The Wades of Ipswich, Massachusetts 1610 to 2010

Jonathan Wade's line of descendants in North America

Tag: massachusetts bay colony

Friends of the Family: The Bradstreets

Nathaniel2 Wade (Jonathan1) was the second son and the sixth child (that we know of) of Jonathan and Susannah Wade. He was born about 1648 based on a description of his tombstone in the old Medford Cemetery which reads “Here Lies ye Body of Maj. Nathaniel Wade Died Nov Ye 28 1707, in ye 60 Year of his age.” Along with his older brother, Jonathan2, he moved to Mystic, now Medford, Massachusetts where his father Jonathan had acquired a large property. Jonathan and Nathaniel were some of the earliest residents of Medford and Nathaniel became quite involved in civic affairs and in the local militia eventually becoming Major of the Middlesex Regiment.

The arrangements for Nathaniel Wade’s marriage to Mercy Bradstreet is one of the few early arrangements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be so well documented. Upon the death of Jonathan Wade senior, a protracted battle about his will and estate ensued over several years. As part of the proceedings, Gov. Simon Bradstreet filed a deposition as to what Jonathan had discussed with him when he sought permission to allow his son Nathaniel to court (and possibly marry) Bradstreet’s 6th child, Mercy.

When Mr. Jonathan Wade, of Ipswich, came first to my house at Andover in the year -72- to make a motion of marriage betwixt his son Nathaniel and my daughter Mercy, he freely of himself told me what he would give to his son viz. one half of his farm at Mistick, and one third part of his land in England when he died; and that he should have liberty to make use of [the] part of improved and broken up ground upon the said farm until he should live in and have the use of half the house etc. until he had one of his own built upon his part of the farm. I was willing to accept of his offer, or at least said nothing against it: but propounded that he would make his said son a deed of gift of that third part of his land in England to enjoy to him and his heirs after his death, this he was not free to do but said it was assured for he had so put it into his will, that his 3 sons should have that in England equally divided betwixt them viz. each a 3rd part. I objected he might alter his will when he pleased, and his wife might die and he marry again and have other children, which he thought a vain objection. Much other discourse there was about the stock on the farm etc. but remaining unwilling to give a deed for that in England; saying he might have to spend it and often repeating he had so ordered it in his will as aforesaid which he should never alter without great necessity or words to that purpose so we parted for that time leaving that matter to further consideration.
After he came home he told several of my friends and others, as they informed me, that he had preferred to give his son Nathaniel better than 1000£ and I would not accept it. The next time he came to my house, after some discourse about the premises and perceiving his resolution as formerly, I consented to accept of what he had formerly engaged, and left it to him to add what he pleased towards the building of him a house etc. and so agreed that the young persons might proceed in marriage with both our consent which accordingly they did. [Adapted to modern spelling by C. Labarge].

Source: Dudley, Deane. History of the Dudley Family Vol. 6. Deane Dudley: Wakefield, Mass: 1892. (p. 1031 – 1032). Available online at The Internet Archive

This is a remarkable document from many different perspectives. In the first place, it is a rare document that describes in some minute details the kind of negotiations that would have taken place between two fathers whose children might be interested in courtship and marriage. In an earlier post, I commented on the roles of the father and the prospective father-in-law in the context of the puritan marriage rituals in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

For his three sons, Jonathan would have needed to show the prospective father-in-law that the son would be endowed with property and enough wealth to maintain the prospective bride’s social circumstances. See

Simon Bradstreet showed a deep concern for Johnathan’s plans for endowing his son with enough property to ensure his wife’s present and future financial status. He pressed Jonathan to gift a portion of the land he had acquired in England to Nathaniel immediately rather than wait for Nathaniel to acquire it when Jonathan died and his estate was probated. He was also concerned about what might happen if Jonathan changed his will or if his wife died and he had more children from a new wife. It is clear from the document that Simon Bradstreet wanted to be very sure that his daughter Mercy and possibly his future grandchildren would be well taken care of in her marriage and widowhood. Secondly, it would appear that Jonathan might have been a little circumspect in his dealings with Mr. Bradstreet. Jonathan told Bradstreet that he had decreed in his will that his land in England be divided equally between his three sons. This will, as will be seen in a later post, was a second will that Jonathan had written, but not signed, ostensibly replacing an earlier will that bequeathed the land in England to his eldest son Jonathan. Simon Bradstreet was right to be skeptical about Jonathan never changing his will, and indeed, his deposition was given during the legal wrangling over which of the two wills was the “official” will. Bradstreet would obviously had been quite concerned if his son-in-law, Nathaniel, had not received what he claimed Jonathan had promised. As another sign of some friction between the two men, Bradstreet relays Jonathan’s supposed conversation with some of his friends “and others” to the effect that Jonathan claimed he had preferred to give his son £1000 but that Bradstreet would not accept it. The veracity of Bradstreet’s deposition was not verified – his deposition was simply accepted as his version of the discussion he had with Jonathan. When this deposition was made, Jonathan was already dead and unable to challenge any word of it. His sons, meanwhile, were busy wrangling over which one the wills was the legitimate one.

The third aspect of this document that is particularly interesting , to me at least, is the language that is used. This deposition reads like a family letter written in the most familiar of terms and conversational language. Written in 1683, it sounds very much like North American English used in the 20th Century, except for a few odd words such as “betwixt” and “propounded”. Although there are a few phrases that seem British in style, the deposition seems to show a progression towards an American version of English quite different from the formal language of Old England.

Finally, the deposition gives us an insight into these two leading men in the community. Jonathan has come to see Simon Bradstreet, perhaps at the behest of his son, Nathaniel, to discuss whether Bradstreet would give his consent to Nathaniel’s courtship and possible marriage to his daughter Mercy. From Bradstreet’s point of view, Jonathan freely offered to give one half of the farm at Mistick and one-third of his land in England to Nathaniel after Jonathan’s death. Then, they discussed that Nathaniel could make use of some of the tilled portion of the farm until he could till the land that would be his part. Since the farm contained a manor house (per the original deed of sale), Nathaniel and his wife could use one-half of the house until he built his own. Bradstreet wanted to secure his daughter’s position and inheritance while Jonathan wanted to keep his options open. After Bradford acquiesced to Jonathan’s plan, the two elders held a detailed discussion about the stock that was on the farm that no doubt included details about both quantity and quality. In the end, despite the quibbling over the will versus the deed of gift and despite Bradstreet’s surprise or irritation that Jonathan had told his friends a story that was not true, Bradstreet agreed to the arrangements and gave permission for the courtship and, if the relationship developed, to the marriage. It would seem plausible to interpret this final agreement as an affirmation of Jonathan’s status in the community and of Bradstreet’s perception of the Wades as a suitable level for his daughter to marry into. Coming from Simon Bradstreet, this was no light endorsement.

Who was Simon Bradstreet? Simon was the son of a Horbling, Lincolnshire non-conformist clergyman who died when Simon was only fourteen years old. He was committed to the care of Thomas Dudley, the future Deputy-Governor and the second Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After schooling and working as a steward for a number of years, he married Anne, the 16 year-old daughter of Thomas Dudley who would be later known as the first poet of America. They decided to emigrate with Thomas Dudley, John Winthrop, and the other passengers on the Arabella in 1630. He was an assistant to the new government in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, an office he held for forty-eight years. He became the first secretary of the colony, a position that lasted 13 years, and was made Deputy-Governor from 1672-1679, after which he served ten years as Governor 1679-86 and 1689-91. Thus, at the time Jonathan Wade came calling, he would have been months away from his appointment as Deputy-Governor, if he were not already in the post. In the sketch in The Essex Antiquarian from which this biographical material is mostly drawn, he is as described the following terms:

He was puritanic in his religion, and prosecuted the Quakers so severely that Bishop, in his New England Judged By The Spirit of the Lord called him “a man hardened in blood and a cruel persecutor.” He was, however, opposed to the witchcraft delusion.

He was a just magistrate judged by the times, possessing prudence, sound judgement, and strict integrity. Believing fully in his mission, he sought usefulness rather than popularity.

In his home life he was a tender father and loving husband. He took pride in his wife’s poetical talents, and greatly mourned her death.

from The Essex Antiquarian, Vol. 2 (1898) pp. 159-160. The Essex Antiquarian. Salem, MA: The Essex Antiquarian, 13 vols. 1897-1909. (Online database: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2006.)

His tombstone in Salem, MA originally contained a Latin inscription which may be translated as:

SIMON BRADSTREET, esquire,  senator, in  Colonial Massachusetts from the year 1630, unto the year 1673. Next, in the year 1679, the vice-governor. Finally, in the year 1686, Governor of the same colonies with common and consistent support of the populace. Husband, gifted judge, neither deities nor honor enticed him.  He drank evenly from the cup of authoritative ruler, and of liberty for the people. Religion with feeling, a life of innocence, the world he both conquered, and forsook, the 27 day of March AD 1697, the year William, 31, 9 and age 94.

(with my most sincere apologies to my high school Latin teacher and Latin scholars – I would be happy to receive alternate translations).

Simon Bradstreet and his wife Anne Dudley Bradstreet had eight children. Their first daughter, Dorothy, married the Rev. Seaborn Cotton, son of the well-known Rev. John Cotton, one of the most eminent puritan ministers in the Colony. This marriage would have clearly indicated Simon Bradstreet’s strong allegiance to the puritan religion and to its clerical leadership. Dorothy Bradstreet Cotton died on Feb. 26 1672 leaving the Rev. Seaborn Cotton with nine children ranging in age from 16 to 2 years old. Almost one and a half years later, Rev. Cotton married Prudence Wade, Jonathan Wade’s daughter and the widow of Anthony Crosby. She was 34 years old at the time of her marriage to Rev. Cotton on July 9, 1673 and still of child-bearing age. And within three years of their marriage, she had given birth to two sons. It is inconceivable that Rev. Cotton would not have talked to his former father-in-law about the suitability of Prudence Wade as a second wife. There are too many close connections between these two families that would support the idea of Simon Bradstreet being asked his opinion of the woman who would become his grandchildren’s stepmother.

Mercy was the sixth child and the fourth daughter of Simon and Anne Dudley Bradstreet. After the intense negotiations described in Simon Bradstreet’s deposition, she and Nathaniel Wade married on October 31, 1672, about 9 months before Rev. Cotton married Nathaniel’s sister Prudence. This marriage would have signified Simon Bradstreet’s acknowledgement of the status of the Ipswich merchant Jonathan Wade as well as the role that the merchants played in the development of the local and colony-wide economy. Bradstreet was himself a busy import and export merchant. According to the sketch in the Essex Antiquarian, while he was in Andover, he “did considerable business in sawing lumber, and shipping it to Barbadoes, where he exchanged it for West India goods, which he brought home and sold.”[page 159]. Obviously, he and Jonathan Wade understood the language of trade and were more than likely quite familiar with the art of negotiation and bartering. The deposition he made in 1683 gives a rare insight into the delicate negotiations for his daughter’s future and his skillful bargaining tactics. It is only unfortunate that Jonathan Wade was not alive to give his side of the story!

©Charles Labarge


Jonathan’s Life In Ipswich Part 2

Before examining some of the transactions that Jonathan Wade was a party to in the years after 1647, it might be an appropriate time to deal with an issue that should surface in light of Jonathan’s successful business ventures as well as some that eventually led to his censure by the courts for particularly offensive business practices. The question often arises of the tension between the puritan merchant’s pursuit of profits and wealth and the dictates of the puritan ethos. How are these two issues reconciled? Is there an obvious conflict? Was all profit innately evil in the puritans’ way of life and was Jonathan one of those rapacious merchants whose only goal was individual wealth at the expense of the common good?

To help answer these questions, I will again refer to Professor Bremer’s books Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction  and First Founders: American Puritans and Puritanism in an Atlantic World. From the former we learn that puritans believed that their daily lives, including their economic activity, were directed by the Creator who had given them certain talents and skills. “While medieval theologians had asserted that each person’s social and economic station was determined by God, puritans sacralized secular vocations by arguing that part of the individual’s duty to God was to use those gifts effectively in the tasks to which they had been called.” (p. 56). However, puritans did not distinguish a person’s value based on his or her wealth but affirmed that all people, no matter their station in life, were equal before God. God had simply assigned different talents and skills to different people and some of these people would be powerful and rich while others would be poor and humble. But, in either case, the puritan soul was equal before God and should therefore be treated with equal respect. Where the danger lay for the puritan soul was in the “excessive pursuit” of one’s calling. “If an individual focused on his business to the point where he neglected his obligations to his family, his church, or his community, he sinned.” (p. 56).

This theme is developed more extensively in First Founders using the particular example of a Boston merchant, Robert Keayne, and his various encounters with the court over his business practices. In fact, the most famous case against Keayne, the sale of nails that were allegedly priced to provide an “excessive” profit, mirrors a very similar case, in 1658, against Jonathan Wade which was also made for the excessive prices for grindstones and linen cloth. In both cases, the underlying accusation was that the merchant had violated the puritanical communal ethos that “the common good was to dictate individual economic behaviour.” (Kindle location 1689).  According to Bremer (Location 1689-1701):

 In a world in which fewer business transactions were conducted by individuals known to each other, contracts rather than trust dictated obligations. The lending of money increasingly became a business transaction rather than an act of charity…..

Merchants argued that the price charged in any single transaction must allow a profit margin that would cover potential losses on other transactions. There was a dispute over whether employers needed to pay what we might call a living wage or could take advantage of a glutted labor market to pay less and maximize their own profits. All of these practices were hotly debated in England in the decades surrounding the settlement of New England.

The colonial magistrates tried to control prices and also the wages of those who would take advantage of the labor shortage that existed to demand unrealistically high wages. But too harsh an application of these restraints might jeopardize the economic growth on which the success of the colonies depended. In this situation it was easy to label merchants avaricious, and many were subjected to the scrutiny of their fellow colonists in court and church proceedings. 

Trade was one of the most important activities in the new colony. The fur trade was a major source of exports and generated a considerable amount of wealth for New England merchants. “During the 1630s the regional economy was sustained by new arrivals who brought money and spent it on supplies they needed to establish themselves in their new homeland. When immigration dried to a trickle because of the English Civil Wars, colonists scrambled to find Atlantic markets from the West Indies to the Azores for the timber, grains, fish, and other products they could produce.” (Location 1703). It was not surprising, therefore, that merchants were closely watched and their business practices scrutinized by both their customers and the courts. According to Bremer, there were fifty cases involving fraud or violations of wage and price guidelines brought before the colony Court of Assistants in the first fifteen years of the Massachusetts Bay Company.

On October 1, 1645, a group of Ipswich and area merchants petitioned the General Court for permission to set up a “free company of adventurers” which would have a 20 year monopoly on all trade the Company discovered within the next three years. The company was to establish trading posts “with full power & authority from the Court to inhibit and restrain all other persons whatsoever…that shall attempt any trade…” (Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony p.138). The petitioners behind this scheme were prominent men in Ipswich and area: Richard Satonstall, Simon Bradstreet, Samuel Symonds (father of Mary Wade’s husband William), William Hubbard and William Paine. As Perzel notes in his thesis (p. 94), no record of the activity of this company has survived and it may have never been active beyond this petition. But, this wasn’t the only trade agreement making the rounds in Ipswich, a lively centre of trade between New England, the mother country, and such exotic places as the West Indies and the Caribbean islands. On January 24, 1647, Robert Paine, William Paine, John Wittingham, John Whipple, Jonathan Wade, and William Bartholemew signed an agreement to manage a “joint trade” together for the next five years. At the end of the five years, the partners were to divide “the Stocke and the produce thereof”. The Paine brothers were well-known in Ipswich having endowed the town with a fund that established the first Grammar School. Both William and Robert were merchants although William moved to Boston where he became very successful. According to Abraham Hammatt in an Address to the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Foundation of the Ipswich Grammar School as recorded in the Antiquarian Letters, Vol. I, No. 2 ((Nov. 1879, p.1, col. 2), Robert Paine was the principal benefactor but was assisted by his brother William Paine and William Hubbard, both of whom were involved in the petition for a trade monopoly to the General Court on October 1, 1645. As in that case, there are no detailed records that have survived to chronicle the activities of this Joint Trade Agreement although the courts have several records in the years following the five-year term that indicate that perhaps the principals did not part ways on completely good terms.

The first inkling that the Agreement was in some legal difficulty comes in the form of a Quit Claim filed by William Paine in favour of his brother Robert. In the opening lines, William notes that when the five years expired and it was time to divide the “Stocke with the produce thereof”, questions and differences “did then arise between the said partners and undertakers.” To settle their differences, the partners referred the matter to the arbitration of Samuel Symonds, Daniel Dennison, and Robert Lord of Ipswich who duly provided their opinion in writing and William, being satisfied with the outcome, released his brother from any further claims other than “such debts as still remain in the hands of the said Robert Paine unpaid at this day.” The Quit Claim was signed April 13, 1660 some 14 years after the Agreement was signed and eight years after the Agreement was terminated. (Suffolk Deeds, Vol. III, pp. 357-358).

One record that exists of the type of business the partners were engaged in is an action by William Bartholomew and Company versus Robert Knight. ON Aug. 14, 1647, Bartholomew had been appointed the agent for the trade agreement. One month later, on September 28, he was in court seeking redress from Robert Knight for a bill of exchange of £220 14s. “for fish to be made good in London to the plaintiffs” (ECR I, p. 127). This record demonstrates two important aspects of Jonathan’s mercantile activities: first, that he was involved in the fish trade between New England and England (a fact that will be borne out in another case in November 1661 and secondly, that he was dealing with matters in London since the bill of exchange was to be made good in London. This will also be confirmed in later transactions.

The Trade Agreement expired on January 24, 1652; it wasn’t long before the litigation surrounding the final division of the stock and produce of the partners began. Jonathan Wade filed a lawsuit against William and Robert Paine on July 1, 652 which was held over until the next day when the court document stated that Mr. Jonathan Wade had sued Messrs. Robert and William Payne “For not giving account of money in their hands. Parties agreed that Capt. William Hathorne and Mr. Henry Bartholomew should audit their accounts.” (ECR Vol. I p. 261). A further court date was held in November 1652 but it wasn’t until June 28, 1653 that the court heard the crux of Jonathan’s complaint. His suit at that time was to recover from Mr. Robert Paine the sum of £545 which had been the profit of £155 “which had been committed to him [presumably Paine] to improve in the way of trade according to certain articles” (ECR Vol I, p. 285).

I could find no further entries for this case, but would still look to draw some conclusions from it. The first conclusion is that Jonathan was part of the merchant group that was centered in Ipswich. The second observation was that Jonathan played with high stakes; his £50 stake in the Massachusetts Bay Company only 20 years earlier had been viewed as a considerable sum. Now he was part of a group that dealt in much bigger sums. Thirdly, if the £545 was the profit on the £155, this was a profit of some 350%, perhaps over a period of 5 years or less. The business of trade in the new colony was obviously a lucrative business indeed.

Jonathan’s participation in the affairs of the court continued throughout the 1640’s and into the 1650’s. Shortly after the birth of his son Nathaniel, he was involved with William Sergent of Salsbery who acknowledged a judgement in favour of Mr. Wade, a decision that came almost to the day one year after Mr. William Symonds, his future son-in-law, also acknowledged a judgement in favour of Mr. Wade. On September 25, 1649, Jonathan Wade was again a member of the Grand Jury in a court where the judges were the well-known magistrates Gov. John Endecott, Mr. Simon Bradstreet, and Mr. Samuell Symonds. Jonathan also signed a deposition that was presented in court on November 13, 1649 that Philip Maury had been seen in Mr. Saltonstall’s orchard during the time of services on the Sabbath. In this case, Mr. Wade claimed that his own children had seen this breach of conduct and he signed the deposition on behalf of all the family.

As the court became involved in more and more cases, including such items as punishing church members for their behaviour or their dress, it also became involved in social issues, family issues, and of course, probate and civil issues. Jonathan was involved in all these categories of cases and it seems that as time went on, Jonathan became more difficult in his dealings with the court and with the people involved in his suits. In the next part, we will examine more cases that gives us the clues that help us reconstruct Jonathan’s personality and his behaviour.

Jonathan’s Life in Ipswich Part 1

Jonathan Wade and his small family, his wife Susannah and his two year-old daughter Mary, were now set to embark upon their new lives in the newly-named town of Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. With land grants that included a house lot, farmland, and grazing land, Jonathan could set about the necessary task  of building a home, outbuildings and of acquiring all the necessities of life that he had not brought with him from the old country. Records of the times showed that many families had feather beds, coverlets, flaxen sheets and warming pans. Jonathan, in light of his social position, may have also had some luxuries such as silver utensils and pewter spoons and porringers. (Doris Schultz, Jonathan Wade of Ipswich, Massachusetts, p. 3).

As with so many others in the early Massachusetts Bay Colony, Jonathan’s life was measured and recorded chiefly by the courts and especially the Essex Quarterly Courts which met quarterly in Salem and Ipswich alternately. These volumes contain transcripts or extracts from the record books and loose papers of all courts that operated in the area that is now Essex County, Massachusetts, from 1636 to 1683. Nearly every person who resided for any length of time in Essex County in this period will be found in these volumes. As the editor, George Dow writes in his introduction to the first volume of the Records of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County:

 These County Courts or Inferior Quarterly Courts had jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases except in cases of divorce and crimes involving life, limb or banishment. They had power to summon grand and petit jurors, to appoint their own clerks and other necessary officers, to lay out highways, license ordinarys, to see that a proper ministry was supported, to prove wills, grant administrations and to have general control of matters in probate. (Volume I, p. v)

Since the Quarterly Courts had jurisdiction over criminal, civil and administrative matters,  there are records of prosecution for various crimes, of lawsuits between private citizens, and of licenses for innkeepers, and, as the courts became more involved in the matters of the meeting house, records of punishments for ‘religious’ transgressions. Most courts  list the presiding magistrates as well as the grand and petit juries for that court, in many cases accompanied by the grand jury presentments for the court. These courts also held probate jurisdiction, and many early wills, inventories and administration form part of the records of the court.

Jonathan’s first appearance at court was on September 19, 1637 when he is listed as a member of the Grand Jury  at the Quarterly Court held in Boston and Newtown (Cambridge).  At this session, there were three cases of murder (2 were found guilty) and three cases of adultery (all of which were found guilty). This court session is shown the Records of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in New England as being held in Boston and Newtown “because of the Conference”. (Vol. I, p. 202) This is very interesting because it coincides with the dates of the election in Newton on May 17, 1637 where “men from all over the colony gathered” to settle the “Free Grace” controversy. An excellent discussion of the near riot and of the role of the Puritan minister John Wilson in calming the unruly crowd may be found in a book alluded to in an earlier post (see First Founders: American Puritans and Puritanism in an Atlantic World, by Francis J. Bremer. Chapter 3, “John Wilson: Puritan Pastor” contains a detailed account of the controversy, the near-riot, and the outcome with Gov. John Winthrop’s re-election and the election of Thomas Dudley as Deputy Governor).

Sometime in the midst of this hectic year for Jonathan, his son Jonathan Jr. was born in Ipswich. As we will see later on, Jonathan Jr. would play an important part in his father’s businesses and would become, along with his brother Nathaniel,  a major figure in the development of the town of Mystic, now known as Medford, Massachusetts.

The Records of the Colony also show ( on page 262) that the Court granted “To Mr. Jonathan Wade….200 acres of land” on June 6, 1639. The records do not specify where this land was located but did include a list of other worthy recipients like Simon Bradstreet, John Endecott, Capt. Robert Sedgwick, Mr. Peter Bulkely, and Mr. William Pierce. This same year, 1639, would also see the birth of his third child and second daughter, Prudence, who lived to the ripe old age of 72.

In 1640, Jonathan first ran afoul of the legal system in a case over the misuse of a servant. On December 1, 1640, the Quarterly Court in Boston found that “Samuel Hefford, having been much misused by his master, Jonathan Wade, he is freed from the said Mr. Wade…” (Vol. I, p. 311). Furthermore, Jonathan was bound in £40 for good behaviour, a considerable amount of money compared to the fines levied against other transgressors during that same court session. Unfortunately, Jonathan did not seem to have learned his lesson and although we know very little about what happened between Jonathan and Samuel Hefford, we do know quite a bit more about his dealings with an indentured servant, William Denies or Deane.  But that was to be 18 years later and we will reserve the details until we come to the year 1658.

Around 1641, Jonathan’s fourth child and third daughter, Sarah, was born, and two years later, around 1643, his fifth child and fourth daughter, Elizabeth, was born.

By 1645, Jonathan’s various businesses seemed to begin to flourish. Certainly, his appearances at the Quarterly Courts increased significantly, and in most of these cases he was the plaintiff rather than the defendant. And his penchant for saying or doing things that might displease the court continued. For instance, on November 4, 1645, he was “fined for speeches affronting the court” (EQC Vol. I, p. 88). The amount of the fine was not given. At this same court session, he was involved as the plaintiff in a dispute with a certain Edward Bendall, the details of which are not given. He was also willing to take on “the establishment” since another one of his cases dealt with with Robert Saltonstall, the son of Sir Richard Saltonstall, knight, and an early Assistant in the Massachusetts Bay Company. On this occasion, Robert Saltonstall failed to appear at Wade’s summons and defaulted his case. The matter continued in Salem in January of 1645/6 at which time both Wade and Saltonstall agreed to arbitration. Meanwhile, back in Ipswich in November 1645, Jonathan was still busy in court as he, along with two others, were fined 5 shillings for selling wine without a license. Some 17 years later, he was granted a license to sell “strong waters”, a license he held for at least 3 years.

In 1646, in a case that would last through the summer and into the late fall, Jonathan Wade and George Hadley took separate cases to the Quarterly Courts in Ipswich and Salem. George Hadley seems to have put forward his case first on the court document of  30 June, 1646 in Salem in which he sought a “claim and delivery” order from the court.  Jonathan Wade, at the same session, entered two cases against George Hadley for payment of rent. Hadley lost the first round in that session because he had summoned Jonathan Wade to Salem but then was not prepared to proceed with his prosecution. The Court fined him 8 shillings for cost. When the matter was taken up again on July 1, 1645, again in Salem, a witness, Jonathan Andrew deposed that when “Wade was coming from the farm, Wade asked Geo. Hadley what he intended to do [presumably how he was going to pay the rent]. Hadley replied that he would pay Wade in wheat and barley at 4 shillings per bushel, and rye and Indian corne at 3 shillings per bushel.” Robert Lord, the Ipswich ‘sheriff’, deposed that “With consent of Jonathan Wade and Georg Hadley, in action of trespass, Hadley to pay Wade the rent in wheat, etc.” (EQC I, pp. 95-98).

What is most interesting about this case is that it points out one of the roles the early merchants played in the development of the Colony’s growing economy. In Edward Perzel’s unpublished thesis The First Generation of Settlement in Colonial Ipswich, Massachusetts: 1633 – 1660, he notes on page 95:

The most important role filled by the merchant was that of banker. His role was not as a savings institution but rather as a lending institution. Money was scarce in colonial Massachusetts. Most of the people paid their debts and obligations in kind, not cash, but it was not always convenient to buy something as valuable as real estate by this method; thus many inhabitants went to the merchants for mortgages. The merchant who held the mortgage was paid off in some kind of merchantable goods more often than in money.

In reviewing the various court actions in which Jonathan Wade was involved, there is a constant pattern. He was either trying to amass land which was the greatest form of wealth in the new colony, or he was involved in some activity in which he was paid or lent money, whether he was providing inventory of deceased persons’ estates, selling alcohol, building a sawmill, or, as we will see next time, being involved in a Trade Agreement with other merchants. Again, according to Perzel:

Wade was the most “enterprising promoter of mechanical employments in the town.”He was similar to the modern day entrepreneur and was among the wealthiest citizens of Ipswich. His motivation seems to have been profit, and, while he had been made a freeman in 1634 which indicated church membership and a position among the elect, there was little in his actions that could be attributed to religion. (p. 104)

* the quotation is from Jospeh B. Felt, History of  Ipswich, Essex and Hamilton,Cambridge: Charles Folsom, 1834, p.104.

In the next post, we will look at the most productive period in Jonathan Wade’s career, the time when he accumulated the wealth that eventually led him to be described after his death in 1683 as the “one of the richest men” in that first generation of settlers of the new Massachusetts Bay Colony. And we will scrutinize Perzel’s claim that “there was little in his actions that could be attributed to religion.”

©Charles Labarge

The Next Generation

So far, we have followed Jonathan Wade in a chronological sequence from his birth in England to his emigration to New England to his transfer from Charlestown to Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We have seen the beginnings of the second generation of Wades with the birth of Mary in 1633 in Charlestown and we are now about to meet Jonathan’s family and their spouses. Although this introduction to the second generation does not coincide with our chronologically-ordered narrative, it will allow us to form a picture of Jonathan’s family life and of his and his family’s acquaintances. With this background, we can easily place both the public and family events together in an order that will give us a more holistic view of the man than if we simply enumerated his children and subsequently his public achievements.

(The following information is obtained through numerous sources which, if included in this post, would lengthen it by several pages. Anyone interested in any sources for any of the facts listed in this post are welcome to contact me through the Comments section below and I would be pleased to send them a complete list of the Sources).

The children of Jonathan Wade were:

1)Mary Wade was born on 2 Oct 1633 in Charlestown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was christened on 2 Oct 1633 in the First Church of Charlestown and died from 1693 to 1694 aged 60. Mary married William Symonds, son of Deputy-Governor Samuel Symonds and Dorothy Harlakenden, before 1667. William was born on 22 Jun 1632 in Earl’s Colne, Essex, Englanddied on 22 May 1679 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass. Bay Colony aged 46, and was buried on 27 May 1679. They had five children: Susanna, Dorothy, Mary, Elizabeth and Joseph. The last two girls (Mary b. Jan 6, 1673 & Elizabeth B. Jul 20, 1678) were minors in 1694, and under the guardianship of their uncle, Col. Thomas Wade.

2) Major Jonathan Wade was born about 1637 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony and died on 24 Nov 1689 in Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts, Dominion of New England,  aged about 52. Major Jonathan Wade, is said by some researchers to have married first Dorothy Bulkely, daughter of Revered Peter Bulkely, but no children were born to this couple. By 1655 Major Jonathan had married Deborah, the eldest daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley and Katherine Deighton. Deborah was born on 27 Feb 1644 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colony, was christened on 2 Mar 1644/45 in Roxbury,  and died on 1 Nov 1683 in Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay Colony, aged 38. They had seven children: Deborah, Prudence, Catherine, Catherine, Susanna, Dorothy and Dudley.

Major Jonathan married again before 1687 to Elizabeth, daughter of Reverend Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard College. Elizabeth was born on 29 Dec 1656 in Scituate, in the Plymouth Colony, and died on 8 Nov 1729 in Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay Colony, aged 72. They had two children: Elizabeth and Dorothy. Major Jonathan died 24 November 1689, after spending a number of his adult years in Medford, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Dunster’s older brother Jonathan also married into the Wade family when, on 5 Apr 1692, he married Deborah Wade, the oldest daughter of Major Jonathan Wade and Deborah Dudley.

3) Prudence Wade was born about 1639 in Ipswich, Massachusetts Bay Colony,and died on 1 Sep 1711 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts aged about 72. Prudence married Dr. Anthony Crosby, son of William Crosby and Anne Wright, on 28 Dec 1659 in Rowley, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anthony was christened on 5 Oct 1635 in Holme-On-Spalding Moor, York, England and died on 16 Jan 1672/73 in Rowley, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony,  aged 37. They had five children: Thomas, Jonathan (died at 6 months old), Jonathan, Nathaniel (died young), and Nathaniel.

Prudence next married Rev. Seaborn Cotton, son of Rev. John Cotton and Sarah Story, on 9 Jul 1673. Seaborn was born on 12 Aug 1633 at Sea, was christened on 8 Sep 1633 in Boston, Suffolk,Massachusetts Bay Colony, died on 19 Apr 1686 in Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire,  aged 52, and was buried on 23 Apr 1686 in Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire. They had two children: Rowland and Wade.

Prudence married for her third husband, on 7 November 1686, Lieutenant John Hammond of Watertown, Massachusetts, she being his third wife. There is some discrepancy in the marriage dates in that Doris Schultz cites George Brainard Blodgette’s Early Settlers of Rowley, Mass. for the date of “7 November 1685/6” while Robert Charles Anderson in The Great Migration shows the date as 7 November [1686?]. I have used The Great Migration date since the Rev. Seaborn Cotton, her second husband, did not die until 19 Apr 1686 making a 7 November 1685 date a virtual impossibility.

4) Sarah Wade was born about 1641 in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.Sarah was the second wife to Samuel Rogers (widow of Judith Appleton), the son of the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers and Margaret Crane. Samuel was born on 16 Jan 1634/35 in Assington, Suffolk, England and died on 21 Dec 1693 in Ipswich, Essex, Province of Massachusetts Bay, aged 58. Sarah and Samuel were married on 13 Nov. 1661 in Ipswich and they had 8 children. He was Town Clerk and Register of Probate for many years and died December 24, 1693. His widow, Sarah (Wade) Rogers, married before April 15, 1695, a second husband, Mr. Henry Woodhouse.

5) Elizabeth Wade was born about 1644 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Elizabeth married Elihu Wardell, son of William Wardell and Alice, on 26 May 1665 in Ipswich. Elihu was born in Nov 1641 in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was christened there on 5 Dec 1641. They had six children: Elizabeth, Elihu Jr., Prudence, Jonathan, Susanna, and John.

6) Major Nathaniel Wade was born about 1648 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony, died on 28 Nov 1707 in Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts aged about 59, and was buried there. Nathaniel married Mercy Bradstreet, daughter of Gov. Simon Bradstreet and Anne Dudley, on 31 Oct 1672 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Mercy was born about 1647 and died on 5 Oct 1714 in Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts aged about 67. They had eight children: Nathaniel, Simon, Susanna, Mercy, Jonathan, Samuel, Ann and Dorothy.

7) Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Wade was born about 1651 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony and died there on 4 Oct 1696 aged about 45, and was buried in Ipswich. Thomas married Elizabeth Cogswell, daughter of William Cogswell and Susanna Hawkes, on 22 Feb 1669/70 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Elizabeth was born about 1650 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony, died there on 28 Dec 1726 aged about 76, and was buried there on 5 Jan 1726/27.  They had nine children: Jonathan, Thomas, John, William, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, Edward, Samuel and Susanna.

As you read this list of names, I am sure that you recognize some of the families that have already been discussed in previous posts. Ipswich, indeed the settled part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was a small place and those who governed and were a part of town matters were well-known to each other. As we eventually move down the family tree, we will come back to detail the lives of these seven children and their spouses. In the meantime, however, we will look at the rest of Jonathan’s life, including his many encounters with the Quarterly Courts who oversaw the religious and civil matters of the colony and the towns.

©Charles Labarge

A little bit of context

Today’s blog was to have been a genealogically-loaded post with a listing of Jonathan’s children, including their birth dates, birth places, their marriages, and their dates of death and places of death. However, a beautiful May weekend interrupted my best intentions and instead lured me out to the garden to cut the lawn, plant some flowers, clear some brush, and generally inspect and clean after the winter’s winds and ice storms.

However, I would like to share with you an opportunity to learn more about the Puritan mindset and the lives of several prominent people. A new book has just been released, part of the New England in the World series. It is by Francis J. Bremer and is called First Founders: American Puritans and Puritanism in an Atlantic World. Professor Bremer taught at Millersville University for 34 years and it is clearly evident that he acquired an extensive knowledge of puritan New England and its people. What is particularly attractive about this book is that Professor Bremer has set out to illustrate the beginnings of New England through the lives of some very interesting people. His depictions of these early founders are vivid and bring to life the historical events that they created or lived through. Through 14 chapters of sketches, we meet 18 main figures whose lives are explained from birth until death. It is through these people that Professor Bremer hopes to illustrate that puritanism was not a one-dimension religion and that many of the stereotypes that exist are inaccurate or stretched by fiction and legend into caricatures that do not resemble the real people who settled Massachusetts in the early 17th Century.

What is most interesting to me is that many of the figures that Professor Bremer has chosen to highlight are people that we will run into in the course of our illumination of the life of Jonathan Wade and his family. Bremer includes a chapter on John Winthrop and refers to his son, John Winthrop, Jr., whose house Jonathan Wade purchased after the younger Winthrop left Ipswich to found a new colony in Connecticut, a departure that many town citizens objected to and showed their attachment to the young leader by signing a petition asking him to stay. Jonathan Wade signed that petition. We have already seen that Jonathan Wade’s son Jonathan married Deborah Dudley, the eldest daughter of Gov. Thomas Dudley by his wife Catherine Deighton. There is a sketch of Governor Dudley and another of his daughter Anne who married Gov. Simon Bradstreet and was known as America’s first poet. Gov. Bradstreet’s daughter, Mercy, married Nathaniel Wade, Jonathan’s son.

But perhaps the greatest value in this book is the description of the various facets of puritanism and how different individuals conducted their daily affairs as well as their religious and civil matters. Reading this book gave me a much clearer understanding of the context of the times at the personal level as well as at the colony level. And Professor Bremer weaves details into his story that fill out the background fabric that lies behind the life of Jonathan Wade and his family.

If you are interested in how your first American ancestor lived from his arrival in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632 until his death in Ipswich in 1683 this book will give you a superb introduction into the lives of the early settlers ; it is an excellent introduction to the life and times of Jonathan Wade.

My next post will resume with the genealogical details I alluded to earlier.

©Charles Labarge

Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

In 1630, the area of Agawam was part of the Indian lands 30 miles north-east of Boston, though it housed several settlers of English origin. By September 7, 1630, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Company began taking an interest in controlling the land within their patent and recorded the following in the minutes of the Court held at Charlestown:

It is ordered that no person shall plant in any place within the limits of this patent without leave from the Governor and Assistants, or the major part of them.

Also, that a warrant shall presently be sent to Aggawam, to command those that are planted there forthwith to come away. [modern spelling by author] Record of the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. 1, p. 76.

When Governor John Winthrop heard a rumour of a proposed French settlement near Cape Sable , he organized a company of 13 men led by his own son, John Winthrop jr. to immediately settle in the land around Agawam. Clifton Willcomb in The Handbook of Ipswich History lists the 13 men as John Winthrop, Jr., Mr. William Clerk, Robert Coles, Thomas Howlet, John Biggs, John Gage, Thomas Hardy, William Perkins, Mr. John Thorndike, William Sergeant, Thomas Sellan, George Carr, and John Shatswell.

On August 5, 1634 (Old Time), the Court in a one-line proclamation stated: “It is ordered that Agawam shall be called Ipswich.” (p. 123).  John Winthrop, Sen., noted in his Journal that the town was so named “in acknowledgement of the great honor and kindness done to our people who took shipping there.”  Willcomb chronicles the names of 17 male settlers who arrived in Ipswich in 1634, among them Nathaniel Ward, the very famous preacher and author of “The Body of Liberties”, a code of some 100 laws that were eventually adopted in 1641.

Into this small settlement, in 1635, came a veritable wave of immigrants many of whom were prominent in the colony or about to become prominent men. In this group of 59 men, there were 14 who were given the acknowledged sign of prominence by having the title of “Mr.” added to their name, to wit, Mr. Thomas Dudley, previous Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Mr. Simon Bradstreet, Mr. John Cogswell, Mr. Daniel Dennison, Mr. Richard Saltonstall, and Mr. Jonathan Wade among others. These names will surface again and again as we deal with the life and times of Mr. Jonathan Wade, a man who was a respected and prominent early citizen of Ipswich. What will be observed is the interrelationship of these men and their families with each other. Thomas Dudley’s daughter Ann married Simon Bradstreet while another of his daughters married the eldest son of Jonathan Wade. Ann and Simon Bradstreet’s daughter Mercy married Nathaniel Wade, another one of Jonathan’s sons. And Elizabeth Cogswell, the granddaughter of Mr. John Cogswell, married the youngest son of Mr. Jonathan Wade, Thomas Wade.

In an unpublished thesis by Edward Spaulding Perzel, The First Generation of Settlement In Colonial Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1633 – 1660 (May, 1967), the author highlights the kind of people who settled in Ipswich and their connections to each other and the Colony:

Nathaniel Ward had enjoyed the company of several other prominent Massachusetts Bay figures who resided in Ipswich. “Indeed, at one time, four of the eleven magistrates of the Bay — Bellingham, Saltonstall, Bradstreet, and Symonds — resided, there.”  John Winthrop, Jr. lived sporadically in Ipswich for the first decade but finally left permanently in the 1640’s to start a settlement in Connecticut. Thomas Dudley, an early Governor and Deputy Governor of the colony lived briefly in the town. He was joined by his son-in-law, Simon Bradstreet, a young man destined to play an important role in the development of the Bay colony. Bradstreet’s wife, Anne, is hailed as the first American poetess….(p. 12, quotation from  Samuel E. Morrison’s Builders of the Bay Colony, p.235).

Other contemporaries of Ward were Samuel Symonds, another of the colony’s long time Deputy Governors; Major General Daniel Dennison, the leader of the colony’s military endeavors for most of the seventeenth century and the Commissioner to the New England Confederation; and Richard Saltonstall, Jr., the son of a leader in the original Massachusetts Bay Company and himself one of the leading entrepreneurs of New England. (p. 13)

To this village of “elites” came Jonathan Wade in 1635. Two matters were to require his immediate attention: the first was the acquisition of land and the second was to be his role in the governance of the village. Based on some of the details given in the earlier posts, it would be fair to assume that Jonathan Wade would be entitled to some 200 acres of land because of the £50 pound investment in the Company of Adventurers. It is not surprising, therefore, that according to the Antiquarian Papers, Vol. IV, Jan. 1885, the town of Ipswich granted to Jonathan Wade in 1635, 200 acres of land at Chebacco where the farm of John Winthrop, Jr. was to the northwest of his property and to the northeast was Mr. Samuel Dudley’s, the son of Gov. Dudley. He was also granted a 6 acre planting lot next to the meadows owned by Mr. Richard Saltonstall and Mr. Daniel Dennison. What is more interesting, however, is that the town of Ipswich, on 20 Apr 1635, mentions that John Shatswell owned 6 acres of ground where his house is built “between Mr. Wade’s house lot east and Mr. Firman’s on the west.” (Franklin, p. 368). This would indicate that Jonathan Wade had received what most of the prominent men in town received: a house lot in the town, a parcel of farmland outside the town, and a field for planting somewhere that included good agricultural land. And his land was adjacent to some of the most prominent citizens of the town. In today’s parlance, he would be known as a man “who had connections.”

The second item of business was Jonathan’s role in the town government. As a freeman, he was entitled to vote and to hold public office, and as a prominent citizen, he would be expected to participate in the governance of the town. Since the tow’s records do not begin until November 1634, it is difficult to piece together the exact chronology of its governance although the  existence of the record does indicate that a Recorder or Town Clerk had been appointed by that date. The Puritan towns used a governance model that relied on “the seven men”, a nomenclature having ancient roots in their Holy Scripture. Eventually, these “seven men” would be known as Selectmen but in the early days, these seven “wise” men were the “town fathers” who handled matters both religious and civil, though many of these matters were ultimately settled at the meeting-house where all freemen could participate. The town records dated 20 Feb. 1636/37 allude to the first group of “seven men” though in a way that makes it seem that they were established some years before. The first seven men selected to govern the town were Mr. John Winthrop, Jr., Mr. Simon Bradstreet, Mr. Daniel Dennison, Goodman Perkins, Goodman Scott, John Gage, and Mr. Jonathan Wade.

The land grants to Jonathan Wade, as well as his selection as one of the “seven men”, are indications of Jonathan’s standing in the community. In Perzel’s thesis cited above, he notes:

Landholding in colonial New England was  often the determining factor of social, economic, and even political status in a community. The amount of land one owned would often determine if one were addressed as “Mister” (a term of social importance in the seventeenth century) or simply “Goodman.” Land was not always easy to obtain in spite of the fact that it was the one commodity of abundance in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Grants were given in the quantity of towns to a group of proprietors who were to grant and distribute the land to bona fide settlers. The size of the grant given to an individual settler was usually determined by past economic and social standing, as well as the need for certain artisans’ skills in the town….

A  grant of one hundred or more acres was a considerable amount of land as far as the New England colonies were concerned. The value of land per acre was much higher than in the other areas where much larger grants were more common. (Perzel, p. 37)

Here is another clue that Jonathan Wade did indeed come from a family of some standing in England. We have seen that he was admitted quickly to the First Church of Charlestown and made a freemen only 12 months after his landing. Now we see him granted a large parcel of land and chosen to join the governing body of the early settlement. But even with these advantages, Jonathan, much like the other elites, needed to develop his land and his business in order to continue his status in Ipswich. And starting in 1635, he starts a new life as a farmer, entrepreneur, innkeeper, lender, and merchant – all roles that he would play in Ipswich for the next 48 years.

©Charles Labarge

Jonathan Wade in Charlestown in the Massachsuetts Bay Colony

Before launching into a review of Jonathan Wade’s brief time in Charlestown where he landed in September 1632, it would be helpful to briefly describe the early history of Charlestown and what it must have been like when Jonathan stepped off the boat.

In 1628, the Sprague brothers, Ralph, Richard and William, and a few others travelled from Salem to this point of land that seemed completely unsettled to them. There, they discovered a tribe of Indians known as the Aberginians whose chief, John Sagamore, allowed the settlers to settle in the area that would become Charlestown. As well, the Spragues found another settler, Thomas Walford, who lived in a thatch and palisade hut on the south side of the hill just above the Charles River. By 1629, there were 10 settlers in the area and Thomas Graves, from Salem, arrived with a group of about 100 men to make preparations for the arrival of the ships of settlers who were due to arrive with Governor John Winthrop in June 1630. On June 12, 1630, Governor Winthrop sailed into the Salem harbour after a journey that is famously recorded in all its details, including Winthrop’s famous sermon “A Modell of Christianity: in which he asserted that “wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are uppon us.” By the 17 of June, he was travelling down the Mystic River to Charlestown, arriving by the beginning of July when the rest of the fleet sailed into the harbour.

It is hard to imagine that the sight that greeted Winthrop and his settlers’ eyes was anything approaching their idea of what the New World might look like. Thomas Graves and his work gangs had built a “Great House” and had laid out streets around the Town Hill and subdivided the land into two acre lots which would be given to the new settlers who would then build their houses and fences. But all around this clearing was a primieval forest marked only by the work of Graves and his crew where they had felled the edges of the forest to provide space for the town. With some 1500 people arriving in such a short time, the settlers went about setting up cottages (mostly just wooden shacks), booths and tents simply to provide themselves with some shelter. The leaders of the settlement, John Winthrop, Sir Richard Saltonstall, Thomas Dudley, and a number of others were housed in the Great House. Unfortunately, many of the arriving settlers were the victims of scurvy that they had contracted during the seventeen or eighteen weeks of their sea voyage. The lack of appropriate shelter and the close proximity with each other only increased the numbers of sick. Ultimately, many died and were buried around Town Hill. In March 1631/32, Thomas Dudley, the Deputy Governor wrote to the Countess of Linclon: “I say this, that if any come hither to plant for worldly ends, that can live well at home, he commits an error, of which he will soon repent him.” (the full text of this letter which gives an in-depth picture of the conditions in the new colony can be found at and is well worth reading).

The winter of 1631/32 was a rough one indeed. By all accounts, food was sorely lacking. The settlers were subsisting on what they could find around them: fish, clams, mussels, and acorns. According to early town records, Winthrop had baked his last loaf of bread and was sharing it with some of the very hungry when he saw the ship Lyon and its captain Thomas Pierce (the same ship and captain which carried Jonathan Wade to New England only months later) come into the harbour with fresh provisions from Ireland.  Winthrop had despatched him, when the rest of the ships of the Winthrop fleet had left to return to England, to go to Ireland for the much-needed provisions. A day of thanksgiving was proclaimed for Feb. 22, 1631/32.

By the time Jonathan was due to arrive, many of the settlers had pulled up stakes and moved on to other locations. By 1632, the towns of Lyn, Dorchester, Watertown, Roxbury, Boston, Marblehead, Cambridge (then known as Newtown), and Weymouth had all been settled. Charlestown still remained the location where the new settlers arrived, but few stayed very long, choosing instead to migrate to other towns. “In fact, more than half of those who settled in Charlestown in the first decade eventually migrated to other New England communities.” (From Emigrants to Rulers: The Charlestown Oligarchy in the Great Migration. Ralph J. Crandall and Ralph J. Coffman. The New England Historic and Genealogical Register, vol. 131 (January 1977, p. 14).

On September 16th, 1632, Jonathan and presumably his wife Susannah disembarked from the Lyon and began to search for housing. Like most other settlers, they would find temporary accommodations in some of the huts circling the Town Hill and perhaps, if they were lucky enough, they might find better accommodations near the Great House which had now become the meeting house of the First Church Charlestown which had separated from the First Church of Boston on November 12, 1632. At that time, a church covenant was formed which included 35 people in total, 19 males and 16 women. This “covenant” was a system  in which people covenanting themselves to each other and pledging to obey the word of God might become a self-governing church. Puritan churches did not hold that all parish residents should be full church members. A true church, they believed, consisted not of everyone but of the elect. As a test of election, many New England churches began to require applicants for church membership to testify to their personal experience of God in the form of autobiographical conversion narratives. Since citizenship was tied to church membership, the motivation for experiencing conversion was secular and civil as well as religious in nature. There is no way of knowing whether Jonathan and Susannah were required to supply conversion narratives or whether their status in the community gained them their membership in the First Church of Boston, but according to the records of the transcribed by Pastor William I. Buddington in 1845, Jonathan and Susannah Wade were admitted as the 16th and 17th new members of the congregation since December 6, 1632. Their date of admission was the 25th of May 1633. And just one year later, on May 14, 1634, Jonathan became a freeman entitled to vote and to hold public office. He was administered the Oath of Freeman along with such other luminaries as the Reverend Thomas Hooker, the founder of the Hartford church and congregation, the Rev. John Cotton whom we will meet at greater length in a subsequent sketch and whose reputation and influence was almost as great as Reverend Hooker’s, and Mr. William Pierce, the master of Jonathan’s ship in 1632. They all took the same oath which had been adopted by the General Court that very same day:

I, A&B, being by God’s providence an inhabitant and freeman within the jurisdiction of this common weale, do freely acknowledge myself to be subject to the government thereof, and therefore do hereby swear by the great and dreadful name of the ever-living God that I will be true and faithful to the same, and will accordingly yield assistance and support thereunto, with my person and estate, as in equity I am bound, and will also truly endeavor to maintain and preserve all the privileges and liberties thereunto, submitting myself to the wholesome laws made and established by the same. And further, that I will not plot nor practise any evil against it, nor consent to any that shall be so done, but will timely discover and reveal the same to lawful authority now here established for the speedy preventing thereof. Moreover, I do solemnly bind myself in the sight of God that when I shall be called to give my voice touching any such matter of this State, wherein Freemen are to deal, I will give my vote and suffrage as I shall in my own conscience judge best to produce and tend to the public weale of the body, without respect of persons or respect of any man. So help me God in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

(from the Records of the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. 1, p. 354)

During their time in Charlestown, another singular event occurred which marked the beginning of a long line of descendants in the new colony. On October 2, 1633, the First Record Book of the First Church in Charleston recorded the baptism of Mary, daughter of Jonathan Wade and of Susannah his wife. (NEHGS The Register, Vol. 5, p. 147).

But, like many others, Jonathan and his young family were not to stay long in Charlestown. For reasons we can only suspect, Jonathan moved his family to Ipswich in Essex County where he lived and flourished for another 50 years.

©charles labarge

Jonathan Wade: Puritan Merchant

We know that Jonathan Wade was born somewhere in England, most likely in East Anglia, and was born, according to his own statement of his age in 1678, around 1612 to 1614 though this could prove to be quite erroneous if primary documents were to be discovered. Having established that, it is time to begin the more general and broader description of his life and his legacy. In stark contrast to the absence of records about Jonathan Wade in England, there is an abundance of references to Jonathan and his family, and even minute details of his life emerge from these records.

The history of the early beginnings of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is well documented and referenced in many online and hardcopy locations. The work of such luminaries as John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, Simon Bradstreet, and many others was the catalyst that set in motion the enduring development of the New England coastline. According to Thomas Dudley, who himself would become the second Governor of the Colony, the original impetus for the development of a colony in New England was “the planting of the gospell there”. Most of the histories of the early beginnings of the Massachusetts Bay Colony focus on two major themes: the continuing and escalating pressure on the Church of England reformers who were demanding changes to the liturgy and practices of the Church, and the desire to create a new style of governance where the word of God was to be the guide to religious and daily life as well as  the source and origin of the laws and rules that were to govern people’s conduct in the new land.

However, there is a third imperative that may not have been as clearly advertised but was, nevertheless, as important as the spiritual and religious motives of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. That motive was the desire to be able to conduct commerce without the heavy restrictions and taxes imposed by the English Crown and Parliament, and to build a personal fortune that was the result of minding the word of God and of working hard. John Winthrop, for example, the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1630 to 1633, was also an enterprising merchant. As Mark Crilly writes in his article “John Winthrop: Magistrate, Minister, Merchant.” [Midwest Quarterly, Winter 1999, Vol. 40, Issue 2, p. 192:

Winthrop gained recognition for his entrepreneurial skills, as his Papers suggest, when he began trading various commodities during the first four years of the settlement. He sold iron, flannel, figs, rags, canvas, shoes, boots, lead, currants, raisins, corn, cattle, and stockings to the new mass of emigrants and to the London Port Company. Winthrop’s son-in-law James Down­ing and brother Emmanuel were part of this London opera­tion. The freemen and the citizens provided Winthrop with a market to sell English goods while England was furnished with furs delivered by the Massachusetts Bay Company.

Jonathan Wade was a puritan and became a very successful merchant. He shared in the puritan belief that each person was given a role to play in society, some of more importance than others, but that all work was to be the best it could be to fulfill God’s plan. His desire to leave behind the strictures of the English government and the Church of England would have led him, as it did many other families, to decide to go to the new colony in New England. And increasing levels of persecution in the late 1620’s and early 1630’s by the Church and government authorities against the puritans would have encouraged him to leave sooner rather than later. And then, there was the gift in 1629/30 of £50 from Thomas Wade, his brother, of Northampton, to the Company of Adventurers in Jonathan’s name. One many speculate that perhaps Thomas had inherited his father’s estate according to the system of primogeniture, but that either the father or Thomas himself provided a sum of money for Jonathan to leave England to find his own fortune. Pure speculation, of course, but perhaps not such a far-fetched hypothesis.

And so, on the 23rd of June, 1632, Jonathan Wade along with 32 other men took the Oath of Allegiance to the British monarch, a prerequisite to their being allowed to emigrate to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Jonathan, presumably with his wife Susanna, travelled across the Atlantic ocean in a ship that was subject to the storms at sea and was a cauldron of malnutrition and disease. The pictures below,  from the Mary and John Clearing House, give a good idea of what living aboard one of these vessels for the 86 day journey might have been like. The Lyon, the ship which they embarked in 1632, had previously made trips from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 and 1631.

©Mary and John Clearing House. 
Used with kind permission of Craig Spear.

Burton W. Spear of the Mary and John Clearing House compiled a list of the provisions that would have been required for a trip from England to New England. In terms of food for the passengers, ship would have carried:

  • 11,000 gallons of beer
  • 1,500 gallons of water
  • 1,200 loaves of bread
  • 22 hogshead of beef
  • 40 bushels of peas
  • 20 bushels of oatmeal
  • 1,400 salted codfish
  • 96 pounds of candles
  • 2 tierces (42 gallons) of beer and vinegar
  • 1½ bushels of mustard seed
  • 20 gallons of oil
  • 2 firkins (casks) of soap
  • 2 rumlets (18 gallon cask) of Spanish wine
  • 4000 salted Pollack (fish)
  • 10 firkins (casks) of butter
  • 1,000 pounds of cheese
  • 20 gallons of brandy

These would have provided for 100 adult passengers. In addition, with 15 sailors for every 100 passengers, they would require similar provisions which would need to be doubled due to the return voyage.

As well as food, there would have been specific quantities of weapons carried on the ship. If there were more than 50 males aboard over the age of 16, the ship would have been required to carry:

  • 2 drums
  • 4 cannons
  • 1 ensign (flag)
  • 5 full muskets
  • 1 bullet bag
  • 5 horn flasks
  • 2 extra drumheads
  • 1 partizan (weapon)
  • 40 bastard muskets
  • 50 swords and belts
  • 6 barrels of powder
  • 45 pounds of shot
  • 2 halberds (a long-handled weapon)
  • 30 corselets (suits of armor)
  • 20 pikes (long pointed weapons)
  • 10 half pikes (short pointed weapons)
  • 5 long fowling muskets
  • 8 pieces of ordnances

Cross-section View of the Mary & John - 1630 Used with kind permission of Craig Spear, Mary & John Clearing House.

Then follows another two lists of other supplies needed onboard such as linens, shirts, mats, etc and seeds for the crops the new settlers hoped to plant such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, and a whole raft of vegetable seeds. For the complete list, follow this link . The above list is copyright by Burton W. Spear and is used by kind permission of the Mary and John Clearing House and Mr. Craig Spear.

According to Winthrop’s Journal, the 1632 ship carried 123 passengers, of which 50 were children, all of whom seemed to be in good health. The Lyon arrived in Charlestown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony on 16 September 1632 where most of the immigrants settled for a short time before choosing a location further inland or north or south of Boston to find land and establish or join settlements often peopled with friends and neighbours from the Old Country.

©Charles Labarge

Norfolk and Northamptonshire: Jonathan Wade’s Birthplace?

In this, my fifth post, I will conclude the discussion of probable places that Jonathan Wade may have been born. However, as stated earlier, there is no primary source, to the best of my knowledge, that has been uncovered that definitely identifies this place of origin. In my previous post, I concluded from the evidence presented, that it was not necessarily the case that Jonathan came from Denver Parish, Norfolk, England as James Savage inferred from Jonathan’s will and as thousands of public family trees have recorded. Today, I will examine two other locations that are cited frequently: Norfolk and Northamptonshire. The Norfolk connection is inherent in the James Savage inference. Some have inferred that if the records cannot be located in Denver Parish, then perhaps it is possible that the birth location may have been somewhere else in Norfolk County, and have thus recorded it as such. In my own family, oral tradition passed on by my mother, held that the family came from Norwich, the largest city in Norfolk County. Diligent searching of the records in Norfolk did produce a few Wade families and even one with a Jonathan or John Wade born in the early 1603 (see However, there is no connecting evidence that would lead to the conclusion that this particular John (Jonathan) Wade was the one we are searching for. And this same pattern holds true for many John Wades that are found in parishes, particularly those of East Anglia, and others throughout England. Northamptonshire, as a possible location for the birth of Jonathan Wade, has more connections to Jonathan than some of the others we have discussed. According to various records (more details later), Jonathan had a brother Thomas, from Northampton, who paid £50 into the Company of the Adventurers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This payment is referenced in several documents:

  • Jonathan’s petition to the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 17 Mar 1682 wherein he claims to have paid “in the yeare 1629 in January or february into the common stock 50li and into the Joint stock 10li or more for which they promised land” (Essex Quarterly Courts, Vol. 8, p. 445).
  • At the Court held on 2 June 1635, a warrant was sent to a certain Norton to bring into the next session of the Court a bill of £5 made by Goodman Perkins to Thomas Wade…”the money being given (as the Court is informed) to Jonathan Wade, his brother. (Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. 1, p. 150).
  • And, on the 4th May, 1649, the Court received a petition from Jonathan Wade “who, for 60li formerly disbursed by Tho Wade, of Northampton, for his use into the country stocke, for the furtherance of this plantation, desired land in Plum Island.” (Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. 3, p. 154).

From these records, we may surmise that Jonathan had a brother, Thomas, of Northampton who paid £50 pounds into the Massachusetts Bay Colony perhaps as early as 1629 in the name of Jonathan. This £50 investment was intended to assist Jonathan to obtain land in the new colony, and typically, for each £1 invested, the emigrant would receive between 200 to 400 acres depending on the location of the land. As we will see in future posts, Jonathan used this investment in several claims for land that he wanted. A few further notes on Thomas Wade: James Savage and later Charles Edward Banks conclude that Thomas Wade sailed in The Winthrop Fleet of 1630 as an Adventurer. (see Banks, The Winthrop Fleet of 1630, Appendix p. 95 where he also references James Savage Vol. IV p. 377). Also of interest, is a short note in the British Government’s Colonial Papers of November 17, 1629 in which it is mentioned that Captains David and Thomas Kirke, John Love, and Thos. Wade, factors for the adventurers to Canada, deposed before Sir Henry Marten, Judge of the Admiralty that “they left Gravesend on 26 March 1629, with six ships and two pinnaces.” [a small boat used as a tender to larger vessels Was Thomas the brother of Jonathan? Did they both come from Northampton? Was Thomas Wade a factor [agent] for the adventurers to Canada the same Thomas Wade who seemed to have been an Adventurer in the Massachusetts Bay Colony? There is no primary evidence yet that supports this theory but these are perhaps clues that may lead to a final conclusion. There are several other connections to Northamptonshire that should be mentioned. Governor Thomas Dudley, a highly respected early member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a long-time office holder in the colony, was born in Yardley-Hastings, Northamptonshire. While this may seem a tenuous connection at first, it becomes less so when Gov. Dudley’s eldest daughter marries Jonathan Wade’s eldest son sometime around 1665. By this time, Jonathan Wade would have made his fortune in the colony and would have been known, perhaps well-known, to Gov. Dudley who also had lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1635 to 1636, the same year Jonathan had arrived there. Coincidentally, their respective land grants were made in October 1635 according to The Antiquarian Papers, Vol. IV. Jan. 1885 #LI. Another prominent figure from Northamptonshire also conducted business with Jonathan in the 1665 time frame. Sir William Peake, the future Lord Mayor of London, as we saw in the previous post, was in the process of confirming Jonathan’s deed for his lands in the Bedford Level. His relationship with Jonathan Wade had existed since at least 1657 when he drew up Jonathan Wade’s first will. Sir William was born in Abchurch, Northamptonshire, England in 1603. None of these connections or data points conclusively prove whether Jonathan Wade was from Denver Parish, Norwich, Northamptonshire, or elsewhere in England. One might hope that the discovery of Jonathan Wade’s place of birth may be near at hand as older records surface during the process of digitization. On the other hand, as my great-grandfather Daniel Treadwell Wade wrote in 1897:

No one, so far, has been able to trace or locate Jonathan Wade’s English connections. I am of the opinion that the day is not far distant when this connection will accomplished to the great and entire satisfaction to all who have spent much time and not a little money in this effort. [Unpublished manuscript dated 1897; photocopy in the possession of the author]

©Charles Labarge

The Birth Place of Jonathan Wade

After determining when an ancestor was born, the next logical question is  where he or she was born? This question may consume several long posts as we delve into the supposed birthplace of Jonathan Wade who emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632. In my research, I came across a sentence that has stayed with me for many years and that has proven to be more than true. It claimed that one of the most difficult genealogical searches would be to attempt to find the origins of an American ancestor who had arrived from England but who had left no evidence of where he came from. Such is the case with Jonathan Wade. To the best of my knowledge, after years of research, I have never run across a primary source that indicated Jonathan’s place of birth, or indeed, his place of residence before departing the shores of England.

There are, as is more often the case, a number of family trees that claim places of origin for Jonathan Wade. Essentially, there are 3 locations that are most commonly cited:

  • Denver Parish, Norfolk County, England
  • Norwich, Norfolk County, England
  • Northhamptonshire, England.

In this, and subsequent posts, we will examine the known details that may have led to these locations being tagged as Jonathan’s place of birth. The discussions may range far afield, since there are no primary documents to work with. In fact, there are no contemporary documents that definitively establish Jonathan’s place of origin, though there are some contemporary documents that reference places that must be examined to determine whether they may be, or whether they are not, the place of Jonathan’s birth.

We begin with the first location: Denver Parish, Norfolk County, England. This location is first mentioned as a possible candidate for Jonathan’s place of origin by none other than James Savage, the author of  the Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692 which is still considered one of the greatest genealogical resources for early American families. In Volume IV of his work, Savage’s description of Jonathan Wade includes on p. 378 the following summary of Jonathan’s will and Savage’s inference from its provisions:

It [the will] provides for w. Susanna, and the childr. but names only the eldest Jonathan, to wh. he gives all  his ld. in parish of Denver, Co. Norfolk, on W. side, one mile from Downham market. We may then infer, that this was his native place. [emphasis mine]

And this is an eminently reasonable inference given the documentation that Savage had access to at the time of his writing in 1862. What other reason would Jonathan Wade have to own land in that very part of England which had been closely associated with the emigration of the religious dissidents of the Church of England, those who later became known as Puritans?  But, the statement is still an inference and subject to further research and further tests for validity.

In 1905, Stuart C. Wade who had great hopes to publish the definitive study of the Wade families in England and in America, took up the challenge presented by Savage’s statement. He pursued the idea that Denver Parish was indeed the home of Jonathan Wade and his birthplace.  He begins broadly enough ascribing the origins of three different Wades to the wider county of Norfolk:

In New England, the record dates from 1632, when Jonathan, Nathaniel, and Nicholas Wade, wealthy yeomen of the English county of Norfolk, settled around the present site of Boston, Massachusetts. (p.10).

But Wade himself was unable to find any documentary proof that Jonathan Wade did, in fact, come from the parish of Denver. In the microfilm of his notes on the Massachusetts Wades, a section that was never published due to the “general lack of interest shown by the living members of this branch”, Stuart Wade indicates that

Under the date of 24th March 1896, the Reverand Canon J.M. DuPont, Vicar of Denver, states that the Registers of the parish do not begin earlier than AD 1664 and that he encloses all he could find as to the Wades up to AD 1670.

This is the parish mentioned in the will of Jonathan Wade of  Malden [sic] one of the first settlers inMassachusetts. I hope yet to trace the family by the Wills in the nearest Registry in England. Meanwhile these entries are useful as confirmatory evidence that the Wades did come from Denver.

Unfortunately, there are a number of parishes in England that list the same kind of evidence that Stuart Wade used to “confirm” that the Wades came from Denver Parish. A simple search for ” Wade” who lived 1610 – 1683 can bring up a number of Jonathan, Thomas, and Nathaniel Wades spread across such counties as Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. As yet, none of these have yielded any primary data that would confirm that the parish origin of our Jonathan Wade.

To conclude the discussion of the assumption, or inference, that Denver Parish may have likely been the parish of origin of Jonathan, I refer back to the question asked earlier? What other reason would Jonathan have for owning land in Denver Parish, County Norfolk, England? If this were not his place of birth, why would he own 1500 acres of land in this area and when did he purchase it?

My next post will provide some answers to these questions and lead us to an assumption of our own.

As usual, your comments, suggestions, corrections are most welcome.

©Charles Labarge