Archive for the ‘Generation 18’ Category

Two Somerby Frauds, Or “Placing the Flesh on the Wrong Bones”

25 August 2009 Leave a comment

Paul C. Reed, “Two Somerby Frauds, Or ‘Placing the Flesh on the Wrong Bones,'” The American Genealogist 74[1999]. [LINK]


Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630

1 May 2009 Leave a comment

Source: Burton W. Spear, Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630, Volume 13 (Toledo, Ohio: Burton W. Spear, 1990).

[page 30]

Unanswered Questions on the English Ancestries and Birthplaces of the “Mary and John” Families of 1630.


According to NER Jan. 1984, p. 4-16, he was the son of Nicholas ROSSITER (d. 1 Apr. 1608) & Eliza _____ (bu. 28 Apr. 1608), of Comb St. Nicholas, Somerset, but no wills have been found.  His grandfather was Philip ROSSITER & (1) _____, of Combe St. Nicholas and his great-grandfather was Richard ROSSITER (1463-1529) & Elizabeth PERYE, dau. of William PERYE & _____, dau. of John FRYE.  No wills found.

Parish records of Combe St. Nicholas before 1678 are lost & Edward Rossiter left no will.

There is a Dr. CAMPBELL, a genealogist in Combe St. Nicholas who is claimed to have a great deal of information on the ROSSITERs, FRYEs & TORREY family, all of that village.  Ref: NER Jan. 1937, p. 145-151.  (See Vol. 3, p. 43)

[page 94]


William BLAKE – Bpt. 10 July 1594, Pitminster, Somerset.  He died, 25 Oct. 1663, Dorchester, Mass.  He married, Agnes BAND, 27 Sept. 1617, Pitminster, prob. widow of Richard BAND & dau. of Hugh THORN.  He was granted land in Dorchester on 14 May 1636 and he became a freeman and a member of the church on 14 Mar. 1639.  It is not known when he came to New England.  (Vol. 12, p. 79)

Children of William BLAKE & Agnes (THORN) BAND (Vol. 12, p. 79)

1. John BLAKE – Bpt. 30 Aug. 1618, Pitminster.  He died, 25 Jan. 1688/9, Boston.  He married, Mary (SOUTHER) SHAW, 16 Aug. 1654.  He was one of the executors of the will of Governor John WINTHROP in 1676.  No issue.

2. Anne BLAKE- Bpt. 30 Aug. 1618 (twin?), Pitminster.  She died, 12 July 1681, Boston.  She married, (1) Jacob LEAGER of Boston, who died, 24 Feb. 1662/3 & (2) _____ HALLOWELL.  Her tombstone is in the Boston Society.

Children of Anne BLAKE & Jacob LEAGER (Vol. 11, p. 79)

a. Bethia LEAGER- Bpt. 6 Oct. 1651, Dorchester, Mass.  She m. Fearnot SHAW, blacksmith, s. of Joseph SHAW of Weymouth, Mass.  She had two children: Jacob, b. 6 Nov. 1672.  (2) John, b. 30 Mar. 1678, who m. Mercy SMITH.

b. Hannah LEAGER- B. 14 Nov. 1655, Boston.  She d. 13 Oct. 1690.  She m. (1) John WALKER, brick burner, a. 1676, s. of Thomas & Ann WALKER of Boston.  The had one dau., Hannah WALKER, 25 Apr. 1677, who prob. never married.  Hannah LEAGER m. (2) Thomas PHILIPS of Boston, perhaps s. of Nicholas PHILIPS, by whom she had one child, Hannah PHILIPS, 7 Sept. 1690.

3. William BLAKE Jr.- Bpt. 6 Sept. 1620, Pitminster.  He died, 3 Sept. 1703, Milton, Mass.  He married, (10 [sic] Anna _____, whose name does not appear until 1665 & (2) Hannah TOLMAN, 22 Nov. 1693, Milton, who d. 4 Aug. 1729, dau. of Thomas TOLMAN (M&J passenger) & widow Sarah LYON.

Children of William BLAKE Jr. & (1) Anna (Vol. 12 p. 8)

a. Samuel BLAKE- B. 14 May 1650, Dorchester.  He d. 1719, Taunton.  He m. Sarah MACEY, dau. of George and Susanna MACEY of Taunton.  He had seven children: (1) Priscilla, who m. John SMITH, 1700, s. of Nathaniel SMITH.  (2) Samual Jr., b.a. 1680, who may have m. Sarah PITTS.  (3) Edward, b.a. 1689, m. Anna HANOVER.  (4) Susanna.  (5) Sarah, m. Joseph TOPLIFF.  (6) Hannah.  (7) Jerusha.

b. Anne BLAKE- Bpt. 7 Mar. 1651, Dorchester.  d.y.

c. Anne BLAKE- B. 6 Mar. 1652/3, Dorchester.  Died, 9 May 1722, Taunton.  She m. Thomas GILBERT, 18 Dec. 1676, Boston, s. of John & Jane GILBERT of Taunton.  Eight children: (1) Hannah, b. 28 Sept. 1677, m. William PHILLIPS.  (2) Sarah, b. 11 Aug. 1679, m. John WILLIS.  (3) Mary (twin), b. 11 Aug. 1679, m. Joseph WILLIAMS.  (4) Thomas, b. 11 July 1681. d.y.  (5) Nathaniel, b. 19 July 1683, m. Hannah BRADFORD.  (6) Mehitable, b. 5 May 1686.   (7) Susanna, b. 1687, m. William HODGES.  (8) Experience, b. 1689, m. John TOWNSEND.  (Ref: Gilberts of New England, pt. 1, p. 81)

d. Mary BLAKE- B. 20 Mar. 1654/5, Dorchester.  She m. (1) Joseph LEONARD, 1679 & (2) _____ WILLIS.  Seven children by first husband: (1) Mary, b. 2 Oct. 1680.  (2) Experience, b. 18 Mar. 1682.  (3) Joseph, b. 28 Jan. 1684.  (4) Mehitable, b. 22 Aug. 1685.  (5) Edward, b. 2 Nov. 1688.  (6) William, b. 26 Mar. 1690.  (7) Silence.  (Ref: Savage 3:80)

e. William BLAKE- B. 22 Feb. 1656/7, Dorchester.  Soldier in 1675 & 1690.  Died before 1699.

f. Nathaniel BLAKE- B. 4 July 1659, Dorchester.  Died, 5 Oct. 1720, Milton.  He m. Martha MORY, dau. of Walter MORY.  Seven children: (1) William, b. 21 July 1696, m. Hannah _____.  (2) Nathaniel Jr., b. 26 Feb. 1697/7, m. Elizabeth EVANS.  (3) Simon, b. 1 June 1700, m. Hannah BADCOCK.  (4) James, b. 18 Sept. 1702, m. Abigail TUCKER.  (5) Joseph, b. 27 July 1705.  (6) David, b. 12 July 1707.  (7) Jonathan, b. 12 July 1707.

[page 80]

g. Edward BLAKE- b. 13 Apr. 1662, Dorchester.  He died, 1737.  He m. Elizabeth MORY, 26 June 1696, sister of his brother’s (Nathaniel) wife.  Six children: (1) Anna, b. 7 Apr. 1697, m. _____ STEARNS.  (2) Edward Jr., b. 22 July 1697, m. Elizabeth FRENCH.  (3) Aaron, b. 23 Feb. 1699/1700.  (4) Mary, b. 13 Jan. 1701/2.  (5) Elizabeth, b. 5 Apr. 1704, m. _____ BELCHER.  (6) Moses, b. 6 Aug. 1706, m. Hannah HORTON.

h. Experience BLAKE- B. 17 June 1665, Dorchester.  He <sic> m. Eleazer CARVER, s. of John & Millicent CARVER.  Res: S. Bridgewater.

i. Agnes BLAKE- B. 29 Sept. 1667, Milton.

j. Susan BLAKE- B. 20 July 1670, Milton.  D. 4 May 1676.

k. Mehitable BLAKE- B. 2 Apr. 1673, Milton.  She m. William BRIGGS Jr., 16 June 1696, of Taunton.

4. James BLAKE- Bpt. 27 Apr. 1623, Pitminster.  Died, 28 June 1700, Dorchester.  He married (1) Elizabeth CLAPP, a. 1651, dau. of Dea. Edward CLAPP & Prudence CLAPP, who died, 16 Jan. 1693/4, age 61.  He m. (2) Elizabeth SMITH, 17 Sept. 1695, dau. of Henry 7 <sic> Judith SMITH & widow of Peter HUNT.
He built a house in 1650 in Dorchester that still stands today […]

5. Edward BLAKE- His will: 31 Aug. 1692, inventory, 3 Nov. 1692.  He m. Patience POPE, dau. of John & Jane POPE of Dorchester […]

[page 81]


BLAKE Family, A Genealogical History, William BLAKE of Dorchester, by Samuel BLAKE, 1857.

A Record Of The BLAKES Of Somerset, by Horatio G. SOMERBY.

Increase BLAKE Of Boston, His Ancestors & Descendants, With A Full Account of William BLAKE Of Dorchester, by Francis E. BLAKE, 1898.

[page 121]


The village and parish of Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset provided a number of families who came to New England between 1630 and 1640.  Edward ROSSITER came first, with his family on the “Mary & John” in 1630.  He was one of the Assistants of the Massachusetts Bay Company and one of the most prominent passengers on that ship.  He was followed in 1640 by the TORREYs and FRYs.  A great deal of credit for this article, and particularly the photos and map, is due Miss Patricia PEARCE, of Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, who visited Combe St. Nicholas and searched the records in the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.


Edward ROSSITER may have come with his wife _____ COMBE, daughter of John COMBE and brother of Joesph [sic] COMBE, but she may have died in England because there is no record of her in New England.

Evidently, Rev. John WHITE of Dorchester, Dorset, loaned Edward ROSSITER considerable money to prepare for his journey to New England.  The total debt was 106 pounds, 9 shillings & 9 pence and it was partly paid by Edward’s son, Nicholas, before their departure.  But when Edward died on 23 Oct. 1630, there was still 15 pounds, 25 shillings due Rev. WHITE.  Among the charges was 47 pounds, 13 shillings & 4 pence, for the passage of 13 passengers (3 pounds, 13 shillings & 4 pence each).

Following is an attempt to identify these people.  The five unknown passengers may have included, Edward’s wife (if she was still living), grandchildren and servants.

1. Edward ROSSITER

2. Son, Nicholas ROSSITER, who later returned.

3. Wife of Nicholas ROSSITER, who later returned.

4. Edward ROSSITER, son of Nicholas, who later returned.

5. Son, Bray ROSSITER.

6. Wife of Bray ROSSITER.

7. Daughter, Jane ROSSITER.

8. Son, Hugh ROSSITER, who later returned.

Plus five unidentified passengers.

[page 124]


George FRY, came with his brother-in-law, William TORREY.  He was possibly the son of the George FRY who witnessed the will of Joseph COMBE of Combe St. Nicholas, 21 Mar. 1619/20.  The FRYs were also related to the ROSSITER & COMBE families.


Although no member of the COMBE family of Combe St. Nicholas has been found that came to New England, they married into the above families.


Edward ROSSITER’s great-grandfather, Richard ROSSITER, was the first proved land owner in Combe St. Nicholas.  When he died in 1529 he owned 4 messuages & 543 acres here.  At that time his son Philip (Edward’s grandfather) inherited 4 messuages, 31 acres of meadow, 312 acres of pasture & 200 acres of woodland.  In the 1583 Survey of the parish (SAS/SE86), “Philipus ROSSITER, gent. (farmer or husbandman) owned a dwelling and a new tucking mill.  He paid 17 pounds a year to the Lord of the Manor (Wells Deanery).  The other freemen of Combe were William BONNER, gent.- 15 pounds, William JEANES- 12 pounds, John BUETT- 2 pounds, John WALROD- 4 pounds, John DEWNELL- 20 pounds and _____ MALLETT- 12 pounds.


Wadeford House (16th) of Philip ROSSITER

[page 125]

Philip ROSSITER’s house was called Wadeford and the fulling mill (woolen mill), which has been carefully restored, still stand today in a hamlet about 3/4 miles SE of Combe St. Nicholas.  This is one of seven mills within a few miles of each other on the River Isle, the others all being grist mills for corn.


Fulling Mill At Wadeford, Once Owned By Philip ROSSITER

Court Roll – 27 July 1608 – To the court came Thomasin CLARKE, William ROSSITER (brother or cousin of Edward?) and John CLARKE and surrendered a tenement called a “ten acre tenement” in the tithing of XII sect. granted again to John and Jane MARDEN.  (The three named above were witnesses.  Ref: ADD/277.)

1641, Nicholas ROSSITER, gent., of Combe (son of Edward, after Nicholas returned to England), holds for 3 lives, his property on lease – Anne, Jane & Mary ROSSITER, all daughters of Nicholas.  Ref: ADD/302.


The FRY family held a lease in 1574 (and possibly earlier) on the Lower Clayhanger Farm, less than a mile NE of Wadeford, where Philip ROSSITER lived.


Entrance To Farmyard Of Lower Clayhanger House Of FRY Family

[page 126]

The Lower Clayhanger house, which is still standing today, is in the “Listed Buildings”, p. 1-2, ADD/281, dated, 1608.  In the 1583 Survey of Combe St. Nicholas, rents were paid in Clayhanger tithing by: Robertus WARRYE- 13 pounds, John COGAN- 14 pounds, Symond KNIGHT- 2 pounds, Matthew GILLETT– 13 pounds, Thomas KNIGHT- 12 pounds and John GILLETT- 3 pounds.

NOTE:     Savage says there was a Matthew GILLET who came on the Mary & John in 1634, first settled in Dorchester and then in Windsor in 1636.  Banks says he came on the Mary & John in 1634 but settled in Salem.  Stiles’ History of Windsor does not list him.

Today the house is a private residence, with Hamstone mullioned windows, a kitchen with a bread oven and a mullioned window in the rear wall.  The roof was renewed in the early 19th century.  The walls are two feet thick.  The original date of the house cannot be placed because of work in 1940 destroyed much of the dating evidence.

Court Roll, 9 Oct. 1593 – To this court came John FRY and Agnes, his wife, and Isabella, wife of Richard SCREVEN.  John FRY holds by right of his wife, Agnes, one tenement called a “ten acre tenement”, with the apprutenances in the tithing of Betham, to remain now of the said Isabella, by the names of Agnes COMBE and Isabella COMBE (daughters of John COMBE, deceased), John FRY and Agnes and Richard and Isabella SCREVEN, surrendered each and all into the hands of the Lord and all estates and interest in the said premises, with the intent that John FRY might be able to receive them again.  Whereupon at this same court, the said John FRY, came and took from the Lord at the Steward’s hands, the said apputtenances, to have and to hold, for the lives of John FRY, Joseph COMBE and William COMBE, sons of the late John COMBE.  Ref: ADD/257.

27 Sept. 1597George FRY came to Court of Combe and leased land called “Wagges”, for the lives of George and his brother, John FRY of Ewell and John FRY, son of Lawrence of Stolfird.  Ref: ADD/265.

15 Oct. 1608– To this Court came Dorothea (RICHARDS) FRY, wife of John FRY, the younger, gent., of Chehanger (Clayhanger), and took the reversion of one cottage, with curtilage, one acre of same, under Old Auster (A Celtic site for the farm, developed by the Saxons and always treated with great respect because of its great age as a site.), all held by John FRY, the younger, for the term of his life.  To have and to hold for the lives of Dorothea, William FRY, son of William of Plymouth, Devon, yeoman, John RICHARDS, son of John of Churchstation, Devon.  Ref: ADD/281.

[page 127]


In 1599 Thomas COMBE at Ham Farm held 20 acres.  This about one and one half miles N of Combe St. Nicholas.  This was by “old Austet”, and ancient Celtic site.  This farm is now occupied by Mr. HUTCHINGS.


Mr. HUTCHINGS at Ham Farm with Shep & Sam

Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630

1 May 2009 1 comment

Source: Burton W. Spear, Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630, Volume 12 (Toledo, Ohio: Burton W. Spear, 1989). [WorldCat]

[page 72]


The following BLAKE ancestry was taken from a 4 ft. by 12 ft. chart, on file at the Wiltshire Record Office, in Trowbridge, Wilts., England.  It lists many lines not noted below to about 1800.  The line below supposedly traces to Humphrey BLAKE of Over Stowey, Somerset, ancestor of Elizabeth SAUNDERS, wife of Henry WOLCOTT.  Following is the introductory inscription on the chart:

“The genealogy of the ancient and worthy family of BLAGUE, BLAAKE or BLAKE, of great antiquity in the county of Wilts, where they had large possessions in Quemberford, Calne and Ililcot with a fair manor house called PINHILLS, now the seat of the family, a younger branch, from where they transplanted themselves into Hampshire and settling at East Town, were owners of that and divers other manor from whence the BLAKEs of Middlesex, etc. are immediately descended faithfully collected out of the several visitation books of the said counties remaining in the College of Arms and deducted to the issue of Daniel BLAKE of London, Anno 1690”.

1. RICHARD BLAGUE of Blake (Not found).  He married Ann, daughter of William (COLE?).

2. HENRY BLAGUE of Blake.  Heir.  He married Elizabeth, daughter & co-heir of Edward DURANT.

3. WILLIAM BLAGUE of Blake.  Heir.  He married Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. William POWER.

4. HENRY BLAGUE of Blake.  Heir.  He married Margaret, daughter & heir of William BILLETT.

[page 73]

5. ROBERT BLAGUE, Esq. of Quemford (hamlet, one half mile S of Calne, Wilts, 18 miles E of Bath).  He married Avice, daughter of John WALLOP, Esq. of Farley, Southampton.

6. JOHN BLAGUE, Gent.  Second son.  He married Margaret DYNCHAN, DINHAM of Dentham.

7. DAVID BLAGUE.  Heir.  He married Joane MALLETT.  He had a son, John BLAGUE, Abbott of Cirenester, Gloucestershire.

[page 74]

8. WILLIAM BLAGUE of Lacock, Wilts (8 miles W of Calne).  He married Margaret, daughter of William BROWNE of Wablyn.


a. Martin BLAGUE of Winchcomb, Gloucestershire.  He married Catherine, daughter of George VAUGHN of Herfordshire.

b. John BLAGUE- See below.

9. JOHN BLAGUE.    “From whom the BLAKEs of Somerset are descended of which family Major General Robert BLAKE the famous soldier and sea commander.”  No arms listed.  This line from generations 6 through 9 do not agree with the lines in SEARCH FOR THE PASSENGERS OF THE MARY & JOHN-1630, Volume 11, p. 62-66.


The following line from the Wiltshire chart connects to some William BLAKEs of Eastontown, Southampton, that fits the genealogy in the above mentioned, Volume 11:

6. ROBERT BLAKE of Calne, Wilts.  He was the son of Robert BLAGUE & Avice WALLOP (See #5 above).  He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas INGLEFIELD of Inglefield, Berkshire & Margery, daughter of Richard DANVERS, Esq. of Cadworth, Northamptonshire.

7. ROGER BLAAKE, Esq. of Caivne (Calne?), Wilts.  He died, 1556, age 57 (b. 1499).  He married Mary BAYNARD, daughter of Philip BAYNARD, Esq. of Lackham, Wilts.  Roger and his sister, married a brother and sister.


a. Thomas BLAAKE, Esq. of Tynnells, Wilts.  He married Edith, daughter of Thomas IVY, Esq. of Westkein (sp?), Wilts.

b. Sibil BLAAKE.  She married Henry BULL of Wilts.

c. John BLAAKE.  He married Jane CLARKE of Shaw (sp?), Wilts.

d. Joane BLAAKE.  She married Anthony GODDARD of Hartham, Wilts.

e. William BLAAKE- See below.

f. Mary BLAAKE.  She married edward LANGRIDGE of Langride, Southampton.

g. Robert BLAAKE of borough of Carone (sp?).  He married Alice, daughter of Robert SMYTH of Lackock, Wilts.

[page 75]

8. WILLIAM BLAKE of Eastontown als Essington, Southampton. Fourth son.  Deceased, 1582.  He married Avice, daughter of Sir Gervace RIPLEY, knight of Ripley, Southampton.  Their figures appeared in a stained glass window in the church of Enham (sp?), Southampton, in the parish of Eastontown in 1622, seat of the branch of the family in Scituate (not found).


Figures of William BLAKE, and his wife, Avice RIPLEY, in stained glass window, in Eastontown parish church in 1622.

9. WILLIAM BLAKE.  Second son.


a. William BLAKE.  See below.

b. Peter BLAKE.  Second son.

c. Nicholas BLAKE.  Third son.

10. WILLIAM BLAKE of Eastontown (estate of Eastontown, Southampton?).  He married Anne, daughter of Thomas TUFT (sp?) of Chilbolton, Southampton.   (Chilbolton now appears to be in county, Hants, 3 miles south of Andover.).  No issue listed.

[page 76]

The last three William BLAKEs, numbers 8, 9 & 10, appear to connect to the BLAKE Genealogy printed in the SEARCH FOR THE PASSENGERS OF THE MARY & JOHN-1630, Volume 11, p. 62-63.  The following is copied from this source:

VII.  WILLIAM BLAKE – He lived in White parish, Wilts and died in 1471.  After his death his widow and two sons moved to Hampshire and settled in Andover, on the estate called, “Eastontown”, formerly part of the estate of her husband’s mother, Avice WALLOP.


1. William BLAKE- See below.

2. Robert BLAKE- He lived in West Enham, Andover.  He married, _____ SNELL.

VIII.  WILLIAM BLAKE – He lived in Andover, White Parish, in Old Hall in Eastontown.  he also had lands in Knights Enham (occupied by his brother in 1504).  He married Mary, daughter of Humphrey COLES of Somerset.  His will probated, 20 June 1547.


1. Nicholas BLAKE- Of Old Hall.  His will, 1547, names wife, Margaret and children, William, Edmund, Alice and Elizabeth.

2. Humphrey BLAKE- No doubt named after his grandfather.  See below.

3. Alice BLAKE- She married, _____ CABULL.

IX.  HUMPHREY BLAKE – In Somerset in early 1500’s and settled in Over Stowey.

X.  JOHN BLAKE, THE ELDER – Born, 1521.  Buried, 10 Dec. 1576, Over Stowey.  He married Joan or Jane _____.

XI.  ANNE BLAKE – Born about 1549, Over Stowey.  She married Thomas SAUNDERS.  They lived in Lydeard St. Lawrence, Somerset and were the parents of Elizabeth SAUNDERS, wife of Henry WOLCOTT.


[page 77]


The following ancestry of the BLAKE family of Somerset, England was copied from a chart on exhibition in the Unitarian Chapel, crewkerne, Somerset, in June 1989.  It was prepared by Mrs. Eleanor DIXON, a BLAKE descendant, from Bridgewater, Somerset.

This ancestry contradicts the BLAKE ancestry in Volume 12, p. 62, which states the BLAKE line to Elizabeth SAUNDERS, wife of Henry WOLCOTT, comes through William BLAKE (d. 1471), son of Robert BLAKE & Avice WALLOP.  The ancestry below claims the correct line is through John BLAKE (d. 1504), son of Robert BLAKE & Avice WALLOP and brother of William BLAKE (d. 1471).

JOHN BLAKE of Nether Wallop, Hants.  Born, 1430.  Died, 1504.  He married, Margery _____.  His brother, Robert BLAKE of Calne, Wilts., was his heir and overseer of his will.


1. Humphrey BLAKE of Over Stowey, Somerset.  Buried, 28 Dec. 1588.  Will, 19 Nov. 1558, proved, 11 May 1559, Taunton.  He married, Anne _____.  He bought Tuxwell, near Spaxton, Somerset in 1556.


1.1 John BLAKE, the elder of Plainsfield (manor).  Born, 1521.  Buried, 10 Dec. 1576.  Will proved, 25 Jan. 1577.  He married, Joan _____.


1.1.1 Humphrey BLAKE, the elder of Over Stowey.  Buried, 1619 (in Over Stowey church).  Will, 1618.  Clothier.  He married, (1) Agnes JAMES, 1578 & (2) Ann _____.

Children Humphrey BLAKE, gent., of Plainsfield.  Bpt. 13 Nov. 1580.  He married, Elizabeth GILES of Wellington. John BLAKE of Over Stowey.  Bpt. 25 Apr. 1583. Richard BLAKE.  Bpt. 7 Sept. 1585. Jone BLAKE.  Bpt. 23 Sept. 1587. Robert BLAKE.  Bpt. 8 June 1589. Arthur BLAKE.  Bpt. 27 June 1592.  Died, 25 June 1592.

1.1.2 William BLAKE.  Buried, 1642.  He married, Ann _____.  He bought Cattridge, 1586.

1.1.3 Richard BLAKE of Stogumber, Somerset.  Born, 1562/3.  He married, (1) _____ & (2) Grace NAPCOTT, 29 May 1589, Over Stowey.

1.1.4 Robert BLAKE.  Born, 1566.  Died, 1626.  He married, Eleanor BROWNE of Taunton.

1.1.5 Alice BLAKE.  Born, 1569.  She married James RICHARDS.  From this couple descended emigrants, William BLAKE, Thomas RICHARDS and the TORREY brothers.  (See volume 11, p. 109-110.)

1.1.6 Ann BLAKE.  She married Thomas SAUNDERS (They were the parents of Elizabeth SAUNDERS, wife of Henry WOLCOTT).

1.1.7 Isobel BLAKE.  She married Thomas SELLECK.  (They lived in Gaulden Manor.)

1.1.8 Mary BLAKE- Born, 1558.  Died 1560.

1.2 John BLAKE, the younger of Plainsfield (manor).  Buried, 21 Aug. 1572.  He married Christian JUGG, 18 Aug. 1558.


1.2.1 Mary BLAKE.  Born, 1558.  Died, 1600.

1.2.2 Elizabeth BLAKE.  Born, 1561.

1.2.3 John BLAKE.  Died, 1563.

1.2.4 Anne BLAKE.  Born, 1567.

1.2.5 Richard BLAKE.  Born, 1570.

1.3 Agnes BLAKE.  She married, _____ MANNING.

1.4 Eleanor BLAKE.  She married, _____ LANGHAM.

[page 78]

1.5 Alice BLAKE.  She married, George SLOCOMBE.

1.6 Thomas BLAKE.  His will, 1580.  He married Isobel _____ of Wedmore.

1.7 Robert BLAKE of Bridgewater.  He died, Oct. 1592.  Will proved, 1592.  He married, Margaret SYMONDS of Taunton.  She buried, 1600.


1.7.1 Humphrey BLAKE of Bridgewater.  Born, 1573.  Died, 1625.  His will, 1625.  He married Sarah WMS. (WILLIAMS) of Pawlett, Somerset.

Children Humphrey BLAKE of St. Giles, Cripplesgate, London.  Born, 1600.  Died, 1679.  Will, 1679, at Somerset Record Office. Admiral Robert BLAKE.  Born, 1598.  Died, 1657.  Unmarried.  His will, 1653.

[page 79]


William BLAKE (1594-1663) of Dorchester, Mass. shares his BLAKE ancestry with Elizabeth SAUNDERS (1584-1655), wife of Henry WOLCOTT of Windsor, Conn.  They were grandchildren of John BLAKE (1521-1576) of Over Stowey, Somerset.  See Volume 11, p. 64-66.  The parents of Elizabeth SAUNDERS were Thomas SAUNDERS (d. 1609) of Lydread St. Lawrence, Somerset and Anne BLAKE (b.a. 1549) of Over Stowey.  The parents of William BLAKE were William BLAKE (d. 1642) of Pitminster, Somerset and Ann.  Anne BLAKE and William BLAKE (the elder) were brother and sister, so Elizabeth SAUNDERS and William BLAKE (the emigrants) were first cousins.

William BLAKE was born in Pitminster and he was related to another emigrant from that village, Thomas RICHARDS.  Thomas RICHARDS, was no doubt, a grandson of James RICHARDS, who died in Pitminster in 1608, and Alice BLAKE, daughter of John BLAKE of Over Stowey and sister of Anne BLAKE (mother of Elizabeth SAUNDERS.

It has been claimed that William BLAKE of Dorchester, brought his family on the “Mary & John” in 1630, but no prooof has been found.  There is no early record of him in Dorchester and he being a prominent person, age 36, it would have been unlikely for him not to be mentioned if he had come in 1630.  There is supposedly a Cleveland Genealogy that claims he sold a house in Aisholt, Somerset (3 miles south of Over Stowey), in January 1630 and went to America, but no proof is given.  He was granted land in Dorchester, Mass. on 14 May 1636 and he became a freeman and a member of the church on 14 March 1639.

William BLAKE was baptised, 10 July 1594 in Pitminster, Somerset and he died, 25 Oct. 1663, Dorchester, Mass.  He married Agnes BAND, 27 Sept. 1617, Pitminster.  She was probably baptised, 12 June 1594, Pitminster, daughter of Hugh THORN and the widow of Richard BAND, whose will was written in 1616 and probated, 8 Jan. 1621.  Agnes died, 22 July 1678, Dorchester, Mass.  William BLAKE remained in Pitminster until 1624 but his whereabouts between 1624 and 1636 are not known.  He possibly moved to Aisholt, Somerset.

On 14 May 1636, William BLAKE, with William PYNCHON and six others signed articles to form a plantation at Agawam (Springfield) on the Connecticut River.  He remained in Dorchester and died there in 1663.  He and his wife were probably buried in the Old North Burying Ground on Upham’s Corner, in Dorchester, but their tombstones have not been found.

Children of William BLAKE & Agnes THORNE (BLAKE-1898-2)

1. John BLAKE- Bpt. 30 Aug. 1618, Pitminster, Somerset.  Died, 25 Jan. 1688/9, Boston.  He m. Mary SOUTHER, 16 Aug. 1654, Boston, dau. of Nathaniel & Alice SOUTHER & widow of Joseph SHAW of Weymouth, who d. 13 Dec. 1653, 12 days after his marriage.  Mary d. 7 Jan. 1693/4, Boston.  John was a Boston merchant and a man of high social standing.  He was one of the executors of the will of Gov. John WINTHROP in 1676.  He evidently died without issue (Savage).

2. Anne BLAKE- Bpt. 30 Aug. 1618 (Prob. a twin), Pitminster.  Died, 12 July 1681, Boston.  She m. (1) Jacob LEAGER of Boston (as his second wife).  He d. 24 Feb. 1662/3, Boston.  He was a tailor.  She supposedly m. (2) _____ HALLOWELL, but was widowed again.  She was buried at the Third Church of Boston and her tombstone is now in the Bostonian Society.  She had two children: (1) Bethia LEAGER (b. 1651) who m. Fearnot SHAW, a blacksmith, and they had 3 children & (2) Hannah LEAGER (b. 1655) who m. John WALKER, a “brick burner”.  One dau. who prob. did not marry.

3. William BLAKE- Bpt. 6 Sept. 1620, Pitminster.  He d. 3 Sept. 1703, Milton, Mass.  He m. (1) Anna _____ & (2) Hannah TOLMAN, 22 Nov. 1693, Milton, dau. of Thomas TOLMAN (Mary & John passenger) and Sarah & widow of George LYON.  (See TOLMAN, volume 9, page 27).  Hannah d. 4 Aug. 1729.  He had 8

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children by his first wife: (1) Samuel BLAKE (b. 1650) who m. Sarah MACEY and they had 7 children, (2) Anne BLAKE (Bpt. 1651). d.y., (3) Anne BLAKE, (b. 1652) who m. Thomas GILBERT and they had 6 children, (4) Mary BLAKE (b. 1654) who m. (1) Joseph LEONARD by who she had 6 chilren.  She m. (2) _____ WILLIS, (5) William BLAKE (1656), soldier who may not have married, (6) Nathaniel BLAKE (b. 1659).  He m. Martha MORY and had 7 children, (7) Edward BLAKE (b. 1662).  He m. Elizabeth MORY and had 6 children, (8) Experience BLAKE (b. 1665.  She m. Eleazer CARVER, (9) Agnes BLAKE (b. 1667), (10) Susan BLAKE (b. 1670) & (11) Mehitable BLAKE who m. William BRIGGS.

4. James BLAKE- Bpt. 27 Apr. 1624, Pitminster.  He d. 28 June 1700, Dorchester.  He m. (1) Elizabeth CLAPP (b.a. 1651) dau. of Dea. Edward CLAP & Prudence CLAP.  She d. 16 Jan. 1693/4, age 61.  He m. (2) Elizabeth SMITH, 17 Sept. 1695, dau. of Henry & Judith SMITH and widow of Peter HUNT.  He built a very substantial houe off Cottage Street in Dorchester about 1650 which remained in the BLAKE family until 1825.



In 1895, due to street widening, the Dorchester Historical Society moved this house to Richardson where it is now being maintained by the society.  James BLAKE had 6 children by his first wife: (1) James BLAKE (b. 1652).  He m. (1) Hannah MACEY & (2) Ruth BACHELLOR, (2) John BLAKE (b. 1656).  He m. Hannah _____ and had 7 children, (3) Elizabeth BLAKE (b. 1658).  She m. Jeremiah FULLER and had one son, (4) Jonathan BLAKE (b. 1660), d.y., (5) Sarah BLAKE (b. 1665), d.y., (6) Joseph BLAKE (b. 1667).  He m. Mehitable BIRD.  Eleven children.


NER Jan. 1891, p. 35-38.

NER Vol. 89, p. 285-187.

Lineal Ancestors of Rhoda (AXTELL) CORY, 1937, Vol. II Pt. 1, p. 121.

BLAKE Family, by Samuel BLAKE, 1857.

BLAKEs of Somersetshire, from notes of Horatio G. SOMERBY, 1881.

Increase BLAKE of Boston, by Francis E. BLAKE, 1898.


[page 101]


Over Stowey Somerset was the home of the BLAKE family in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Here are buried the ancestors of Elizabeth SAUNDERS, wife of Henry WOLCOTT: her maternal grandfather, John BLAKE, the elder (d. 1578), and her great-grandfather, Humphrey BLAKE (d. 1558).  It is believed John BLAKE was buried in the church but his stone was removed and it may be the illegible memorial in the bell room.  There is a large stone in the aisle of the church for Humphrey BLAKE (d. 1619), brother of Anne BLAKE, mother of Elizabeth SAUNDERS.

Humphrey BLAKE purchased large estates in this area and he became lord of Plainsfield Manor and was patron of the churches of Over Stowey & Aisholt.  The Plainfield Manor was owned, in large part, by the BLAKE family for over 200 years.  This manor house, one mile south of Over Stowey is now in Spaxton, and its name has been changed to the Courthouse Farm House.  It is occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Ron DALLEY & Mrs. Beatrice May PITTY.  Up to 1921 there was a fireplace in this house that bore the BLAKE coat-of-arms but it was removed that year and taken to Yeovil, Somerset.

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[page 112]


The BLAKE family, from whom Anne BLAKE, mother of Elizabeth SAUNDERS, wife of Henry WOLCOTT descended, lived in Calne, Wiltshire for centuries.  They left the area in the 18th century.  The ancestral home of the BLAKE family was the manor house of Pinhills.  The BLAKEs acquired the manor of Pinhills in the 14th century.  They were not ennobled with exalted titles but they could boast of noble lineage, for their alliance with the families of FIENNES and DANVERS, they were descended from the worthy founder of New College, Oxford and Winchester College.  The BLAKE family became the most prominent in the borough and they sent members to Parliament as early as 1381.  By the begining of the 16th century the faily had spread into several distinct branches, but all living in the neighborhood of Pinhills.

The 12th century church of St. Mary The Virgin, in Calne, was built on the site of a previous Saxon church.  On 21 April 1628, the Norman tower collapsed and it was replaced by the present, magnificent 120 ft. tower.

The great-great-great grandparents of Anne BLAKE (b.a. 1549) were Robert BLAKE of Calne and Quenberford and his wife, Avice WALLOP (d. 1474) of Southampton, Hampshire.  Both are buried in the Calne church.  There used to be a stained glass window of the chancel, in which he appeared, with a surcoat charged with his Armorial bearings.  His wife appeared in a long robe with a scarf embroidered with arms of her family.  This window was destroyed when the steeple crashed to the ground in 1639.

In the British Museum (Harl. M.S. No. 1443, fol. 258) there is a drawing of two kneeling figures copied by John WITHIE, in the year 1616, from the chancel windows of Calne church.  The male is represented in a tabard, with arms of BLAKE, singly.  On the mantle worn by the female is Gules a bend argent with a cresent for difference.  A sketch of this window is included in this volume under the chapter titled, “BLAKE English Ancestry From Chart in Wiltshire.”

In the Civil War in the 1640’s the BLAKEs sided with the Parliamentary forces, against the Crown.  At the time, Henry BLAKE, and his wife, Abigail STRINGER, occupied the Pinhills manor house.  In 1643, he decided to fortify the house and he garrisoned it with musketeers.  He was aided by Colonel MASSEY, Governor of Gloucester, who surrounded it with a moat.  Then he constructed an additional outer ring of water, traces of which are still visible today.

[page 113]


Present Pinhills Manor House, Built About 1650

When the Royalists in nearby Devizes learned of these fortifications under construction, they sent a raiding party that surrounded the house.  Believing their situation was futile, the defenders surrendered.  A few weeks later the Royalists demolished the house and drained the moat.

The present house which stands at Pinhills, just beyond the moat, was built from the ruins of the old manor house.  It was supposedly built by Ambrose BLAKE, son of Henry, and he was there the year after the Civil War.  The last BLAKE of Pinhills left the ancestral home and died, 10 July 1731, in Bristol.  His daughter, Frances, erected an impressive memorial to her father in the Gaunt or Mayor’s Chapel at Bristol.  He is called, “Henricus BLAAKE de Pinnells”, and his name appears with the arms of the family.


Ancestry of Edward Wales Blake and Clarissa Matilda Glidden

27 January 2009 Leave a comment

Source:  Edith Bartlett Sumner, Ancestry of Edward Wales Blake and Clarissa Matilda Glidden with Ninety Allied Families (Los Angeles: published by the author, 1948).  [WorldCat]

[page 1]

ARMS of the Wiltshire BLAKEs:

Argent, a chevron between three garbs sable.

CREST: On a chapeau gules, turned up ermine, a martlett, argent.

This coat of arms was borne by Admiral Robert BLAKE on his ships, as his personal arms.

The BLAKE family of Wiltshire, England, took its name from Blakeland, a parish in that county. Francis E. BLAKE in “Increase BLAKE and his Descendants” says: “For several year the writer has had a very pleasant correspondence with Edward J. BLAKE, Esq, of Crewkerne, Somerset, [a descendant of John BLAKE, a brother of our William BLAKE of Pitminster] who in his endeavors to trace his own ancestry has made extensive and apparently exhaustive research…. He believes with many others that there is sufficient substantial evidence to indicate that they were from Over-Stowey, not many miles distant from Pitminster.”

The first recorded mention of the family is in 1286:

ROBERTI DE BLAKELAND was assessed on the Wiltshire Roll of Subsidies granted in 1286 to King EDWARD I. His son or grandson:

ROBERTII DE BLAKELAND had a residence in Calne, Wiltshire. He was assessed on the Wiltshire Subsidy Rolls in

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1347 for a large amount to meet the requirements of EDWARD III. By his wife Anne, daughter of William COLE, he had:

HENRYIII BLAKE, who dropped the “de” from his name, and the termination “land.” He married a daughter of Mr. Edward DURANT. They had a son:

WILLIAMIV BLAKE, who married Elizabeth, the daughter and heiress of Mr. Thomas POWER.  Their son:

HENRYV BLAKE, of Calne, married Margaret, daughter of “Mr” BILETT. (The title Mr. denoted gentry.) Son:

ROBERTVI BLAKE, of Calne and Quemberford, married Avice, daughter and heiress of John WALLOP, Esq. of Southampton, Hampshire, and acquired by her large estates in that county. (“Esquire” indicated the next higher rank to “Mr.”) Avice died on 10-29-1474, and she and Robert are buried inside the church at Calne, where in stained glass windows he is represented as habited in armor, with a surcoat charged with his armorial bearings.  Avice appears in a long robe with a scarf embroidered with the arms of her family: Gules, on a chevron argent, two crescents. Chil.:

  • 1 Gilbertvii. D. unm.
  • 2 Alexander, D. unm.
  • 3 John, 1434-1504. Inherited the est. Bur. in church at Nether Wallop. Will of 2-24-1504 proved 4-24-1504.
  • 4 Robert. Succeeded John to Wiltshire estates. D.1515. M. Margaret, dau. of Sir Thomas ENGLEFIELD.
  • 5 William. See below.
  • 6 Alice.
  • 7 Joan.

WILLIAMVII BLAKE lived in White Parish, Wiltshire, and died in 1471. After his death the widow and two sons removed to Hampshire and settled in Andover on the estate called Eastontown, formerly part of the estate of her husband’s mother Avice WALLOP.

  • 1 Williamviii, eldest son and heir. See below.
  • 2 Robert, of West Enham in Andover. M. _______ SNELL.

WILLIAMVIII BLAKE lived in Andover, White Parish, in Old Hall in Eastontown. He also had lands and tenements in Knights Enham (occupied by his brother Robert in 1504). He married Mary, a daughter of Humphrey COLES of Somerset. His will was probated on 6-20-1547. Children:

  • 1 Nicholasix, of Old Hall. Will, 1547, names wife Margaret; sons William, Edmund; daus. Alice, Elizabeth.
  • 2 Humphrey. See below.
  • 3 Alice. M. _______ CABULL.

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HUMPHREYix BLAKE lived in Somersetshire in the early part of the sixteenth century. He purchased large estates in Over-Stowey, Somerset, where he became Lord of the Manor of Plainfield, and patron of the churches at Over-Stowey and Aisholt. Plainfield Manor was owned in a large part by the BLAKE family for over two hundred years. “Pleasantly situated on the east side of Quantock Hills, it consists of four hamlets in Marsh Hills: Adiscombe, Ely Green, and Plainfield. The manor house at Plainfield, a mile from the church, has the BLAKE arms over the fireplace in the great hall.” In 1910 it was occupied by a farmer tenant of the Earl of Egmont. In 1555 Humphrey BLAKE added the adjoining manor of Tuxwell, which he bought of George SYDENHAM. He was buried in Over-Stowey on 12-28-1558. His will, made on 11-19-1558, was probated on 5-11-1559. Among the bequests were twelve pence for each priest attending his funeral, and a sum for repairs to the church. Agnes BLAKE, his widow, was buried on 6-24-1585.

From the fact that there were two sons named John, it is thought that Humphrey may have had two wives.

Children of Humphrey [and Agnes?], order not known:

  • 1 Johnx, “the elder,” 1521. See below.
  • 2 Robert. Of the Manor of Tuxwell. D.1592. M. Margaret SYMONDS (Her will proved 1600.)  Children:
    • 1 Williamxi, of Tuxwell in 1600.
    • 2 Anstice. M. Robert BOCKINGE.
    • 3 Humphrey. Twice mayor of Bridgewater, Eng. D.1625. M. Sarah2 (Humphrey1) WILLIAMS.  Had 10 or 12 chil., among whom were: (S.C.Hist.& Gen.Mag.,39:103; 40:42)
      • 1 Robertxii, 1599. D.1657, unmar. M.P. for Bridgewater, 1640-5. Famous admiral.  Bore coat of arms of Wiltshire BLAKEs on his ships as personal arms.
      • 2 Benjamin, 1614. D.c1689. Went to W.I. with Adm. Sir William PENN.  Commanded ship at Santa Cruz in 1657. Received large grants of land in South Carolina. Clerk of the Crown and Peace for South Carolina in 1687, etc.  Probably the only son:
        • 1 Josephxiii, b. Eng. D., S.C., 1700. Deputy Landgrave and twice Gov. of S.C.  “A man of property; devoted much of his fortune to the cause of immigration, and brought over to Charlestown, S.C., 1660, a company of men who ranked with the best in the land.” (Burke: Prominent Fams.of U.S.A., pp. 79-81.) M.1698, Elizabeth2 (Daniel1) AXTELL.
          • 1 Rebeccaxiv, 1699. D.,1719. M., 1717, George2 (Gov. Thomas1) SMITH.
          • 2 Joseph, 1700. D.,1751. M.,1720, Sarah2 (Daniel1) LINDREY; 5 chil.
  • 3 Thomas. Inher. Tuxwell Manor. M.1569, Agnes CASTLEMAN.
  • 4 John, “the younger.” M.1558, Christian JUGG.
  • 5 Agnes. M. _______ MANNING.
  • 6 Eleanor. M. _______ LANGHAM.
  • 7 Alice. M. George SLOCOMBE. Had dau. Joane.

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JOHNX BLAKE “the elder” was born in 1521 and died in 1576. The name of his wife was Jane, who died in 1595.

He succeeded to the manor of Plainfield and to other estates. He received by will the patronage of the church at Aisholt, County Somerset. In his will of 11-26-1576 he bequeathed to his son Richard the advowson of the Over-Stowey church. John was buried on 12-10-1576, and Jane, his widow, was buried on 6-17-1595, both in the chancel of the church at Over-Stowey.

Children of John and (presumably) Jane:

  • 1 Humphreyxi. M.1578, Agnes JAMES.
  • 2 William. See below.
  • 3 Alice. M.1569, James RICHARDS.
  • 4 Anne. M.1573, Thomas SAUNDERS.
  • 5 Elizabeth. M. 1571, Robert SELLICK, son of Vicar SELLICK of Over-Stowey.
  • 6 Richard, bap. 1-1-1563. (M.1589, Grace NAPCOTT?) Son was Vicar of Over-Stowey in 1611. Bur. in chancel.
  • 7 Robert, bap. 5-12-1566. No further record found.

WILLIAMXI BLAKE received by his father’s will, Plainfield in Over-Stowey, Bishops Lydiard, and Padnoller in Spaxton Parish. No subsequent trace of him is found on the Over-Stowey parish registers. The Taunton, Somersetshire, manor rolls show that a William BLAKE bought lands in Pitminster, Somerset, in 1586, which would correspond, perhaps, with his marriage. The Pitminster parish registers begin in 1544 and are very well preserved, yet there is not a single BLAKE entry until 1588, when Grace BLAKE was baptized. The logical inference is that there were no BLAKEs in Pitminster before 1588, and that this William BLAKE who appears in Pitminster for the first time in that year is the same man whose name disappeared from the Overton-Stowey registers.

A William BLAKE was buried in Pitminster, 6-13-1642. A widow Anne BLAKE was buried there on 8-14-1644.

Children, as written in Pitminster parish registers:

  • 1 Robertxii BLAKE (perhaps a son). M., Pitminster, 1617, Sara WICHAM.
  • 2 Grace, d. of Willm BLAKE, bapt. 9 day of February 1588.
  • 3 Eme, d. of William BLAKE, bapt. 3rd of December 1592.
  • 4 William BLACK, son of William BLAKE, Bap. Xth Day of July, 1594. This is the immigrant WILLIAM1 BLAKE.
  • 5 John BLACK, son of William BLACKE, was Bap. the XIXth day of June, 1597. (D.1645. Grandfather of famous Rev. Malachi BLAKE who was in Monmouth’s Rebellion.)
  • 6 Añe BLAAK, daughter of William BLAAK was baptized the sixteenth day of October 1600. (She m.1628, Thomas BIDGOOD.)
  • 7 Richard BLAAK, son of William BLAAK, was baptized seventeenth day of Aprill, 1603.

[page 5]

The account in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1857, Vol.11:181, giving the parents of Mr. William BLAKE of Dorchester, Mass., as Giles and Dorothy [TWEEDY] BLAKE, of Little Baddow, Essex, England, was corrected in Vol. 45:35, but has unfortunately been accepted by many compilers of this line of BLAKEs.

WILLIAM1 BLAKE, the immigrant to America, was the son of William and Anne BLAKE of Pitminster, County Somerset, England, born according to one writer on 6-5-1594. He was baptized in Pitminster, 7-10-1594.  The Pitminster register states: “William BLAKE was married to Agnis BAND, widow, the XXIJth day of September, 1617.”  She may have been a daughter of Hugh THORNE, and the widow of Richard BAND of Batherford. William BLAKE died 10-25-1663, and his widow, Agnes, died 7-22-1678, both in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The years between 1624 and 1636 are unaccounted for. During that time his son Edward was born, but where is not at present known. Search of the records of the church at Aisholt, in which his grandfather John BLAKE had an interest, might reveal much. It might also be pointed out that his second cousin, the famous Admiral Robert BLAKE, was a contemporary of his – perhaps William sailed with him before deciding on New England as his future home.

It has been asserted that the BLAKE family came with the Winthrop Fleet, in the Mary and John, but they are not on the passenger list. The Cleveland Genealogy, without giving the authority, says William sold a house at Aisholt in January 1630, and then sailed for New England. At any rate, William BLAKE had the first allotment of land granted in Dorchester, Mass., on 5-14-1636. He joined Dorchester First Church before 3-14-1639, the date on which he was accepted a Freeman of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Only proprietors and church members could become Freemen, with the privilege of the franchise, and eligible to hold office.

Specimens of his writing and fac simile of his will may be found in “Increase BLAKE, His Ancestors and Descendants,” which says this about him: “There is no record in Pitminster, or evidence of his residence between the year 1624, when his son James was baptized, and 1636, when he was found in America. There is no foundation whatever for the assertion that he came in 1630 in the Mary and John… Considering the prominent position which he subsequently occupied in Dorchester, it does not seem plausible that he could have joined any settlement in this country without so making his worth known to his associates that his name would appear upon its records. In the absence of the positive evidence it is reasonable to suppose that he came to New England in the fall of 1635 or the early months of 1636, and remained at Dorchester or Roxbury, making the acquaintance of Mr. PYNCHON in May 1636, when they … drew up and

[page 6]

signed the articles of association at Agawam, now Springfield, Mass., which agreement is still preserved…. There can be no doubt that he was a man of integrity, and above the average intelligence of his neighbors. He served the town in various capacities: Constable, 1641; on the committee to build the new meeting house, 1645; Selectman 1645 to 1647, also 1651; and he was one of five men who were given authority to make assignments of lots and manage affairs of the settlement in general.”

The Springfield agreement stipulated: “William BLAKE shall have sixteen polls in bredth for his home lott, and all the marsh in breadth abuttinge at the end of it to the next high land, and three acrs more in some other place.”

In Dorchester he served as Clerk of the Militia, and in 1646 was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts — unless this was his son William, of Milton, Mass., who was then twenty-six.  In 1656 he was chosen Dorchester’s first Recorder, for which he received twenty shillings per year, and was rate free.

His will was dated 9-3-1661, one of the bequests being: “Unto the Towne of Dorchester twenty shillings to be bestowed for repairing of the buring place, soe swine and other vermine may not añoy the graues of the saints, provided it be repaired within one yeare after my decease.” (In 1664 a committee of Selectmen was appointed “to gett the burying place well and sufficiently to be fenced in, and to demand of John BLAKE twenty shillings given by his father in his last will … to that end and vse.”) Half his estate was to go to his beloved wife; the other half to be divided equally among his five children — “not that I disrespect my eldest sonne, as he hath ben and is soe dutiful a child vnto me as any of my children, but because he hath least need of it, and he hath no charge.”  (See John-2.)

His great-grandson James-4 BLAKE wrote in his Annals of Dorchester: “This year died Mr. William BLAKE who had been clerk of the Writs for the County of Suffolk and Recorder for the Town in 1656, and continued in office about eight years. He was also Clerk of the Training Band. He died the 25th of the 8th mo.:
1663, in his 69th year…”

Soon after his death his widow, Agnes BLAKE, removed to Boston, probably to live with her son John, or perhaps with her only daughter Anne, already the widow of Jacob LEAGER. The Dorchester church record of 2-6-1670 states: “Sister Agnes BLAKE (the wife of William BLAKE, deceased), she having removed her dwelling to Boston, was dismissed to Joyne to the theird Church in Boston.”

Quotation from Symonds’ “History of South Boston” : “This family of BLAKEs in all their generations have been distinguished for their piety, for their great accuracy in matters of fact. Many of them have held important offices of honor and trust in the community, and no records of past events are more reliable than those kept by them. The Annals of Dorchester, written by James BLAKE, are historical documents of the first importance, and no surveys and plans are more complete and accurate than his.”

[page 7]

Children of William and Agnes, as given in the Pitminster parish registers:

  • 1 John2. “1618: John BLAKE, sonne of William BLAKE, and Ane BLAKE daughter of William BLAKE was baptised xxxth of August.” D.,Boston, 1-25-1689. He left his houses and lands in Boston to John3 (James2) BLAKE. Joined Anc. & Hon. Artillery Co., Boston, 1642. Exec. of Gov. John WINTHROP’s will, 1676. M., Boston, 1654, “age 36,” Mary2 (Nathaniel1) SOUTHER, widow of Jospeh2 (Abraham1) SHAW; 1 dau., Hannah, 1757-1759. TORREY-BLAKE Gen. says: “Probably m. dau. of Edward BRECK of Dorchester, c1640; she d.1645, leaving chil.”
  • 2 Anne. Bap., 1618, w. John, above. D.1681, “ae 63.” Her tombstone now in possession of the Bostonian Society, having been taken from the Granary Burying Ground. M. 1st, bef.1651 (as 3d wife), Jacob LEAGER of Boston (1603-1663). M.2nd, [William?] HALLOWELL.
    • 1 Bethiah LEAGER, 1651. B. in William BLAKE Sr.’s house in Dorchester. M. Fearnot SHAW; 3 chil.
    • 2 Hannah LEAGER, 1655. M.1st, John WALKER. M.2nd, Thomas PHILLIPS; 1 dau.
  • 3 William, “sonne of William BLAKE was baptised 6th of September 1620.” D., Milton, Mass., 1703.  Kept an inn in Milton, Mass. (Joined Anc. & Hon. Artillery Co., 1646?) M.c1649, Anne —— (alive 1680); 11 chil. See Americana, Vol. 31, for descendants. M.2nd,1693, Hannah2 (Thomas1) TOLMAN (1640-1729), (the widow of George LYON); no chil. Overseer, James’ will, 1700.
  • 4 James, “sonne of William BLAKE was baptised 27th April 1624.”
  • 5 Edward, c1625. Prob. youngest, but baptism not found. John2 BLAKE called him brother in will, 1689.  D.Milton, Mass., 1692. M.,c1653, Patience2 (John1) POPE, (d.1690); 6 chil. See Bangor, Me., Hist. Magazine, Vol. 2:1-18, and N.E. Register, Vol. 89:284, for descendants.

JAMES2 BLAKE was baptized in Pitminster, County Somerset, England, 4-27-1624. He married in Dorchester, Mass., “about the first of January, 1652,” Elizabeth, daughter of Edward CLAPP of Dorchester. She was born in Dorchester, in 1634, and died there on 1-16-1695, “in her 61st year.” (See CLAPP.) James married again, on 9-17-1695, Mrs Elizabeth HUNT of Rehoboth, Mass. Mrs. HUNT was the daughter of Henry SMITH from Norfolk County, England, and had married Peter HUNT in 1646. James died on 6-28-1700 in Dorchester.  James came to America with his parents about 1636, but the first record found is his marriage in 1652.  The next year he was made Freeman. He is said to have built the first house in Dorchester Neck, in 1650, which was of such a substantial character that in 1669 the town voted to build for its minister “such a house as James BLAKE’s house, namely 38 foote in length and 20 foote wide and 16 foote between its joists….”

Edward Rossiter, Colonist, of Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony

8 May 2008 Leave a comment

Source: Meredith B. Colket, Jr., “Edward Rossiter, Colonist, of Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony and
the Rossiter English Lineage,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 138[1984]:4-16.


Edward Rossiter of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset and of Dorchester, Massachusetts, gentleman, one of the Assistants of Governor John Winthrop, came to this country in 1630, but died that year. Of his children, three would become forebears of descendants in America: Bryan or Bray, noted physician, ancestor of the Rossiters of America; Jane who married Thomas Gilbert; and Joan who married Nicholas Hart. Information about Edward appears in Meredith B. Colket, Jr., “Edward Rossiter, His Family, and Notes on His English Connections,” The American Genealogist (13[1937]: 145-151).

Even though Edward’s place of origin in New England was known, it had not been possible to determine the identity of his ancestors. There were several stumbling blocks. The original parish registers of the parish prior to 1678 have not survived; neither have Rossiter wills that might have helped reconstruct the pedigree. Original documents that are available are chiefly in Latin, while some that are frail, torn or faded have been deciphered with the use of an ultraviolet lamp. Fortunately, Combe St. Nicholas was on a manor, and many of the manorial court rolls have survived and have been dep[osited in the Somerset Record Office, Taunton, co. Somerset. Fortunately, too, Edward Rossiter and his immediate male-line forbears possessed landed estates of sufficient size to require inquisitions post mortem (also in Latin). These inquiries, addressed to local inhabitants called jurors, determined the land owned by the deceased at the time of death. The deceased were usually tenants in chief of the king.

Through the enthusiastic interest and support of Mr. Charles Fitch-Northen, a scholar of Paignton, Devon, appropriate records in Latin as translated by him, and other records, have been made available for the preparation of this article. A descendant of Edward Rossiter, he was stimulated by the appearance of the article in The American Genealogist years ago. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to him for the thoroughness of his research and for his suggestions. The organization of this article, the points of view expressed, the interpretation of evidence and the conclusions drawn are the sole responsibility of the compiler. Photocopies of the essential records, the basis of which this study has been made, are being deposited in the library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society for future reference.


The surname Rossiter (or Rosseter as it is often written) was spelled variously before the end of the
sixteenth century. We find Rocetre, Rocetor, Rocestre, Rossa, Rosseltur, Rosy, Roucetre, Roncetre, and very early De Roffa, De Rocester and De Rochester. Charles Wareing Bardsley in A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (London, 1901) declares the derivation of Rossiter in most cases is probably from a place name, “of Rochester.”

It is known that, before surnames were inherited, clergy from the See of Rochester in Kent were named Roffa, De Roncestre, De Rochester, and appointed to benefices in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. Solomon de Rochester (his name was written variously) was named Justice in Eyre, Devon, in 1303.

A Feet of Fines recorded at Exeter, co. Devon 52 Henry III (1267/8) shows that Solomon de Roucester and his brother William had interest in land at Hamne, a village just east of Taunton (Emanuel Green, Pedes Finium: Commonly Called Feet of Fines for the County of Somerset: Richard I to Edward I, AD 1196 to AD 1307, Somerset Record Society, 6 [1892]: 216). In 9 Richard II (1385/6), a William Roucestre was involved in a dispute over land in Knoll and “Chafcombe.” Chaffcombe parish is a short distance southeast of Combe St. Nicholas (Green, Feet of Fines: 21 Edward III to 20 Richard II, AD. 1347 to AD. 1399, ibid., 17 [1902]: 128, 129).


In 1445 and again in 1448, a Richard Roucetre was one of two to present a rector to the Church of Stoke (Walton in Gordano), co. Somerset (H. C. Maxwell-Lyte and M. C. B. Dawes, eds., The Register of Thomas Bekynton, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1443-1465, ibid., 49 [1934]: 36, 37, 93). A person having the right to determine the holder of a church benefice was obviously a person of some prestige in the community.

This Richard Roucetre was apparently the Richard Roucestre who had married by Martinmas 26 Henry VI (1447) Joan Peion, daughter and heiress of Roger Peion. Roger’s wife was also Joan. The evidence for the relationship is the following Somerset fine:

26 HENRY VI (1447-8). 325. At Westminster in the octave of St. Martin between Henry Perot querent; and Roger Peion and Joan his wife and Richard Roucestre and Joan his wife, daughter and heir of the said Roger, deforciants; for two messuages, forty acres of land, ten acres meadow, and ten acres pasture, in Southbarough (and land in Dorset). Roger and Joan his wife acknowledged the right of Henry; for this Henry granted the same to Richard and Joan his wife and their issue, and if they die without issue then to remain to the right heirs of Roger (Green, Feet of Fines: Henry IV to Richard III, ibid., 22 [1906]: 119).

There are two reasons to suspect that Richard was a forebear of the Rossiters of Combe St. Nicholas: one concerns land ownership; the other the subsequent adoption by prescriptive right (or long-time use) of a coat of arms that uses a pheon, an apparent pun on the surname Peion (the family through whom the Rossiters presumably inherited property). Second, Southbarough, the place named in the fine, is quite obviously the parish of South Barrow, co. Somerset. Later Rossiters, specifically Joan Rosseter, wife of William Hartgill, inherited property at “Barow,” probably the same place.

The coat of arms was argent on a chevron of gules, three pheons or. Now a pheon is a little used heraldic device showing a missile, a barbed head thrown from a crossbow. The use of the coat was confirmed John Rosseter of Old Cleve, co. Somerset, by the College of Arms in 1631 according to The Visitations of the County of Somerset in the Years 1531-1573 (Frederic William Weaver, ed. [Exeter, England, 1885], 128).

A branch of the Rossiters of Combe St. Nicholas located at Aslackby, co. Lincoln, used a variant coat: argent on a chevron gules three pheons of the field (A. R. Maddison, Lincolnshire Pedigrees, The Publication of the Harleian Society 52 [1904]: 83.) The ancient Roucester (Rossiter) family of Rothmacnee, co. Wexford, Ireland used the same coat as in the Somerset visitation with a difference (Bernard Burke, The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales [London, 1884]).


For over a century the eldest son of the eldest son of the Rossiters at Combe St. Nicholas were members of the landed gentry. The first generation below is the generation that preceded them. This generation can only be partially recreated.

1. —– ROSSITER (i.e., ROUCESTRE) married before 1562 JOAN —–, who died a widow 2 May 5 Henry VIII (1513). An inquisition post mortem relating only to her Dorset lands was taken at Bridport in that country. No inquest has been found on her husband’s property. If one was taken, it is among the many that have not survived. The Richard ROUCESTRE who was married to Joan Peion described above does not harmonize chronologically with this family. A William Roncestre of Chard, co. Somerset, in a plea of trespass Michaelmas 1464 does harmonize chronologically:

Wm. Roncestre, late of Chard, yeoman, and Joan his wife were attached to answer John Brokhampton on a plea of trespass on property which he leased at Chard…. The suit was to determine ownership of property (“Extraneous Documents,” Somerset Record Society).

The record also harmonizes geographically. Chard is the market town of Combe St. Nicholas, less than three miles away.

Joan’s inquisition post mortem (Public Record Office C 142/79/184 Dorset) as translated from the Latin is abstracted in part below:

The said Joan held no lands or tenements from the king in chief in the co. aforesaid on the day when she died. But they say that the said Joan for a long time before the time of her death was seized of four messuages one toft two curtilages with appurtenances situated within the borough of Shaftesbury in the co. aforesaid, and of forty acres of [word torn] and pasture and four acres of meadow with appurtenances lying within the hundred of Alcester (in Shaftesbury) in the co. aforesaid in her demesne as of fee and thus seized thereof gave and granted all the same messuages &c. to [name faded.] Roucester her son to have and to hold to him and his heirs for ever by virtue of which gift the same Richard was seized thereof in his demesne as of fee and of such estate is still seized. And they say that the said messuages toft and curtilages with appurtenances are held of the Abbess of Shaftesbury as in right of her church or monastery at Shaftesbury in free burgage tenure [in libero burgagio] and is worth after deductions 50.s. a year. And that the said Joan held no other lands &c. in the said co. on the day when she died and the same Joan died on 2nd May 5 Henry VIII And that the said Richard Roucester is her son and next heir and is of age 50 years and more.

Known issue:

2.i. RICHARD, eldest son, b. 1463 or before.

2. RICHARD ROSSITER (William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset, gentleman, was born circa 1463 or before (aged 50 or more 1513), according to his mother’s inquisition post mortem. He died 3 September 21 Henry VIII (1529) according to his own inquisition.

He married circa 1490 ELIZABETH —– who was deceased at the time of her daughter, Joan Hartgill’s inquisition post mortem in 1558. There are two visitation pedigrees that offer clues as to Elizabeth’s identity. One is the Visitation of Lincolnshire mentioned above which identifies the wife of Richard Rossiter (father of Philip and George) as daughter of Hartgill. However, the Visitation goes on to say that his wife was sister of the Hartgill who was murdered by Lord Stourton (1566/7). Contemporary records show that William Hartgill married Richard’s daughter; so the Visitation is garbled. A better clue is Lt. Col. J. L. Vivian’s Visitation of Devon (1895), p. 591, which in part reprints the 1564 Visitation dealing with Perye of Water, parish of Wembury, co. Devon. Here Elizabeth wife to “Rossetor” is recorded as daughter of William Perye who married a daughter of John Frye. Members of the Frye family are closely associated with the later Rossiters at Combe St. Nicholas.

In 1524 Richard Rossiter, called “Richard Rosseltur, gent.” and his son-in-law William Hartgill were jurors at the inquisition post mortem of William Long at Shafton, i.e. Shaftesbury, co. Dorset (Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset 26 [1954/5]: 192). Richard Rossiter was the first proved land owner at Combe St. Nicholas. Called “Richard Rocetr” at his inquisition post mortem held at Ilminster, co. Somerset, on 21 Henry VIII (1529), he then owned in the parish 4 messuages and 543 acres of land (Public Record Office, C 142/57/94, Somerset). He died 3 September 1529 leaving Philip aged 30 and more as his heir.


i. JOAN, b. ca. 1495, only known dau.; d. 20 July 1558, inquisition post mortem at Shaftsbury, co. Dorset (Public Record Office C 142/116/18 Dorset); m. (settlement) 12 May 6 Henry VIII (1514) William Hartgill of Kilmington, co. Somerset, esquire. The inquisition deals with lands she received in Dorset following the death of her father and mother, Richard and Elizabeth Rossiter, and in accordance with the marriage settlement.

William Hartgill was land steward to William Lord Stourton. When Lord Stourton died in 1554, his son Charles forced his mother not to remarry. She then took refuge in William Hartgill’s home. Charles struck Joan Hartgill with his sword. Later, on 12 Jan. 1556 at Bonham, co. Somerset, he secretly murdered her husband William Hartgill and their son John. For this Charles Lord Stourton was hanged 6 Mar. 1556/7 with a silk noose around his neck. The dramatic story is told in William Phelps, The History and Antiquities of Somersetshire (London, 1839, 1:178-87); in brief in George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage (13 vols. [London, 1910-1940], 12:pt. 1:307. 308); and in great detail in Rev. J. E. Jackson, Charles Lord Stourton and the Hartgill Murders (Devises, 1864). William Hartgill’s will, dated 12 Jan. 1553 was proved 13 Nov. 1557 (P. C. C. 47 Wrastley, Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, 4th Series, p. 18). William willed his wife Joan “all her lands in Shaftsburye, Barow (obviously parish of South Barrow, co. Somerset) and Bristol for her life.” Note also 1623 Visitation of Somersetshire, p. 46.

3.ii. PHILIP, b. ca. 1499, eldest son.

iii. GEORGE, perhaps b. ca. 1505, second son; m. ANN WILLIAMS. He was presumably the one of this name described as “George Rocetour, my servant” who was willed 40 s. in the 1537 will of Dame Elizabeth Speke (widow of Sir John Speke, knt.) of East Doulish, co. Somerset (P. C. C. 16 Dyngeley. See Somerset Wills, Somerset Record Society 21 [1905]: 38-39). He headed the armigerous branch of the family that removed to Aslackby, co. Lincoln, and appeared in Maddison’s Lincolnshire Pedigrees.

3. PHILIP ROSSITER or ROSSETER (Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset, gentleman, was born circa 1499 or before (over 30 years of age in 1529 when his father died). Philip probably died in 1583 or shortly thereafter. He is last named in the 1583 Survey of the Prebendaries of Welles Manor, Combe St. Nicholas, the record being in the Somerset Archeology Society, Taunton (Records No. SF 86; photocopy of record retained). Philip married twice, the first marriage having taken place about 1538. The identity of this wife is unknown.

Philip married secondly at North Curry, co. Somerset, on 30 April 1564 KATHERINE LYTE. The marriage is published in W. P. W. Phillimore’s Somerset Parish Registers: Marriages, 15 v. ([London, 1898-1915], 2:79): “Philip Rossetergen and Katherine Lite laste of Apr. 1564,” the abbreviation “gen” standing for generosus (i.e., gentleman).

North Curry lies five miles east of Taunton. The parish embraces the manor of Tillesdon, residence of William Lyte (called Black William) whose identity as father of Katherine, the wife of Philip Rossiter, appears in the extensive Lyte pedigree in the 1623 “Visitation of Wiltshire” (The Publication of the Harleian Society, v. 105/6:230-234, especially 232, 1954). Philip Rossiter is described in the visitation as of St. Collies Combe uxta Chard. Collies in early days was the colloquial name for Nicholas. Chard was the market town 2-1/2 miles southeast of Combe St. Nicholas.

William Lyte married Dorothea, daughter of Edward Kellway of Rockborne, co. Wilts, knight. Among William’s other children was Gertrude who married Thomas Howard, Viscount Howard of Bindon, Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin (see Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, 6:583, 584). William was a member of the distinguished Lyte family of Lyte’s Cary, parish of Charlton Mackerell being the second son of Thomas, Lord of the manor. The story of Lytes Cary Manor House was written by William George in 1879. The impressive manor house has survived. It is now a property of the National Trust and partly opened to the public.

In 1529 at the time of Philip’s father’s death, the inquistion post mortem shows that he inherited in Combe St. Nicholas 4 messuages, 31 acres meadow, 312 acres of pasture and 200 acres of woodland. In the reign of Elizabeth, 1569, Philip “Roceter” of the Tithing of Combe furnished a corslet of armor to the crown (Emanuel Green, Certificate of Muster in the County of Somerset: Temp. Elizabeth A.D. 1569, Somerset Record Society, 20 [1904]: 262).

Three Combe St. Nicholas lay subsidies in the Public Record Office show payment of taxes:

Ca 1557 Philip Rosy gent assessed £16 for relief, paid 16 shillings. The four others taxed in the parish were husbandmen (3-6 Edward VI, No. E 179/170/254).

1570/1 Phillipus Rocetor gen in terris assessed £4 paid 10 s. 4 d. He was the only inhabitant that year who was taxed on land (13 Elizabeth No. E 179/171/284).

1580/1 Phus Rosseter in terris £4 paid 10 s. 8 d. Of 19 taxable inhabitants, Philip was the only one taxed on land. (23 Elizabeth No. E 179/256/2 photocopy of document retained.)

Known or probable children by his first marriage:

4.i. NICHOLAS, b. ca. 1539, eldest son.

ii. (probably) WILLIAM of Combe St. Nicholas and London, grocer. In 1572 he sold a share of the manor of Fairfax to William Guy alias Gysse of Combe St. Nicholas (Elizabeth Crittall, A History of Wiltshire, The Victoria History of the Counties of England [London, 1965], 8:102. Note also Elizabeth Rossiter, widow 8:18). In 20 Elizabeth (1577-8) an indenture was made for a copyhold tenancy at Combe St. Nicholas for the three lives of William Rossiter and daus. Joan and Grace. In 5 James I (1607-8) the above is recorded on the court rolls with information that William was then dead and his daus. were aged 32 and 30, respectively.

iii. (probably) RICHARD, taxed on a small land holding at Combe St. Nicholas 1583. As Richard Roceter he was disclaimed by Heralds from bearing arms in 1591 (Visitation of Somerset, 1885, ed. by Weaver, p. 67).

Children by second marriage, first three named in the “Visitation of Wiltshire”:

iv. PHILIP, b. ca. 1568; d. 5 May 1623, bur. St. Dunstan in the West, London; m. ELIZABETH —–. Philip is probably the noted musician of the name in London. Described as gentleman in his will, he was musician to James I and a stage manager contemporary with William Shakespeare. As Philip Rosseter he published in 1601 A Book of Ayres, set foorth in the Late Orpherion and Basse Violl. In 1609 he published Lessons for Consort, only a part of which has survived. The Lytes of Lyte’s Cary were artistic and musical. A descendant, the Rev. Henry Francis Lyte, composed the hymn “Abide With Me.” In a monograph by Christiaan Vlam, Professor of Music at Cambridge, and Thurston Dart, Philip Rosseter is called one of England’s finest song writers. This monograph, entitled “Rosseters in Holland,” Galpin Society Journal 11:63-9 (Edinburgh, 1958) deals with Philip Rosseter’s gifted descendants in that country. For Philip, see also Dictionary of National Biography, 17:282.

v. JOHN, b. ca. 1570, most probably the John of the manor of Wolmerston, parish of Crewkerne, co. Somerset whose son claimed a Rossiter coat of arms in 1631. His will, dated 8 April 1611, proved 8 Sept. 1611, names son John and Anne wife of John WOOD (P. C. C. 75 Wood, Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, First Series [n.p., 1887], 15). John, the son, was of Old Cleeve, co. Somerset, in 1631. His claim to the coat of arms: Argent on a chevron gules three pheons or was confirmed by the herald’s annotation in the Visitation of Somerset, 1885, ed. by Weaver, p. 128.


vii. HUGH, named as brother in Philip’s will proved in 1623. Although Hugh is not named in the visitation of Wiltshire, it is to be noted that the mother, Katherine Lyte, had a brother Hugo (Latin form of Hugh).

4. NICHOLAS ROSSITER (Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, gentleman, was born circa 1539, for his age as 70 in 1608/9 (5-7 James I) is given in the Combe St. Nicholas manorial survey (Somerset County Record Office, Taunton, Wells Deanery, indentured tenants folio 22, 7 in Latin, copy of record retained). He died 1 April 1608, judging from a Bishop’s Transcript fragment, “Nicholas Rossiter was buried in the first day of April 1608.” He married (circa 1570) (ELIZA)BETH —–. She was buried 26 April 1608 according to the Bishop’s Transcript fragment which called her “wife of Nicholas” (photocopy showing death records retained).

In 1592/3 Nicholas Rossiter was taxed on lands, a tax that was recorded as follows: Nicholas Roscester gen. in terris £4, paying 16 s. (Lay Subsidy, Public Record Office. Hundred of Kingsbury, parish of Combe St. Nicholas Elizabeth 35, No. E 179/256/4). Of the 25 taxables in the record that year, Nicholas was the only one taxed on lands. He was taxed on the same amount the following year and for the last time.

At the meeting of the Manorial Court on 21 April 9 James I (1609), a twenty-man jury declared that Nicholas Rossiter, a free tenant of the lord died in extremis since the last court and his son Edward Rossiter was his next heir (Combe St. Nicholas Manorial Rolls, 9 James I, Somerset County Record Office, Taunton, in Latin, photocopy of record retained).

Known issue:

5.i. EDWARD, b. ca. 1575, eldest son.

5. EDWARD1 ROSSITER (Nicholas, Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset, and Dorchester, Mass., gentleman, was born circa 1575. He died at Dorchester 23 October 1630. He is believed to have married —– COMBE, daughter of John Combe of Combe St. Nicholas and sister of Joseph Combe. Edward is referred to as “my brother” in Joseph Combe’s will dated 21 March 1619/20 (cited in Colket, “Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist 13 [1937]: 146). The inference in the Gilberts of New England (Geoffrey Gilbert, ed. [Victoria, B.C., 1959], 24) that Joseph’s wife, Winifred, was a Rossiter and sister of Edward has not been substantiated. It is questioned on chronological grounds, and on the fact that no Winifred Rossiter even had rights to land as recorded in the various leases of Combe St. Nicholas.

The first record we have of Edward is in the lay subsidy roll in the Public Record Office, London, of 1597. He was then paying taxes on land that belonged to his father who would not die until 1608. It is inferred that his father in later years was incapable or unwilling to manage the property.

The record reads: Edward Rocetor, gen. in terris £4 pays 16 s. (41 Elizabeth, Hundred of Kingsbury Parish of Combe St. Nicholas. No. E 179/171/321). William Torrey, forebear of the New England family, was taxed on £4 in the subsidies of 1 James I (1603/4)(photocopy of record retained) and 4 James I (1606-1607). In 1611/12 his signature appears on a petition in behalf of Richard and Ursula Stockman, a poor and aged couple of the parish (E. H. Bates, ed., Quarter Sessions Records for the County of Somerset: James I, 1607-1625, Somerset Record Society, 23 [1907]: 73).

His name is listed in the court records for his failure to clear out one of the ditches adjoining his property and he is reprimanded for enclosing a portion of his common land, (manorial court rolls 8 James I [1610/11]). In 1626 he was appointed constable of the parish (in Latin, photocopy of record retained). Edward was last taxed in the Lay Subsidy Roll for 1628/9 (4 Car.; photocopy of record retained).

Edward Rossiter, as eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son was clearly head of the senior branch of the Rossiters of Combe St. Nicholas. Although there is no extant evidence that he claimed a Rossiter coat of arms, it is apparent that two Rossiters stemming from Combe St. Nicholas of junior lines did. As noted, two descendants of the first Rossiter of Combe St. Nicholas, Richard Rossiter (circa 1562-1629), claimed a coat of arms depicting a pheon (apparently an allusion to the Peion heiress who married a Rossiter). One was John of Old Cleve, co. Somerset, evidently grandson of Philip Rossiter, Sr., and first cousin of Edward. The other, of the family of Acklackby, co. Lincoln, descended from Philip’s brother George, used a slightly variant coat. These coats were confirmed by the College of Arms on the basis of long time use or prescriptive usage, three generations or more (See “The Prescriptive Usage of Arms,” The Ancestor 2 [1902]: 40-47).

Rossiter, with his household, formed part of the group under the Rev. John White that set sail from Plymouth 20 March 1630 on the Mary and John. The passengers settled at Dorchester, Mass. As a stockholder in the Massachusetts Bay Company, Rossiter was entitled to fifty acres of land for each person he brought over (including himself). Mrs. Frances Rose-Troup’s book, John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester (New York, 1930), shows that Rossiter was charged with bringing over thirteen persons. These certainly included himself, sons Nicholas, Bryan and Hugh, the wife of Bryan, daughters Jane and Joan, and if alive, his own wife, and possibly the wife and children of son Nicholas.

Edward’s sudden death on 23 October 1630 was reported by Governor John Winthrop in his Journal. Thomas Dudley, who later succeeded Winthrop as Governor, wrote the Countess of Lincoln: “Within a month after, died Mr. Rossiter, another of the associates, a godly man and of good estate, which still weakened more” (quoted in Colket, “Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist, 150). Edward’s death was reported in the Combe St. Nicholas manorial rolls 2 June 1631. “Edrew Rossiter gen. free tenant of the manor, died since last court” (photocopy retained). Nicholas is identified in the rolls as his son four years later when he returns from America.

Known children:

6.i. NICHOLAS2, b. ca. 1599; m. ANNE —–.

ii. DOROTHY, b. ca. 1608; m. at Combe St. Nicholas, 12 Feb. 1629/30 MARTIN GROUT; according to Bishop’s Transcript fragment. No further record.

iii. BRYAN or BRAY, b. ca. 1610, d. at Guilford, Conn. 30 Sept. 1672; m. before coming to America ELIZABETH ALSOP who d. at Guilford, 29 Aug. 1669, dau. of the Rev. John Alsop of Crewkerne, co. Somerset (Henry F. Waters, Genealogical Gleanings in England. [1901. Baltimore, 1969], 1:426, 427). For descendants, see R. D. Smyth, “Dr. Bryan (or Bray) Rossiter of Guilford, Conn., and His Descendants,” Register 55 (1901): 149-154.

iv. JANE, b. ca. 1614; d. at Taunton, Mass., 1 June 1691; m. at Taunton, 23 March 1639/40 THOMAS GILBERT, b. ca. 1612, d. 1676/7, son of John Gilbert of Combe St. Nicholas and Taunton, Mass. (Gilbert, Gilberts of New England, 60).

v. HUGH, b. ca. 1615, identified as son of Edward by John Frye, the elder, in Colket, “Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist, 146, bur. at Combe St. Nicholas, 1680; m. by 1641 DOROTHY (COMBE) NORRIS. She was b. 1620, the unborn child in her father’s will of 21 March 1620 (ibid., 145/6), and was bur. at Combe St. Nicholas in 1697. She was the dau. of Joseph and Winifred Combe and widow of the little-known William Norris of Salem, Mass. (according to the alphabetical list of copyhold leases in the manorial court records of Combe St. Nicholas). They would appear to be first cousins, except for the fact that Hugh’s father’s marriage to a Combe may not have been his only marriage. Hugh received a grant of land at Dorchester, Mass. in 1635 (Colket, “Edward Rossiter, The American Genealogist, 147). He returned to Combe St. Nicholas by 1641. Hugh Rossiter (and children) “Mattathias” and Edward his sons are named in a lease of copyhold in the manorial records filed at the Somerset Record Office, Taunton (Wells Deanery Leases and Rentals, file 8548, 25 folios). He is listed as a minor freeholder on the rent roll for 1663 (photocopy of record retained). Children: 1. Matthias, m. at St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, 14 April 1676 Jane Herring. 2. Edward, b. 1641 or later. 3. Benaiah (i.e., Benajiah) m. at Heavitree, co. Devon, 9 March 1676/7 Dorcas Soper. In 1685 he was living at Cork, Ireland with his family: “Examination of several persons landed out of the ship `Thomas and Anne’ from Cork, at Bristol on the 13th of February, 1685: Benajah Rossiter says that his mother Dorothy Rossiter, widow, is now (as he hopes) living at Combe St. Nicholas in Somerset. He was now going thither where he heard his father left him something; which, as soon as taken care of, he desires to return to Cork where his wife and family are” (Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers James II, 1:12, 14).

vi. JOANE, b. ca. 1616, “youngest child”; d. at Plymouth Colony, 9 June 1681, aged about 75 (Plymouth Church Records [New York, 1920-1923], 1:271), m. NICHOLAS HART of Taunton 1642 and Portsmouth, R.I., 1651. For descendants, see James M. Hart, Genealogical History of Samuell Hartt from London, England, to Lynn, Mass., 1640 … [and] Nicholas Hart (Pasadena, Calif., 1903).

6. NICHOLAS2 ROSSITER (Edward1, Nicholas, Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset, and for a time Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony, gentleman, the eldest son, was born circa 1599. The evidence for the date is an indentured lease among the manorial court rolls of Combe St. Nicholas of 5 James I (1607-08) in which his age was given at eight years (photocopy of record retained). He died by 8 June 1650, the date of the probate of his will. His wife, Anne, named in his will of 23 May 1643, was also named in the probate. The will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 98 Pembroke (photocopy of record retained).

Nicholas came to America with his father and remained here for several years. In behalf of his deceased father, he paid the passage money for the thirteen members of the Rossiter household who migrated. Nicholas resided at Dorchester, but returned to Combe St. Nicholas by 16 April 1635 where the court rolls show that he inherited his father’s lands there and became a free tenant of the manor (photocopy of record retained).

His name is recorded twice in 1641. Once was on the Protestation Roll (the virtual census of Englishmen renouncing Catholicism) when he was named among the 187 in the parish. Once was in the subsidy roll when he was described as “Nicholas Rossiter gen.” He was taxed on land valued at £4. This was the last year we have evidence that the Rossiters owned substantial land at Combe St. Nicholas. (The Somerset Protestation Returns and Lay Subsidy Rolls 1641/2, transcribed by A. J. Howard, ed. by T. L. Stoate [Bristol, 1975] 51, 235).

Children, named in 1643 will:

7.i. EDWARD3, b ca. 1628, only son.

ii. ANNE, living 1681.

iii. JANE.

iv. MARY, living 1681.

v. MARTHA, bp. 1639 (according to Combe St. Nicholas, Somersetshire, Bishop’s Transcript fragment in Edward Dwelly, Dwelly’s Parish Registers, 1 [1913]: 309; living 1681.

vi. DOROTHY, living 1681.

7. EDWARD3 ROSSITER (Nicholas2, Edward1, Nicholas, Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, and Taunton, co. Somerset, stationer and deacon, was born circa 1628 probably at Combe St. Nicholas, and was living at Taunton, co. Somerset, as late as 1695. He married first, at St. Mary’s Magdalene, Taunton, on 22 August 1656 SARAH POWELL; second, in the same parish, 13 June 1661 JOAN ROCKET (note that Hugh Rossiter and Richard Rocket were granted lands at Dorchester in 1635; Colket,”Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist, 144); third, in the same parish, 16 December 1669 ELIZABETH LISSANT; and fourth, at St. James, Taunton, 5 December 1684 ELIZABETH LEG.

Edward’s early life is a mystery. If born by 1630, he certainly accompanied his parents to America. He was obviously heir to a considerable estate. Yet in 1650 when he was perhaps about 25 years of age and when his father’s will was probated his whereabouts were unknown. A translation of the Latin on the will probate reads, “Anne Rossiter [the widow of Nicholas] truly and faithfully accepts [the fact that] Edward Rossiter was dead.” That he did not die is clear from the will of Elizabeth Buckland of West Hamptree, co. Somerset, dated 2 Septemer 1681 and proved 18 February 1683 (11 P.C.C. Hare; Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somersetshire Wills, 5th series [n.p., 1890], 73). She bequeathed to “my cousin Edward Rossiter, being a kinsman whom my husband loved, £50.” His identity as son of Nicholas is clear from the fact that Elizabeth Buckland also made bequests to four of the five sisters of Edward as named in the will of Nicholas: Anne, Mary, Martha, and Dorothy.

Manorial records of the period of the Commonwealth are incomplete and we do not know the circumstance under which the Rossiter estate passed from the family. We do know from an extant 1663 rent roll that the bulk of the Rossiter lands, on which Nicholas Rossiter paid taxes in 1641, had passed to Henry Bonner, Sr., and Henry Bonner, Jr. Presumably, this had happened before Edward’s marriage at Taunton in 1656.

The Hearth Tax for Taunton Hundred, Taunton Burgess, Fore Street 1664 and 1665 shows Edward Rossiter paying 4s. and 2s. for four hearths (Richard Holworthy, comp., Hearth Tax for Somerset 1664-5 [Fleet, Hants], 1).

In 1673 Edward was one of two portreeves of Taunton (See Court List of the Borough of Taunton where portreeves from 1616-1691 are listed, copy in Castle Library, Taunton).

Edward had apparently come under the influence of two former Taunton ministers, the Rev. George Newton (1602-81) and the Rev. Joseph Alleine, Oxford, B.D. (1634-1668). Both were imprisoned several times for their preaching and both were ejected from the famous Church of St. Mary Magdalene in 1662 (Rev. T. G. Crippin Manuscript, copied from the Tite Collection, Taunton Municipal Public Library). The Rev. Alleine’s works were well known in America. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, “No puritan name save Richard Baxter is so affectionately cherished by the English speaking people as Joseph Alleine.”

Edward Rossiter’s home was among those licensed so that prayers and ministry could be given there. He was a church deacon.

Edward was outspoken in his religious views. On one occasion, on 11 January 1671, his words were brought to the attention of the civil authorities and he was ordered to make amends:

Order that Edward Rossiter of Taunton St. Mary Magdalene, stationer, on some Lord’s day immediately after sermon, do make public acknowledgement in the parish church of the said parish of his offence in speaking scandalous words against Peter, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and do produce at next General Session a certificate by the ministers that he hath done” (Quarter Session Records Charles II, Somerset Record Society 34 [1919]: 191).

Edward’s religious activities were not unknown in Puritan New England. Governor Thomas Hutchinson in The History of Massachusetts Bay (2nd edition, London 1765, p. 17), described both the grandfather and the grandson:

Edward Rossiter [the colonist] was of good family in the west of England. He died the first year [1630]. His son [Nicholas] lived afterwards at Combe [St. Nicholas]. His grandson Edward Rossiter, in the year 1682 was deacon of Rev. Joseph Alleine’s church in Taunton. He says in a letter dated March 28, 1682 that his grandfather, a pious gentleman of good estate, left England for the sake of religion.

The last reference to Edward is in 1695 in the records of St. James Church, Taunton, on a notice of removal from the parish. Scattered references to Rossiters in the 18th century may refer to descendants. The name, we understand, died out at Combe St. Nicholas.

Among issue:

1. NICHOLAS4, bp. 20 July 1655, at St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton. No further record.

Thus, sometime during the period of the Commonwealth, the landed estate of the Rossiter gentlemen at Combe St. Nicholas, their patrimony under primogeniture since before 1529, passed out of their hands forever. Edward, the last in the line of primogeniture at Combe St. Nicholas, became a tradesman, while the circumstances that brought about the loss of the estate remain a mystery.

The Blake Family in England

7 May 2008 Leave a comment

Source: Francis E. Blake, “The Blake Family in England,” New England Historical and Genealogical

In a “Genealogical History of William Blake of Dorchester,” published in 1857, appears the statement that the emigrant to New England was the son of Giles Blake of Little Baddow, Essex, and the record of several generations of the family is given. The substance of this record is trustworthy as being a copy from “Morant’s History of Essex,” but the statement that the Dorchester settler was of this family was unwarranted by any evidence. Subsequently the late H.G. Somerby, Esq., by request of Stanton Blake, Esq., made extended researches in England to determine the origin of the American family. He finally located it at Over Stowey, Somerset, and the results of his investigations were published in 1881, by W.H. Whitmore, Esq., in “A Record of the Blakes of Somersetshire.”

The evidences upon which Mr. Somerby based his conclusions were, first, the record of a baptism in 1594, at Over Stowey, of a William Blake (son of Robert and grandson of John), the date corresponding to the age of the emigrant at death; and second, the fact that a sister of this William, in her will of date 1647, mentioned a “brother in New England,” no name however being given. While this evidence was not all that could be desired, it was generally accepted as correct, and the pedigree has been copied in several other genealogical publications.

In 1881, Rev. Charles M. Blake, U.S.A., while visiting in England, was shown by William Blake, Esq., of South Petherton, a genealogical chart of the “Blakes of Somersetshire,” prepared by William Arthur Jones, Esq., A.M.

An examination of this chart led Mr. Blake to visit Pitminster, four miles from Taunton, where he found upon the parish registers sufficient evidence to convince him that this was the early home of his ancestor William Blake, but he was unable at that time to give the matter further attention.

Recently, investigations have been made by the writer, through correspondence with the vicar of the parish, and with Edward J. Blake, Esq., of Crewkerne. The latter himself examined the registers of Pitminster, and Over Stowey, and he has had a careful examination made of wills and other original sources of information, for the purpose of determining his own line of descent and verifying the chart referred to. The result of these researches, so far as relates to the American family, has been very courteously copied for the writer and forms the basis of this article.

Mr. Somerby’s record of the baptism of a William at Over Stowey, June 5, 1594, was found to be correct, but unfortunately he overlooked this subsequent entry:

“1617, William Blake the sonne of Robert Blake was buried the —- of April.”

As this record effectually disposes of this William, we are forced to look elsewhere for the emigrant.

On page 14 of Mr. Somerby’s notes the statement is made that William the son of John9 and brother of Robert above named died at Bishops Lydiard, leaving a widow Joan, but no children.

A close examination of the records discloses the following facts. By the will of John,9 his son William received lands at Bishops Lydiard, at Plainfield in Over Stowey, and at Padnoller in the parish of Spaxton. Now in the will of William of Bishops Lydiard, referred to by Mr. Somerby, date 13th June, 1618, and proved in September following by Joan his widow, he is described as a yeoman, and bequeaths three acres at Hillfarence which he bought, and his land at Risun, with sundry small gifts to friends. He mentions “Philipp Sully, my boye,” but no children.

It will be noticed that this William held an entirely different social position from the Blakes of Over Stowey, and in the disposition of his property made no mention of the lands which John Blake9 gave to his son William.

Furthermore, we have an abstract of a will of a William Blake of Riston, proved at Taunton, May, 1572, in which is a bequest to “my sonne Willyam.” Riston is near Taunton, and not more than seven or eight miles from Bishops Lydiard and is undoubtedly the same place described as Risun in the will of 1618.

From these facts it is quite reasonable to think that the William who died in 1618 at Bishops Lydiard without children was the son of William of Riston, but certainly not the son of John9 of Over Stowey.

The records of Over Stowey furnish no evidence whatever in regard to John’s son, but the Taunton Manor Rolls show that a William Blake bought property at Pitminster, in 1586. The parish registers of Pitminster, which begin in the year 1544, are in a very good state of preservation, but there is not a single Blake entry (with the exception of a Mary Blake, daughter of Richard, who was buried in 1574) until the year 1588, when Grace a daughter of William was baptized. It is supposed that this William was the son of John,9 that he went to Pitminster to reside about the time of the purchase of the estate there in 1586, and there had the children named below. This theory was adopted by Mr. Jones in preparing his chart, and also by Mr. Blake whose investigations have been made independently of all previous labor in this direction, and it is hoped that this may soon be verified by record evidence.

The following records relating to this branch of the family appear upon the parish registers at Pitminster:

Anno Domio.

  • 1588. Grace Blake, daughter of Willm Blake was baptized the 9th day of February.
  • 1592. Eme Blake, daughter of William Blake was baptized the third day of December.
  • 1594. William Blake, son of William Blake was baptized the 10th day of July.
  • 1597. John Blake son of William Blake was baptized the fifteenth day of June.
  • 1600. Añe Blaak, daughter of William Blaak was baptized the sixteenth day of October.
  • 1603. Richard Blaak, son of William Blaak was baptized the seventeenth day of Aprill.
  • 1617. William Blake was married to Agnis Bond widow the 27th day of September.
  • 1618. John Blake, sonne of William Blake, and Ann Blake daughter of William Blake were baptised the ____ day ____ of August.
  • 1620. William Blake sonne of William Blake was baptised the 6th of September.
  • 1624. James Blake sonne of William Blake was baptised 27th April.

With this record from Pitminster before us, there cannot be a shadow of doubt that we have here the family of William of Dorchester. We know that he had a wife Agnes, and children John, Ann, William and James, and to make the case still stronger, the age of the father at death, and also of three of the children, Ann, William and James, corresponds with the date of the baptism at Pitminster.

No record has been found of the baptism of Edward, another son of William and Agnes, but it is supposed that he was born in England, as there is no evidence of the father being in this country previous to the year 1636, the statement that he came in the “Mary and John” in 1630 being without foundation.

Following the notes of Mr. Somerby, with the substitution of William10 for Robert,10 the line of descent will stand as follows: Robert,1 Henry,2 William,3 Henry,4 Robert,5 William,6 William,7 Humphrey8 (great-grandfather of the Admiral), John,9 William,10 William11 of Dorchester.

Or to state the matter more simply, the emigrant is now traced as being the grandson of John Blake of Over Stowey, through his son William, instead of being so deduced through his son Robert. But all the pedigree anterior to the grandfather John is not affected by this correction.