company


rutland. vermont



»•« »••


Immigrants of the name of Church have been coming to this,
country since the earliest Colonial days and they are coming still,
several having arrived within the last half century. There were
five Colonial immigrants who became the founders of important
families. In the order of their arrival, or of our first knowledge of
them, these Founders are:

Richard of Plymouth, Mass., 1630.

Garrett of Watertown, probably 1631. He was a man of mark
in Boston in 1634.

Richard of Hartford, Conn., 1632 or 3.

John of Dover, N. H., 1665.

David of Marlborough, Mass., 1703 to 9.

In addition there were some pre-Revolutionary immigrants
who arrived in time to take part in that struggle. The best known
of them was Gen. Philip Church.

David of Marlborough has been confounded constantly with
David the son of Garrett, but the evidence that they were different
men is convincing.

David of Marlborough was one of the patentees of that town
in 1709 and married Mary Wilder in 1710. He may have gone
there earlier, perhaps in 1703. His ancestry and the date of his
arrival, if an immigrant, are not known. Probably he was a young
man. He had four children, Adonijah 1710, Noah 1712, Ephraim
1714 and Mary 1717. Noah moved westward to the boundary of
New York and founded the town of New Marlborough.


Garrett's David was born in "Watertown, Mass., 1657, married

there Mary and had John 1687 and Sarah 1689. In 1708-9

he went to Killingly, Conn., of which place he was a patentee and
town clerk for twenty years. In 1738 he deeded land to his ''well
beloved son" John and mentions his grandson John. The grandson
married Amy Winter and after his death his son, also John, went
with his mother to Fort "Western (Augusta), Me.

The cessation of children after the second child has led to the
supposition that Garrett's David lost his wife, and the genealogists

say that he married again, another Mary , but there is no

evidence of the fact. The records of Killingly have the death of
Mary widow of David Church, 17 Dec, 1751. He had seven great-
grandchildren born in Killingly to "John and Amey Church."

Thus the lives of the two Davids run parallel from the year
1708 or 9, he of Marlborough having four children in seven years,
1710 to 17, during which years the son of Garrett rose from 57 tq
64 years of age. One family moved west, the other east.

It is possible that the Marlborough David belonged to one of.
the other families, though the names Adonijah and Noah seem,
to be confined to his family. Eliminating mere conjecture these
are the known facts that distinguish the two Davids.

Many attempts have been made to compile a history of two
of the Church families, those of the two Eichards, but the only
one published is that by Hon. J. N. Arnold, "History of the Church
Family," 1887. Individual members have had partial genealogies
compiled, the data being confined to their immediate line. This
is true especially of the Hartford family. Mr. "William A. Good-
win, who compiled the annual legislative statistics of Connecticut
up to 1882, made such a genealogy and is said to have traced the
family (which one is not known) far back in England. This work
has been lost. He is said to have offered a copy of it to Morris
Church for One Dollar but Morris declined !

In 1878-80 Rev. F. Janes of Philadelphia began a serious effort
and collected a large amount of material about all the families but
died before he assembled his information. Many of his notes have
been used by the present editor. "Wherever possible the source of


his information has been traced and noted in the various entries.
Where the original authority could not be found the entry is cred-
ited to "Janes' notes."

In preparing this work the editor has found it necessary to
assemble his notes of the Hartford family and has about 1600
names "placed" in due order besides several hundred that belong
to that line but have not been properly connected with it. This
may be published in skeleton form within the year. Considerable
material of the Garrett family and some of the Marlborough fam-
ily has been gathered.

Some of the oldtime questions concerning the Churches are
answered in this book, such as the identity of Edward, ' ' merchant,
of Boston" and "Consul to Lisbon." But who was the Edward
Church who published the Inquisitive Traveller, a poem, in 1807,
and described himself as of the fourth American generation "of
the first European settlers in North America," and says: — "I was
better versed in the Latin and Greek languages at sixteen than
now at sixty years of age." He goes on with an assertion that
makes his identity difficult to establish: — "I have travelled in
America for many years from the North boundaries of the United
States to the neighborhood of the Equator." If he meant land
travel he accomplished a feat. If a shipmaster he was unusually
well educated. The only Edward of any of the families known
to the editor whose birth-date approaches that indicated by this
author is the son of Edward and Grace (Shaw) Church, b 1744.
His history is unknown.

The editor has not been able to identify the Edward who took
part in the war in the Barbary States, nor the Nathaniel who is
said to have been hung for piracy. No doubt they were interesting
members of their family. Besides the Edward mentioned above
there is found in the Boston records the name of another ' ' Edward
Church, merchant of Boston." He married, 5 June, 1796, Mary
Hinckley, lived in Dorchester, had four children the eldest of
whom, John, died in Andover, Mass., in 1855. The wife died in
Dorchester in 1858 in her 88th year. The relationship of this
family is unknown.

The Boston News Letter of 5 Oct., 1708, published the follow-


ing item: "Rhode Island. On Sunday last arrived here one Ben-
jamin Church who sailed hence Master of a small sloop bound for
Antigua the 8th of August last and on the 18th in the Lat of 34
met with the same storm that the Jamaica Fleet met with on said
day which overset the Sloop and the people kept on the Bowsprit
from Saturday till Monday when the Sloop righted, but lost her
Mast, and through their Industry they freed her, the wind hanging
easterly. They drove ashore on Cape May, and so saved all their
lives. ' '

There are only two Benjamins of suitable age to be sailing
masters at the date given; the son of Joseph, No. 24, b 1672, and
the son of Col. Benjamin, No. 28, b 1678. In the Hartford family
there is a Benjamin, b 1680, but he lived in Hadley, Mass., and
probably should be excluded. If the above item relates to either
of the Plymouth Benjamins named it is the only mention we have
of his career.

The editor of a work like this is indebted necessarily to many
persons for assistance. There are some who have contributed
largely. It is with especial pleasure that he acknowledges the
services of Miss Harriet A. Church of Rochester, Mass. Thirty
years ago she sent full notes of the Rochester branch to Rev. F.
Janes and has added to them for this work. Miss Emily L. and
Miss Millie D. Church of Bristol, R. I., Charles H. and James I.
Church of New Bedford, Mass., John P. Church of Washington,
D. C, Charles S. Church of Allenville, Wis., and A. R. Lewis of
Benton Harbor, Mich., are among those who have added most to
this history.

The editor has not tried to trace the family back to its
English home. Richard Church is said by various authorities to
lave emigrated from London, from Oxford and from County Essex,
and perhaps other cradles of the family have been suggested, but
the editor has not found convincing proof that the place of Rich-
ard's origin is known. There is a genealogist who asserts that he
knows who Richard was, the place where he was born and his
relationship to Richard of Hartford, but as he will not allow his
manuscript to be shown outside the purchaser's family the editor
has not sought to enrich this work by that means.


Richard Church, of Plymouth, Mass., founder of one of the
large families of that name in America, was born in 1608 as we
learn from a deposition made by him:

"The Deposition of Eichard Church aged about 56 yeares this Deponent
8aith that hee being att worke about the mill the 19th. day of august
hearing of a Cry that the man was killed; hasted presently and healped-
to remove the earth from Thomas ffish who being much bruised thereby
was gott to bedd and in four dayes and a halfe Dyed; and further saith
not." Made at Sandwich 25 Aug. 1664 and recorded in Plymouth Coll.
Court Orders, Vol. IV. p. 92. (Mayflower Descendants IV-152).

He came to America probably in 1630 since the Council of
Massachusetts Bay Colony voted to admit him to the status of
"freeman" 19 Oct., 1630. He is supposed to have come 8 Apr.,
1630. in the fleet with John Winthrop, later Governor of Massa-
chusetts Bay Colony, but this is conjecture merely.

He left that Colony without taking the oath and went to Ply-
mouth where he became a freeman 4 Oct., 1632. Apparently the
authorities there inquired into his status and a letter dated 1631
from Governor Bradford of Plymouth to Governor Winthrop of
Massachusetts Bay gives us valuable personal details of Richard's
situation. The letter gives also a glimpse into the strict oversight
which the early settlers maintained over the later arrivals, a super-
vision necessary to weld a heterogenous mass of immigrants into an
effective commonwealth.


"Eichard Church came likewise ass a soujournour to worke for ye
present; though he is still hear resident longer than he purpossed; and
what he will doe, neither we nor I thinke himself e knows; but if he
resolve here to settle we shall require of him to procure a dismission;
but he did affirme to us at ye first that he was one of Mr. welb 's men and
freed to goe for England or whither he would ye which we rather beleued
because he came to us from Wessagasscussett (Weymouth) upon ye fal-
ling out with his partner." (Mayflower Descendants, IX-I).

The freedom to go whither he would indicates that he was not
bound for his passage but was an independent adventurer coming
at his own charges. No trace of Mr. "Welb" (Webb?) has been
found. The partnership spoken of may have been land speculation
at Weymouth. Later he bought land which had been granted to
Gov. Winslow in Seeonnet, now Little Compton, R. L, which
remains in the family to this day.

The first significant fact that the records disclose about him
is that he was assessed on £1116 at Plymouth in 1632-3, two years
after landing. (Hinman, Early Puritan Settlers of Conn.) This
was a very considerable sum in that day and places Richard among
the class of wealthy Pilgrims, if that term could be applied to
any of them. Winsor, in his History of Duxbury, gives the taxes
levied in 1633. William Collier and Edward Winslow are rated
at 2 pounds 5 shillings each, Richard Church and four others at
1 pound 7 shillings each. So in that little community Richard
stood second in point of wealth. His position was among the fore-
most citizens of Plymouth and Duxbury and supports the asser-
tion of his great-grandson Dea. Benjamin, that he "with two of
his brethren, came early into New England as refugees from the
religious oppression of the parent state." Garrett Church of
"Tatertown is supposed to have been one of the brothers. He
vas the progenitor of an important family. Dea. Benjamin makes
the singular mistake of saying that the founder of the Plymouth
family was named Joseph, and this may be the name of the third
brother, who for some reason did not become established in the

Richard entered with vigor into the public activities of the
colony. He served on the "Grand Enquest" several times both in
Plymouth and Duxbury, and many other civic appointments show



that he was a valued member of the community. He served in
the Pequot war, 1643, as a "Voluntary" with the rank of sergeant,
apparently without pay. He was enrolled earlier than this for
we find in the Gen. and Spec. Orders of the Court, 7 June, 1637,
appointing Leift. William Holmes as commander and Mr. Thomas
Prence as council of war, "the names of the Souldiers that willing-
ly offer themselves," and Richard's name is among the first.

There is no record of the appearance, character, or state of
education of Richard Church, but the fact that he was invited to
become a freeman the year of his landing makes it certain that
his social position was known or that he arrived with introduc-
tions or endorsements that won him immediate recognition as a
sober citizen, a church member and loyal subject of his King.

He married Elizabeth Warren, daughter of Richard who came
in the Mayflower. She was not with her father but came with her
sisters on the Anne in July, 1623. On the ship with them was
Roger Conant who selected the site of Salem, Mass., and was put
in authority over that settlement for two years. The present
writer is a descendant of Roger Conant and Elizabeth Warren
through a union that took place two centuries after they voyaged
together to a new world.

Richard's marriage into the Warren family confirms the belief
that he was a man of superior standing in the colony. Richard
Warren was one of the ten (out of 41) signers of the Mayflower
Compact who were distinguished by the title "Mr.," Myles Stand-
ish being "Capt. " Mrs. Warren was usually styled "Mistress," a
title not at all common then. Her name appears frequently in the
colonial records, for she had the rare distinction of remaining a
widow forty years, succeeding to her husband's rights as a "Pur-
chaser." She died 2 Oct., 1673, ae. about 90. The following Order
by the General Court, 7 to 17 Mar., 1636-7, is one of the evidences
relied upon to establish the name of the founder as Richard and
not Joseph, as Dea. Benjamin gave it.

"It is agreed upon by the consent of the whole Court that Elizabeth
Warren Widow the relict of mr Richard Warren Deceased shall be entered
and stand and bee Purchaser instead of her said husband aswell because
that (he dying before he had prformed the said bargaine) the said Eliz-



abeth prformed the same after his decease as also for the establishing of
the Lotts of land formerly given by her unto her sonnes in law Richard
Church Robert Bartlett and Thomas Little in marriage with their wives
her daughters. (Court Orders 1:107.) (Mayflower Descendants 111:48).

Colonials of the Warrens' position were careful in making
their matrimonial alliances and Richard's entrance into that fam-
ily is another proof of the regard in which he was held.

A few words about Richard Warren, whose blood mingled so
early with the Churches may be welcome. He signed the Compact
of the Mayflower passengers and was one of the 19 signers who
survived the hardships of the first winter. He took part in the
first activities of the little band, being one of the exploring party,
consisting of 13 Pilgrims and 5 men from the ship's crew, under
Gov. Carver, who went from the Mayflower 6 Dec, 1620 (old style),
to explore Cape Cod bay. They were attacked by Indians at a
place named afterwards "First Encounter." After a Sunday
rest they made on Monday the 11th the historic landing on Ply-
mouth Rock. Warren was therefore in the first fight with Indians
and one of the first who landed on the site of the settlement. Seven
years later he took part in the first decisive battle fought in New
England, the destruction of the Pequot fort. He died the next
year. A contemporary describes him as "grave Richard Warren"
and says that he was " a useful instrument during the short time
he lived, bearing a deep share in the difficulties and troubles of
the plantation." (Morton's New Eng. Memorial.) He was a
carpenter and builder.

Richard Church was twenty-two the year he landed, a car-
penter and apparently a good one, as the Plymouth authorities
rployed him immediately in making a gun carriage for the
;fences on Fort Hill and (with John Tomson) in building the
est church in the colony. (He had to sue the Pilgrim Fathers
to get his pay !) Later writers speak of him as a "cabinet maker,"
without authority that is evident, and yet the impression has been
made in some way that he was a good workman. If so he must
have learned his trade in England as an articled apprentice. He
came to America immediately upon attaining his majority and
trade freedom as a journeyman.


As early as 1632 he was taxed 1 pound 16 shillings "or to be
paid in corn at six shillings the bushel," a valuation that shows
the high cost of provisions in the colony. Another of his dealings
throws light on the difficulties that accompany the scarcity of a
circulating medium. He sold a house and land for 25 pounds and
it was stipulated that payment was to be "a Rid oxe yt they call
his name Mouse for 8 pounds and ten shillings, commodities 6
pounds. Resedue to be paid next yeare following either in cattell,
or in commodities or in merchants pay." He understood the part
which water-powers were to play in the development of the colony
and bought, 24 Jan., 1635, a half -interest in a "corne mill" at Hing-
ham, setting an example which was to be followed often by his

He was admitted to a share in the "Seaconnet Purchase"
which became Little Compton later. He bought Gov. Winslow's
allotment. His sons Joseph and Benjamin established themselves
on it and the land is still in possession of the family.

While Richard Church seems to have been regarded with
respect by his contemporaries his life was not so public nor his
station so high that writers of that day concerned themselves with
his personal appearance or character. One of his sons, Benjamin,
did rise to such prominence, and we have descriptions of him which
enable us to see just what manner of man he was. Richard had
four sons, all of whom are represented in living generations, and
there are characteristics of face and figure common to these diverg-
ing branches, recognizable even after the varying admixtures of
275 years, which could not exist if they did not arise from a
strongly marked and persistent type. We may say with confidence
that Richard was a man of only moderate height, not over five feet
six or eight inches probably, well-knit, strong and active, with
broad forehead, strong nose, firm but rather delicate mouth, and
a countenance which derived its expression from an intelligent
and conscientious mind. He could not be forefather to so many
men of strong religious feeling were he not himself religious. The
"constant cheerfulness and constitutional vivacity," which Drake
ascribes to his son Benjamin, were undoubtedly characteristics of
Richard. Probably he had the same tendency to blunt expression



that has not been overcome entirely by his descendants. We can
well believe too that the father had the same "indignation at
wrong" and "hatred of falsehood" that, according to Drake,
characterized the son and is found in the family to-day. Benjamin
was a swift runner and proud of his powers and we find this ability
among so many other branches of the family that we are justified
in believing Richard a good runner also.

He lived in Plymouth from 1633 to 1649 ; was taxed in Dux-
bury 1637, and was at Eastham the same year; at Charlestown
1653; at Hingham 1668, and probably lived there the rest of his
life. He resided on the place owned and occupied in recent years
by the heirs of Col. Charles Lane. He is also noted at Dedham
1668, but it is doubtful if he made any real settlement at either
Eastham or Dedham.

He died in Dedham where he was on a visit, his demise taking
place "Sabbath day erly in the morning," and is buried in Hing-
ham at a spot which is covered now by the highway leading to the
Old Steamboat Wharf, and near the water. (Letter of Mrs. Hen-
rietta Church Dunham.) He left but a moderate estate but as he
had eleven children who reached maturity, and probably settled
each one in life on coming of age, or marrying, as the practice then
was, his accumulation of property may well have been much greater
than his estate indicates at his death. His will (Mayflower Des-
cendants, V, 118 ; Suffolk Co. Prob. Rec, VI, 4) is a concise doc-
ument : —

"I Eichard Church of Hingham, having perfect understanding, yet
visited by sickness of body, order this my last will. Debts pay'd then
my will is that my wife, Elizabeth Church, shall enjoy the remainder during
her life. And when it shall please God that she shall leave this life my
will is that what Estate I shall leave to her that shall not be necessarily
Expended for her maintenance shall then be equally divided amongst
my children, only my sonn Joseph to have a dubble portion, that is twice
as much as any of the rest of my children, by reason of the lameness of
his hand, whereby he is disinabled above the rest of my children for the
getting of a livelihood. I ordain my sonn Joseph to be my Executor."

25 Dec 1668 Eichard X Church

The witnesses were Joshua Fisher, John Farebank Senior and
John Farebank Junior. The will was presented for probate 26


Jan., 1669. The fact that Richard signed by a mark does not indi-
cate lack of education but weakness of body. The will is dated three
days before his death.

His sons followed his trade of carpentry but raised it to the
dignity of mill-building and management. Of course they were
all farmers. From this sturdy and sober stock of mechanics there
developed later families which showed marked intellectual gifts,
many of their members becoming writers, poets, orators and cler-
gymen. There was a notable diversity among Richard's descend-
ants in the time at which these intellectual traits appeared. Ben-
jamin was the only one of his sons who appeared in print. He
dictated his recollections of his Indian-fighting to his son Thomas,
and though the son's hand appears in the work there are evidences
that much of the language as well as the thought emanated from
Benjamin. The descendants of Benjamin were distinguished early
for literary, poetical and oratorical gifts. On the other hand the des-
cendants of Joseph, the eldest son, were mechanics and farmers until
the sixth generation, when there was a sudden change, four broth-
ers becoming clergymen and authors. This literary tendency per-
sists in their descendants to the present day.

There is no doubt that Richard's children were indebted
greatly to their mother for the position they took in the world.
Richard Church was most fortunate in his marriage and the high
character exhibited by her father and mother is evidence that the,
wife possessed moral and intellectual qualities fully equal to her
husband's. Generation after generation of the Warrens were sur-
geons of notable skill. The one living in Revolutionary times was
an active patriot, whose death at Bunker Hill made his name a
household word in America for generations. (The facts about
Richard Church are found in many authorities ; Hist. Bridgewater ;
Hist. Duxbury; Hist. Hingham; Mayflower Descendants, etc.)

1. Richard Church, b 1608, d 27 Dec, 1668 (0. S.) ; m
1636-7, Elizabeth Warren, da. Richard and Elizabeth, b about
1583, d 2 Oct., 1673, ae. about 90. Her will is recorded in Suffolk
County Prob. Rec. V. : 11, her estate being £365 14s.



2. Elizabeth, died young.
+3. Joseph, b 1637-8; d Mar., 1711; m 1658, Mary Tucker, b 1641.
+4. Benjamin b 1639; d 17 Jan., 1717-8; m 1672, Alice Southworth.

5. Elizabeth, b ; d 3 Feb., 1658-9; m at Hingham, Mass., 20 Jan.,

1657, Caleb Hobart, b England about 1633.

+6. Nathaniel b ; d 1688-9; m 1665, Sarah Barstow.

+7. Caleb, b 1642; d 1722; m 16 Dec, 1667, at Hingham, Joanna Sprague,

da. William d 11 July, 1678; m. 2d, Deborah ; m 3d, Kebecca


8. Charles, killed 30 Oct., 1659 by the overturning of his cart.

9. Richard, d' y. at Plymouth, Mass.

10. Abigail, b 22 June, 1647, at Plymouth; d 25 Dec, 1677; m 19 Dec,

1666, Samuel Thaxter, b Hingham, 19 May, 1641, of Thomas and
Elizabeth. They had seven children.

11. Hannah bp. 8 Aug., 1647; m Josiah Sturtevant (Sturdefunt, Stir-

tivant). U1s*%^~>

Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) ChurchDescendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass. → online text (page 1 of 31)