Bernard Capen (1562 - 1638) MP

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Birthplace: Dorchester, Dorset, England
Death: Died in Dorchester (within present Boston), (Present Suffolk County), Massachusetts Bay Colony
Occupation: Shoemaker
Managed by: Richard Robertson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Bernard Capen

Bernard came from Dorcester, England. His wife and Joan came to America with some of their children and settled in Dorchester Mass. His name first appeared with land bought on Aug. 4, 1633. He died on this property in 1638 at age 76. His house was still in existence in 1928 although it was moved at to Milton in 1909 set up on a hill. His gravestone in pieces was later kept at New England Historic Genealogy Room in Boston. The old "North Burying Ground" in Dorchester has what is referred to as "Capen Row" with Bernard and many of his children and descendants buried there.

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Barnard was born in 1562 and was 76 years old when he was granted land in Dorchester, Mass. His gravestone in the New England Geneological and Historical Society in Boston is believed to be the oldest in this country. His house is still standing after having been moved from Dorchester to Milton in the 1920's.

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Arrived in America on July 24, 1633 aboard the "Mary and John"

His house was relocated from Dorchester to Milton in 1909 and dismantled in 2007 -------------------- Bernard Capen was b. circa 1552-1553 purportedly at Dorchester in Dorset, England and d. at Dorchester, Mass. on Nov. 8, 1638, Æ 76.

Bernard is the spelling of his given name throughout the Dorchester, Mass. records; the more normal spelling of Barnard is found on his gravestone and subsequent namesake descendants are called Barnard. However, for consistency with the records the name Bernard is used for the immigrant ancestor.

There is no current knowledge regarding the name of Bernard's parents or his actual place of birth. The benchmark knowledge of the immigrant family is from the published bible fly-leaf cited below, which gives specific dates of birth for some of the children, but not where they were born. While the inference is that the children were born at Dorchester in Dorset, England, no descendant apparently has spent the effort in a search of the Dorchester parish records. The Dorset Record Office has parish records for the only Church of England that existed at Dorchester prior to 1653 - Holy Trinity [baptisms 1559-1974, marriages 1560-1975, burials 1569-1874]. The quoted cost of one hour's research, after currency conversion to U.S. dollars, is $40.00, should any descendant be willing to take on the effort. In the meantime, the following has been uncovered by the memorialist.

In "The Municipal Records of the Borough of Dorchester, Dorset," edited in 1908 by Charles Herbert Mayo, M.A., are two references to Bernard Capen:

• In a list of those that forfeited money for non-appearance at the Autumn 1610 (8 James 1st, 1610) court of Assizes, the name "Barnard Calpyn" is included.

• In "Admission of Freeman of the Company of Freeman of the Borough, Minute Book C.6," on Mar. 31, 1631, "Barnard Cawpin, shoomaker," paid 3 shillings for the privilege of being a freeman of Dorchester.

Aquila Purchis, Bernard's brother-in-law, is mentioned in the same work as the first Master (April 1625-March 1632) of the Trinity School, established in 1623 at the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church. Aquila and his wife Ann sailed with Bernard and wife Joan on the unnamed ship from Weymouth in 1633 for Dorchester, Mass. Unfortunately, Aquila died during the voyage.

According to the fly-leaf of a bible printed in 1615 once owned by a descendant [NEHGR 2:80]:

• Barnard Capen maryed Joan ye dafter of Oliuer Purchis, ye yeer of or Lord, 1596, on munday, in whitson week...

Whitsun is the contraction for White Sunday, the 7th day after Easter in the Christian calendar. The following day is called Whit Monday, a name coined to supersede the form "Monday in Whitsun-week." In the year 1596, Apr. 14th was Easter day, thus they married on Monday, Apr. 22, 1596, not May 31, 1596, a Friday, as claimed by Anderson in "The Great Migration Begins" series.

Bernard and Joan had seven known children, five of whom settled in New England initially at Dorchester, Mass. It is believed Bernard and Joan arrived on the unnamed ship that sailed from Weymouth, England and reached Boston, Mass. on July 24, 1633. (One recent author suggests the ship may have been the "Elizabeth Bonaventure" with 80 passengers after a 12 week passage.) With them may have been son John and certainly youngest dau. Honour, who were both minors in 1633. They may have been accompanied by their married daughter Dorothy Upshall. The older children who married in England likely arrived prior to July 1633. This was certainly the case with son-in-law and dau. William and Susanna (Capen) Rockwell, who are believed to have arrived on May 30, 1630 at present-day Hull, Mass. aboard the celebrated "Mary and John".

The first mention of Bernard in the Dorchester records is a grant of four acres of land to both he and son-in-law Upshall on Aug. 5, 1633. Bernard's former gravestone, in pieces, was found buried below ground and was later kept in storage at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. The existing gravestone at the 'Old North Burying Ground' is a replica based on the above cited bible leaf published in the January 1848 issue of the NEHGS Register.

The claim that Bernard's house, built circa 1638, was still in existence in 1909 has since been proved incorrect. The house was actually built in 1675 either by Bernard's son Capt. John Capen or by Capt. John's eldest son John (See Capt. John Capen and photo captions for further detail.)

The children of Bernard Capen and Joan Purchase, all b. in England presumably at Dorchester in Dorset, are:

• i. James Capen, b. circa 1598, d. testate on or after Sept. 3, 1628 presumably at Holborn, a parish just outside the western limits of the City of London, England. See his memorial for more detail.

• ii. Ruth Capen, b. Aug. 7, 1600; no further record.

• iii. Susanna Capen, b. Apr. 11, 1602, d. Nov. 14, 1666 at Windsor, Conn., Æ 65; m. 1) Apr. 14, 1624 at Dorchester, England, William Rockwell, s. of John Rockwell & Honour Newton, bapt. Feb. 6, 1589/90 at Fitzhead in Somerset, England. William was one of the founding settlers of Windsor, Conn. where he was buried on May 15, 1640, Æ 51. They had five children, of whom dau. Ruth and husband Christopher Huntington are ancestors of one branch of the prominent Huntington family of Conn. and are ancestors of Civil War Gen. Ulysses Simpson Grant, later President of the United States. On May 29, 1645 at Windsor, Susanna m. 2) as his 2nd wife, Matthew Grant, formerly of Dorchester, Mass., b. Oct. 27, 1601 in England and d. at Windsor, Conn. on Dec. 16, 1681. There were no children of this second marriage. Matthew Grant and first wife Priscilla are also the ancestors of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (Matthew's great gr.son Noah Grant m. Susanna (Capen) Rockwell's great gr.dau. Martha Huntington). Matthew Grant's dau., Priscilla (Grant) Humphrey, is a separate ancestor of the memorialist.

• iv. Dorothy Capen, b. circa 1603-1604, d. Sept. 18, 1675 at Boston, Mass., Æ 73; m. Jan. 17, 1629/30 at Dorchester, England, Nicholas Upshall {q.v. Upsall} b. circa 1597 and d. Aug. 20, 1666, Æ 70, while confined in lieu of prison by the Mass. Court to the Dorchester residence of his brother-in-law, Capt. John Capen. Considerable turmoil was involved with this family due to Nicholas' favorable views toward Quakers in early New England. Dorothy and husband Nicholas Upshall had five known children; two died in their youth while a third child probably died young.

• v. Elizabeth Capen, b. circa 1611-1612, d. Jan 26, 1677/8 at Dorchester, Mass., Æ 67; m. Oct. 18, 1630 at Dorchester, England, Thomas Swift, b. circa 1599-1600 and d. at Dorchester, Mass. on May 4, 1675, Æ 76. Nine children of the family.

• vi. Capt. & Dea. John Capen, b. Jan. 26, 1612/3, d. Apr. 4, 1692, Æ 80; m. 1) Oct. 20, 1637 Redegon Clap {q.v. Clapp}, dau. of Nicholas Clap & wife Elizabeth, bapt. May 7, 1609 at Sidbury in Devonshire, England and d. at Dorchester, Mass. on Dec. 10, 1645, Æ 37. They had two known children. He m. 2) Sept. 20, 1647 at Braintree, Mass., Mary Bass, dau. of Dea. Samuel Bass & Ann Saville, b. circa 1632 and d. at Dorchester, Mass. on June 29, 1704, Æ 73. They had eight children and are the ancestors of U.S. President John Calvin Coolidge.

• vii. Honour Capen, b. circa 1616; m. circa 1635 at Dorchester, Mass., William Hannum, who d. at Northampton, Mass. on June 1, 1677. Honour is claimed to have d. at Westfield, on the west side of Springfield, Mass., in circa 1680. They resided first at Dorchester, then at Windsor, Conn. where Hannum was a founding settler of Windsor, and finally at Northampton, Mass. Five children of the family. -------------------- Bernard came from Dorcester, England. His wife and Joan came to America with some of their children and settled in Dorchester Mass. His name first appeared with land bought on Aug. 4, 1633. He died on this property in 1638 at age 76. His house was still in existence in 1928 although it was moved at to Milton in 1909 set up on a hill. His gravestone in pieces was later kept at New England Historic Genealogy Room in Boston. The old "North Burying Ground" in Dorchester has what is referred to as "Capen Row" with Bernard and many of his children and descendants buried there.

--------------------

Barnard was born in 1562 and was 76 years old when he was granted land in Dorchester, Mass. His gravestone in the New England Geneological and Historical Society in Boston is believed to be the oldest in this country. His house is still standing after having been moved from Dorchester to Milton in the 1920's.

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Arrived in America on July 24, 1633 aboard the "M...

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Bernard Capen's Timeline

1562
1562
Dorchester, Dorset, England
1568
1568
Age 6
Dorchester, Suffolk, MA
1568
Age 6
Dorchester, Suffolk, MA
1596
May 31, 1596
Age 34
Dorchester, Dorset, UK
1597
1597
Age 35
., Dorchester, Dorchestshire, England
1598
1598
Age 36
Dorset , England
1600
August 7, 1600
Age 38
Dorchester, Dorset, England
1602
April 5, 1602
Age 40
Dorchester, Dorset, Engalnd
1603
1603
Age 41
Dorchester, Dorset, England
1607
1607
Age 45