The Biography of
Ancestors and Descendents
THE BLACKSTONE FAMILY
biographical and genealogical
REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE
THE PIONEER OF BOSTON
HIS ANCESTORS AND DESCENDENTS
by NATHANIEL BREWSTER BLACKSTONE
Member of N.E. Historic Genealogical Society
REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE
1595 — 1675
Boston's first white resident
The following sketches of the REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE — "the first Christian inhabitant of Boston" — and of his ancestors, as well as his descendents, were brought together after a great deal of researching, only to find mere bits and pieces of this most remarkable and interesting man, who is deserving of far more than a simple mention here and there.
This effort is the result of a sincere desire to learn more about this man, and to make him better known to those interested as well as for the gratification of all Blackstones, whether directly related or not.
It is my intention to eventually publish a complete record of all Blackstones, from at least 1510 to the date of publication. A great number are on record now, with just as many having been sent forms to fill out and return, then after the necessary checking, re-checking, editing, and preparations for publication, any Blackstone will be able to trace his own line back to the year 1510. It will also be interesting to discover whether he is in direct line with the REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, born in 1595, or the famous jurist, WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, born in 1723, who authored "Blackstones' Commontaries on the Law", which has since been the "Law Bible" to law makers, and a reference book for lawyers, judges, and students of law.
From these various branches of the family in America, and from others whose records are not obtainable, are descended the families of the name that are now found in all parts of the United States. These descendents have aided as much in the growth of the country as their ancestors aided in the founding of the nation. They have been noted for their courage, energy, ambition, fearlessness in battle, mental ability, love of solitude. broadmindedness, gentleness, and fondness of children.
I, NATHANIEL BREWSTER BLACKSTONE, am not directly related to REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, and yet related I am, as are all Blackstones, however they may spell it, or pronounce it.
Who was REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE? It is unknown how many times this question has been asked and how many times it has been found in print, and only goes to prove that there are those who are apparently very much interested in this most mysterious individual, and enough for this writer to delve into every possible source that could have any reference whatsoever of this unusual specie (sic) of man.
Much has been told of his being found in the Shawmut (Boston) area about 1625; a little bit of what happened to him there, and then of his move to Rehoboth, etc., but never a mention of family in England, or of how and when he came to New England.
Many times his surname has been spelled "Blaxton", simply because it was the English pronunciation of Blackstone that made it sound like it should be spelled B-L-A-X-T-O-N. Fairbairns Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland lists the surname of Blaxton on page 57, and it also indicates a "goat" as their crest, while all of the other variations of Blackstone has a "cock" proper for their own crests. it is of notable interest in mentioning the fact that all through the line of Blackstones there occurred variations in the spelling, due to the three most dominant accents of the time, namely. English, Scotch and Irish.
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLACKSTONE
(1595 — 1675)
CHAPTER I: REVEREND WILLIAM'S EARLY YEARS
WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, born in Gibside, Whickham, Durham County, England, on March 5, 1595, baptized at Horncastle Parish, Lincolnshire; parents, JOHN and AGNES HAWLEY BLACKSTONE, was to become a man of great talent, and although eccentric in many respects, managed to maintain the character of an exemplary Christian.
WILLIAM'S mother died on December 8, 1602, when he was only seven years old.
He and his brothers and sisters, as shown previously, were born during Queen Elizabeth's reign, who had established the Church of England in 1559, was ex-communicated in 1570, and continued to reign until her death in 1603, having ruled for 45 years. JAMES I of Scotland became the King of England. Young WILLIAM was then eight years of age.
On July 2, 1605, his sister MURIEL, died at the age of five years, eight months.
Two years later, in 1607, when WILLIAM was 12 years old and in elementary school, JOHN SMITH was at that time settling in Jamestown, New Virginia.
At the age of 14, WILLIAM finished his elementary schooling and in September 1609 entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England. While in college in 1611, a most interesting event, I am sure, was to have the King James version of the Bible the topic of conversation in the ministerial field.
Then in 1617, at the age of 22, WILLIAM took the degrees of B.A. at Emmanuel College.
Three years later, in 1620, the Pilgrims, who originated at Scrooby, Lincolnshire, England, had safely landed at Plymouth, in the new world.
In 1621, at the age of 26 years, WILLIAM took the degrees of M.A. and Orders in the Church of England and graduated from Emmanuel College. It is entirely possible that our subject became a clergyman at the Church of Durham, as one of his uncles, MARMADUKE, born in 1555, was a deacon there, and by 1625 had become a dignitary.
It was also in this area where GORGES had his ship built, actually Whitby, Yorkshire, England, which would take WILLIAM to the new world.
WILLIAM's father, JOHN, died in 1622, three days before WILLIAM's 27th birthday, and his oldest brother, RALPH, inherited the estate.
In May, 1623, one of his brothers, GEORGE, married ISABELLE MEGSON of
Langston, by Horncastle.
CHAPTER II: LEAVING FOR THE NEW WORLD
It is now in early June, 1623, and GORGES ship is ready at Whitby. On Sunday, June 29, 1623, the Council for New England met at Greenwich, near London with KING JAMES, SIR FERNANDO GORGES and others, which was to be the send off of CAPTAIN ROBERT GORGES and his company to New England. CAPTAIN ROBERT GORGES, the son of SIR FERNANDO GORGES, was the Councils Lieutenant in charge of the expedition. A special prominence had been given to the propagation of the Gospel and the present plan was distinctly to be a church settlement, specifically in the Massachusetts Bay area, as contrasted with the Separatists settlement already effected at Plymouth.
CAPTAIN ROBERT GORGES, accordingly, took with him at least two ordained Clergyman. One, the REVEREND WILLIAM MORELL, bore an ecclesiastical commission, conferring on him general powers of visitation and superintendency over the churches of New England. As there was only one church in New England at Plymouth, the significance of this commission was apparent.
The other Clergyman was the ordained companion of WILLIAM MORELL, the
REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, who had originally been designed to take charge,
under the power of superintendency, of the Plymouth pulpit, while MORELL
was to minister at the Bay. The GORGES expedition left England in early August,
1623, and reached New England about the middle of September. There are underlying
indications that WILLIAM kept records of this expedition and the subsequent
settlement effected by it. (Winthrop alludes to this in his history, as also,
Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society 1878, p. 197.)
CHAPTER III: WILLIAM'S LIFE IN SHAWMUT (BOSTON)
Since WESTON had already established a settlement, such as it was, in Wessagussett (Weymouth) and rather than continue to live on board ship and be boated hack and forth, CAPTAIN GORGES moved into Wessagussett, until such time as he could establish his own little domain. In less than two years their hopes and plans were given up as hopeless and by 1625, CAPTAIN GORGES, REVEREND WILLIAM MORELL and their company left for England. Those left at Wessagussett began to move out to find their own locations.
REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE was 28 years old when he first arrived in the new world, and now at 30, he moved across to the North Shore and finally established himself on the western slope of the peninsular of Shawmut (Boston), opposite the mouth of the Charles River. THOMAS WALFORD, an English blacksmith, who probably came over with CAPTAIN GORGES as a mechanic, eventually moved over with his wife to Mishawum, which is now known as Charlestown, where he built an English palisadoed and thatched house, on the southerly side of Breed's Hill (Bunker Hill Monument) near the mouth of the Mystic River.
Finally, SAMUEL MAVERICK, then 22, came over bringing his wife, AMIAS, and built at Winnisimmet, or Chelsea, a house that stood for many, many years. And DAVID THOMSON lived on an island that has ever since carried his name, THOMPSON'S ISLAND.
WILLIAM brought with him to the new world a large collection of books, approximately 186 in various languages, etc.; however, the bull that he is portrayed riding about on had more than likely been purchased here or otherwise acquired from its original owner who had returned to England.
As for the apple seeds he used to develop his orchards, it is probable that he was foresighted enough to retrieve and save every apple core (which naturally contains seeds) he could find, or otherwise come by. Certainly most ships were stocked with apples along with other foodstuffs, therefore, it is doubtful that he brought them with him in 1623 because this kind of living was most likely not his original intention. He would have probably only brought with him his ministerial necessities. His primitive living requirements were acquired from CAPTAIN GORGES, REVEREND MORELL and the others who had abandoned the new world to return to the old.
When GOVERNOR WINTHROP found WILLIAM in 1630, he had had ample time to have built his home, plant his orchard, and was living quite comfortably.
Records show that on June 9, 1628, WILLIAM, at 33 years of age, was assessed 12 shillings toward the expense of THOMAS MORTON of Merry Mount's arrest. Also, at that time RALPH and RICHARD SPRAGUE and three or four others journeyed through the woods f rom Salem with the approbation of GOVERNOR ENDICOTT, landing on the north side of the Charles River where the Aberginians abounded under their Chief, JOHN SAGAMORE, and where the blacksmith THOMAS WALFORD had been settled for three years. Only for the blacksmith's sake did CHIEF JOHN SAGAMORE allow the SPRAGUE party to remain.
On March 12, 1629, at the age of 34, WILLIAM BLACKSTONE of New England, was nominated, deputized, authorized and appointed by the Council for the Affairs of England in America to represent them in their place and stead in the Hilton Patent of Dover, Ne w Hampshire, which is quoted below:
THE HILTON OR SQUAMSCOT PATENT
Know ye that said President and Council by virtue and authority of His Majesty's said Letters Patent, and for and in consideration that Ed Hilton and his Associates bath already at his and their own proper cost and charge, transported sundry servants to plant in New England aforesaid, at a place there called by the natives, Wecannecohunt, otherwise Hilton's Point, lying some two leagues from the mouth of the River Piskataquack, in New England aforesaid, where they have already built some houses and planted come. And for that he doth further intend by God's Divine Assistance to transport thither more people and cattle, to the good increase and advancement, and for the better settling and strengthening of their plantation, as also that they may be better encouraged to proceed in so pious a work which may especially tend to the propagation of Religion, and the great increase in trade, to His Majesty's Realms and Dominions, and the advancement of public plantations-
Have given, granted and engrossed and confirmed, and by this their present writing, doe fully, clearly and absolutely give, grant, Enfeoffe and Confirme unto the said Edward Hilton, his heirs and Assigns forever; All that part of the River Pascataquack, called or known by the name of Wecanacohunt, or Hilton's Point, with the south side of said River, and three miles into the main land by all the breadth aforesaid; Together with all the shores, creeks, bays, harbors, and coasts alongst the sea, within the limits and hounds aforesaid, with woods and islands next adjoining to the land not being already granted by said Council unto any other person or persons, together also with all the lands, rivers, mines, minerals of what kind or nature soe ever, etc. etc.;
To have and to hold all and singular the said lands and premises, etc. unto said Edward Hilton, his heirs and assigns, etc. they paying our sovereign Lord the King, one fifth part of gold or silver ores, and another fifth part to the Council aforesaid an d their successors, by the rent here after in these presents reserved, yielding and paying therefor yearly forever, unto said Council, their successors or assigns, for every 100 acres of said land in use, the sum of 12 pence of lawful money of England into the hands of the rent gatherer for the time being, of the said Council, for all services whatsoever: -And the said Council for the Affairs of England, in America aforesaid, do by these presents nominate,depute, authorize, appoint, and in their place and stead put WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, of New England, in America, aforesaid, Clerk: William Jefferies and Thomas Lewis, of the same place Gents, and either or any of them jointly or separately, to be their (the Council's) true and lawful Attorney or Attorneys, and in their name and stead to enter into each part or portion of land and other premises with the appointments by these presents given and granted, or into some part thereof in the name of the whole, and peaceable and quiet possession seisin thereof for them to take, and the same so had and taken in their name and stead, to deliver possession and seisin thereof unto Edward Hilton, his heirs, associates and assigns according to the tenor, forme and effect of these presents, Ratifying, Conforming and allowing all & Whatsoever the said Attorney, or Attorneys, or either of them, shall doe in and about the premises by virtue hereof.
In witness whereof the said Council for the Affairs of New England in America aforesaid, have hereunto caused their Common Seal to be put, the twelfth of March, Anno: Domi: 1629. (1630, N.S.) Ro. Warwick.
Memo; That upon the seventh day of July, Anno: Domi: Annoq; R'S Caroli
pri. Septimo: By virtue of a warrant of Attorney within mentioned from the
Council of the Affairs in New England, under their Common Seal unto Thomas
Lewis, he the said Thomas Lewis had taken quiet possession of the within mentioned
premises and livery and seisin thereof, hath given to the within named Edward
Hilton in the presence of us:
Vera copia efficit per nos. THOMAS WIGGIN
Tim: Nicholas. WM. HILTON
Pet. Coppur SAM'L SHARPE
Vera copia, Attest, Rich: Partridge, Cleric JAMES DOWNE
GOVERNOR WINTHROP sailed into Boston Harbor in July 1630 in his flagship, Arabella, of 350 tons and 28 guns, along with the Talbot and the Jewel. They landed at Charlestown where sickness soon befell them due to the lack of good drinking water, which, in turn, exacted a heavy toll in lives.
REVEREND WILLIAM on the other side of the Charles River, being a witness to this terrible scene and a man who often "thanked God" for his many blessings, promptly offered to share with those less fortunate, possibly knowing full well the eventual consequences. Nevertheless, REVEREND WILLIAM could not turn his back on these unfortunate people. Needless to say, GOVERNOR WINTHROP and several hundred of his followers came to Shawmut, taking full advantage of REVEREND WILLIAM's offer of assistance. For the next four years, the 35 year old WILLIAM was anything but a hermit!
On May 18, 1631, REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, 36 years of age, took the "Freeman's Oath". He was the first one to do so and he took the oath before the passing of the order which restricted the privileges of Freemen to church members. For he, though an ordained minister of the Church of England, was yet, not only a non-conformist among conformists, but a non-conformist among non-conformists — a sort of Ishmaelite in religion. He had left England through a dislike to "the Lord-Bishops" and soon avoked himself equally displeased with "the Lord- Brethren".
In June of 1631, REVEREND WILLIAM again did clerical work for the Council
of New England as is found in the Maine & New Hampshire Pioneers 1623-1660,
by Pope, 1908, p. 126, quoted below:
"Thomas Lewis, gent., having been at the charges to transport himself and others to take a view of New England, etc., he in partnership with Richard Bonython, received a patent 12, Feb., 1629, of 'That part of the main land called Swackadock', between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Porpus; WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, Clerk, William Jefferies and Edward Hilton, gents. gave possession for the Council, June 28, 1631, in presence of Thomas Wiggin, Henry Watts and (George Vahun) Vaughan. Mass. Arch. 3, 149 Bax. MSS. Lewis and Bonython undertook to transport 50 persons to the plantation within 7 years, etc."
On April 1, 1633, GOVERNOR WINTHROP and his sanctimonious crowd did WILLIAM a big favor by granting him 50 acres of some 800, or one-sixteenth of the whole, that he had already had claim to for more than 8 years.
By June, the population at Shawmut had reached 3,000 to 4,000. In that month alone, 14 ships bad arrived bringing in hundreds more.
Records show that on August 4, 1643, WILLIAM JEFFERY, gent., called by
WINTHROP "an old planter", was deputed with REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE to
put J. OLDHAM in possession of his grant. (Suff. Deeds I, XIII.)
CHAPTER IV: WILLIAM'S DECISION TO LEAVE BOSTON
By this time, REVEREND WILLIAM must have decided that he had enough of the Shawmut area and offered to sell 44 acres of the 50 he had been allowed by WINTHROP.
On November 10, 1634, at a general meeting upon public notice, it was
agreed that —
"EDMUND QUINCY, SAMUEL WILBORE, WILLIAM BALSTONE, EDWARD HUTCHINSON, the elder, and WILLIAM CHEESEBOROUGH, the constable, shall make and assess all these rates, viz. a rate of 30 Pounds to MR. BLACKSTONE, for 44 of the 50 acres, but reserving 6 acres for himself, in the event his future plans failed to materialize."
Just to cite another view of this particular period, GOVERNOR HOPKINS
in his "History of Providence" published in the Providence Gazette, (1765)
only 90 years after BLACKSTONE's death, that —
"BLACKSTONE had been at Boston 'so long' (when the Massachusetts colony came) as to have raised apple trees and planted an orchard."
This is sufficient to establish beyond a doubt that REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE had pitched his tent at Shawmut (Boston) at an early period, as early certainly as 1625.
And, BLISS, in his "History of Rehoboth" goes on to say —
"This is corroborated, too, by the circumstance of the right of original proprietor having been allowed, to some extent, at least, to BLACKSTONE by the Massachusetts colony, by virtue of pre-occupancy."
There is in existence, however, a tradition that GOVERNOR WINTHROP and his company, upon their arrival at Boston and finding BLACKSTONE in possession of the land they had intended to occupy, were at first disposed to oust him under the pretense that they had received a grant of that tract from the King (CHARLES I).
The proud independent spirit of REVEREND WILLIAM would not allow his rights
to be wrested from him, even by the hand that grasped the sceptre, and he
replied to their claim:
"The King asserteth sovereignty over this New Virginia in respect that JOHN and SEBASTIAN CABOT sailed along the coast, without even landing at any place; and if the quality of sovereignty can subsist upon the substratum of mere inspection, surely the quality of property can subsist upon that of actual occupancy, which is the foundation of my claim."
At any rate, the inhabitants did purchase REVEREND WILLIAM's 44 acres, as the following deposition will attest to:
"The desposition of JOHN ODLIN, aged about eighty-two years, ROBERT WALKER, aged about seventy-eight years, FRANCIS HUDSON, aged about sixty-eight years, and WILLIAM LYTHERLAND, aged about seventy-six years. These deponents being ancient dwellers and inhabitants of the town of Boston in New England, from the first planting and settling thereof, and continuing so at this day, do jointly testify and depose that in or about the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred thirty-four the then present inhabitants of said town of Boston (of whom the Honorable John Winthrop, Esq. Governor of the Colony was chiefe) did treate and agree with MR. WILLIAM BLACKSTONE for the purchase of his estate and right in any lands lying within the said neck of land called Boston, and for said purchase agreed that every householder should pay six shillings, which was accordingly collected, none paying less, some considerably more than six shillings, and the said sume collected was delivered and paid to MR. BLACKSTONE (?to his full content and satisfaction?) in consideration whereof hee sold unto the then inhabitants of said town and their heirs and assigns forever his whole right and interest in all and every of the lands lying within the said neck, reserving only unto himselfe about six acres of land on the point commonly called Blackstone's Point, on part whereof his then dwelling house stood; after which purchase the town laid out a trayning field; which ever since and now is used for that purpose, and for the feeding of cattell: ROBERT WALKER and WILLIAM LYTHERLAND further testify that MR. BLACKSTONE bought a stock of cows with the money bee received as above, and removed and dwelt near Providence, where hee lived till the day of his death.
"Deposed this 10th day of June, 1684, by JOHN ODLIN, ROBERT WALKER, FRANCIS HUDSON and WILLIAM LYTHERLAND, according to their respective testimonye.
"S. BRADSTREET, Governor, "Sam. Sewdll, Assist."
(Snow's Hist. of Boston, Page 50-1)
It is very difficult to believe that BLACKSTONE sold all of his rights and interest in Shawmut to his full content and satisfaction, as is so stipulated in ODLIN's deposition. Rather, it is quite obvious that life was made very trying for him, and he simply took what he could get after considerable hassling with the powers in control. If the facts were known, he probably refused to sign any kind of release leaving GOVERNOR WINTHROP and his clan in a quandry and which prompted ODLIN's deposition nine years after WILLIAM's death.
It is recorded that about this same time (1635), REVEREND WILLIAM was
offered an invitation to take charge of the church at Agamenticus, Maine.
Indeed, the people there claimed that he promised to do so, but afterwards
decided otherwise — "his hopes being fed with the expectations of far greater
gain by his husbandry (in Rhode Island) than he should have had by his ministry
(in Maine); which, God only knows.
CHAPTER V: WILLIAM'S SETTLEMENT OF REHOBOTH, R.I.
In any event, REVEREND WILLIAM bought what necessities he could and in the Spring of 1635, he left Boston driving his little herd and ladened with all of his worldly possessions, 186 books and all, across the Neck, through Roxbury, turning his back on the "very good house with an enclosure to it, for the planting of corn"; and also a stipend of 20 Pounds per year, which awaited his acceptance at Agamenticus, Maine, and directed his steps southward. He passed through the territory of the Plymouth Colony and in all likelihood, picked up an Indian trail that eventually brought him to a spot that pleased him on the banks of a river which emptied at no great distance further on into the Narragansett Bay.
It was here that he built another house, planted another orchard and passed the remander of his life, nearly 40 years of it.
Thus, WILLIAM BLACKSTONE attained another first. He was the first settler of the Boston area; he had the first library, of any consequence in New England; he owned the first hull; and was the first to take the "Freeman's Oath'. And now he is repeating th ose "firsts" in Rhode Island; the first settler, library, bull, and the apple orchard. A man of many firsts as one can readily see, but it is unlikely that he was cognizant of the facts at that time.
The old town of Rebohoth comprised in its greatest extent the present town, together with Seekonk (Providence). Pawtucket, Attleborough, Cumberland, RI., and that part of Swansey (Swansea) and Barrington, which was called by the Indians Wannamoiset. And now, the first white settler within the original limits of Rehoboth was WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, who lived in what is now Cumberland, Rhode Island on the river which bears his name about three miles above the village of Pawtucket.
ROGER WILLIAMS was banished from Salem, Massachusetts in in September 1635, but was allowed to await until Spring. However, he feared deportation and left in January, 1636. He founded the city of Providence, Rhode Island, only six miles from REVEREND WILLIAM, who, by this time, had built his house which he called "Study Hall" and the elevation upon which he built it was named "Study Hill".
According to Mr. SAVAGE (Winthrop. Vol. 1 45) LECHFORD, who wrote in 1641,
visited BLACKSTONE in his new habitation above Pawtucket, and made the following
"One MASTER WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, a minister, went from Boston, having lived there 9 or 10 years, because he would not joyne with the church; he lives neere MASTER ROGER WILLIAMS, but is far from his opinions."
Migration into Boston had come to an end in 1640. About 4,000 families, or 21,000 souls had then come over, of which 15,000 had settled in Massachusetts. It seems fair to estimate that 3/4's of these came over before 1638.
In Providence, Rhode Island, the first General Court composed of all the Freemen of the colony, was held in the Autumn of 1640. WILLIAM was 45 years old then. The spirit of this assembly was liberal and yielding. Over 100 persons were admitted Freemen of the colony, many of whom were not connected with any of the churches.
Among the applicants for freedom was WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, coming from what is now the town of Cumberland, and being the first to break the stillness of the primeval forest with the axe of the English pioneer. BLACKSTONE had planted an apple orchard, the first that ever bore fruit in Rhode Island.
"He had the first of that sort called yellow sweetings that were ever in the world perhaps, the richest and most delicious apple of the whole kind."
He frequently went to Providence to preach the Gospel, "and to encourage his younger hearers, gave them the first apples they ever saw". When he was no longer able to travel on foot, he rode on a bull that he had broken to saddle.
It is now 1642 and WILLIAM's mother country, England, is embroiled in a Civil War, which will last until CHARLES I is beheaded in 1653.
This country is starting the Iroquois War which will last for eleven years.
The law was now passed in Boston by 1646 making Boston Common perpetually Public property. WILLIAM was 51 years old.
When WILLIAM was 58 years old, KING CHARLES I of England was beheaded and CROMWELL took over, establishing the Commonwealth.
In 1655, at the age of 60, on making one of his jaunts to Boston, WILLIAM sold his remaining six acres to MR. RICHARD PEPY.
On May 20, 1656, permission was granted to WILLIAM BLACKSTONE to enter the titles of his land in the records of land evidence in the colony. This, doubtless, was for the sake of convenience, he living near Providence, although at that time in the Plymouth jurisdiction as appears from letters of administration granted by that colony at his demise.
By July and August, 1656, the Boston Quaker Laws were invoked, which imprisoned, brutally treated, and expelled the Quakers.
In 1658, the Boston Quaker Laws of October, gives the death penalty to
all Quakers who return to Boston after having been banished.
CHAPTER VI: WILLIAM'S MARRIAGE TO SARAH STEVENSON
At the age of 64, in 1659, WILLIAM, on one of his trips to Boston, no doubt in his capacity as a Clergyman, was approached by a MRS. JOHN STEVENSON with a very serious problem. Her husband had died and as a cobbler had not been too well off to provide for a wife and six children so that she found it most difficult to exist.
No doubt many thoughts ran through WILLIAM's mind. Primarily, a solution to her problem, but also realizing his age, his inabilities to cope with the everyday living requirements, the fact that he had never married, thus no son to carry on in his stead, plus his displeasure with the powers-that-be in Boston with their Quaker Laws, etc. made him decide that the answer was to join forces, thereby solving both their problems.
Apparently, SARAH STEVENSON was in accord with the suggestion as they were married by GOVERNOR JOHN ENDICOTT on July 4,1659 in Boston. SARAH's oldest son, ONESIMUS, born October 26, 1643, found work on a ship and was never heard from again. Her second son, JOHN, born in 1645, now 14 years old, stayed with his mother. Her third son, PAUL, born in 1647, August 18, (no further information). Her fourth son, JOSEPH, born January 23, 1651, lived only about six months. Her fifth son JAMES, born October 1, 1653, turned up in Springfield upon the death of his brother, JOHN. She also had a daughter, SARAH, born February 6, 1655, but no further information on her. At any rate, WILLIAM, SARAH and her son JOHN, left shortly for their home in Rehoboth. One year later, SARAH at the age of 35, gave WILLIAM his first and only child, JOHN, in 1660, born at Rehoboth, R.I. WILLIAM was 65 years old.
A brief biography on SARAH (FISHER) STEVENSON BLACKSTONE is found in "Massachusetts
Pioneers" by Chas. H. Pope 1900:
Page 167 - Thomas Fisher, carpenter, Cambridge, proprietor of house and land, l634. Freeman 1634-5. Removed to Dedham. Administered property 18, May 1637. He died 10, June 1638. The town gave to his widow, 40 shillings, toward the bargain he had made in building the meeting house, 25, Jan. 1639. She paid to the attorney, Elisha Bridges, 4, July 1639, a legacy left by her husband, for his daughter, Sarah, who married John Stephenson, about 5, December 1642 first then the Rev. William Blackstone 4, July 1659. Thomas' wife, had leave from the General Court 13, May 1640, to administer her husbands estate, and to sell half of her lot for the bringing up of her children.*
SARAH, born 1625, probably in England, came to New England with her parents, about 1630. Her father died when she was 13 years old, and apparently was not an only child*, yet the others were not named in her father's legacy. SARAH, at 17, married JOHN STEVENSON (STEPHENSON) 5, December 1642, and by 1655 had six children. JOHN died about 1658 after 16 years of marriage, leaving his wife and six children, the youngest being 3 and the oldest 15.
On July 18, 1663, Rhode Island was granted religious freedom. Two years later, 1665, the Great Plague took place in London, England, causing a toll of 68,596 lives.
On May 2, 1666, WILLIAM, age 71 years, petitioned for relief from molestation by Plymouth in regard to his lands. The petition was recorded and answer returned that, if his land proved to be within this jurisdiction, justice should be secured to him.
On October 29, 1668, upon WILLIAM's petition, JOHN CLARKE was requested
to write to Plymouth warning that colony not to molest him in the quiet possession
of his lands.
CHAPTER VII: DEATH OF SARAH AND WILLIAM
June 15, 1673, SARAH, WILLIAM's wife for 14 years died at the age of 48 years. WILLIAM was then 78. JOHN BLACKSTONE was 13, and SARAH's son, JOHN STEVENSON, was 28.
REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE died May 26, 1675, at the age of 80 years. He was buried May 28, 1675 at Lonsdale, Rhode Island in his family plot next to his wife, SARAH.
ROGER WILLIAMS, writing a few days later to GOVERNOR JOHN WINTHROP, JR.,
of Connecticut, gives these details of his end:
"About a fortnight since your old acquaintance, MR. BLACKSTONE, departed this life in the fourscore year of his age; four days before his death he had a great pain in his brest, and back, and bowells: afterward he said, he was well, had no pains, and should live, but he grew fainter, and yeilded up his breath without a groane."
CHAPTER VIII: WILLIAM'S ESTATE
WILLIAM BLACKSTONE'S ESTATE:
(As quoted from "The History of Rehoboth", by BLISS, 1836)
MR. BLACKSTONE made books the companion of his lonely and sylvan retreat, as we shall see by the following inventory of his estate and library, taken two days after his death.
"Inventory of the lands, goods and chattels taken May 28, 1675 by Mr.
(STEPHEN) NATHANIEL PAINE, and others of Rehoboth.
REAL ESTATE NOT PRIZED
"Sixty acres of land and two shares in meadows in Providence, The west
plain, the south neck, and land about the house and orchards, amounting to
two hundred acres, and the meadow called Blackstones Meadow.
3 Bibles, l0s. - 6 English books in folio,
£ 2 l0s.
3 Latin books, in folio, 15s. - 3 do. large quarto £2 2 15
15 small quarto, £ 1 17s. 6d. - 14 small do. 14s. 2 11 6d.
30 large octavo, £4, - 25 small do. 1 5s. 5 5
22 duodecimo, 1 13
53 small do. of little value, 13
10 paper books, 5
15 12 6
Remainder personal, 40 11
Total personal, £ 56 3 6
SETTLEMENT OF WILLIAM BLACKSTONE'S ESTATE
TO: JOHN BLACKSTONE, son of WILLIAM. his only child, born at Rebohoth. When his father died, JOHN was a minor. The Plymouth colony records show this entry —— "June 1, 1675, Lieut. HUNT, ENSIGN SMITH, and DANIEL SMITH are appointed and authorized by the Court to take some present care of the estate of WILLIAM BLACKSTONE deceased, and of his son now left by him; and to see that, at the next Court, he do propose a man to the Court to he his guardian, which, in case he do neglect, the Court will then see cause to make choice of one for him."
June 2, 1675, KING PHILIP, second son of MASSASOIT, attacked Swansea (Providence area). REVEREND WILLIAM was hardly cold in the ground when PHlLIP's warriors utterly destroyed his 40-year old homestead, library, livestock, and all.
TO: JOHN STEVENSON, Step-son of WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, by Court Order dated July 10, 1675:
"Whereas the Court is informed that one, whose name is JOHN STEVENSON, step-son to WiLLIAM BLACKSTONE, late deceased, was very helpful to his step-father and mother, in their lifetime without whom they could not have subsisted, as to a good help and instrument thereof, and he is now left in a low and mean condition, and never was in any manner recompensed for his good service aforesaid; and if (as it is said at least) his step-father engaged to his mother, at his marriage with her, that he should be considered with a competency of land out of the said Blackstone's land then lived on, which hath never yet been performed; and forasmuch as the personal estate of said WILLIAM BLACKSTONE is so small and inconsiderable, that he, the said STEVENSON, cannot be relieved out of it; this Court therefore. in consideration of the premises. do order and dispose fifty acres of land unto the said JOHN STEVENSON out of the lands of the said WILLIAM BLACKSTONE and five acres of meadow, to be laid out unto him by ENSIGN HENRY SMITH; MR. DANIEL SMlTH; and MR. NATHANiEL PAINE, according as they shall think meet so as it may be most commodious to him, or as little prejudicial to the seat of MR. WILLIAM BLACKSTONE as may be. By order of the Court for the jurisdiction of Plymouth."
This monument erected at Lonsdale. Rhode Island, May 26, 1886, by LORENZO BLACKSTONE, a lineal descendent (4th great grandson) of the REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, who was responsible for the inscription.
Originally, WILLIAM's grave along with his wife, SARAH, was by the side of Study Hill, about two rods east of it. At that time there were stones partly crystallized quartz at the head and foot of the graves. The graves remained here until 211 years later when for the sake of progress it was decided to build a mill on the old property site and the graves were then moved to the Lansdale site mentioned above and the monument erected.
THE LINEAL ANCESTORS OF REVEREND WILLIAM
Grt. Grand Uncle: 1510 — SIR HUGH of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Grt. Grandfather : 1517 — RICHARD of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England (Rector of Cuxwold March 1554)
Grand Parents : 1542 — RICHARD & MURIEL CLARK BLACKSTONE of Ustel York, England (moved from York, Yorkshire Co. to Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England, about the middle of 16th Century (1540 -1550)
Grand Uncle : 1543 — WILLIAM, m. Widow (H) ELLEN (BLESBY) LEAKS.
Grand Uncle : 1544 — THOMAS. (no further information)
Father : 1567 — JOHN, m. AME or AGNES HAWLEY of Timberland, England about 1588.
Brother : 1589 — RALPH, oldest son, inherited father's estate 1622.
Brother : 1591 — NATHANIEL, emigrated to N.E. 1623, settled in Maryland.
Sister : 1592 — FRANCES, m. JOHN STAINES, July 6, 1610.
Brother : 1594 — JOHN, m. MARY PEACOCKE about 1619.
Sister : 1597 — ANN, (no further information).
Sister : 1599 — MURIEL, lived only 5 years, 9 months.
Brother : 1600 — GEORGE, m. ISABELLE MEGSON of Langton by Horncastle.
THE DESCENDENTS OF REVEREND WILLIAM
Son : 1660 — JOHN, the only child of REV. WILLIAM & SARAH. m. KATHERINE GORHAM of Providence, R.I. in 1690.
1st Grandson : 1691 — WILLIAM, h. N. Yarmouth, Me. m. ABIGAIL VARNEY, 1714. Children — PATIENCE, LYDIA, SUSANA, & WILLIAM JR. Died Nobleboro, (Newcastle) Maine about 1779.
2nd Grandson : 1699 — JOHN, JR., born Providence, RI. July 18, 1699; died Branford, Ct. January 3, 1785; married (1) ELIZABETH FOOTE; (2) REBECCA HARRISON; (3) SARAH HUGGINS. Children — JOHN, ABIGAIL, ELIZABETH, STEVENSON.
1st Grt. Grandson : 1718 — WILLIAM, son of 1691 — WILLIAM & ABIGAIL; born North Yarmouth, Maine, died about 1798, Nobleboro, Maine; married SARAH ROLLINS about 1749; Children — SARAH STEVENSON, BENJAMIN, WILLIAM, ABIGAIL, and it may be that they had a JOHN and MARY as well.
l729 — STEVENSON, born Branford, Ct. of 1699 — JOHN & ELIZABETH. (No further information).
1733 — JOHN, III, son of 1699 JOHN & ELIZABETH; born Branford, Ct.; fought in Revolutionary War. No further information except married REBECCA BALDWIN 17(62).
1755 — WILLIAM, son of 1718 WILLIAM & SARAH; born Nobleboro, Newcastle, Maine; married LUCRETIA BLONT, New Sharon, Maine, July 25, 1781; rem, to Toledo, Ohio then to Texas.
1753 — JOHN, son of 1718 WILLIAM & SARAH, enlisted in Continental Army, November 7, 1777, residence Walpole, Maine.
1754 — BENJAMIN, son of 1718 — WILLIAM & SARAH; born Noblesboro, Newcastle, Maine; died about 1786 in Damariscotta, Maine; married LYDIA BLOUNT of Farmington, Maine about 1774.
1763 — JOHN IV, son of 1733 JOHN III; born April 24, 1763, died July 29,
1841; married REBECCA FOOTE about 1788, in Branford, Ct.
[There are notes and a 'see typed additional sheet' written on the page but I do not know where it is or understand all the notes.]
1765 — TIMOTHY, son of 1733 JOHN III & REBECCA BALDWIN, Branford, Ct., died about 1847, M. (?) about 1792.
1782 — JOHN, son of 1755 WILLIAM & LUCRETIA; married SARAH HUSSEY of Jefferson, Maine, intentions filed February 3, 1805, solemnized by JP David Dennis, June 16, 1805; Children — SARAH ANN, BENJAMIN, JOSEPH V.
1785 — WILLIAM, son of 1755 WiLLIAM & LUCRETIA; married MARY CLARK of Newcastle, Maine; intentions filed July 8, 1805; married January 1, 1806 by JP David Dennis.
1793 — JAMES, son of 1766 TIMOTHY & (?) died 1886 Branford, Ct.; married SARAH BEACH about 1816; Children — GEORGE, LORENZO, JOHN, TIMOThY, ELLEN.
1808 — BENJAMIN, son of 1782 JOHN & SARAH; married JANE KENCEL about 1833, Bristol, Me.
1817 — GEORGE, son of 1793 JAMES & SARAH BEACH; born Branford, Ct. died 1900 in Branford; died unmarried at age 83.
1819 — LORENZO, son of 1793 JAMES & SARAh BEACH; born June 20, 1819 Branford, Ct.; married? Children — WILLIAM N., HARRIET, FRANCES ELLA, and three others.
1829 — TIMOTHY, son of 1793 JAMES & SARAH BEACH; erected Branford's Library in father's honor in 1896; was President of the Chicago & Alton Railroad Co.; died in Chicago, Illinois May 26, 1900.
1833 — JOSEPH V., son of 1782 JOHN & SARAH; married MARY B. FLAGG of Newcastle, Me.; most of their children died young.
1844 — WILLIAM, son of 1819 LORENZO & ? born Norwich/Branford, Ct.;
no further information.
All of this, and without question, a lot more, from THE REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE's only son, JOHN, born in 1660, who became a cobbler because his grandfather STEVENSON was a cobbler. He naturally inherited it, along with his mother's encouragements and her knowledgements of her first husband's profession.
The mystery is, how did 30-year old JOHN STEVENSON and 15-year old JOHN BLACKSTONE escape harm- Did STEVENSON rebuild on his inheritance? This is a probability, since when he died on September 16, 1695, his brother, JAMES of Springfield was appointed his administrator and returned an inventory on October 11, 1695 from which it appeals that his whole estate was valued at; 57 5s 2d. His house, lands, and meadows at £ 50; his gun, cutlass an cartouch box, l0s &c. &c.
Did JOHN BLACKSTONE continue living with his half-brother, JOHN STEVENSON? How much was left after the Indians got their satisfaction out of attacking WILLIAM's property? The fact is too well known that Indian attacks leave nothing unburned, or any living thing left alive. So, what was left for JOHN BLACKSTONE and JOHN STEVENSON? Probably only the land!
Then again, here is a 14 or 15 year old boy left with only his 30-year old half-brother for guidance and help. I have yet to find any sympathetic or complimentary remarks about JOHN BLACKSTONE, left almost to his own devices. The feelings of a boy just entering his teens should have been of some consideration, as well as the probable relationship with his half-brother who was 16 years older. The chances were that he had little of the father-son relationship when his father was 65 years old when he was born. All things considered, JOHN BLACKSTONE deserved far better recognition than past historians, genealogists, or what have you, have given him.
He married properly, had two fine sons; WILLIAM, born in 1691, and JOHN, born in 1699, who contributed their fair share in the building of this country. If JOHN BLACKSTONE was indolent and squandered his inheritance, such as it was, if anything was left after the Indians destroyed it, he was, no doubt driven to it. it is quite obvious that no one stopped long enough to really analyze the facts of the situation. It is also entirely possible that WILLIAM BLACKSTONE's Will was overlooked in his collection of books, etc. There were 10 paper books that just may have contained such a notation, just as the records that WINTHROP alluded to may have been found. However, it is evident that when inventory was taken, the hooks were simply counted, but not examined, to learn of their true content. This is, unfortunately, only too true.
WILLIAM BLACKSTONE had been in America, at the time of his death, a few months only less than 52 years, 40 of which he passed at Study Hill, his Rhode Island home. At Study Hill, as at Boston, he seems to have led a quiet, peaceful life; yet, quiet as his life was and much given up to that meditation of which he was so fond, it could not have been otherwise than laborious. Coming to America as he did, a young man of studious habits, a graduate of a college, bringing his library with him, it may be taken for granted that in those days he did not come unattended. He may have had one or more servants, and, indeed, traditions to that effect survive. Yet he had to build houses and to exact a living from the soil. This implied labor, and his days could not have been either wholly or in chief part given up to reading or reflection.
We also know that it was his custom in his latter years occasionally to preach in Providence, though what his exact tenets were does not appear; except that even though he lived near ROGER WILLIAMS, he was reputed to be "far from his opinions".
Not a little has since been said and written of BLACKSTONE to the effect that he was "a memorable man", that he was centuries in advance of the age in which he lived, that his motto was "Toleration", and he possessed qualifications which, under other circumstances, might have made him one of the foremost men of New England. This may, or may not, be so but the simple fact is that we have no means of forming any definite judgment about his opinion or intellectual power.
He was a singular man and as is apt to be the case with singular men when dead, he excites our curiosity. The graduate of a university, he crossed the ocean almost immediately after taking his degree, and he carried with him into the wilderness his books and his studious habits. He then chanced to make his home on the site of a future great city, where he lived the life of a devout recluse — almost a hermit. He disliked restraint and society, but there is no reason whatever to suppose that he had a peculiarly active or vigorous mind. If he was gifted that way, he succeeded most effectually in hiding his gift from the world.
WILLIAM never seemed to have had trouble with the Indians. He had lived all his life among them and, speaking their language, he understood their character. Apparently, he possessed that faculty of morally impressing himself on primitive natures, which has been so highly developed in African explorers of the Livingston type. It is, therefore, possible, though hardly probable, that had he not died when he did, he and his family might have escaped harm at the hands of KING PHILIP's men.
14—In Which Blackstone Flees Into the
THE LAST RESTING PLACE OF BLACKSTONE AT LONSDALE.
(From a photo taken in recent years)
The grave of Boston a first white settler is now in the shadow of a great
textile mill—actually in the mill yard The memorial stone shown in the illustration
was placed there in 1889 by Blackstone's lineal descendants.
Verification of the information matter by which this writing is based will be found in the following:
The Blackstones and Their Name (5 pages onion skin).
The Blackstone Family, by L. M. Sargent & Lorenzo Blackstone — 1849. (Typewritten — 34 pages).
The Blackstone Family. (As above in pamphlet form).
Rev. William Blackstone — The Pioneer of Boston 1896 By John C. Crane.
The Blackstones and Their Indian Paradise — 1952 by E. Joshua Lincoln.
Mormon Genealogical Library — Miami.
Miami Public Library — Genealogical Dept.
Boston Evening Transcript, under Genealogical Notes and Quiries. (Various dates, #'s Vols., etc.)
Dictionary of English & Welsh Surnames — Beardsley.
Nassau, B.W.I. — Public Library
History of Rehoboth, Mass. — Tilton — 1918
Old Bristol & Noblesboro, Maine. — Vol. 1.
History of Rochester, N.H. — McDuffee — Vols. 1 & 2.
Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & N.H.
History and Antiquities of Boston — Drake — 1856.
Pioneers of Massachusetts — C. H. Pope — 1900
Boston (Births, Baptisms, Marriages & Deaths — 1883.)
History of Dover, N. H. — Scales — 1923
Piscataqua Pioneers — John Scales — 1923.
Three Episodes in Massachusetts History — 1892.
History of Rehoboth — Bliss — 1836.
Daggett's History of Attleborough, R. I.
Winthrop's History of New England — L. M. Sargent
Cushman's History of Newcastle, Maine.
Notes on the Dover Combination of 1640 —Quint — 1879.
Historical Society Collections of Dover — Vol. 1 — 1894.
Landmarks in Ancient Dover — Thompson — 1892.
Rambles about Portsmouth — Brewster — 1859-69.
Portland Centennial Celebration — Hull — 1886.
History of Walpole, Maine — Frizzell — 1963.
History of Winthrop, Maine — E. S. Stackpole — 1925
York, Maine — Charles Edward Banks — 1931-35.
Members of Boston, Massachusetts Military Co. — 1895.
Nantucket, Mass. — Hinchman — 1934.
Blackstone's Commontaries on the Law, — Gavit — 1892.
Old Kent Co., Maryland — George A. Hanson — 1876
Maryland, First Census of, — 1907
Pennsylvania, First Census of, — 1790 - 1908.
Maryland Calendar of Wills — Richardson — 1913.
Research is constant, thus many more references will be added.
OTHER BOOKLETS AVAILABLE
ON OR ABOUT
ORIGIN OF THE NAME - THEIR CREST AND COAT - OF - ARMS
Blackstone Ancestors from 1510
BIOGRAPHY OF THE REV. WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1595 - 1675)
The First Settler of Boston, Mass.
BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN BLACKSTONE (1660-1743) 6.00
The Rev. William’s only child.
BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1691-1779) 6.00
Rev. William’s first grandson.
BIOGRAPHY OF SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1723 - 1779) 8.00
Any Blackstone’s own personal direct line, on back
to 1510 (if records are complete) or, on back to the first Blackstone emigrant
(regardless of spelling) to the New World, the Americas. Send for three (3)
Family Forms (no charge); fill out completely and return with the required
fee $200. Refunds will be made, for each generation under ten that are not
available. Any more than ten, no extra charge.. Notification will be made,
with refund, for each generation not on record. Charges are based only on
the number of your generations available.
Our researching is ever constant, and notification will be made of any corrections or additions that come to our attention. Your sincere cooperation, is earnestly solicited in this matter.
PLEASE INDICATE BOOKLETS DESIRED, AND RETURN WITH FEE:
( ) ORIGIN OF THE NAME - THEIR CREST AND COAT-OF-ARMS
( ) BIOGRAPHY OF THE REV. WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1595-1675)
( ) BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN BLACKSTONE (1660-1743)
( ) BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1691-1779)
( ) BIOGRAPHY OF SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1723-1780)
( ) PLEASE SEND ME THE FAMILY FORMS TO BE
FILLED OUT BY ME FOR INFORMATION AS TO MY
DIRECT LINE. (No charge)
STATE _________________________ZIP CODE__________
[Note: there was no address to send this to on the
original and Nathaniel B. Blackstone died in 1981. Please do not ask me where
to get these pamphlets as this is all there is.]
James R. Dangel
1504 Sawmill Creek Road
Sitka, Alaska 99835 USA