Sunday, August 5, 2018

2018 Prompt - Oldest - Barnabas Davis

Barnabas Davis - 1599-1685
10th great grandfather

My oldest ancestor? My oldest is probably my Mayflower descendant Thomas Rogers. But he died the first winter in Plymouth probably in his early 40s. My oldest, longest living, 17th century ancestor would be Barnabus Davis; business man, soldier, tallow chandler and planter.  I descend from Barnabas through my mother’s Martin family. My great-great grandfather Edward Martin married Elizabeth Larkins, daughter of Margaret Davis and then back seven more generations to Barnabus Davis. That would be Michigan to New York to Massachusetts to England.

Three hundred and forty-eight years ago my 10th great grandfather was born in 1599 in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England. Tewkesbury is about 100 miles northwest of London.  As a business man Barnabas left many records of his transactions and after 45 years of life in Massachusetts he also created several deed records that help document his life. He married Patience James July 1, 1625 in Tewkesbury, England[i] and died November 28, 1685 in Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.[ii] 

Barnabas first came to America in July,1635 on the ship “Blessing” on a business trip[iii]. He gave his age then as thirty-six years when he left London. He landed in Boston and walked to Connecticut to check on his employer, Mr. Woodcock’s, business. When he arrived in Connecticut he found that Mr. Woodcock’s employee Francis Stiles had built a house but had not laid out 400 acres for a farm as he should have in his agreement.[iv] Barnabas was advised to return to England with letters concerning Mr. Woodcock’s estate in the colony. After a three-month trip aboard ship he returned to England and delivered the letters. 1635 was in the midst of the Great Migration when hundreds of middle-class educated and skilled English families were choosing to leave their country. 

Barnabas was again sent to the colonies in 1637 to check up on Francis Stiles and landed in Boston in the year of the Pequot War.[v] He traveled to Connecticut in a small sailing vessel and found that Stiles had not acquired the land he should have and was sent back to England with more letters. Before he could leave he was forced to become a soldier for about a year to fight in the Pequot War. The Pequot War was the first major conflict between the English colonists in New England and the native population. The Pequots, who lived in coastal Connecticut, had angered the English by offering sanctuary to Indians who had killed an English trader. The Treaty of Hartford, September 21, 1638,[vi] ended the war, not so much by ceasing hostilities as by dissolving the Pequot tribe.

He was sent to Connecticut a third time to recover the Woodcock’s estate from Stiles. This time Barnabas took his wife and five children with him. I find it hard to believe that business men in the seventeenth century traveled three months aboard a ship to traverse from London to Boston. Barnabas landed in Boston in mid-1639.[vii] The Woodcocks never paid Barnabas and he brought suit against them for wages in 1640-41. He won the suit. Later, he owned Lovell's Island and considerable other real estate. On March 1, 1657/58 when land was divided in Charlestown, Barnabas received lot 50 of 27 acres of woodland and 4.5 acres on the side of common land.[viii]

Barnabas and his wife, Patience, came to New England in 1639 with their five children; Samuel, John, James, Patience and Barnabas and settled in the small town of Charlestown justoutside of Boston. Their last two children, Nathaniel and Hopewell were born in Charlestown.  Here in Charlestown Barnabas practiced the occupation of tallow chandler, or candle maker.[ix] Barnabas died November 27, 1685 in Charlestown[x] and Patience died November 15, 1690 in Charlestown.[xi] 

Nancy Simmons
Josephine Martin
Edward Martin
Francis Martin
Margaret Davis
Joel Davis
Isaac Davis
Isaac Davis
Simon Davis
Samuel Davis
Samuel Davis
Barnabas Davis  10th Grandfather

[i] Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Vol 2, Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1996-2011, page 288.
[ii] Hotten, John Camden, ed., Original List of Persons of Quality, London 1874, rpt Baltimore 1974, page 108.
[iii] Anderson, page 286.
[iv] Pope, Charles H., Pioneers of Massachusetts 1620-1650, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2013,p 131.
[v] Lechford, Thomas, Note-book kept by Thomas Lechford, Esq., lawyer : in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, from June 27, 1638 to July 29, 1641, American Antiquarian Society, Vol III, 1885, page 367.
[vi] Wikipedia, Treaty of Hartford, (1638),
[vii] Anderson, page 286.
[viii] Frothingham, Richard, The History of Charlestown, Massachusetts, Charles Little & James Brown, 1845, p. 152.
[ix] Anderson, page 286.
[x] Ancestry, Massachusetts Town and Vital Records 1620-1988, Barnabas Davis, page 553.
[xi] Anderson, page 288.

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