Week 20: Textile

I had to think a bit before writing this week’s essay.  I don’t have any immediate ancestors who were involved in sewing, and I don’t have any handed-down items of clothing that connect me to a specific ancestor.  Going back further in my history, I have slave-owning ancestors in Virginia who might have grown cotton, but, given the time period in which they lived, they more likely grew tobacco.

Then I went even further back, to early New England ancestors who were weavers or tailors.  I can talk about them a little.

Thomas Newhall (1653-1728: 

Thomas was born in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, in 1653.  His parents were Thomas Newhall (1630-1687) and Elizabeth Potter (1634-1687).  The immigrant ancestor in this line, also named Thomas Newhall (1594-1674), was born in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, and came to Massachusetts in 1630.  Thomas 1630 is often identified as “the first white child born in Lynn,” although this is questionable.  He is often referred to as “Ensign Thomas Newhall,” a title he earned for his role in the 1650s.

Thomas 1653 moved to Middlesex County after he married Rebecca Greene in 1674.  He is often referred to as “Lieutenant Thomas Newhall,” a rank he achieved during King Philip’s War.  Malden Town records also document him as an important land-holder, holding various public positions in the town. Records for the town prior to King Philip’s War were destroyed, but the earliest remaining records document townsmen named to serve as selectmen, constables, and (to quote one of the town records), “last, though not least, perhaps, in the body-politic, those whose office it was ‘to see to swine order,’ – the hog-constables.” Thomas was the hog-constable.

Thomas 1653 is identified in The Newhall Family of Lynn  (Henry F. Waters, 1882) as “husbandman & weaver.” 

Grave Marker for Lieutenant Thomas Newhall, Bell Rock Cemetery, Malden, Massachusetts. 
The inscription reads
“Here Lyes Buried Ye Body of Lieut. Thomas Newhall Who Decd. July 13 Anno Dom. 1728 In Ye 75th Year of His Age”
The Newhall House, in Lynn, Massachusetts.  This is where Thomas was born in 1653.

William Ripley (1588-1656):

My paternal 9th great-grandfather William Ripley came to Hingham, Massachusetts, from Hingham, Norfolk, UK, with his wife and four children on the Diligent  in 1638.  Among these children was my 8th great-grandfather Abraham Ripley (1624-1683), who was their fourth child.  William, who was a weaver,  was admitted as a freeman in 1642 and was granted a four-acre town lot in the 1638 division of lands.

Edward Wheeler 1669-1733

My paternal 8th great-grandfather Edward Wheeler was the fourth of 13 children born to John and Sarah Larkin Wheeler in Concord, Massachusetts.  Edward’s grandfather, George Wheeler, came to Massachusetts in 1638 and, along with his brothers, occupied a prominent position in the town.  He and his brother Timothy co-owned an inn in the town in the location where the Colonial Inn now sits. 

Edward’s father, John, served as a soldier for Massachusetts in King Philip’s War in 1675-76, and inherited a good deal of land when his father, George, died in 1687.  Edward’s mother, Sarah Larkin, was the daughter of Edward Larkin, who was a turner (someone who worked with wood) and a wheelwright in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  He was also a farmer.  He had come to Massachusetts in the late 1630s, and in 1657 was named to be a member of the local artillery unit.

Edward and Sarah had 13 children, including my 7th great-grandfather Nathan Wheeler, who was their second child.  Edward was commonly known as “Deacon” Edward Wheeler, and he was a weaver by trade. I can’t find why he is called “Deacon.”

This is where Edward is buried:

The South Burying Place, Concord, Massachusetts

Robert Carr 1614-1681

My paternal 9th great-grandfather Robert Carr (1614-1681) was born in London in 1614.  He and his brother William came to Massachusetts in 1635 after the death of their parents; they came to live with their uncle William Carr, who had come to Plymouth on the Fortune in 1621 and soon settled in Bristol, RI.  He was admitted as an inhabitant in Portsmouth in 1639 and as a freeman in Newport in 1641.  Several records identify him as a tailor. 

Samuel Eddy 1608-1687

My 9th great-grandfather Samuel Eddy (1608-1687) was born in Cranbrook, Kent, England, in 1608.  Samuel was the ninth of 11 children born to John and Mary Fosten Eddy in Cranbrook, Kent, England.  John was the vicar of St. Dunstan’s Church in that town.

Samuel’s mother Mary died in 1611 – probably due to complications from childbirth, as her newborn son Nathaniel died in the same year.  John remarried in 1614, to Sarah Taylor, with whom he had one more child before he died in 1616.  Samuel was only eight years old at the time of his father’s death; John’s will directed that his 23-year-old son Phineas be placed in charge of Samuel until Samuel turned 22, at which point Samuel would receive his inheritance from his father.  Samuel also served an apprenticeship as a tailor while he was under his brother’s care and tutelage.

It appears that Samuel used his inheritance to purchase his passage to Massachusetts, as he arrived (along with his oldest brother John) in Plymouth on the Handmaid in 1630.  He may have been married when he came to Plymouth – his wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of Thomas and Marie Savory, who followed their daughter to Massachusetts in 1633. 

Whatever part of his inheritance remained he used to buy a house and some land in Plymouth, and he was soon established as a tailor in the settlement.  He became a freeman in 1632 and was identified as a taxpayer by 1633. 

Despite this apparent prosperity, Samuel and Elizabeth found life in Plymouth difficult.  His training as a tailor was not as lucrative in Plymouth as it had been in England, and he had to turn to farming to support his small family.  He was not a very good farmer.  By 1638, Samuel and Elizabeth were identified among the “poore of the town.”  Samuel and Elizabeth had five children by 1644, and their weak financial situation led them to place three of their sons – John, Zachariah, and Caleb – as apprentices to John Browne of nearby Rehoboth, Massachusetts, as each boy reached the age of seven.  I am descended from their oldest son, John.

This plaque is in the Eddy Burial Ground in Swansea, Massachusetts.

Robert Moon 1621-1698

Robert arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637; he was 16 at the time, and I assume he came with his parents, but I haven’t been able to prove that.  He married Dorothy Osbourne (1624-1698) in Boston in 1644.  I haven’t been able to find out when Dorothy’s family came to Massachusetts.  Robert worked as a tailor in Boston before he relocated to Newport, Rhode Island, in 1651.

Thomas Baker: 1638-1710

Thomas Baker (1638-1710), appears on the list of freemen of Newport, RI, in 1655.  His father, William Baker (1616-1669), had come to Rhode Island by 1638, when he appears on the list of freemen and also receives a land grant.  Also in 1655, Thomas Baker was ordained, and in 1656, he and others separated from the First Baptist Church and organized a new society, the Second Baptist Church.  He then moved with his family to Kingstown, Rhode Island, where he organized the Baptist Church.  He remained the presiding Elder of this church until his death in 1710.  Some records suggest that he was a tailor before he was ordained a minister, because he identifies himself as a tailor in his land transactions in Newport.

Thomas Brownell 1608-1664

My 8th great-grandfather Thomas Brownell (1608-1665) was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1608.  Thomas and his brother George left Yorkshire at some point and went to London, where they probably worked as drapers (dealers in cloth or clothing and dry goods) for their uncle, Thomas Wilson The Elder.  Thomas married Anne Bourne in London in 1638, and they soon left for New England.  They lived first in Braintree, Massachusetts, but relocated to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, by 1640.

There is no indication that Thomas worked as a tailor or clothier in Massachusetts.  He was identified as a “planter” or farmer and served in several official positions in Portsmouth, including “water bailey;” this position gave him jurisdiction over fisheries and other maritime matters. He was also elected constable several times, and he served as Commissioner to the General Court. He was killed in an accident while on his way from his farm at the northwest end of Rhode Island to Portsmouth.  He was riding home with Daniel Lawton, the 21-year-old son of a friend, when the ride soon became a race. Thomas was thrown from his horse and died.

Thomas Hartshorn 1614-1683

My 10th great-grandfather Thomas Hartshorn (1614-1683) was He was born in Berkshire, England, but I can’t determine for sure who his parents were.  He arrived in Massachusetts about 1636-38 and settled in Lynn by 1638.  A tailor, Thomas was living in Reading in 1639, five years before its incorporation in 1644.   He appears in a number of records of the town of Reading; in 1662, he was one of 20 members of the church who paid a dog-whipper.  I had to find out what a dog-whipper was.  Well, it was the person named to control the dogs that sometimes accompanied their owners to church, and the definition was broadened to include the general responsibility of controlling stray dogs in the town.  An early animal control warden.

Moving right along.

Thomas married Susanna Buck in 1640 and they had six children, including my 9th great-grandfather, also named Thomas, who was their second child.  Thomas’s birth name illustrates a common practice of this time; Thomas (the father) and Susanna had a son they named Thomas one year earlier; this child did not survive and my grandfather was actually the second child (although the first child to survive) of Thomas and Susanna.

George Abbott: 1631-1689

My 9th great-grandfather George Abbott (1631-1689) was born in Chappel, Essex County, England.  He came to Massachusetts with his parents in 1637 and settled with them in Rowley.

About 1655, he moved to North Andover. He married Sarah Farnum in Andover, Mass. on April 26, 1658.  He was a tailor and farmer who acquired land and wealth (one of the five wealthiest men of Andover on the tax records), and he served in the militia. There were two George Abbotts in Andover at that time. My George was varyingly called George Abbott, Jr., George Abbott the tailor, and George Abbott of Rowley. The other George Abbott was called Sr. but was not our George’s father since his father lived and died in Rowley. 

On May 19, 1669, George was made a freeman of Andover and was chosen constable in 1689. According to one report, he beat the drum to signal time for labor to start and was paid 30 shillings per year to ring the bell at the North meeting house in Andover and sweep the floor, as was his son, John, in later years. George was appointed to collect the money (six pence) from anyone who brought a dog to the meetinghouse on the Sabbath.  This is my second “dog-whipper” of this post.

Walter Nichols: 1584-1639 My 11th great-grandfather Walter Nichols (1584-1639) was born in Great Coggeshall, Essex County, England, in 1584.  He married Elizabeth Catlin in 1607, and they had seven children before Elizabeth’s death in 1627. Walter came to Massachusetts with several of his children in 1635 and was admitted as a freeman in Cambridge by 1636.  He is identified as a clothier.  He returned to Great Coggeshall in 1638 and died there in 1639. I don’t know why he returned to England.

Author: iseekdeadpeopleblog

I am a retired high school history and government teacher. I've been doing genealogy research since I retired in 2012. I define what I do as "constructing a plausible narrative about the past." I don't claim to know everything about the ancestors whose stories I tell, but I try to imagine myself in their lives. I sometimes call it "creative non-fiction." I try to differentiate between what I know for sure and what I "think" I know.

3 thoughts on “Week 20: Textile”

  1. You’ve discovered so much about these ancestors! I’m interested that some folks had dual occupations, farmer and tailor. Guess that means they could earn money with tailor projects in winter?


  2. My husband’s ancestors were from Olney. They came out to Australia a couple of hundred years after your ancestors went to America though 🙂 You have lots of ancestors working with textiles !


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