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Isaac Stearns

Birthplace: Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, UK
Death: Died in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of William Stearns and Emma Stearns
Husband of Mary Stearns
Father of John Stearns; Mary Learned; Ann Stearns; Abigail Morse (Stearns); Cpl.Samuel Stearns and 6 others

Occupation: Selectman, Taylor, Tailor & Selectman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Isaac Stearns

Isaac Stearns' pedigree has not been ascertained, but his wife was the daughter of John and Margaret Barker of Stoke Nayland, Suffolk, England, and the baptism of three of the Stearns children appears on the register of that parish.[2] In 1640 "Isaacke Sterne of Watertown in New England planter sometimes of Stoke Nayland in the County of Suffolke tayler and Mary his wife daughter of John Barker late of Stoke Nayland aforesaid clothier deceased" made a letter of attorney to Thomas Gilson of Sudbury, Suffolk, baker, to receive and recover from ____ Munnings of Gaynes Colne, Essex, the sum of five pounds due to Mary "by some bond covenant or agreement made by the said Munnings before or upon his marriage wth Margaret Barker mother of the said Mary".[7/2912] On April 8, 1630 Isaac Stearns and his family embarked at Yarmouth, England in the ÿArabellaÿ and arrived in Salem June 12, 1630. Isaac was in the company of Sir Richard Saltonstall, Governor Winthrop, Reverend George Phillips, and many others. Not satisfied with conditions at Salem, the company soon proceeded to Charlestown and Watertown. This is how Isaac Stearns came to be among the first settlers in Watertown, near Mount Auburn.[2/622]

Isaac was admitted a freeman on May 18, 1631, the earliest date of any such admission. On December 5, 1638 he and John Page were fined five shillings for "turning the way about" (i.e. for diverting a highway). In 1647 he and John Biscoe were appointed by the Selectmen "to consider how the bridge over the river shall be built, and to agree with the workmen for doing it, according to their best discretion".[5/1:11] Isaac Stearns held several town offices. He was a selectman for Watertown in 1648,[5/1:10] 1659,[5/1:59] 1670,[5/1:95] and 1671.[5/1:102] He was a constable in 1652,[5/1:24] 1660,[5/1:65] and 1661.[5/1:72] Isaac was also surveyor of highways in 1663.[5/1:75]

Isaac had extensive land holdings. The first inventory of grants and possessions in Watertown, taken in or before 1639, reveals he had 461 acres at the time. These included 1) a homestall of ten acres bounded on the west with the highway, east with Pequusset Meadow, north with John Warren, and south with John Biscoe; 2) ten acres of upland bounded south by John Biscoe, north by John Warren, east with Pequusset Meadow, and west with the way leading to Concord; 3) two acres in Pequusset Meadow bounded east by William Hammond, west with his own upland, north by John Warren, and south by Edmund James; 4) Two acres in Pond Meadow bounded east by John Page and south by Robert Lockwood. This land was bought from Richard Kemball; 5) four acres in little Plaine Meadow bounded north and east by John Whitney and south by John Page. Two of these acres were bought from John Thompson and Garret Church; 6) a homestall of three acres bounded east by William Paine, west by John Goffe, north with Pond lane, and south by the highway; 7) fifty acres of upland being a great Divident in the fourth division and the 15th lot; 8) twenty-seven acres of upland beyond the further plain, lot number 4; 9) twelve acres of plowland in the further plain, lot 67; 10) twelve acres of meadow in the remote meadows, lot 5; 11) ten acres of meadow in the remote meadows, lot 6, bought from Thomas Rucks; 12) sixty acres of upland being a great Divident in the third division, lot 25, bought of Thomas Rucks; and 13) a farm of 259 acres of upland in the third division.[6/1:22] Isaac may have disposed of some of his lands by 1644 when the second inventory was taken or they were left out as some others appear to have been. His homestall had increased to twelve acres, but possessions 4 and 11-13 were gone as were the two acres bought of Thompson and Church. Thomas Boyden had replaced Edmund James as the neighbor on the south of the two acres in Pequusset meadow and the 12 acres of plowland were described as bounded north with the highway, south with the river, east by John Kingsbury, and west by Miles Nutt.[6/1:7778] The list of his possessions in the third inventory, taken about 1646, only listed three lots totaling 72 acres.[6/1:117]

Isaac's will was dated June 14, 1671 and mentions wife Mary, sons John, Isaac, and Samuel, daughters Mary Learned (deceased), Sarah Stone, Elizabeth Manning, and Abigail Morse, grand child Isaac Learned, and kinsman Charles Stearns. It was witnessed by William Bond, Sr. and John Biscoe, Sr..[4/4:142] Apparently Isaac Stearns was a man of some affluence as his estate was appraised at 524.04.08 even after he had given sizable gifts to each of his seven children. The inventory was taken June 28, 1671 by William Bond, Sr., John Biscoe, Sr., and Henry Freeman and included 14 lots of land of 467 acres.[4/4:144]

Charles Stearns was admitted freeman in Watertown May 6, 1646. He was elected constable of Watertown in 1680-1 but refused to take the oath and moved soon after to Lynn, MA. Charles named sons Isaac, John, and Samuel. One tradition was that three brothers, Daniel, Isaac, and Shubael, came to Massachusetts in 1630. Daniel died unmarried, and Shubael died leaving sons Charles and Nathaniel, 8 or 10 years old, who were cared for by their uncle Isaac.[8/3435] Nathaniel moved to Dedham.[8/342]

Some well known descendants of Isaac Stearns include Clara Barton, Brigham Young, Robert Goddard the rocket man, John "Johnny Appleseed" Chaapman, and US President Richard Nixon.


Early in the morning of April 8, 1630, Isaac Stearns and family, Sir Richard Saltonstall and family, Rev. George Phillips, Gov. Winthrop and many others embarked at Yarmouth, England in the good ship Arabella and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, on the 12th of June. The passengers not being satisfied with Salem as posessing the desirable advantages for permanent settlement, soon proceeded to Charlestown and were among the first settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. He was admitted Freeman May, 18 1631, which is the earliest date of any such admission, and he was Selectman several years.

In 1647, he was appointed Selectman 'to consider how the bridge over the river shall be built, and to agree with the workmen for doing it, according to their best discretion. This is the first mention of a bridge over the Charles River at Watertown.

His craft was that of a tailor, and he was educated enough to sign his name.

Geneaologies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts, published 1855 -------------------- The following resources are used: Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, MA, (1855: 2nd ed., Boston 1860 [herinafter Bond], 450-552). Stearns Genealogy: v. 1, Genealogy amd Memoirs of Isaac Stearns and His Descendants; v II, Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns. (1901 [hereinafter Van Wagenen], v. I or Van Wagenen, v. II])

Isaac and Mary (Barker) Stearns, as the name was written in the early records, came to New England in 1630 with the Winthrop Fleet. He settled in Watertown, near Mt. Auburn, was made a freeman in 1631 (Bond, 451). Sometime between June 1638 and July 1641, he obtained the services of Thomas Lechford, Atty of Boston, to recovera legacy due to his wife, Mary (Barker Stearns, daughter of 'John Barker, late of Stoke Nayland,... Clothier, deceased' (Edward Everett Hale, Jr. et. al., eds.,m Note-Book Kept by Thomas Lechford, Esq. [Camden, ME; Picton Press, 188]. 291-292. The money was due from a bond made ath the time of w3idow Margaret (--------) Bariker's marriage to a ------ Munnings of Gaynes Colne, Co. Essex, England.

Isaac, early identified as a 'taylor', was a Watertown Selectman for several years, and in 1647 was appointed with Mr. Biscoe 'to consider how the bridge over the river [The Charles] shall be built' (Bond, 451). The births of onbly 3 of his children are recorded in the Watertown, records. It is likely that his older children were born in England. The Parish Register of Nayland shows baptismal records for Mary, dau. of Isaac Sternes, 6 Jan 1626 and Anna, 5 Oct 1628 [Hannah and Anna were often used interchangeably in the early days], (Bond, 451-452)

Issac died in Watertown 19 June 1671, leaving widow Mary his will, written and signed just 5 days before his death, is in Middlesex County Court Records. In it he names 'beloved wife' Mary; his grandchildren, the children of his son, John who predeceased him; the children of daughter, Mary Lernot [Learned]; his daughters Sarah Stone, Elizabeth Manning, and Abigail Morse; his 'kinsman' Charles Sternes. His sons, Isaac and Samuel, were executors (Bond, 452).

-------------------- Ancestral File Number: 4W2L-P9

Copy of Archive Record in FHL, Salt Lake City, UT, in possession of

Judith L.

Bingham, which cites as sources, "Watertown Vital Records", pp 3, 4, 5,


"Cambridge Vital Records", p 371; "Stearns Genealogical Memoirs" by Van

Wagnen, Vol. 1, p. 17.

Isaac Stearns came to America in 1630, possibly in the same ship as Gov. Winthrop and Sir Richard Saltonstall, and settled in Watertown, near Mount Auburn. He was admitted a freeman in 1631, which is the earliest date of any such admission, and he was Selectman several years. The births of only 3 of his children are recorded in the town records. His pedigree has not been ascertained, nor is it certainly known what town he came from, but it is very probably that he came from the Parish of Nayland in Suffolk, as there are christening records of a Mary and an Anna in 1626 and 1628, daughters of Isaac Sternes.

MARRIAGE: New England Marriages: Prior to 1700 (C. A. Torrey) p. 703 -------------------- Came To America In The Ship, The Planter -------------------- Immigraged 1630 on "Arabella" -------------------- Immigration

He came with his wife, Mary Barker, and two children, Mary and Hannah, in 1630 on the Ship Arabella to Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.

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Isaac Stearns's Timeline

February 15, 1596
Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, UK
May 20, 1622
Age 26
Stoke-by-Neyland, Suffolk, England
May 20, 1622
Age 26
Suffolk, UK
April 20, 1623
Age 27
Halstead, Essex, UK
Age 26
June 26, 1626
Age 30
Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, United Kingdom
October 5, 1628
Age 32
Stoke, Nayland, Suffolk, England
April 12, 1630
Age 34
Nayland, England
April 12, 1630
Age 34
Nayland, England
Age 33
Came To America In The Ship, The Planter