Father’s Day – John Bray of London

For the Mother’s Day post, I wrote about my female ancestor who had the most  children (that I know of). This Father’s Day post is somewhat similar, but the subject matter is quite sad. Of all of the ancestors I have found thus far, John Bray lost the most children. For him, as with many men, fatherhood was mixed with great joy and great sadness.

John Bray, my 12th great grandfather, lived and worked in the City of Westminster in London for the majority of his life. No baptismal record exists, and his parentage is unknown. The earliest mention of a John Bray in Westminster is in the will of Edward Dudley, also of St. Margaret’s Parish in the City of Westminster, on 1 July 1542. Dudley made the following bequest to John: “Item, I bequeth to John Bray, my horsse, brydell and saddell, and my new colloryd cloke.” This is likely my John Bray, but other than similar names and location, no other identifying information can prove it one way or the other.

St. Margaret’s Church in the City of Westminster, London

The first record absolutely associated with my John Bray is the record of his marriage at St. Margaret’s Church on 13 August 1553 to Margaret Haslonde. St. Margaret’s is a beautiful church that served (and still serves) the parishioners in Westminster. It is located next to the famous Westminster Abbey and is the church for the House of Commons. The church was largely rebuilt in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and this “new” church makes up the majority of the present church today.

Interestingly, this church and my ancestors who lived in the parish have a connection with another of my ancestors, William Seymour Duke of Somerset (15th great grandfather). In 1540, William planned to dismantle the church and use the building materials in Somerset House, his mansion on the Strand. He was prevented from doing so by armed and angry parishioners. If the Bray or Haslonde families were living in the parish in 1540, they may have been some of the protestors protecting the church.

Martyrdom of William Flower

John Bray became very involved with St. Margaret’s and was appointed a churchwarden in 1554, 1555, and 1556. In 1555, he gave witness testimony in the case of William Flower, a protestant man who assaulted a priest of St. Margaret’s Church on Easter during a service. John was attending church during the incident. Flower was convicted, his hand was cut off, and he was burned alive in St. Margaret’s churchyard.

John was also a successful tailor and a member of the Merchant Taylor’s Company, the most prestigious guild in London. In 1607, John provided some of the wine for a dinner held by the guild for King James I and his family, which John most likely attended.

He was also involved in local government, serving as a Burgess for the City of Westminster in 1585.

Interior of St. Margaret’s Church

John and Margaret’s first recorded child was John, likely named for his father, baptized on 30 Dec 1554. Sadly, little John only lived to be almost 4 months old. He was buried on 28 April 1555.

Their next child was a girl, Margaret, baptized on 17 Feb 1557 at St. Margaret’s. She only lived to be about two weeks old and was buried 2 March 1557.

In about 1558, Margaret gave birth to her third child, Lawrence, who was baptized at St. Margaret’s on 11 October 1558. Lawrence was the first child to live to be older than 4 months old. This must have been such a happy change for John and Margaret.

Margaret and John’s fourth child, Joan, was likely born in June 1560. Joan lived long enough to be given a name, but not long enough to be baptized. She was buried on 27 Jun 1560, probably a few days after she was born.

Thomas, the couple’s fifth child and third son, was most likely born around 1562, although his baptismal record has not been located. He also lived past his first year.

Mary, my ancestress, was baptized on 24 December 1564 at St. Margaret’s Church. Mary was John and Margaret’s only child who lived to adulthood and had children of her own.

John and Margaret’s last two children, both boys and both named Henry, also died young. The older Henry was baptized on 6 October 1566, and younger Henry on 4 Feb 1568. The older Henry must have died prior to the birth of the younger Henry, and the younger Henry likely also died young as no other record of him has been found. He was certainly dead by 1615, but likely much sooner.

By 1570, John was the father of 3 living children – Lawrence, Thomas, and Mary – and possibly 4 if the younger Henry was still alive. However, 1570 would prove to be a difficult year for a father. Thomas died at the age of 8 and was buried on 22 March. Lawrence died within days of his brother, and was buried two days later on 24 March at the age of 12. Thomas and Lawrence likely died of the same disease.

John was the father of 8 children, 7 of whom died as children. Only Mary lived to be an adult, married, and had children herself. Similarly to her parents, only 3 of her 9 children lived to have children of their own.

Margaret was buried on 28 March 1588, and it seems that John never remarried. He continued to live in Westminster until his death which took place before 6 December 1615. Mary (Bray) Whitney and her husband Thomas were named as executors of John’s will. Unfortunately, the will no longer exists. But it does show that Mary probably continued to have a relationship with her father, and I hope that it was a good one. I hope that John was a good father to the only child that he saw grow up. He certainly worked hard to provide for his family, even if it wasn’t as large as he would have hoped.

John, having no living sons of his own, seemed to take quite an interest in his namesake, his grandson John Whitney. in 1607, the same year as the guild dinner for James I, John Whitney entered into an apprenticeship to be a tailor just like his grandfather. As an adult, John Whitney also became a full member of the Merchant Taylor’s guild. Even though John’s father placed him in the apprenticeship, his grandfather John probably had a hand in it.

Some fathers experience more hardship than others, and John was certainly one of those. Loosing so many children (as well as his wife) would naturally be hard on any father, but I hope that he found some solace and comfort in his daughter and his grandchildren.

Going to the Chapel – Reverend William Squire

Last week’s post focused on an Anglican minister who lived during the 18th century. The focus of this week’s post is another Anglican minister who lived during the mid 16th century.

Reverend William Squire (died 1567) is my 12th great grandfather, and the grandfather of my 10th great grandmother, Edith (Squire) Adams, who immigrated to Massachusetts with her husband Henry Adams in about 1632.

St. Mary the Virgin, Charlton Mackrell, Somerset, England

Little is known about Reverend William Squire prior to 1542. He was likely from Somerset and his wife, Alicen, was probably from the same area. No evidence of formal religious training has been discovered, but in 1541 he was appointed the rector of the church at Charlton Mackrell in Somerset. He was mentioned as a reverend in the will of Revered George Levermore, the minister of the church at Barton St. David, on 21 September 1545. Barton St. David was just 3 miles down the road, and 50 years later, William’s granddaughter Edith would marry Henry Adams, a native of that town.

St. Mary the Virgin Church, Charlton Mackrell, Somerset, England

William was appointed as the Charlton Mackrell minister during the end of the reign of King Henry VIII, who had broken with the Catholic Church and created the Church of England. Ministers were now allowed to marry, and William took full advantage of that by “going to the chapel” and marrying Alice Skarlett in about 1551.

In 1553, Queen Mary I ascended to the throne, and she ordered that all married clergymen in England divorce their wives. Fifty-two year old William refused to divorce Alice, so on 10 April 1554, William was deprived of his position as minister.

On 2 May 1561, William was again appointed as the minister of Charlton Mackrell. Queen Elizabeth I had been ruling England for several years, which is most likely why William was able to return to his position.

No death record for William has been found, but he was dead by 15 September 1567 as on that day, Reverend John Sprynt, moved into the rectory after the death of the last minister (William).

Baptismal font where Reverend William Squire baptized congregation members.

I think William was very brave, refusing to divorce his wife even if it meant losing his livelihood. William spent his life going in and out of the church in Charlton Mackrell as a minister, for his marriage, and when he was deprived and reinstated in his position. A few years ago, I was fortunate to travel with my mom to Charlton Mackrell to visit the St. Mary the Virgin Church where William preached for years and where his children and grandchildren were baptized. All of the pictures in this post are from that trip!

So Far Away – From London to Bermuda to Virginia

This ancestor, Reverend William Swift, is one of my favorites because I have been able to conduct so much original research on his life and family. After spending so much time with William (even visiting England for research and to see places associated with his life), I feel as though I know him fairly well! Or as well as I possibly can without actually meeting him.

William’s life was a quite interesting one, even though it was short. He sadly only lived to be 39 years old. His grandfather and father were both gentlemen of some means from southern England. William was the middle son, and as such, he did not inherit the leases held by his father. Instead, he was slated for a career. At the age of 15, he was sent to London to attend the Merchant Taylors School. It was a famous public school that by the early 18th century was competitive to enter as it almost guaranteed the pupils would attend a university after their training was complete. William was one of the 33 fortunate boys to matriculate on 7 March 1710/11 under the guidance of Headmaster Thomas Parsell. As William was not from London, he boarded at the school while it was in session.

Emmanuel College, Cambridge

After finishing school, he was accepted to Emmanuel College at Cambridge University as a sizar on 16 June 1714. This meant that he was essentially a scholarship student. He likely assisted wealthier students in some way or performed other jobs around the college as a way to pay for his education. William studied divinity, and he graduated with a BA in 1718.

Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester

He received his deacons order on 8 June 1718 from Bishop Francis Atterbury, a Jacobite who openly supported Bonnie Prince Charlie over the Hanoverian rulers. Atterbury later examined William for his ordination on 5 December 1719.






Bishop John Robinson

William passed his examination, and 15 days later, he was ordained a priest by Bishop John Robinson at the newly rebuilt St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.






William accepted a curate position in Kent, which he held for several years until he accepted a ministerial role on the island of Bermuda as the rector of the Southampton, Sandys, Warwick, and Paget parishes. After living in Cambridge and London for many years, Bermuda would prove to be a huge challenge for William. On 8 May 1722, he received the King’s bounty of 20 pounds for his appointment in Bermuda. Two months later, on 6 July 1722, he married Dinah Hodgkins at the St. Dunstans in the West Church in London. William and Dinah likely sailed for Bermuda soon after their marriage. William and Dinah traveled 3,447 miles to Bermuda.

William and Dinah were first mentioned in public records in Bermuda on 7 January 1723/4, where it was recorded that he was paid for his services in the parish of Southampton.  In September of 1726, it was recorded in the minutes that William had still not taken the oath of allegiance to King George I, and on 2 April 1728, he was allowed to carry a pistol to the Devonshire Church.

Living conditions were not very good on the island, and William was being paid very little. He and Dianh became unhappy with their situation after just four years in Bermuda. To make matters more difficult, William and Dinah’s oldest children, William and Thomas, were both born in Bermuda. Sometime in 1726, William requested to be transferred to a new parish somewhere other than Bermuda. The Bishop of London, Edmund Gibson, granted his request, and he was supposed to wait in Bermuda until his replacement arrived. But by May 1728, William was no longer willing to wait, and he and his young family sailed from Bermuda to Virginia. This was a journey of 759 miles.

Sir William Gooch

His arrival in Virginia was reported by Governor William Gooch to Bishop Gibson in a letter written on May 26, 1728 from Williamsburg:

“The last week came in hither the Revd: Mr: Wm Swift from Bermudas: He shew’d me his orders, and a Letter from your Lordship…Upon which I told him that I was sorry to find he had not complied with your Lordship Instructions. He is much esteem’d by Those that are acquainted with him, and appears from the little knowledge I have of him, to be a Gentleman very deserving. I must confess from the general Character of that Place (Bermuda), where all sorts of Provisions are very scarce, and consequently dear, and the allowance to Ministers but small, how he could stay there so long as he did, which he said was wholly owing to your Lordship’s letter, that abated both my wonder & resentment, especially as he had a Family to provide for. I hope therefore your Lordship will not blame me, if to relieve a man from such circumstances, I immediately sent him to a Parish in this Country St. Martin’s in Hanover County, where I am confident he will be very easie, and faithfully discharge his duty in the care of souls.”

Reverend James Blair

Reverend James Blair, the minister of the James City Parish in Williamsburg and founder and president of William and Mary College, also wrote to Bishop Gibson of William’s arrival and character:

“Williamsburgh in Virginia, June 8, 1728

There is lately come into this Colony from Bermudas a Clergyman, who seems to promiss well. He has a wife and three children, I have a good character of him from some Gentleman that knew him in that Country. He gives a good description of the … straits to which he was reduced in it. His name is William Swift. His deacons orders are June. 8. 1718. from the late Bp of Rochester and his Presbyters orders Dec. 20. 1719 from Bp John Robinson. I find by a letter of your Lordship to him about two years ago, you was acquainted with his design of removing out of that Countrey; but but he had not then your Lops positive permission. I thought it my duty to acquaint your Lop of this.”

William and his family settled into the new parish, which had just been created that year in Hanover County. Throughout 1728 and 1729, William also ministered at the King William Parish in Goochland County, where he purchased 2000 acres of land in 1730. A few years later, he purchased an additional 800 acres, and sold off a few smaller portions.

Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London

Sadly, William did not enjoy his life in Virginia for very long. William died between 1 April 1734, his final land transaction date, and 11 August 1734, when his death was reported to the Bishop of London. Reverend James Blair wrote:

We have lately lost two Ministers, the first Mr Swift, who came some years ago from Bermuda with a wife and several children, whom he has left in very poor circumstances.”

Although William died when he was still young, he traveled an impressive 4,206 miles, from London to Bermuda to Virginia during his life, plus travel between his home town and London, and Cambridge and his home town, and his travels throughout Virginia. He and his wife died very far away from the places of their births, and due to the struggles they endured during their marriage, I wonder if they thought traveling so far from home was worth it in the end.



Military – “As Brave as Caesar”

Of all of my ancestors who served in the military, Sankey Dixon, my 5th great grandfather, served the longest. He is also the Revolutionary War ancestor that I have the most information about (except his wife, Ann).

Sankey was born in 1758 in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania to John Dixon and Arabella Murray. The family was of Scots-Irish extraction, and his parents were likely immigrants from Northern Ireland. Sankey was given his unusual name after the Reverend Richard Sankey, the minister of the Hanover Presbyterian Church. Sankey received a good education and could read and write.


In June 1775, three of Sankey’s brothers, Robert, Richard, and John, enlisted in a local militia company. Sankey who joined the Pennsylvania Line a year or
two later. A Hanover neighbor, Robert Strain, made a shot pouch for Richard with
“Liberty or Death” inscribed on the front. The brothers’ passion and courage so
impressed Strain that he recalled “the whole of the four brothers of the Dixon family were in the service until the war was ended, and were the truest kind of Whigs and Patriots.” Although four of the Dixon brothers were well known for their service, it was Sankey’s oldest brother, Robert, who acquired early fame as the “first martyr of the Revolution,” as result of his participation in the Quebec Campaign. On November 17, 1775, Robert died after a canon ball took off his leg in battle. His death was a sever blow to his father John, who died a few years later.

Extant records show that Sankey served in the Pennsylvania
Line of the Continental Army for the majority of the war, which was so predominantly Scots-Irish that General “Lighthorse Harry” Lee called it “the Line of Ireland.” The accounts of neighbors, friends, and his future wife Ann agree that Sankey served throughout the entire war. Both Ann and the historian William Henry Egle report Sankey enlisting as early as 1776. Although there is no military record to verify Sankey’s service in 1776, he was serving in the Pennsylvania Line by early 1777, as in March he received his commission of seargent-major in the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment. Sankey spent the next six years in the army and participated in some of the most famous battles of the Revolutionary War.

Sankey spent the winter and spring of 1777-1778 in Valley Forge with the rest of
the Continental Army as a part of the 6th Pennsylvania regimental staff, which tested the fortitude, health, and loyalty of General Washington’s troops. Through the difficulties of Valley Forge and subsequent battles and winter quarters, Sankey continued to make a good impression on his commanding officers. On August 25, 1779, Lieutenant Colonel Josiah Harmar wrote this letter from Camp West Point:

Sir: By the resolve of Congress, 28 June last, I observe that whenever vacancies
happen in a regiment, the commanding officer is to notify the President of the
State that proper persons may be appointed, I must, therefore, beg leave to
inform your Excellency, of two vacancies in the Sixth Pennsylvania Regiment,
and at the same time to recommend Mr. Dixon and Mr. Humphries to be
appointed as ensigns. The former is my sergeant-major, a person of good
morals, and as brave as Caesar. The latter has been a volunteer in Major Lee’s
corps. The major has strongly recommended him to me as a person of
unblemished character.

Both Sankey and his fellow soldier were granted their promotions, and Sankey received his commission as an ensign on September 1, 1779. Throughout the next year, Sankey continued to serve in the capacity of ensign in the 6th Regiment, Captain Walter Finney’s 3rd Company, participating in battles in New Jersey.

In 1781, Sankey was again rewarded with a new commission as a lieutenant. Soon after, he, and what was left of the 6th Pennsylvania, marched with the 2nd and 5th Pennsylvania Regiments south under the leadership of “Mad” Anthony Wayne to fight in Virginia and the Carolinas. Elizabeth Sturtevant, Sankey’s granddaughter, stated in Ann’s obituary that Sankey was wounded at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, which occurred on September 8 in South Carolina.100 When applying for a widow’s pension, Ann herself told the court in Franklin County, Tennessee, that Sankey suffered a wound to his shoulder during the war, but at that time she could not remember where or when it happened.

Sankey not only witnessed the surrender of the British Army at Yorktown, but he also continued to serve close to the official end of the war. His wounded shoulder healed, he continued with the 6th Regiment, and left Williamsburg for Yorktown on September 28, 1781. One of Sankey’s fellow lieutenants in the Pennsylvania Line was William Feltman of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. Feltman kept a journal from 1781 to 1782, in which he described the siege, battle, and surrender of Yorktown in detail. His journal and letters give an insight into Sankey’s experiences in the last years of the war. On October 10, 1781, Feltman wrote this letter to a fellow officer:

Dear Sir: We have been here now four weeks. The British are hemmed in and
they cannot get out. They made a sortie a few nights ago but quickly retired
without effecting anything. Yesterday our field pieces opened fire, the General
aiming the first gun. I have bet a pair of silk stockings with Captain Davis that
Cornwallis and his army would be prisoners of war before two weeks …
Lieutenant Dixon and self had a fine view of the shells our battery threw into

Sankey watched as the men he had served with for several years finally achieved the
anticipated victory over Lord Cornwallis. Feltman wrote that on October 17,
“Flags passing and repassing. Lord Cornwallis proposed deputies from each
army to meet at Moore’s House to agree on terms for the surrender of the
garrison at York and Gloster, and hostilities to cease for twenty-four hours. His
Excellency Genl. Washington allowed my Lord but two hours.”

The officers enjoyed celebrating their victory at Yorktown, even while on duty.
Drinking and billiards were the most popular entertainments among the officers, often leaving the participants ill the following day. Any venue satisfied the officers, from tents to taverns. Sankey enthusiastically joined his friends in these activities. On October 27, Sankey, Feltman, and Captain Irwin were on picket duty, but spent the night “very agreeably, drinking wine….” Unfortunately for Feltman, the next morning he felt the effects of their revelry, and quite possibly so did Sankey.
Although Lord Cornwallis had surrendered, the war had not completely ended.
Sankey remained in the Continental Army for the next eighteen months. Part of the
Pennsylvania Line marched south through Virginia, North Carolina, and finally to South Carolina. While in South Carolina, Sankey and ten other officers left the army on March 13, 1782, probably on leave, and traveled back to Pennsylvania. Feltman entrusted Sankey with several letters to his family in Lancaster County. Sankey delivered the letters, and soon he made his way back to the army. On January 1, 1783, Sankey transferred to the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment, but he only remained in the army another six months before being discharged in Philadelphia on June 3, 1783. The American Revolution had finally come to a close for Sankey when he was around twenty-five years old, having served continually for over six years in the Continental Army.

Another Language – German

The majority of the ancestors that I have found originated in English speaking countries – America, England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland –  so I don’t often deal with documents in other languages.

However, I have a little German ancestry on both my mother and father’s sides. My 3rd great grandfather, William Althauser, immigrated to the U.S. from Baden in 1853 when he was 7 years old. Over the past two years, I have done quite a bit of research on his German family, during which I first encountered German records. One of my minors in college was German, so I have some basic knowledge of the language, but working with German written in the 19th century and before was a whole new experience!

In the 19th century, German people wrote in the Kurrent script, an alphabet based on a medieval cursive script. This makes reading documents so much more difficult. Not only are the records written in German, but in a completely different alphabet! I worked on translating some of the Althausers’ immigration records, but I finally had to give up and ask the help of a translator. However, church registers are a little easier to decipher because they typically follow a pattern and use the same basic vocabulary for each entry.

Besides working with traditional German records, another resource that I have found particularly helpful for German-speaking ancestors is the Ortsfamilienbuch. An Ortsfamilienbuch (literally translating to place family book) is a book put together by individual towns that trace the genealogies of all the people who have lived in the town using church records, military records, homage lists, and other resources. These books also give short histories of the towns, the demographic makeup, and short overviews of some of the records used.

Entries for the Althauser family.

The length of the books depends on the state of the records in each town. For example, my Althauser family came from Opfingen, and the church records survive from the mid 17th century. So for many of my German families, I can trace them back to the early 17th century just by using the published Ortsfamilienbuch for Opfingen. The Ortsfamilienbuch is written in German (modern German thank goodness!) but it still took me quite a long time to get through the introductory material and tracing the families. Now I need to take what I have found in the book and double check it with the church records. But for that, I need to make a trip to Germany!

This is not the case for every German town. Some towns only have church records going back to the early 20th century, and some back to the Reformation. These books can be purchased, but they are a bit pricey. If you would rather not purchase, some larger libraries (even in the U.S.) have them in their collections. I have found the Ortsfamilienbuch to be an invaluable resource when studying German families, and I hope others find them useful as well!

Mother’s Day – Hannah Rockwood Chapin

And with this post, I am finally caught up after my vacation!

This week’s prompt about Mother’s Day is so special because I have wonderful relationships with the three most important mothers in my life – my mom and my two grandmothers. I feel very fortunate to know them as well as I do, and to have had them in my life for almost 29 years. For this post, I combed through my family tree looking for other mothers that might be fun to write about.

I chose Hannah Rockwood Chapin, who gave birth to 13 children, if not more! If that doesn’t make her an impressive mother, I don’t know what does! Hannah is another female ancestor that I don’t know very much about, but the few details I do have make me want to travel to New England and Pennsylvania to do some more research.

Hannah was born on December 3, 1755 in the town of Mendon in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Her parents were Reuben and Lydia (Green) Rockwood. Hannah was the oldest of several siblings including Lydia, Joshua Green, Beulah, and Jason. She and her family moved from Mendon to Tyringham in Berskshire County by the time she was 20 years old. In Tyringham, she met her husband, John Chapin. They married in Tyringham on 7 December 1775. John Chapin was born on 23 September 1755 in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, the son of Solomon and Joanna (White) Chapin.

Hannah and John’s first child, Lydia was born in May 1776, just 5 months after their marriage, which means Hannah was likely several months pregnant when she married John. In total, Hannah gave birth to her thirteen children over a 23 year period:

Lydia, born 1776

Samuel, born 1778

John, born 1779

Alta, born 1781

Mary, born 1783

Mercy Ester, born 1784

Lois, born 1786

James, born between 1786-1791

Joanna, born 1791

Lucinda, born 1793

Ammi, born 1793

Reuben, born 1797

Ezra, born 1799

Hannah must have been a very strong woman. In 1793, She had back-to-back pregnancies, and both Lucinda and Ammi were born in the same year. What is even more impressive is that all 13 children lived to adulthood! These 13 are just her recorded children. It is possible that she had more children that went unrecorded, especially if they died at birth.

By 1790, Hannah and John had moved from Tyringham to Huntington Township in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. They lived in Huntington for the remainder of their lives. Hannah died on 20 Jan 1829 when she was 73 years old, and was buried in the Town Hill Cemetery. John died 10 years later. I don’t know what Hannah’s personality was like, or even if she was a good mother, as having 13 children doesn’t automatically make her a good person. But I hope she was a good mother, and that her daughters found her inspirational, just as I’ve found my mother and grandmothers to be so.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Close Up – King Philip’s War

Metacomet, or King Philip

This is a story about a close up encounter between my ancestors, Lieutenant Henry Adams and his wife Elizabeth (Paine) Adams with Native Americans during King Philip’s War. Metacomet was a chief of the Wampanoag Indians, and the son of Massasoit who had been very friendly with the New England colonists. However, Metacomet and other Native American tribes resented the fact that they were becoming dependent on the colonists, losing their land, and losing large portions of the population to disease. Spurred on by Metacomet, who the colonists called King Philip, several tribes including the Narragansetts, Wampanoags, and Pocumtucks banded together and tried to drive out the English.

The Native Americans attacked many English towns, including Medfield, the home of my 9th great grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth Adams. Henry was born in Barton St. David in Somerset, England to Henry Adams and Edith Squire. He immigrated to Massachusetts during the Great Migration, and married there Elizabeth Paine, daughter of Moses and Elizabeth Paine of Tenterden, Kent, England.

Henry did well for himself in Massachusetts. He was the principal military commander in Medfield in charge of a trainband, or militia company, served as the town clerk for over ten years, was chosen a town selectman, and was a representative to the General Court in 1659, 1665, 1674, and 1675. He and Elizabeth had eleven children, including my ancestor Moses Adams, who was born in Medfield in 1654.

King Philip’s War broke out in June 1675, and in February 1676, the town of Medfield expected to be attacked by the Native Americans at any time. Reinforcements were sent to Medfield to help protect the town, but during the night of February 20 or the very early morning of February 21, under the cover of darkness, the Indians entered the town. They set fire to many of the houses, barns, and other buildings. Henry Adams heard the attack from inside his house, and when he opened his front door, he was shot in the neck and died. The Indians then burned down both his house and his mill. His wife Elizabeth did not witness his death as at the time she was staying in the upstairs room in the house of the local reverend. A soldier who was also garrisoned in the reverend’s house accidentally fired his musket, which traveled through the ceiling and struck Elizabeth. She died from her wounds the next day.

King Philip’s War essentially ended with the death of Metacomet in 1676, even though sporadic fighting continued until 1678. This war was very bloody, and many tragedies occurred on both sides. This particular tragic, close up encounter in Medfield left eleven siblings without parents and the younger ones without a home.

I do not know if Henry and Elizabeth’s son Moses was living in Medfield when the attack occurred, or how he found out about his parents’ deaths. By 1684 he was living on land that Henry Adams had owned when he lived in Sherborn before moving to Medfield. As far as I know, he never returned to Medfield.