Nahum Mitchell.

History of the early settlement of Bridgewater, in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family register online

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Online LibraryNahum MitchellHistory of the early settlement of Bridgewater, in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family register → online text (page 1 of 44)
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S40,

Br Nahum Mitchell,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

i b 1 I *



More than twenty years ago I wrote a short account of the
origin and first settlement of Bridgewater, which was published
in the 7th vol. 2d series of the Collections of the Massachusetts
Historical Society. In course of the requisite enquiries and
researches it came in my way to acquire some distinct knowledge
of the names and families of the original proprietors and early
residents. To the stock of information thus obtained I subse-
quently, from time to time, as opportunity presented, made con-
siderable accessions till my manuscripts became numerous and
somewhat particular. This becoming generally known to my
friends in the town and vicinity, applications were frequently made
to me for information as to the genealogy of particular families ;
and at length desires were strongly expressed that what I had
collected in this way should be published. These solicitations
have been repeated and multiplied for several years past,
and have sometimes been met on my part with partial promises
of compliance. Many causes have concurred to delay a final
determination, and it is not without much hesitation, and some
reluctance, that I have come at last to the conclusion to publish.

While many seem to care but little, and think less, about their
own descent, or from whom they are sprung : there is, neverthe-
less, in most of us a strong desire to know something of those
who have preceded us on the same stage, and of the manner in
which they have performed their respective parts. There is also
an increasing attention to the biography of our fathers and the
first planters of New England. Each one finds a pleasure in
knowing something of his own particular ancestor, who first left
the old world and set his foot on the new ; and in being able to

trace accurately his own descent from him. But the elements of
such knowledge are fast fading away, and the difficulties of acquir-
ing it, already great, are constantly increasing.

The principal purpose of the present publication is to afford
the inhabitants of Bridgewater, and those who were born or early
resided there, wherever they may now live, some knowledge of
those from whom they are descended, and if possible to enable
them to see every link of the chain connecting them with their
first American ancestor. There are but few instances where it
has been practicable to go beyond our own shores in search of
European ancestry ; and in many cases it has been difficult, and
often impossible, to ascertain the first ancestor even in our own
country. This has been the case especially where new families
in later times came into the town from other distant places. And
where any individual, with or without his family, has removed
from the town, it has not generally been attempted to trace the
descent any further. It would be not only difficult, but liable to
much error. It must be observed also, that as most of this work
was prepared many years ago, the descent is not generally brought
down much Avithin the present century, and that therefore the
younger families born since, and most of the numerous fami-
lies, who have come into town within the last twenty or thirty
years, will not appear at all in the account here presented. It
would have swelled the book, already large, to an unwieldy size.
Having brought it down within the knowledge and memories of
the present generation, they can continue it, each one for himself,
if disposed. In giving dates, months and days are generally
omitted, but can be supplied when necessary by a recurrence to
the records. The insertion of them would have occupied much
room without any adequate advantage.

Great as has been the labor of research and the care in com-
piling this publication,there will still appear in it great deficiencies.
No notice will be found of many individual members, and even
whole branches of many of the families. Some parents neg-
lected altogether to have their children recorded. Others had it
done partially, their younger children not being found on the
record. These defects were to be supplied only, if at all, by
resorting to other sources, many of which were not always to be
relied on, and family traditions and recollections least of any.

All, who have been most conversant with investigations of this
kind, have had frequent opportunity to test the truth of this last
remark. These defects are much to be regretted as they often
occasion an apparent breach in the line of descent.

The first part of this work contains a short history of the ori-
ginal purchases, locations, and early settlement of the town,
embracing much of the former account, with such additions as
were thought to be generally interesting. There is a great simi-
larity in the general history and internal management of public
affairs, in all our New England towns, the recital of which there-
fore, to most readers, would be but dull repetitions, and uninter-
esting details. Very little of this nature is here inserted ; and
individual biography also, always a delicate subject, and often
leading to invidious distinctions, has been for the most part
avoided. Facts have been principally regarded, and the most
sedulously sought, both in the historical and genealogical depart-
ment of the work.

The plan here adopted in presenting the genealogy of families
may be objectionable ; but after a full examination of all the
methods, which have fallen under my notice, and after much
consideration of the subject, this appeared the most simple and
easy of comprehension. Every head of a family is numbered,
the common ancestor being number one, expressed or understood,
and after disposing of the daughters by showing who they mar-
ried or otherwise, and such of the sons as had no families, or re-
moved from town, then the first son who had a family is taken and
numbered two, and then the next son, numbered three, and so on,
proceeding with the family of each, as with that of the father ; and
this course is pursued through each generation. It will not there-
fore be expected always to find the son next in place immediately
after the father, but he must be looked for often several numbers
further on, and sometimes at a considerable distance. So in tracing
back a descent the inner numbers within the parenthesis will direct
where the father may be found, and being found the parenthesis
there will direct where the grandfather will be found, and so on
quite back to the common ancestor. A little use will render it
familiar, and it is believed to be the simplest method, on the
whole, which could have been adopted, especially in such numer-
ous and extended familes as sometimes occur. It will often be

found that some of the children named are not afterwards no-
ticed, which happens in cases only where no knowledge of them
could he obtained. Female ancestors, if inhabitants of the town,
will be ascertained generally by a recurrence to the respective
families to which they belong.

Much labor and care have been bestowed to render the work
correct, but after all it cannot be but many mistakes have been
made. The genealogy in particular is peculiarly liable to them.
In large families there are often the same christian names to be
found in the different branches, and one may be often mistaken
for another, and in this way, among others, no doubt much con-
fusion may have happened. Probable as it is, however, that
many errors will be detected, it is still hoped those partial friends
who have been most solicitous for its publication, and who anti-
cipate both pleasure and profit from its perusal, may not be
wholly disappointed. Having labored for their gratification, it
will be gratifying in turn to find the labor has not been in vain.

In preparing the work the records of the town of Bridgewater,
and of its several parishes and churches, have been the first and
principal sources, whence the materials have been derived. The
old Colony and Plymouth county records have furnished also
valuable information. Judge Davis' improved edition of Morton's,
New England Memorial, Farmer's Register, the Collections of
the Mass. Hist. Society, and various local histories have also been
advantageously consulted. But so many and so various have
been the sources, both public and private, from which information
and facts have been obtained, that it would be difficult, if recol-
lected, to enumerate them. The loss of all the early records of
Duxbury previous to 1G54, which are said to have been burnt, is
greatly to be regretted, as it was the parent town of Bridgewater,
the first home and residence in this country of most of our fathers
and original settlers in this then Plantation. It may well be
supposed those records would have furnished us with much valu-
able information. The Colony records of births and deaths pre-
vious to 1CI7 are also lost, some of the first leaves by time or
accident having been destroyed, which to the antiquarian is a
deprivation much to be deplored.

Some remarks on the old and new style with regard to time
are here subjoined as not perhaps inappropriate.

There was formerly among- all nations, as well christian as
pagan, a great diversity not only with regard to the commence-
ment of the year, some adopting the autumnal and some the
vernal equinox, some the winter and some the summer solstice,
and others other periods of the year ; but also as to the epochs
of the different eras, as the creation of the world, the deluge,
the call of Abraham, and the departure of the Israelites out of
Egypt, in sacred chronology, and the destruction of Troy, the
building of Rome and other events, adopted among the ancient
and eastern nations. There seemed to be no specific common

When the computation of time by the Christian era com*
menccd, which was about the year 527, the year was made to
commence on the 25th of March, supposed to be the day of the
Annunciation of the Incarnation of Christ. This, known now
by the name of the Old Style, continued in England and through-
out all her dominions till 1752, when by an Act of Parliament
eleven days were stricken from the month of September, calling
the 3d the 14th, and one day added to February every 4th year,
herein conforming to other nations, several of whom on the con-
tinent had about 1582 adopted this computation, for the purpose
of correcting the error occasioned by the precession of the equi-
noxes ; and by the same act the 1st day of January instead of
the 25th of March was also established as the commencement of
the year. In the interim, between the time of its adoption by
other nations and 1752, when England adopted it, double dating
from January 1st to March 25th was frequently practised in
England and her Colonies in order to correspond with the com-
putation on the continent. Thus, for instance, February 8th
1720-21, or 1720-1 was substituted for simply February 8, 1721,
the last number being the true date, and if omitted might occa.-
sion an error of a year. This has been called the Gregorian
year (Pope Gregory 13th having established it in 1582), or New
Style, and is very necessary to be known and observed by all
when consulting ancient dates and records. In this work ancient
dates are generally made to conform to the New Style, double
dating being rejected. NAHUM MITCHELL.

Boston, May 1th, 1840,


Page 37. To the Senators there mentioned may be added the
names of Hon. William Baylies, Aaron Hobart, Abel
Kingman, and John A. Shaw.

Page 73. 1702, last line but one, for Ensign Mitchell's, read
Ensign Mitchell's land.

Page 93. James Alger (s. of Thomas 12.) m. Olive, D. of
Joseph Snell, 1781, and not Mehitabel Briggs of Nor-
ton : this last was copied by mistake from Thomas 12,
page 92.

Page 114. JosephBeal 1752, finally removed to Plainfield, where
he was Deacon, and the subject of the " Mountain
Miller"; and Azariah was son of Jonathan 5, and not
(of Samuel 1.).

Page 152. 8. Benjamin in. 1715, not 1755.

Page 157. Erskin, 2d line, Gain, not Gaius.

Page 161, No. 12. The title of Judge prefixed to Abner Fobes
should be General in both instances ; and Edward of
Buckland had William, Sarah, and Abner who gra.
Williams College 1S20, and is preceptor of the Smith
School in Boston, and writes his name Forbes. Also
under No. 19, for Phrez read Perez.

Page 162. Susanna, D. of Eliab Fobes, m. a King, partner of
Thomas Fobes in Boston, and afterwards a Lamphear,
who afterwards m. Lucinda, D. of David Ames of
Springfield ; and Hannah m. a Tucker. Susanna who
m. a Hooper, and Hannah who m. a Macomber, be-
longed to some other family probably.

Page 163, No. 2. Polly Ford m. Abner Fobes, son of Benjamin,
and not Judge (or General) Abner.

Page 167. 10. Simeon of— the of should be within the paren-
thesis (s. of &c.

Page 169. James H. Gurney m. Delpha Stetson 1813, not Debo-
rah Reed 1816.

Page 22S. 7. Line 9, for New Bedford read Newport.

The reader is informed that besides the abbreviations
noticed at the head of the Register, the initials only of the
neighboring and adjoining towns are often used ; as A. for Abing-
ton, C. fo/ Canton, E. for Easton, H. for Halifax, M. for Mid-
dleborough, P. for Pembroke, R. for Raynham, S. or St. for
Stoughton, T. for Taunton, &c.





Bridgewater was originally a plantation granted to Duxbury.
When the township of Marshfield became a separate and distinct
corporation, Duxbury, from which Marshfield had been princi-
pally taken, applied to the Old Colony court, at Plymouth, for
a grant of common land, or, as they expressed it, " an extension
to the westward," as a compensation for the great loss of
territory they had thus sustained. We find in the records the
following order of court relating to it : —

" March, 1642. It is concluded upon by the court, that the
northerly bounds of Marshfield shall be, from the rock that is
flat on the top, to the North River, by a north-west line from
Green's Harbor Fresh, to the tree called Poole's, and to take in
Edward Bonpass' land; provided that Duxbury have enlarge-
ment beyond Massachusetts' path, when they have viewed it."

Two years afterwards the court passed the following more
explicit and definite order : —

"August, 1644. Upon the petition of Duxbury men it is


thought good by the court, that there be a view taken of the
lands described by them, namely, twelve miles up into the woods
from Plymouth bounds at Jones' River ; and if it prove not
prejudicial to the plantation to be erected at Teightaquid,
(Titicut,) nor to the meadows of Plymouth at Winnytuckquett,
(Winnetuxet,) it may be confirmed unto them; provided, also,
the herring or alewife river at Namassachusett shall be equally
between the two towns of Duxbury and Marshfield."

The next year the grant was made and confirmed to them as
follows : —

" 1645. The inhabitants of the town of Duxbury are granted
a competent proportion of lands about Saughtuchquett, (Sa-
tucket,) towards the west, for a plantation for them, and to have it
four miles every way from the place where they shall set up
their centre ; provided it intrench not upon Winnytuckquett,
formerly granted to Plymouth. And we have nominated Capt.
Miles Standish, Mr. John Alden, George Soule, Constant South-
worth, John Rogers, and William Brett, to be feofees in trust
for the equal dividing and laying forth the said lands to the

How the town proceeded in dividing these lands among the
inhabitants, or how, by whom, or when it was determined what
residence or other circumstance should entitle any one to a
share, no record informs us ; we are only told in subsequent
writings, and particularly in Gov. Hinckley's confirmation, that
the inhabitants settled this matter " by an agreement among
themselves." They were at first but fifty-four, each of whom
had one share, and were denominated original proprietors.
Their names are thus given on the town records : —
William Bradford, Edward Hall,

William Merrick, Nicholas Robbins,

John Bradford, Thomas Hayward,

Abraham Pierce, Mr. Ralph Partridge,

John Rogers, Nathaniel Willis,

George Partridge, John Willis,

John Starr, Thomas Bonney,

Mr. William Collier, Mr. Miles Standish,

Christopher Wadsworth, Love Brewster,

early settlement of bridgewater. 11

John Paybody, John Irish,

William Paybody, Philip Delano,

Francis Sprague, Arthur Harris,

William Bassett, Mr. John Alden,

John Washburn, John Fobes,

John Washburn, Jr., Samuel Nash,

John Ames, Abraham Sampson, .

Thomas Gannett, George Soule,

William Brett, Experience Mitchell,

Edmund Hunt, Henry Howland,

William Clarke, Henry Sampson,

William Ford, John Brown,

Mr. Constant Southwort , John Haward,

John Cary, Francis West,

Edmund Weston, William Tubbs,

Samuel Tompkins, James Lendall,

Edmund Chandler, Samuel Eaton,

Moses Simmons', Solomon Leonard.

To these fifty-four shares the proprietors afterwards added two
more, and granted one to the Rev. James Keith, of Scotland, their
first minister, and the other to Deacon Samuel Edson, of Salem,
who erected the first mill in the town, making in all fifty -six shares.
The grant of this plantation was considered by the court as
preemptive merely, and as little more than an authority or right
to purchase it of the natives : and accordingly Capt. Miles
Standish, Samuel Nash, and Constant Southworth, were ap-
pointed to make the purchase, which service they performed as
will appear by the following deed.

"Witness these presents, that I Ousamequin, Sachem of the
country of Poconocket, have given, granted, enfeofed, and sold
unto Miles Standish of Duxbury, Samuel Nash and Constant
Southworth of Duxbury aforesaid, in behalf of all the towns-
men of Duxbury aforesaid, a tract of land usually called
Satucket, extending in the length and breadth thereof as follow-
eth, that is to say, from the wear at Satucket seven miles due
east, and from the said wear seven miles due west, and from the
said wear seven miles due north, and from the said wear seven
miles due south ; the which tract the said Ousamequin hath



given, granted, enfeofed, and sold unto the said Miles Standish,
Samuel Nash, and Constant Southworth in the behalf of all the
townsmen of Duxbury as aforesaid, with all the immunities,
privileges, and profits whatsoever belonging to the said tract of
land, with all and singular all woods, underwoods, lands, mea-
dows, rivers, brooks, rivulets, &c, to have and to hold to the
said Miles Standish, Samuel Nash, and Constant Southworth in
behalf of all the townsmen of the town of Duxbury, to them
and their heirs forever. In witness whereof I the said Ousa-
mequin have hereunto set my hand this 23d of March, 1649.
John Bradford, ) Witness the


Miles Standish,
Samuel Nash,
Constant Southworth.

Wm. Otway (alias) Parker, j mark of 1/ OUSAMEQUIN.

In consideration of the aforesaid bargain and sale, we the
said Miles Standish, Samuel Nash, and Constant Southworth
do bind ourselves to pay unto the said Ousamequin for and in
consideration of the said tract of land as followeth : —

7 Coats, a yard and a half "]

in a coat,
D Hatchets,

8 Hoes,
20 Knives,

4 Moose Skins,
10 Yards and a half of Cot-
ton. J

It appears the worthy old Sachem, when called on to execute
his deed, endeavored to verify the testification he had offered,
by affixing his mark or signature to the instrument as near as he
could in the rude form and shape of his hand.- The grantor,
Ousamequin, or Ossamequin, sometimes also written Woose-
mequin, was the good old Massasoit himself, who in the latter
part of his life had adopted that name. It was no uncommon
occurrence for these Chiefs or Sachems to assume new names,
which were probably appropriate and expressive of the princi-
pal exploits or events, which had occasioned the change.

This purchase and contract were said to have been made and
executed on a small rocky hill, anciently called Sachem's Rock,
a little south of Whitman's Mills, where the East Bridgewater
manufacturing establishment now is, and near the house where


Seth Latham formerly lived, now owned and occupied by David
Kingman. The Indian name of the place was Wonnocooto.
The wear, which was made the central point of the purchase,
was some distance above the present mills, directly back of the
late Deacon William Harris' house on the south side, and of
the late Deacon Barzillai Allen's house, on the north side of the
river, near the ancient fording place and where the first mill on
the river was erected. Traces of the old road are still visible
on both sides of the river, and particularly on the south side.
The mill was subsequently taken down, and a new one erected
further down stream, near where the works now stand. The
old wear was entirely overflowed by the iicav mill pond, and of
course discontinued as a fishing place.

This river, and the pond from which it proceeds, now called
Robins' Pond, as well as the whole neighborhood in which they
are situated, still retain the name of Satucket, a contraction of
Saughtuckquett, Saughquatuckquett, or Massaquatuckquett, as
it was sometimes written. While the grant from the court was
only four miles every way from the wear, equal to eight miles
square, this purchase from the Indians was seven miles every
way, equal to fourteen miles square. The reason of this differ-
ence is not very obvious, but probably the purchase was made
thus extensive, with a view to additional contemplated grants,
or perhaps to give themselves room to locate their four miles
every way more advantageously, as they had the express privilege
of setting up their centre, wherever they should deem it most
conducive to their interest. For some reasons, however, now
inexplicable, they neglected to fix and establish their centre,
notwithstanding the frequent and pressing admonitions of the
court. In 1656, eleven years after the grant of the plantation,
and the same year in which Bridgewater was incorporated into
a distinct township, a grant of three hundred acres had been
made to Capt. Miles Standish, "with a competency of meadow
to such a proportion of upland, lying and being at Satucket
Pond ; provided it came not within the court's grant of Bridge-
water." Hence it became necessary that the centre of Bridge-
water should be fixed, in order to ascertain its limits and extent.
It was with this view, and for the purpose of running out and


locating Capt. Standish's grant, that the court had so urgently-
called on Bridgewater to fix and " set up" their centre. In the
spring of 1658 the court ordered, "that the centre of the town
of Bridgewater should be set sometime this summer before
October court." Still it was not done. Again in 1660, Mr.
(AVilliam) Bradford, Constant Southworth and William Paybody
were " requested and appointed by court to lay out the land
granted to Capt. Standish, at Satucket Pond ;" and at the same
time ."Mr. Josiah Standish was appointed by the court to join
with any two, whom the town of Bridgewater should appoint,
to set out the bounds of their town, betwixt that time and the
last of July then next on the penalty of fifty shillings, which, if
forfeited, should be paid to those appointed to lay out Capt.
Standish's land, who were ordered to lay out their line." It
seems, however, the town still neglected it, as we find no record
of any committee appointed for the purpose, nor any other
movement or agency of the town concerning it. The only
record relating to the subject appears altogether historical,
without date, and quite out of place in the book where it is
inserted. It is as follows : —

" The town, receiving an order from the court at New Ply-
mouth to fix and set up the centre of their town in order to the
laying out of Mr. Alexander Standish's land, joining to the
outside of said Bridgewater four mile line from the said centre ;
which being, according to said order, done about the year 1659 ;
the centre being a small white oak tree of low stature about a

Online LibraryNahum MitchellHistory of the early settlement of Bridgewater, in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, including an extensive Family register → online text (page 1 of 44)