Henry Gibbs (1709 - 1759) Transparent

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Birthplace: Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
Cause of death: Measles
Occupation: Librarian; Clerk of the General Court; representative from Salem; merchant
Managed by: Erica Howton, (c)
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About Henry Gibbs

Henry Gibbs was born 13 May 1709 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts and died 16 February 1759 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.


The life of Rev. Gibbs' son, Henry (1709-1759), followed a very different course. At age seven, Henry lost his mother and seven years later, while a sophomore at Harvard, he lost his father as well. As the only surviving son (he also had two sisters), Henry came into a considerable inheritance from both sides of the family and was able to live comfortably, if not lavishly. Henry graduated with the class of 1726, but remained at college as a resident graduate, earning a second degree in 1729 and serving as college librarian from 1730 to 1734. Leaving Harvard and Boston behind, he sold off his property in the city and relocated to Salem to begin a career as a merchant, never attaining the success of the previous generations of Gibbs. In 1737, he met and began to court Margaret Fitch, daughter of Rev. Jabez Fitch of Portsmouth, a niece of his brother-in-law. The couple wed on January 31, 1739, but the marriage was not to last. Margaret died suddenly only three years later, leaving two daughters, one of whom shortly followed her mother in death.

Henry remarried in 1747, selecting the much younger Katherine Willard, daughter of the Provincial Secretary, for his second wife. This marriage further cemented the prominent place of the Gibbs in Salem society but brought comparatively little lucre, and only the fortunate bequest of £500 from a friend, William Lynde, helped the Gibbs maintain their lifestyle and social obligations. A theological liberal and political supporter of the power of the crown and broad colonial obligations, Gibbs held several important local and provincial offices during the next several years, including justice of the peace (appt. 1753), judge, delegate in the House of Representatives (three terms, beginning in 1753), and Clerk of the House (1755-1759). In February, 1759, at what should have been the peak of his career, he contracted measles, leaving five children and an insolvent estate with a meager 10s allotted to each child. (2)


  1. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England. Savage. Note: Ancestry.com. Page: 248; 261
  2. Gibbs family papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
  3. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 1865, By NEHGS Staff. Page 208.
  4. Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Mass. by Henry Bond, M.D. Boston, 1860. page 236.
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Henry Gibbs of Salem's Timeline

May 13, 1709
Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
January 31, 1739
Age 29
May 27, 1747
Age 38
May 7, 1749
Age 39
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
September 30, 1752
Age 43
May 4, 1757
Age 47
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
February 16, 1759
Age 49
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts