Tag Archives: Marshfield

Joseph Bent: Bang! You’re Dead

Joseph Bent, 1641-1675

Joseph Bent, the sixth child of John Bent and his wife, and the first to be born in the new world, arrived in the springtime.  John and his wife Agnes and their five children had arrived in Boston from England a year earlier, in April 1640, hoping for a life more peaceful than in old England.

When Joseph joined the family, the other five children, all born in Penton-Grafton England, ranged between 5 and 16 years of age. My 7x great-grandmother, Martha Bent (Howe) would join the family two years later.

Having toiled for a year establishing a new home in Sudbury, his parents surely saw Joseph’s May birth  as one more springtime blessing .  Spring in New England, and the seeds they had planted would have been just breaking ground, trees and flowers blooming and new life all around.

As Joseph grew up, playing with his sisters and brothers and other children of Sudbury, parents surely cautioned to be careful of the Indians who might be lurking in the woods, but they had acres of meadow and woods and streams in which to play.  I can imagine Joseph and his brothers playing “English and Indians”, waving make believe swords and firing make believe guns with cries of “Bang, you’re dead.” At the age of six, Joseph experienced death in the family. His older brother, just twenty-two years old, died.

(We will learn more about Joseph’s and Martha’s older siblings in the future.)

Joseph Takes His Place as an Adult

By the time Joseph was 19, Joseph gave a disposition in the courts of Middlesex County, although I have no idea about the subject.  Joseph did not marry as young as some in the Massachusetts towns, but on June 30 of 1666, at the age of 25, he married the 20-year-old Elizabeth Bourne of Marshfield in Plymouth County.

A Move to Marshfield

His new wife Elizabeth came from a distinguished line related by marriage to Pilgrim leaders. The couple resettled in the oceanfront town Marshfield after Joseph sold off his Sudbury lands and buildings. Records show he sold  13 acres of upland in Sudbury adjoining the common (Surely a very propitious location), houses, barns and two acres of meadow land.  Not bad for a twenty-five year old.

Joseph and Elizabeth named their first son, born in 1667, after Joseph. Sadly, baby Joseph died in infancy.

By 1669, the people of Marshfield chose Joseph as their Constable. I like this explanation of the historic job from the website of today’s Massachusetts Bay Constables Association.

The constable had to be of good character and an actual resident of the parish he served. The office was a personal, not a pecuniary one. No salary was attached to it. His personal presence in the parish was indispensable, for he was presumed to be known to all the inhabitants of the parish, and they were all bound to obey his orders and to aid and assist him whenever called upon, in the exercise of his lawful authority. In short, he was a public officer, well known in the community, and exercising an indispensable governmental function. The importance of the office did not arise wholly, however, from the broad powers attached to it, but largely from the close contact which the constable had with the life of the people among whom he dwelt. Strangers could not long remain in the community without his knowledge, nor little could go on without coming to his ears. This combination of official authority with intimate knowledge of the character and habits of the members of the community was well adapted, in earlier times, to preserve a wholesome respect for law and order, and to foster the belief that violators of the peace would be marked and punished.

The Joseph Bent Family Returns to Sudbury

I do not know how long he served as Constable of Marshfield, but when his father died in 1672, Joseph moved his family back to Sudbury, probably to live on the family property.

While Joseph and Elizabeth lived in Marshfield, they added to their family. After their first child died, they had a son named Experience (born in 1669) and two daughters whose names and birth dates are unknown. When they returned to Sudbury,Elizabeth, named for her mother, was born in 1673.  Elizabeth gave birth one more time in 1675, to a son who they named Joseph.

Records show that all five of these children survived until at least 1684 because John Bourne, Elizabeth’s father, mentions them in his will written that year. However the lives of the two unnamed daughters of Joseph and Elizabeth Bent remains a mystery.

An Accidental Death

The family had barely settled in Sudbury, and Joseph Jr. had been born in May 1675, when Joseph Bent’s life came to an unexpected end. He was only thirty-four years old in the summer of 1675. Joseph’s older brother Peter accidentally shot and killed Joseph. With Indian unrest growing, Peter may have been showing his brother a weapon he had ordered from England.

Although there is no direct record of when Joseph died, the Bent Family History reports that he acknowledged a deed on June 14, 1675 and the probate inventory of his property was taken on August 10, 1675.  That would lead me to conclude that the accidental shooting happened in the second half of June, because it generally took a few weeks for the court to complete probate business.

Elizabeth Bent pulled up stakes once more and moved her family back to Marshfield where her family lived. According to the Bent Family history, the probate inventory valued Joseph’s house and lands in Sudbury at £95. Elizabeth must have died soon after, because her father (John Bourne)’s will, written in 1684, clearly states that he is the  caretaker of her five children.

Post Script

Normally, I would end the story here, but I found one other interesting story related to Joseph’s wife and oldest surviving son.  The first immigrants–the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth–relied on investors to fund their journey.  The settlers were in effect indentured servants, expected to send goods back to England to repay the investors.  But the later wave of immigrants in the  1640s owned property in England, and funded their new plantations themselves.

Elizabeth Bourne Bent had a very wealthy grandfather, Thomas Beesbeech of Sudbury, who wrote a will in November 1672.  I say very wealthy, because in addition to owning lands in Sudbury worth £45, he owned lands valued at £400 in Kent, England and £30 of marshland in Marshfield in Plymouth Colony.  His will specifies that he also owns “a considerable estate in the hands of John Bourne, his son-in-law in Marshfield.” That John Bourne was the father of Elizabeth Bourne Bent.

Although Beesbeech makes no bequest to his granddaughter Elizabeth Bourne Bent,  he does leave funds for her mother Alice Beesbeech Bourne. But the thing that caught my attention is that he left a bequest of 5 shillings to “Experience, the son of Elizabeth Bent, wife of Joseph Bent of Sudbury.” Why?  Experience, I learn by checking the dates, was the first great-grandson of Thomas Beesbeech. At the time he wrote his will, he had a great-grand daughter, who also got 5 shillings. No other great-grandchildren had yet been born.

For a complete guide to all the articles I have written about the Bent family, go here.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson),the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Samuel and Martha Bent How, the sister of
  • Joseph Bent

Notes on Research

  • The Bent family in America : being mainly a genealogy of the descendants of John Bent : who settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1638 : with notes upon the family in England and elsewhere. in North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000 at Ancestry.com, Allen H. Bent, 1900
  • Massachusetts, Marriages, 1633-1850, Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp, Ancestry.com
  • Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, Roxbury, 1630-1867, Jay Mack Holbrook, Compiled by Ancestry.com in a larger index. This is an alphabetical listing of all marriages. Groom, bride, date. Holbrook Research Institute: Oxford MASS. 1985 Joseph Bent birth
  • Middlesex County, Massachusetts Deponents, 1649-1700, Sanborn, Melinde Lutz, comp, Ancestry.com Joseph Bent, age 20, 1660.
  • Middlesex County, Massachusetts Probate Index, 1648-1870, Flint, James, comp, ancestry.com, Joseph Bent, Sudbury, 1677
  • The Great Migration (1999) developed as part of The Great Migration Study of The New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Boston. Sketch of Thomas Beesbeech.

52 Ancestors: #47–Peregrine White, American Royalty

Sarah Bassett 1630-1711

 Peregrine White 1620-1704

Many people seem to think that the purpose of genealogy is to find out how your family is related to royalty. I have not extended my family history to Europe in search of titled ancestors, but among that bevy of misbehaving children sired by our pilgrim ancestor, William Bassett, Sarah, born in 1630, made the choice of mate that ties us firmly to American “royalty.” (Although my early American ancestors–not a Tory in the bunch–would have been horrified by the term.)

Our family has always been proud of being descendants of the Pilgrim William Bassett, even though his ship the Fortune didn’t get here with the Mayflower as scheduled. But my mother, who loved family history, never learned that one of the Bassett girls married so well. She would have loved this story.

Whose names do we hear in 6th grade when we are studying the Pilgrims?  Well there is William Bradford, Governor of the colony, the other main leader Edward Winslow, and surely Miles Standish, the military leader. William Brewster was the religious leader, and you have probably heard of him. And there is the 3-way romance of Priscilla Alden, John and Miles Standish, made famous (or embroidered) by Longfellow.

Peregrine White cradle

The actual Peregrine White cradle, kept at the Pilgrim Museum by the Pilgrim Society.

But the name that struck an emotional chord with me as a child was Peregrine White.  Besides the fact that I wondered why his parents would give him such a silly name, I was fascinated that he was born ON the Mayflower–the first child born in the Pilgrim colony.

As to the name, what do I know? I have since read that Peregrine comes from a Latin word that means pilgrim (or traveler).

Peregrine had an older brother, Resolve, who had traveled with their parents on the Mayflower. (Read more about his mother Susannah, sturdy pioneer, in the following short bio.)   Baby Peregrine waited until the ship had safely docked in Cape Cod harbor to make his appearance, becoming the first child born in the Plymouth Colony.

Unfortunately, Peregrine’s father William White, a signer of the Mayflower compact, was one of the casualties of the first dreadful winter in New England. He died in February 1621, and Susannah quickly married Edward Winslow, who was one of the close-knit community who came from Holland.

Peregrine would have been a toddler when the colony celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  Speculation is that it took place some time in October. Edward Winslow, Peregrine’s step-father, by the way, is not only important as a leader, but also because he left one of only two surviving documents that mention that first Thanksgiving.

Some time in his early twenties, young Peregrine caught the eye of Sarah Bassett, who was ten years younger than he was.  His obituary says, “He was vigorous and of a comly (sic) Aspect to the last.”  He must have been an attractive youth. According to church records, although they married–perhaps when she was as young as sixteen–they had been fooling around beforehand. The church charged them with “fornication before marriage.” It seems you just could not get away with anything in Plymouth Colony.

Peregrine White Homestead

Peregrine White homestead marker

But Sarah and Peregrine were destined to have a long marriage. They lived in Marshfield, Massachusetts on land that William Bassett gave to them when they married.  Peregrine, besides his soldiering, was a farmer and he did well, expanding his land. He and Sarah had seven children (one dying in infancy) and lived their entire lives on the land in Marshfield.

Imagine my surprise to discover that the land of the homestead is for sale.  If anyone would like to build a true Thanksgiving home,near the Atlantic with a view of a river, and a claim to history, check out this listing on Peregrine Drive in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Peregrine White property

Peregrine White property in Marshfield MA

But wait, there’s more.  Sarah and Peregrine’s home, built in 1648, still stands. No doubt it has been altered considerably, since it is not protected by historic status. But it was for sale a few years ago, so there are pictures of it all over the Internet. (It is not for sale now despite misleading information on the Web.)

Peregrine and Sarah's home

Peregrine and Sarah Bassett White’s home 178 Peregrine White Dr, Marshfield, MA

 How I am Related

  • My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson, was the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett the son of
  • Samuel Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, Jr., the son of
  • William L. Bassett, the son of
  • William Bassett, the son of
  • Joseph Bassett, the son of, and Mary Lapham Bassett, the step-daughter of
  • William Bassett, the Pilgrim, also father of
  • Sarah Bassett,8th Great Grand Aunt married to
  • Peregrine White

 

Research Notes

The Boston Newsletter, Monday, July 31, 1704

The Sun Journal (Lewiston Maine), November 23, 1994, found in Google News

(Other sources are linked above).

There is no end of information about Peregrine White on the Internet, and most of those sources mention Sarah Bassett as well.  I started, as usual, with birth,death and marriage records at Ancestry.com