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John Tarbell

Birthplace: Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Death: Died in Salem Village, Essex County, Province of Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Tarbell, Sr and Mary Tarbell
Husband of Mary Tarbell
Father of John Tarbell; Cornelius Tarbell; Elizabeth Abbott and Sarah Hutchinson
Brother of Thomas Tarbell Jr.; Mary Sawtell (Tarbell); Abigail Whitney (Tarbell); Elizabeth Tarbell; William Tarbell and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
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John Tarbell's Timeline

Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
October 25, 1673
Age 21
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

Mary, third daughter to Francis and Rebecca Nurse, marries John Tarbell.

August 12, 1676
Age 24
(Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)

With the execution of "King Phillip of the Wampanoag" (also known as Chief Metacomet or Pometacom), the bloody King Phillip's War comes to an end. The war had taken the lives of 3,000 warriors and 600 colonists (this amounted to 15 percent of the native population and 1.5 percent of the English population), and involved at least half of the 90 existing English settlements.

The war had been the result of growing tensions over land - having run out of trade goods, the Wampanoag began trading land for tools and weapons. The first casualty of the war was John Sassamon, "The Praying Indian," an early Harvard College graduate who had betrayed King Phillip's plans to carry out a massive surprise attack on several English settlements; he was found under the ice of Assawompet Pond in January 1675. His warning to Plymouth Colony, before his death, was not taken seriously, but after one of three Pokanoket tribesmen confesses on the gallows to King Phillip's involvement in Sassamon's death, the Puritans prepare for war with the Wampanoag.

The timeline of the war:

1675, June 8: Execution of the accused murderers of John Sassamon.
June 20-25: Pokanoket attack and destroy Swansea in Plymouth Colony.
June 28: Combined Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth military expedition march against the Wampanoag town at present Bristol, Rhode Island.
July 8: Wampanoag attacks at Middleborough and Dartmouth.
July 14: Wampanoag attack at Mendon.
August 2: Wampanoag attack at Brookfield.
August 9: Wampanoag attack at Lancaster.
September 9: After a week of Wampanoag attacks on Deerfield, Hadley, and Northfield, the New England Confederation declares war on the tribe. An expedition is sent to collect crops from the fields before winter.
September 18: Wampanoag ambush the Puritan expedition at the Battle of Bloody Brook, near Hadley, routing the English.
October 5, Wampanoag attack Springfield.
October 16, Wampanoag attack Hatfield.
November 2, Plymouth Colony sends militia against the Narragansett, who had sheltered many Wampanoag women and children.
December 16, the Plymouth expedition finds the Narragansett fortress at present South Kingstown, starting the Great Swamp Fight, which burns most of the tribe's winter stores.

1675/76 January: King Phillip attempts to ally with the Mohawk, but being traditional enemies with the Wampanoag, instead carry out raids on undefended isolated Wampanoag and Narragansett communities. The French in Quebec likewise refuse to side with King Phillip.
March 12, after a winter of more than 20 Wampanoag attacks, a combined Narragansett and Wampanoag assault is carried out against Plymouth Plantation. Several other settlements are attacked in a follow-up to this greatest advance by the tribes on the English.
March 29, the abandoned Rhode Island capital of Providence is burned to the ground, as is a portion of Springfield while its militia was chasing away a second war party.
April, Chief Canonchet of the Narragansett is killed in battle.
May 18, William Turner attacks the fishing camp at present Turner Falls, but is killed while withdrawing from the attack.
June 12, the Wampanoag are defeated at Hadley. Later, a large war party is routed at Marlborough.
July, massive Wampanoag desertions and surrenders occur. King Phillip flees to Assowamset Swamp below Providence. Colonists form raiding parties to hunt for him. A party of native scouts led by Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Josiah Standish find the Wampanoag chief, and tribesman John Alderman shoots him dead.
August 12, the body of King Phillips is beheaded, then drawn and quartered. The head is kept on display at Plymouth Colony for the next 20 years.

As a result of the war, many farmers in Massachusetts Bay Colony suffered economic losses, perhaps discouraging further development of remote settlements for a few years. The timing of the war may have had an effect on the timing of the Nurse family's decision to purchase their homestead in Salem Village. Edmund Andros, Governor of New York and head of the New England Confederation, concluded a peace treaty with the surviving tribes on April 12, 1678, eight months later (he would be knighted during the trip to England that followed this event).


June 8, 1678
Age 26
Salem Village (Present Danvers}, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

From S.J. Walker's information on the Nurse family:

About this same time Zerubabel Endicott, youngest son of Governor John Endicott, a disappointed and embittered man because his brother's widow had left the Bishop farm on her death to her new husband, Rev. John Allen, sued and entered a claim to a part of the farm and sued Francis Nurse for trespass. Suit followed suit and appeal followed appeal.

"It was one of the most memorable and obstinately contested land controversies known to our courts." It was not until the General Court had handed down two decisions in Allen's favor, and the death of Endicott in 1683, that peace was restored.
(About Towne, Quarterly Newsletter of the Towne Family Association, Vol XIX, No. 2 April, May, June 1999)
June 8, 1678; Much dispute and legal battle ensued over the boundaries of Orchard Farm (the Bishop place).
There was litigation about the grant of the property to John Endicott's widow, but once the General Court had decided in her favor, troubles had barely begun. The piece of land was supposed to equal 300 acres, but there was confusion about the boundaries. The plaintiff in the case was the brother of John Endicott. Jr., and owner of the adjoining "Orchard Farm", Zerubabel Endicott...

It was, as in many cases, a matter of overlapping grants, and soon after Francis Nurse came into possession of the property, conflicts escalated. Trespass was complained of, suit followed coutersuit, and one of the most obstinately contested and confusing court cases in the Bay Colony was underway...Nathaniel Putnam who acted as legal counsel in the cases, had property on both sides of the land in question."

The court decision would affect all three parties involved.
(Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen)
From "Salem Witchcraft" Volume 1 by Charles W. Upham:

The point of difficulty which gave rise to litigation was this: The Bishop farm was required, by the terms of the grant, to be 116 rods wide at its eastern end. But there was no room for it.

The requisite width could not be got without encroaching upon either Putnam or Endicott, or both. As Endicott stood upon an earlier title than that of Bishop, and from a higher authority, and Putnam upon a later title from an inferior authority, the court of trials might have disposed of the matter, at the opening, on that ground, and Putnam been left to suffer the encroachment. But it did not so decide; and the case went on.

The struggle was between Endicott to push it north, and thereby save his Orchard Farm, and the land between it and the Bishop grant, given by the town to his father, called the Governor's Plain, and Nathaniel Putnam to push it south, and thereby save the land he had received from his wife's father, Richard Hutchinson, who had purchased from Stileman. Allen stood on the defensive against both of them.

The Nurses had nothing to do but to attend to their own business, carrying on their farming operations up to the limits of their deed, looking to Allen for redress, if, in the end, the dimensions of their estate should be curtailed. But, being the occupants, and, until finally ousted, the owners of the land, if there was any intrusion to be repelled, or violence to be met, or fighting to be done, they were the ones to do it. They were equal to the situation.
"Mr Zerubabel Endicott, heir and administrator of the estate of John Endicott, Esquire v. Francis Nurse. Defendant owned that he cut wood upon his land he bought of Mr. Allen, which Mr. Endicott laid claim to and that he carried away the wood. Vedict for plaintiff. Appealed to the next court of Assistants. Francis Nurse bound with Mr. Richard Calicot and Nathaniel Putnam as sureties"
(Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen)
"The first trouble appears to have come to this family (Francis & Rebecca Nurse) soon after the purchase of the Bishop farm. Allen had guaranteed the title. He was soon called upon to defend it against the claims of Zerubabel Endicott, who claimed a boundary line to the Endicott possessions that pushed back the eastern bounds of the Bishop farm. The controversy was a long one, going finally to the General Court for settlement. It was decided against Endicott."
(Witchcraft in Salem Village by Winfield S. Nevins pp 114, 172, 212, 232)

August 9, 1680
Age 28
May 1682
Age 30
Boston, MA, USA

After Zarubabel Endicott petitioned for a new hearing, another commission was appointed; and their report was accepted in May 1682. It was more unfavorable to Endicott than the previous one. He protested against the judgment of the court in earnest but respectful language, and petitioned for still another hearing. They again complied with his request, and appointed a day for once more examining the case.

November 24, 1683
Age 31
Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, USA

From "Salem Witchcraft" Volume 1 by Charles W. Upham:

(The decision from May 1682) was more unfavorable to Endicott than the (May 1679) one. He protested against the judgment of the court in earnest but respectful language, and petitioned for still another hearing. They again complied with his request, and appointed a day for once more examining the case; but, when the day came, Nov. 24, 1683, he was sick in bed, and the case was settled irrevocably against him.
(The bounds of the Bishop Farm as finally settled by the General Court are) laid directly across the Governor's Plain, and run far into the Orchard Farm "up to the rocks near Endicott's dwelling-house," or, as it is otherwise stated, "within a few rods of Guppy's ditch, near to" the said house. It may be said to have been a necessity, as the original 300 acres of the grant to Townsend Bishop had to be made up. It could not go north; for Houlton and Ingersol stood upon the Weston grant, and Hutchinson and Nathaniel Putnam stood upon Stileman's grants, to push it back. It could not go west or south-west, for there Swinnerton stood to fend off upon his grants; and there, too, was Nathaniel Putnam, upon his own grant, and lands he had purchased of another original grantee. It could not be swung round to the south without jamming up the lands of Felton and others, or pushing them over the grants, made to Robert Cole—under which Downing had purchased—and to Thomas Read.

All these parties were combined to force it south-eastwardly over the grounds of (Zarubabel) Endicott. Nathaniel Putnam was his most fatal antagonist. He was a man of remarkable energy, of consummate adroitness, and untiring resources in such a transaction; and he so managed to press in the bounds of the Bishop farm, at the north-east, as to gain a valuable strip for himself. With this strong man against him, acting in combination with the rich and influential James Allen, minister of the great metropolitan First Church, and licenser of the press, who brought the whole power of his clerical and social connections in Boston and throughout the colony to bear upon the General Court, Zerubabel Endicott had no chance for justice, and no redress for wrong. In vain he invoked the memory of his father, or of Winthrop, the grandfather of his wife. His father and both the Winthrops had long before left the scene: a new generation had risen, and there was none to help him.
From S.J. Walker's information on the Nurse family:

Francis Nurse (was) in league with his next door neighbor Nathaniel Putnam, and he thus appeared all along. After various trials in the local courts, the case was carried to the General Court in Boston, and was finally settled in 1683, against Endicott.

The new property line for the Nurse estate ran "up to the rocks" near Endicott's dwelling house, and well into "Orchard Farm". Although before this settlement, the General Court had expressly forbidden Endicott to strip the Nurse property of trees, he had ordered his hired mend to cut and work up timber on the land. Putnam retaliated by having the timber removed and placed by his house.

A regular battle ensued, with Endicott's men and some of his neighbors cutting and loading up their teams with wood, and Francis Nurse and his sons in law, Thomas Preston and John Tarbell, pitching it off. Endicott had no legal right there, as Nurse was in possession and bound to keep the land from being stripped.

The case was still being contested into the 1690s between the Nurse connection and the sons and heirs of Zerubabel Endicott. Nathaniel Putnam testified that the section of property under dispute rightfully belonged to the Nurse family, while many other local inhabitants spoke on the opposite side.

In general the local courts decided against Nurse and Putnam, whose interest coincided in this particular, and for the Endicotts. The General Court in Boston however, favored Nurse and Putnam.

This controversy was one of the many means of stirring up animosities in Salem Village, the whole community having been involved in the strife for many years. It may as well have caused hostile feelings against the Nurses. That a man who, for 40 years, had been known as a small farmer and tradesman in nearby Salem Town, should have come into possession of such a property, certainly aroused feelings of envy and jealousy amongst some of the villagers. How he came into possession remains a mystery.

Even after Francis' death, long after his mortgage had been paid off and he had distributed his estate among his descendants, his place is mentioned in deeds as "the farm which Mr. Allen, of Boston, let to the Nurses, " or simply "Mr. Allen's Farm". "
(Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen)

March 25, 1690
Age 38
Salem, Essex, MA
March 28, 1692
Age 40
Salem Village (Present Danvers}, Essex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, (Present USA)

From "The Salem Witch Trials: A day-by-day chronicle of a community under siege":

March 28, Monday, Salem Village: John Tarbell, one of Rebecca Nurse's sons-in-law, visited Thomas Putnam's house to ask if the girls there had named Rebecca Nurse before any of the other afflicted had. Just who had begun the accusations? Young Ann said that when she was still the only one in the house tormented, she saw the shape of a pale-faced woman in her grandmother's seat, but had not known her name. Who, Tarbell insisted, actually named Goody Nurse? Mercy Lewis said it was Mrs. Putnam, but Mrs. Putnam was certain she heard it from Mercy.

"Thus they turned it upon one another," Tarbell later recalled, "saying it was you, and it was you that told her."[100]

Daniel Eliot, stepson-in-law to Rebecca's sister Sarah Cloyse, likewise asked this of the "afflicted" being kept at Ingersoll's public house. At the time, the girls were free of their fits, and seemed to give away that they might be making it all up. ("There is Goody Proctor!" "Old witch! I'll have her hang.") William Rayment, who accompanied Eliot, said that they seemed to be making a jest of it. (He was told by one of the girls, "She did it for sport. They must have some sport.")[101]

Three days later, the spectral Rebecca Nurse would torment Abigail Williams again, this time, joined by her sister Sarah Cloyse.[109]

March 22, 1693
Age 41
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA