Home > 001027. Martha --- > William Sheafe of Charlestown, Mass.

William Sheafe of Charlestown, Mass.

Source: Anne Borden Harding, “William Sheafe of Charlestown, Mass.,” New England Historical and
Genealogical Register
125[1971]:57-58.

The Sheafe family in America stems from three known immigrants: Edmund from Cranbrook, co. Kent, Jacob also from Cranbrook, probably cousin german of Edmund, and William of Charlestown, Mass., whose origin is unknown.  It is with the latter that this study is concerned…

1.  WILLIAM SHEAFE, born probably in England about 1649, died in Charlestown, Massachusetts Bay, 7 May 1713 (g.s.).

He married first, in Charlestown 15 Aug. 1672, RUTH WOOD who died there in 1677 or early 1678…

He married secondly, prior to 1679, MARY who died in Charlestown 31 Dec. 1703.  We shall discuss the possibility of her relationship to the Willoughby family later in this study…

Little has been known, less has been written, concerning William Sheafe.  The first record of him in Charlestown is his marriage to Ruth Wood (Ward, op. cit.)  The second is the purchase 4 Sept. 1683 of the house “in which he now dwells” from Lawrence Hammond, executor of the will of Francis Willoughby (Middlesex Deeds, bk. 8, p. 391).  This is the same house which was left by Dep. Gov. Francis Willoughby “to cousin March — liberty, during her widowhood, to live in and make use of the house in which she now dwells, rent free”.

Is it possible that “cousin March” was Mary, second wife of William Sheafe?  She has not been otherwise identified; we do not find her death recorded in Charlestown.  The only widow March listed in Wyman (op. cit.) is Anna, widow of John, to whom her husband gave his dwelling house and one-half the residue of his estate for her lifetime and who, therefore, would not have been in need of kindness from a kinsman.  Perhaps research in the English ancestry of Francis Willoughby might uncover the identity of “cousin March” and resolve the problem of the maiden name of Mary Sheafe.  It is unfortunate that the original will of Francis Willoughby, made 4 June 1670, proved 10 April 1671, is not on file in Middlesex Probate Court.  The incidental papers relating to the settlement of the estate may have contained information concerning the execution of the bequests.

When we first encounter William Sheafe he is called “mariner”, but in subsequent years he became a wharfinger and a ferryman.  He purchased a wharf from Lawrence Hammond (1684)…

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