Robert Ashley, of Mowsley & Springfield

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Robert Ashley

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Mowsley, Leicestershire, England
Death: Died in Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts Colony
Place of Burial: Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts Colony
Immediate Family:

Husband of Mary Ashley
Father of Mary Ashley, Twin to David; David Ashley, of Westfield ; Mary Root (Ashley); Jonathan Ashley, of Springfield; Sarah Lewis (Ashley) and 2 others

Managed by: ANDREW JONATHAN SMITH
Last Updated:

About Robert Ashley, of Mowsley & Springfield

From "Pioneers of Massachusetts 1636-1736" by Pope, pg.231.. "Robert Ashley, proprietor of Springfield, Mass., town officer and keeper of an ordinary (tavern)...”

Full text of "The Ashley genealogy. A history of the descendants of Robert Ashley of Springfield, Massachusetts"

http://archive.org/stream/ashleygenealogyh00trow/ashleygenealogyh00trow_djvu.txt

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Robert Ashley was said to have been brought from England as a youngster in 1630 on one of the Puritan ships of the great Winthrop Fleet. One third of the Puritans died in the ocean crossing and were considered martyrs of the faith. Half the cattle also perished. Robert lived at the settlement of Roxbury (one of the six original Massachusetts settlements) where some say he may have been adopted by the Horton family. Robert was a founding member of the William Pynchon group who found a fur trading settlement at what became the most westerly location of English settlement at the Connecticut River in 1636, just six years after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colonies.

Ashley became one of the founders of both of the towns of Springfield and Westfield Massachusetts, each at the time, the most westerly settlement of the English.

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Robert came to Springfield in Mass. in the year 1639, and now appears to have been the only one of the name that came to New England. The name of his wife was Mary—her family name is not known. Their children were as follows, all born in Springfield: David, born June 8, 1642. Sarah, born Aug. 23, 1648. Mary, born April 6, 1644. Joseph, born July 6, 1652. Jonathan, born Feb. 12, 1646. Of these children, all are noticed in their father's will, except Sarah, who probably died young. Mary married John Root, of Westfield. Robert the first, died at Springfield, Nov. 29, 1682; his wife, Mary, died Sept. 19, 1683.

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HISTORY OF THE PURITAN MOVE WEST TO THE CONNECTICUT RIVER TO ENGAGE IN THE FUR TRADE WITH THE INDIANS: http://josfamilyhistory.com/locations/springfield-ma.htm

Founding of Springfield, Massachusetts In the spring of 1636, William Pynchon, a prominent member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and founder of the settlement at Roxbury set out with eight families, including Robert Ashley, to found a new settlement in western Massachusetts. Pynchon was a dominant figure in the fur trade and sought to deal directly with the indians that trapped the beavers, muskrats, and otters in upper and western New England. Pynchon's new settlement was designed to take advantage of the fur-trading opportunities along the Connecticut River. The opportunity to settle in the Connecticut River Valley came after an particularly severe outbreak of small pox destroyed Agawam Indian settlements along the Connecticut River. On July 15, 1636, a group of eleven Agawam natives sold a piece of land to Springfield's original settlers for "eighteen fathoms of wampam, eighteen coates, eighteen hatchets, eighteen hoes, and eighteen knives. Pynchon named the new settlement Springfield after his birthplace in Essex, England. The settlement's location on the floodplains of the Connecticut River included soil suitable for farming. Long, narrow plots of farmland were created, extending out from the river. Over time, parts of the settlement were sectioned off to form neighboring towns, including West Springfield. Springfield's location in Massachusetts's western frontier placed it on the periphery of puritan society. Robert Ashley first appears on record as a resident of Springfield on January 13, 1638-39, concerning his portion of the expense of the minister's residence and maintenance. As an unmarried resident of the settlement he was given his first tract of land (lot No. 3) in 1640-41, measuring 8 rods by 80 rods between the Connecticut and Agawam rivers. His tract was situated between Widow Searle and John Dibble.

Here is the deed contract with the Indians for the purchase of the Springfield lands:

THE INDIAN DEED

Agaam, alias Agawam, This fifteenth day of July, 1636. It is agreed between Commucke and Matanchon, ancient Indians, & in particular for & in ye name of Cattonis, the right owner of Agawam & Quana, & in the Name of his mother, Kewanusk, the Tamaham, or wife of Wenawis & Niarum, the wife of Coa, to & with William Pynchon, Henry Smith & Jehu Burr, their heirs & associates for ever, to trucke & sel al that ground & mucke of quittas or medow, accomsick, viz., on the other side of Quana; & al the ground & muck of quittas on the side of Agaam, except Cottiwackesh or ground that is now planted, for ten fatham of Wampam, Ten coates, Ten howes, Ten hatchets & Ten knifes: also the said ancient Indians with the consent of the rest & in particular wth the Consent of Menis & Wrutherna & Napompenam, do trucke & sel to William Pynchon, Henry Smith, & Jehu Burr, their successors for ever, all that ground on the East side of Quinneticut River called Usquasok & Nayasset, reaching about four or five miles in length, from the north end of Masaksicke up to Chickuppe River, for four fathoms of Wampam, four coates, four howes, four hatchets, four knifes: Also said ancient Indians Doe wth the Consent of Machetuhood, Wenapawin, & Mohemoos, trucke & sel the ground & muckeosquittas & grounds adjoining called Masaksicke* for four fatham of wampam, four Coates, four hatchets & four knifes. And the said Pynchon hath in hand paid the said eighteen fatham of wampam**, eighteen coates, 18 hatchets, 18 howes, 18 knifes to the said Commucke & Matanchan & doth further condition wth the said Indians, that they shal have and enjoy al that Cotinackeesh, or ground that is now planted; And have liberty to take Fish & Deer, ground nuts, walnuts, akornes & sasashiminesh, or kind of peas, And also if any of our Cattle spoile their corne, to pay as it is worth, & that hogs shal not goe on the side of Agawam but in adorne time: Also the said Pynchon, doth give to Wruththena*** two Coates over and above the Particulars expressed, & in Witness hereof the two said Indians, this present 15th day of July, 1636.

Notes regarding Indian Deed:

  • Masaksicke. At a later court at “Northampton, March 1661/62, Joseph Parsons testified on oath that he was a witness to this bargaine between Mr. Pynchon & the Indians.” The deed was entered into the county records on July 8th, 1679, in the handwriting of John Holyoke, then the recorder. He added the notation that “Masacksic is what the English call the Long meadow, below Springfield, on the east side of Quinecticot River.”
    • One fathom was nearly two meter.
      • Evidently, the composition of his name – Wruththena – indicated that he was a “prince in embryo”; hence, he received two extra coats.

The deed was signed with the marks of Menis, Kenix, Wesai alias Nepinam, Winepawin, Cominuk, Macossak, Wenewis, Cuttonis, Wrutherna, Coa, Keckusnek and it was written “that they understood al by Ahauon, an Indian of the Massachusetts,” who came from the Bay as interpreter.

About a year after the founding of the Springfield settlement,the Pequot War broke out down river in the southern Connecticut River valley. The Pequot War was waged between puritan colonists, along with the Naragansett and Mahegan tribes against the Pequots, which dominated the southern Connecticut River valley. When hostilities broke out every puritan town was expected to send men to assist the towns in Connecticut that were under siege. Springfield, however, refused to leave its own settlement undefended, both due to its recent founding and its location on the fringes of puritan society.

Robert's Life in Springfield On August 7, 1641, Robert married the widow Mary Horton, who had been the wife of Thomas Horton, another settler that had passed away the previous summer. On a side note, the widow Horton had gotten into trouble for selling her late husband's firearm to a local indian. Pynchon fined Mary 40 shillings (a very hefty fine) and she had to promise to find the firearm and return it home or else face further punishment. Mary's maiden surname is unknown, although there has been some speculation that her surname was "Eddy" (see notes below). Mary had two sons at the time of her marriage to Robert, one three years old and the other an infant. Robert and Mary had six additional children together. Through his marriage to Mary and additional purchases of land over the years, Robert acquired sufficient land that, by 1644, he was fifth largest land-owner in the settlement.

In addition to his occupation as a farmer, Robert was licensed to keep the settlement's ordinary, or inn, in 1646. Keeping an ordinary was considered a highly respectable position and was only given to someone the town considered responsible. He was required by law to not sell liquor to Indians. Robert operated the town's ordinary until late in 1660, when it was turned over to another settler named Samuel Marshfield. While keeper of the ordinary, Robert Ashley was charged in June of 1655 with illegally selling wine and "strong waters" to the local indians. After a June 27, 1655 hearing, an order of restraint was issued against Robert Ashley which described the importance of the law restricting the sale of liquor to indians. The order stated that "it is famously known how the Indians abuse themselves by excessive drinking of strong liquors whereby God is dishonoured, and the peace of this Plantation in great danger to be broken."

Robert Ashley was not as educated as some of the other prominent men of the settlement. Robert doesn't seem to have been literate and signed documents with a mark that looked like an upside-down L or a Greek Gamma symbol (i.e., Γ ). Despite his lack of education he seems to have been an important and trusted member of the community based on his frequent involvement in the settlement's affairs. Robert appears numerous times in the town's court records as a jury member and on at least three occasions as a party to a lawsuit. The first two claims involved tranactions for a gun and a sword. The third involved Robert Ashley wrongfully impounding of another settler's swine. In addition, Robert served for many years as a selectman (an administrative position similar to a city council member). He also served, for a time, as town constable responsible as sealer of weights and measures.

Robert died in West Springfield on November 29, 1682, a year before his wife Mary's death. Robert's will (see documents below) detailed the extent of his estate at the time of his death. The location of Robert's grave remains unknown. Among his descendents are many important Americans, including Rutherford Birchard Hayes (19th President) who was his great-great-great-great-great-grandchild and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd President) who was his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchild.

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The first Ashley who arrived in America was Robert, who appears in records in Springfield, MA in 1638-9, where Robert Ashley was on of the first 45 founding family heads of the town. He was the fifth heaviest contributor in raising the 40 pounds to cover the expenses of the local minister. In the original divisions of the new town, he was assigned land from the Connecticut River to Main St at State St He gradually acquired more land with property on both sides of the river. He was a "selectman" (town proprietor) and ran the town "ordinary" or tavern. His register for cattle was: "In the off ear, a slit out in the under side, or back side of the ear (not at ye top of ye ear); but toward ye root of ye ear, the slit is but a little slanting outward toward ye rest of ye ear."

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Founding of Springfield MA: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ma/county/hampden/hist/hist2.html

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Allegedly, Robert Ashley was adopted by Joseph Horton - his natural parents were William Ashley and Elizabeth Mary Schuyler.

Much information found herein about Robert Ashley is from information by Barry Kistler (barlekis at cox dot net)

The records of Mr. Pynchon as quoted in "The Ashley Genealogy" (Towbridge, 1896), record the following instrument:

"August 7, 1641. Know all men that whereas there is a marriage shortely intended between the widdow Horton & Robert Ashly, both of Springfield. That the said widdow Horton in the prsence of Robert Ashly doth assigne & set over her house & house lott containing about eleven akers & 4 aker of woodland afore the house Eastward all wch is valued now at twelfe pounde: & all [soe] her hogges litle & grate wch are valued at eighteene pounde all together are valued at Thirty pounde, into the hande of Robert Ashly for the use & behofe of her two sonns one sucking and the other about three yeares ould caled Jarmy to be paid to them that is to say to eather of them fifteen pounds apeice when they shall come to the age of Twenty & one yeres."

There isn't any record of the actual marriage, but as The Ashley Genealogy points out, Robert married in 1641, his wife's christian name was Mary and widow Mary Horton disappears from the Springfield records shortly after the above insturment was witnessed.

Robert Ashley was adopted by Joseph Horton (b. 1754 in Mowsley, England) - his natural parents were William Ashley and Elizabeth Mary Schuyler.

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The Last will and Testament of Robert Ashley dated October 9, 1679.

I, Robert Ashley, being aged and of infirme body but yet of sound minde and perfect memory doe now make this my Last Will and Testament. In the first place I doe comitt my Soul to ye care, grace and salvation of one God in three persons, the second person being incarnate, Who by His blood hath purchased it, trusting in His name for all that good of grace and glory He hath bought for His, having hopes only for His own sake and in His alsufficient mercyes, that He will at ye Resurrection of ye just reunite Soul and Body to enjoy a sinless state with Himself in that house not made with hands which He hath prpared for those who believe in Him. And my Body to such decent buriall as my friends and surviveing relations shall judge meete.

Nextly I doe confirme my deede of gift made to my beloved son Jonathan of lands, uplands, meadows on ye East side of Conitticut River all as in that said deede is expressed.

And to my beloved son Joseph I doe give all my lands on ye West side of ye sd River, that at Chickapy plaine and that over against the town plott on ye East side of ye sd River, and that below Agawame River, all these on the West side of Conitticut River. Also I doe give unto my son Joseph that lott I have this yeare bought of Major Pynchon, Esqr, lyeing and fronting on the lane that leades to ye upper wharfe on ye East side Conitticut River.

And to my welbeloved son David I doe give five pounds besides what I have given him alreadie.

And to my welbeloved wife Mary I doe give the full thirds of all the lands on both sides ye sd River, dureing the terme of her natureall life.

To my grandson John Ashley I doe give a colt.

And to the rest of the children of my beloved son David Ashley I do give ten shillings pr child.

And to the children of my beloved son John Root I do give ten shillings a peice.

And for the rest of my estate, all my debts being paid, and in particular that debt for the lot fronting upon the upper wharfe, I do give one third thereof to my well beloved wife during her natural life.

And the other two thirds to my son Joseph and my wife's thirds to Joseph at her decease, he being to pay her five pounds when she dyes, and in case my son Joseph dye without issue then this whole estate bequeathed hereby to my son Joseph I do order and bequeath to my son David and his children.

In witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of October Anno: Dom: 1679.

Robert Ashley ?? his mark.

Signed sealed in ye presence of

John Pynchon, Sen.

John Holyoke."

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Robert Ashley came first to Roxbury, MA. He went with Pynchon and others to Nayaserr (now known as Springfield, MA) in 1638. By this time, he was the 5th largest landowner. He was town constable and selectman (town proprietor). He kept an Inn. In 1641, he married Mary Eddy, widow of his neighbor Thomas Horton.

In 1660 he resigned as innkeeper and moved across the river to what is now Riverdale, West Springfield.

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The first mention of Robert Ashley in Springfield Town Records relates to a rate agreed upon to build the minister's house and for Mr. Moxon's maintenance, which was voted in January, 1639. It is probable that he came here the previous year. From whence he came it is not known. He had land granted him soon after his arrival, and his homelot as first mentioned was between that grated to John Searle and that to John Dibble, but the lot on which he later resided was that next north of the present State Street. He was elected to several minor offices and in 1653 was chosen one of the Selectmen. The other members of the Board were George Colton, Thomas Cooper, Benjamin Cooley, and Thomas Stebbins. His service as Selectman was in the years of 1653, '54, '55, '56, '61, '63, and '66.

His store accounts with John Pynchon show that his purchases related mainly to household concerns. The extracts given here are from accounts in several years, from 1652 to 1655. The entries were all made by Pynchon:--"5 yds canvas at 2s 6d, 2yds Holland at 5s 2d, 8 yds red cotton shag at 2s 10d, 6 yds greene cotton at 2s 11d, 12 yds of Gallome at 3s, 1 yd broadcloth 18s 6d, 1 yd and half qr. of Dimity at 20d, 1000 Pins 1s 4d, fine thrid & Tape 3s, 1 iron ladle 1s 8d, 6 Panes of Glass at 2s 5d pr pane, a cotton hat 9s 6d, 1 pr childrens stockens 1s 3d, 1 inkhorn 6d, 6 sheets of Paper 1 1-2d, 1 yd wire 2d, 100 Nayls 11d, a cart washer 1s, 21 bushels of Mault, 5s 6d pr bushel, £5 15s 6d, carting it up from your wharf to your house 1s 6d, 1 Bible 7s 6d, 2 qts brandy 6s, 1 Bible, gilt, 8s, 1 knife 12d, you are to pay for looking up your horses 14s, for 4 sheep to be inmoney or in wheat delivered at Hartford landing place at 4s pr bushel in the Spring £12, Received in money towards the sheep £1 2s. So rests due to me this 4th of Jan. 1655, ye sum of £24 14s"

The above are only a small part of the dealings in the years mentioned. Ashley paid his store accounts partly in labor, or use of his oxen, or in wheat. The largest payments were in wampum. In 1655 the latter amounted to £12 1s 9d. The credits given Ashley included: "40 bushels of wheat when I was in England £7, by 3 pints of liquor I gave at ye mill, 6s, beere 2d."

October 10, 1656 the balance due Pynchon was £13 11s 3d, to which Mary Ashley, Robert's wife, set her hand. She wrote fairly well for that time. Her husband always made his mark when signing any paper or accounts. After Pynchon had struck a balance in his accounts with Ashley to which Mary had set her hand he wrote below her signature: "Goodwife Ashley sent up her son to tell me that 2 days reaping of little Jonathan was not accounted, wch. is 2s."

Robert Ashley died November 29, 1682, and his widow September 18, 1683. Their children were:--

  David, b. June 8, 1642, m. Hannah GLOVER, of New Haven, daughter of Henry and Helena Glover.
  Mary, b. April 6, 1644, m. John ROOT.
  Jonathan, b. February 25, 1644, m. Sarah WADSWORTH.
  Sarah, b. August 23, 1648, m. John ROOT 2d, of Farmington, Conn.
  Joseph, b. July 6, 1652, m. Mary PARSONS, daughter of Cornet Joseph and Mary Parsons of Northampton.

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Comprehensive Notes for Robert Ashley

Robert Ashely arrived in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1639.

[SOURCE: A Catalogue of the Names of the First Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut, collected from the state and town records by R. R. Hinman, Hartford, 1846, Reprinted Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1968, p. 183]

ROBERT ASHLEY first appears on record as a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, January 13, 1638-9, when there was a rating of £40 agreed upon to meet a portion of the expense of the minister's residence and maintenance. Robert Ashley's disbursement was the fifth in amount on the list.

The first participation of Robert Ashley in the allotment of lands on record was on January 5, 1640-1, when "It is ordered that these psons underwritten shall have theyr lotts for ye 2d Division of plantinge ground granted them accordinge to ye number of acres and order of place as is under neath written wch is to be measured out by the first of Aprill next, pvided that those yt have broaken up ground there shall have alowance for it as 2 indifferent men shall judge equall. Single psons are to have 8 rod in bredth, maryed psons 10 rod in bredth, bigger familys 12 rod, to begin upward at the edge of ye hill." [Chestnut Street.] Robert Ashley had lot No. 3, of 8 rods, he being unmarried, situated between Widow Searle and John Dibble.

The home lots of the inhabitants were laid out on the west side of what is now Main Street, extending to the Connecticut River. On the east side of Main Street was the "wet meadow," which was allotted each inhabitant in the same width and just opposite to his home lot, and running 40 rods to the foot of the hill. Adjoining the wet meadow on its eastern end was also given a wood lot 80 rods in length and 8 rods in width. Robert Ashley's home lot was on what is now the northwest corner of Main and State streets and extended down to the river, Francis Ball being his neighbor on the north and John Leonard on the south. His "wet meadow" and "wood lots," just opposite, extended back along State Street to what is now Spring Street. His land in the "planting grounds" was across the Connecticut River, and between it and Agawam River.(+) On "A rate made the 6th of May, 1644, for the payinge of £20 in part of payment for ye Indian purchas of ye land of ye Plantation," Robert Ashley paid 15s, the fifth in amount. There were but four other inhabitants, Mr. Pynchon, Mr. Holyoke, Mr. Moxon and Henry Smith, who owned more land than Robert Ashley did at this time, and in 1647 he was taxed on 51 acres.

Robert Ashley, like most of the inhabitants, was chiefly occupied with agriculture. His ear mark for his cattle was "in the off ear a slit cut in the under side or back side of the ear (not at ye top of ye ear), but toward ye root of ye ear, the slit is but a little slanting outward toward ye root of ye ear."

"Robt. Ashley is possessed of a home lott by the grant of the Plantation with the additions viz, 4 acres more or less. Bredth 8 rod. Length 80 rod. Extendinge from the street fence to ye greate river. Bounded North, Benj: Mun. South, Jno Lenard. In the same line eastward opposite to his house lott 2 acres of wet meddow more or less of the same bredth."

"April 6, 1643. A list of ye alotments of planting lotts as they were cast with ye order how men doe fall begininge at ye ends of ye 80 rod lotts yt face to ye Greate River. Mr. Moxon is to have ye first by consent of ye Plantation." Robert Ashley was No. 12 with 17 acres, the fourth largest allotment, Mr. Pynchon being No. 11 with 80 acres and John Leonard No. 13 with 9 acres.

"Lotts cast for meddow ground on Agawam side where is 2 pts of ye quantity to be divided." Robert Ashley was No. 19 with 4 ½ acres, the fifth in amount.

"Lotts on ye other side of ye greate river for meddows." Robert Ashley was No. 4 with 2 1/4 acres, the fifth in amount.

"March 15, 1653. Also by purchase fro: John Leonard of a parcel of meddow lying in ye woods beyond ye Swan pond on ye left hand of ye Bay path, being four acres more or less, James Bridgman having the like quantity there."

"In the Plain a Lott of 18 or 19 acres more or less, lying in a triangle. The breadth from the mouth of the 3 Corner brook upwards is 68 rod, from the Greate River to ye front 64 rod, bounded south by ye Brook north by Benj?? Mun."

"Over the Greate River a Meddow Lott 2 acres and a quarter. Breadth 4 rod ½, length 80 rod up to ye Swamp. Bounded South by Jona. Burt, North Mr. Pynchon."

"In the Long meddow a planting Lott bought of the Widow Johns, being 6 acres more or less. Breadth--rod, length extending from the Greate River to ye back fence East."

"Also fro: Jno Leonard of a meddow lott over ye Greate River of one acre and half more or less. Breadth 9 rod, Length 30 rod, Bounded North Thomas Cooper, South Jno Clarke." Recorded March 15, 1653.

"January 2, 1655. There is granted to Robert Ashley four acres of wet meddow and other land wch he is to take as it falls wet meddow and other land to go there one with another which is to lye above Abell Wright and to run fro: ye Highway yt goes up to ye Round Hill eastward to ye brow of ye further hill, viz: to ye hither end of ye woodlots. This granted upon condition he continues 5 years in Town or else to leve it and .... not to hinder a cartway, but that it is to take place where it shall be most convenient over ye meddow and through ye low land."

"Also by Grant of the Plantation of nine acres more or less lying on the next brook that runs into the Greate River below Agawam River, lying in two places. The upper parcel bounded North by James Warriner and South by Leiut Cooper, and the lower parcel bounded North by Leiut Cooper and south by James Warriner." He conveyed this to John Scott. (*) See Proprietors Records of Possessions, p. 13, and Town Records, vol. 1, pp. 32-3, for Robert Ashley's lands.

"Also by Purchase from Rice Bedortha of five acres of wet meddow on ye Mill River, Bounded by Robert Ashley South, by Tho. Mirick North. Also by Purchase from Tho. Miller of five acres and half more or less of wet meddow, Breadth 10 rod ½, bounded by Miles Morgan South, by Samuel Terry North." Recorded September 29, 1656.

"February 1, 1657. Robert Ashley is possessed of a Houselot by the Grant of the Plantation wth the addition viz: 4 acres more or less. Breadth 8 rod, Length 80 rod, Extending from the Street fence to the Greate River. Bounded North Benjamin Mun, South Jno Lonard. In the same line eastward oposite to his Houselott 2 acres of wet meddow more or less of the same breadth, wth a woodlott of 4 acres more or less, extending in length from ye wet meddow 80 rod Eastward. Breadth 8 rod, Bounded North by Benjamin Mun, South ye Highway. This woodlott ye Running of it is turned and now it points upon ye Highway to ye Bay on ye South and Runs back Northward 39 rod in length, ye breadth of it is 16 rod and half, and it is bounded on ye West by Rowland Thomas, on ye East by Simon Beamon. On ye other side ye Greate River oposite to his Houselott 4 acres more or less, Breadth 8 rod, length 80 rod, Extending from the Greate River west to Agawam River, Bounded North Benjamin Mun, South John Leonard." He conveyed this to Samuel Marshfield.

"Robert Ashley is Possessed by Purchase from Saml Marshfield (which he bought of Abel Wright) of three acres of Wet meddow more or less, breadth 6 rod, length 80, adjoyning to Robert Ashley's wet meddow granted from ye Town, this lying on ye south of that, together with a wood lott of four acres, breadth 8 rod, length 80 bounded by (???), together with one acre of wet meddow and low land lying under the Round Hill, breadth 2 rod, length 80 and better, bounded by Richard Fellows North, by ye Town lot South. Together with a Homelot (which was Samuel Ferry's) of three acres Southward of ye Round Hill. Breadth 10 rod, Length 50, bounded by a Lot yt was Hugh Dudley's North and John Stewarts South." Recorded February 2, 1657.

"Also by Purchase from Samuel Ferry of three acres of wet meddow more or less. Breadth 6 rod, Length 80, bounded by ye land purchased of Thomas Miller South, by John Dumbleton North." Recorded September 18, 1657.

"Also by ye Grant of ye Plantation of four acres of wet meddow more or less, Breadth 8 rod, Length 80, fro: ye Highway yt goes under ye Round Hill eastward to ye woodlotts, bounded by Thomas Cooper North, by Saml Marshfield South." Recorded September 18, 1657.

"Also by Purchase from Richard Fellows of three acres more or less on this side ye Round Hill in ye Plain, Breadth 10 rod, Length 50, adjoyning to Robert Ashleys 3 acres aforesd wch lyes on ye South side of it, and bounded by Thomas Stebbins North." Recorded January 20, 1659.

"Also by Purchase from John Riley of a Parcel of Land in Chickupee Plain on ye West side of ye Great River, containing three and forty acres more or less. Breadth 42 rod, length back fro: ye Great River west to Jonathan Taylor's land, Bounded South by Francis Pepper, North by John Dumbleton." Recorded October 18, 1660. "February 12, 1660. There is also granted unto Ensign Cooper, Robert Ashley, Samuell Marshfield and James Warriner all the meddow yt lyes uppon the North Branch of the next brook yt runs into the Greate River below Agawam River, the said 4 persons are to share equally those meddows amongst them, themselves also are to agree where each man's share shall lye."

"Also by Purchase from John Dumbleton of four and twenty acres of Land more or less in ye Plain called Chickupee Plain on ye West side of the Great River, wch 24 acres is 19 rod and 1/2 in Breadth and 20 rod in Length, Bounded by Robert Ashley's own land on ye South, and by ye Commons on ye North." Recorded January 1, 1661.

"February 19, 1661. There is granted to Robert Ashley a house lott of five acres between ye two brookes below Chickuppe Playne on ye West side of the Greate River provided that he build and dwell there, or that he dispose not of the lott but to such as shall build and dwell there. This land is bounded, North by John Bagg's homelot 33 rods, South by a way of 1 rod in width that leads to Mr. Pynchon's land bought of Joseph Crowfoot 41 rods, East by a slip of land bought by Robert Ashley of William Brooks which lies by the River, and West by ye highway which leads to ye said Plain." Later four acres were added on the opposite side of the road.

"March 16, 1661. There is granted to Robert Ashley six acres of meddow on the back side of Chickuppe Playne within 2 or 3 mile of ye Great River where he can find soe much undisposed of." "There is granted to Robert Ashley liberty to build on his land towards ye round hill."

"There is granted to Captain Pynchon, Robert Ashley and George Colton that share of upland at Woronoco Meddow that was formerly granted to Jonathan and John Gilbert who forfeited their grant of these lands. These lands thus granted are all the low lands between ye River and the hills on ye Northeasterly side of Woronock River, and this grant is upon condition that these lands be confirmed to ye Towne by the Gen Corte and that the grantees doe buy out the Indians' right in the said lands here granted."

"February 6, 1664. There is also granted to Robert Ashley four acres woodlot next beyond Samuel Ferry's woodlot" [in the west meadow].

"February 1, 1665. Robert Ashley desiring yt ye four acre woodlot which was granted him next beyond Samuel Ferry's woodlot last February, 1664, may have an addition to it, so that he may have eight or ten acres there in all, his desire is granted, viz??: that his woodlot there shall be in all eight acres, to run in length 30 rods as ye other woodlotts doe and so to be ye more in breadth, only there is just to be three rod broad left common for a highway to be disposed for passage to ye woods, either there or lower as shall be most convenient."

Robert Ashley was licensed to keep the ordinary in 1646. On January 22, 1651-2, he received a grant of land on Mill River on condition that he should keep the ordinary. He consented to keep it, and was so engaged for several years. Keeping the ordinary or inn in those days was a highly respectable position and was only filled by those who were considered responsible persons.

"January 22, 1651. There is granted to Robert Ashley three acres and half of meddow upon ye Mill River begining lowermost on ye Southeast branch, and so going up to ye little brooke and then upward to ye 16 Acres, and so over to ye North branch at ye upper end, and then come downeward, and lastly to ye lake or pond. But one acre and half of it is given in relation to his keeping ye ordinary, and he is to leave it into ye Town's hands whenever he shall cease to keepe ye ordinary, and he to enjoy 2 acres, at most but 2 acres and half."(*)

The keeper of the ordinary was under the supervision of the town's officers and was placed under certain restrictions.

"The coppy of an order of restraynt to Robert Ashley and his wife forbiddinge them to sell wine or strong waters to the Indians sent to them the 27 June 1655.

To Robert Ashley and his wife keepers of the ordinary in Springfield: Whereas it is famously known how the Indians abuse themselves by excessive drinking of strong liquors whereby God is greviously dishonored, and the peace of this Plantation in great danger to be broken:

And whereas you have noe Lycence formally and according to Law to sell eyther wine or stronge waters to English or Indians:

These are therefore to will and require you uppon yor perill that you henceforth forbear to sell eyther wine or strong waters to any Indians, though for selling to the English wee would not restrayne you, but doe allow yrof: Springfield June 27, 1655. This was signed by ye commissionrs of this town."

Robert Ashley resigned his position of keeper of the ordinary, probably, in the fall of 1660, for on December 31st of that year Samuel Marshfield was appointed to keep it.

"December 31, 1660. Whereas there was one acre of meddow on ye Mill River wch Goodman Ashley had in relation to his keeping of ye ordinary, and he was to leave it into ye Towne's hands whenever he should cease to keepe ye ordinary: He having given over ye ordinary, and 1 acre of meddow more or less now falling into ye Towne's hands, it is ordered that Samuel Marshfield who now keeps ye ordinary shall have it."

By this time, as has been seen, Robert Ashley had become by means of grant and purchase an extensive owner of land on the west side of the Connecticut River in what is now West Springfield. His house lot there had been granted him in February, 1661, "provided that he build and dwell there," and in March he had "liberty to build on his land towards ye round hill." He probably built his house on it soon after this, and lived there the remaining twenty years of his life.

Robert Ashley probably placed his house on the hillside to the west of that part of West Springfield now known as Riverdale. Tradition says that all the earliest settlers built their houses along the hill for fear that floods would cover the plain below. This plain stretches about two miles to the north from Meeting-house Hill and was the first part of West Springfield to be cultivated.

Robert Ashley was employed considerably in the public service. He was called frequently to serve as juryman, his first appearance in the records of the court being on January 2, 1639-40, when he was on the jury that tried Mr. Moxon's slander suit against John Woodcock. He also served as juror at the courts held at Springfield, February 13, 1639-40, and March 1, 1654, and those held in the month of September in the years 1661, 1662, 1664, 1667 and 1670. His life seems to have been given but little to litigation, and the following extracts contain the only mention that has been found of Robert Ashley either as plaintiff or defendant.

"December 24, 1640. It is ordered and voted that whereas Henry Grigory, John Leonard and Robert Ashley have contrary to an order formerly made sold away theyre cannoes, they have therefor liberty granted them to redeme and bringe ym into the Plantation agayne untill the 15th of May next, and in case of defect herein they shall be Lyable to the forfeiture yt is expressed in the order dated Febr. 14th, 1638." [Cancelled.] This order was that no inhabitant should sell his canoe to outside parties.

In the transactions of the town Robert Ashley appears rather prominently.

"November 3d, 1646, Robert Ashley and Miles Morgan are chosen by ye towne to ye oversight of ye fences of ye house lotts and ye greate playne according as they shall be directed by ye townsmen."

"November 5th, 1650. William Warriner and Robert Ashley chosen overseers of fences for ye fields prtayninge to ye upper pt of the towne from ye meeting house upward."

"November 4th, 1651. Robert Ashley and Nathaniel Bliss were chosen surveyors of highways for the year ensuing." He was also chosen to this office the following year and in 1667.

In 1653, at the reorganization of the town by the younger men, Robert Ashley was chosen one of the five selectmen.

"November 1, 1653. At a Town meeting it was concluded to make choise of five Townsmen, viz: George Colton, Robert Ashley, Thomas Cooper, Benja. Cooly and Thomas Stebbins who are to order ye prudential affairs of ye Town for ye year ensuing."

Robert Ashley was re-elected annually until 1659, and in 1660, 1662 and 1665, being first selectman in 1657. In 1655 he with two of the others refused to serve and they were fined twenty shillings apiece.

Robert Ashley took the oath of fidelity March 23, 1655-6.

(*) "Acts of the Commissioners of the United Colonies," vol. 2, p. 225. [Sept. 12, 1659.]

Quabage under the Sachem Annoackamor doth thinke twenty pounds should bee demaunded of the said Sachem or the man that killed the horse to bee delivered into the hands of the said Ashley to bee kept by him and disposed of as hee sees cause. Mr. Pinchon is desired to take care that Satisfaction bee demaunded, and the ptie cecured if there bee opertunitie, which if hee cannot attaine, wee desire the Massachusetts Government to effect the same as they shall see cause."(*)

On September 27, 1659, Robert Ashley entered a complaint against Richard Fellows "for detayning a sword from him. The sword and damages he reckons at forty shillings." In this action the plaintiff withdrew his charge "promising to pay the costs of the costs."

On September 29, 1663, Robert Ashley and Miles Morgan complain against John Scott, John Riley, William Brooks and William Morgan for violating town orders. On September 25, 1660, Miles Morgan had sued Robert Ashley for wrongfully impounding his swine.

On February 7, 1659, Robert Ashley was chosen town constable, and on March 5th of that year sealer of weights and measures, being re-elected to the latter office the following year.

In those days the people of the town jointly made arrangement for the grinding of their corn.

"At a Towne Meeting called to settle something about ye mill," it was agreed that Mr. Holyoke should grind the corn, "and ye Towne designated John Pynchon, George Colton, Robert Ashley, Miles Morgan and Samuel Marshfield to set their hands to yt in ye behaffe of ye Towne, and theire hands being to it, this ingagement is firme to all intents and constructions in Law. According hereunto ye Aforementioned persons have hereunto set their hands the 4th day of June 1662. Elizur Holyoke. John Pynchon. George Colton. Robert T Ashley, his marke. Miles O-M Morgan, his marke. Samuel Marshfield." The town ordered and appointed Benjamin Parsons, Samuel Marshfield and Robert Ashley, the sealers, "to mak a Tole with true and exact to ye twelth pt of ye bushell, and to seale it with ye Towne's seale."

Public officers were expected to attend strictly to their duties, as will be seen from the following order.

"At a Court held at Springfield Septr. 27, 1664, Robert Ashley and Jonathan Burt were presented for the like offence in not viewing on ye East side of ye River, being chosen for ye work. But Robert Ashley pleaded yt he had not warning yt he was soe chosen & it beinge not proven yt he had warninge, the Selectmen are fined 20s a peese for the use of the Towne accordinge to ye law except they can cleare ymselves and they did give warninge to ye viewers, wch Captain Pynchon is ordered to examine & determine, vizt: whether he had legall warning, and if he fynd Robert Ashley had legall warning yrof then the Selectmens fynes are to be remitted & he is to pay as a fine 20s for the use of the County."(*)

In April, 1665, Robert Ashley and several others were fined for absenting themselves from town meeting.

Four years later Robert Ashley petitioned to be relieved of military training. Hampsh. Co. Court Rec., vol. 1, p. 42.

"At a Court held March 30, 1669, Robert Ashley of Springfield presenting his desires that by reason of the weakness of his body he may be freed from military exercises: The Court granteth his desires on such terms as the chief officers of that company shall determine."

The following extract refers to a maid servant in Robert Ashley's service.

"July 29th, 1671, Katharin Hunter (of about 14 y: old) servant to Robert Ashley Deserting from her Master's service unlawfully: once last Tuesday and then coming againe on Thursday and yet goeing away againe on Friday morning to her father and for noe cause yt shee can relate herself but only yt her dame once only and yt some tyme before gave her a blow or 2 with her hand: there being nothing to justifie her in her unlawfull depture. I [Mr. Pynchon] ordered her to ye house of corection there to abide till I discharged her. And William Hunter her father for harburing his sd daughter and not discharging her and sending her to her aforesd Mr. (none informing), I acot 20s due by law to ye County: But respited the sentence till some other tyme."

Robert Ashley seems to have felt much interest in the welfare of the village church, and, certainly, always paid his proportion of the tax for the maintenance of public worship. As has been seen, the first time his name appears in the Springfield records was in connection with a rating to raise the means for the minister's support, and, when on later occasions it was necessary to raise funds for this purpose, he invariably paid his share of the assessment.

"At a Town Meetinge Assembled February 5th, 1651, George Coulton and Robt Ashly were nominated by Mr. Jno Pynchon, and appoynted by ye vote of ye Inhabitants to gather in ye rate yt shall be made by ye Selectmen for ye charge layd out about this floore" [of the meeting-house chamber].

In February, 1653, Robert Ashley received three shillings as payment "for the use of his mare for the use of the church."

The first list of seatings in the meeting-house bears date of December 23, 1659. Robert Ashley sat in the first seat, and was on the seating committee. His two oldest sons sat "below ye pillars on ye North side." In 1663 he was again one of a committee to distribute the seats in the meeting-house. (*) Hampsh. Co. Court Rec., vol. 1, p. 103.

Robert Ashley and his two oldest sons were among the sixty-two inhabitants of Springfield who signed the petition against "a custome imposed on all goods and merchandizes" by an order of the General Court at the October session in 1668.(NEHGR vol. 9, p. 87)

Robert Ashley took the oath of allegiance with the other Springfield inhabitants on December 31, 1678.

The foregoing pages contain all the references to Robert Ashley that the compiler could find in the various records. He was obviously a man of energy and ability, and that these qualities were recognized by his fellow townsmen is shown by his election to discharge the duties described. These offices, although not of the highest grade, were regarded as of much greater importance then than they have been in later years, and were never bestowed upon any but trustworthy men. His education had not been such as to qualify him for the performance of some important duties in the administration of the affairs of the town. Like many others of the early settlers, who were men of great worth and useful citizens, he did not write his own name, but made his mark whenever his signature was necessary. He is called Goodman Ashley in Mr. Pynchon's account books. He seems to have been industrious, upright and public spirited, and a man of strong religious principles.

The Will of ROBERT ASHLEY. I, Robert Ashley, being aged and of infirme body but yet of sound minde and perfect memory doe now make this my Last Will and Testament.

In the first place I doe comitt my Soul to ye care, grace and salvation of one God in three persons, the second person being incarnate, Who by His blood hath purchased it, trusting in His name for all that good of grace and glory He hath bought for His, having hopes only for His own sake and in His alsufficient mercyes, that He will at ye Resurrection of ye just reunite Soul and Body to enjoy a sinless state with Himself in that house not made with hands which He hath prpared for those who believe in Him. And my Body to such decent buriall as my friends and surviveing relations shall judge meete.

Nextly I doe confirme my deede of gift made to my beloved son Jonathan of lands, uplands, meadows on ye East side of Conitticut River all as in that sd deede is expressed.

And to my beloved son Joseph I doe give all my lands on ye West side of ye sd River, that at Chickapy plaine and that over against the town plott on ye East side of ye sd River, and that below Agawame River, all these on the West side of Conitticut River. Also I doe give unto my son Joseph that lott I have this yeare bought of Major Pynchon, Esqr, lyeing and fronting on the lane that leades to ye upper wharfe on ye East side Conitticut River.

And to my welbeloved son David I doe give five pounds besides what I hhave given him alreadie.

And to my welbeloved wife Mary I doe give the full thirds of all the lands on both sides ye sd River, dureing the terme of her natureall life.

To my grandson John Ashley I doe give a colt.

And to the rest of the children of my beloved son David Ashley I do give ten shillings pr child.

And to the children of my beloved son John Root I do give ten shillings a peice.

And for the rest of my estate, all my debts being paid, and in particular that debt for the lot fronting upon the upper wharfe, I do give one third thereof to my well beloved wife during her natural life.

And the other two thirds to my son Joseph and my wife's thirds to Joseph at her decease, he being to pay her five pounds when she dyes, and in case my son Joseph dye without issue then this whole estate bequeathed hereby to my son Joseph I do order and bequeath to my son David and his children.

In witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of October Anno: Dom: 1679.

(Trowbridge, Francis B. The Ashley Genealogy. Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, New Haven 1896.)

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/pn/p1479.htm

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Robert first appears in Springfield on 2 Jan 1639/40 when he served on a jury for slander. On 24 Dec 1641 he was sworn in as constable. He was also involved in several lawsuits, including a lengthy one with Thomas Merrick involving a pig. (Pynchon Court Records in Families of the Pioneer Valley)

Among the original proprietors of Springfield, he appears on the assessment list in 1646/7. The list shows who lived where in the town. In 1645, residents of Springfield felt the need to expand their town, and they looked toward what is now Longmeadow. After some controversy over the division of lands, it was decided that those in the north part of town were to take distributions in Plainfield, those in the souh in Longmeadow. Robert fell barely on the northern side of the line. (Hist of Springfield http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ma/county/hampden/hist/hist2.html)

From "Pioneers of Massachusetts 1636-1736" by Pope, pg.231.. "Robert Ashley, proprietor of Springfield, Mass., town officer and keeper of an ordinary (tavern)..."

Savage's: ROBERT, Springfield 1639, perhaps had been of Roxbury a short time, as most of the early S. people were drawn from R. by Pynchon, had David, b. 8 June 1642; Mary, 6 Apr. 1644; Jonathan, 25 Feb. 1646; Sarah, 23 Aug 1648; Joseph, 6 July 1652; and perhaps more. He d. 29 Nov. 1682, and his w. Mary, d. 19 Sept. foll. Mary, his d. m. 18 Oct. 1664, the sec. John Root of Farmington, after of Westfield. Will Will; 9 Oct 1679; Springfield, Hampden Co., MA.

"Robert Ashley deceased, his Last Will and Testament togeather with an Inventory of his estate was prsented to this Corte [holden at Northampton March 27, 1683] which will aforesaid was attested to by Mr Holyoke before ye Worshipll Major Pynchon and ye Worshipfull Major Pynchon made oath before this Corte as witnesses to sd will & it was thereupon approved & confirmed in Corte as ye Last Will and Testament of Robt Ashley deceased. And Wras he nominated noe Executor to his sd Will this Corte, therefore appointed & allowed the widdow Relict of sd Robt Ashley and Joseph Ashley his son as administrators to sd Estate of Robt Ashley. (*) See "N.-E. Hist, and Geneal. Reg.," vol. 9, p. 87.

HIS WILL

Here followeth Coppys of s?? Robt Ashley's Last Will and of ye Inventory of his Estate. I, Robert Ashley, being aged and of infirme body but yet of sound minde and perfect memory doe now make this my Last Will and Testament. In the first place I doe comitt my Soul to ye care, grace and salvation of one God in three persons, the second person being incarnate, Who by His blood hath purchased it, trusting in His name for all that good of grace and glory He hath bought for His, having hopes only for His own sake and in His alsufficient mercyes, that He will at ye Resurrection of ye just reunite Soul and Body to enjoy a sinless state with Himself in that house not made with hands which He hath prpared for those who believe in Him. And my Body to such decent buriall as my friends and surviveing relations shall judge meete. Nextly I doe confirme my deede of gift made to my beloved son Jonathan of lands, uplands, meadows on ye East side of Conitticut River all as in that sd deede is expressed. And to my beloved son Joseph I doe give all my lands on ye West side of ye sd River, that at Chickapy plaine and that over against the town plott on ye East side of ye sd River, and that below Agawame River, all these on the West side of Conitticut River. Also I doe give unto my son Joseph that lott I have this yeare bought of Major Pynchon, Esqr, lyeing and fronting on the lane that leades to ye upper wharfe on ye East side Conitticut River. And to my welbeloved son David I doe give five pounds besides what I have given him alreadie. And to my welbeloved wife Mary I doe give the full thirds of all the lands on both sides ye sd River, dureing the terme of her natureall life. To my grandson John Ashley I doe give a colt. And to the rest of the children of my beloved son David Ashley I do give ten shillings pr child. And to the children of my beloved son John Root I do give ten shillings a peice. And for the rest of my estate, all my debts being paid, and in particular that debt for the lot fronting upon the upper wharfe, I do give one third thereof to my well beloved wife during her natural life. And the other two thirds to my son Joseph and my wife's thirds to Joseph at her decease, he being to pay her five pounds when she dyes, and in case my son Joseph dye without issue then this whole estate bequeathed hereby to my son Joseph I do order and bequeath to my son David and his children. In witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of October Anno: Dom: 1679. Robert Ashley ?? his mark. Signed sealed in ye presence of John Pynchon, Sen. John Holyoke."(*) (*) Hampsh. Co. Prob. Rec., vol. 1, p. 225. The original is not on file.

"March 26, 1683, Mr, John Holyoke appeared declared being present at the time he saw Robert Ashley signe and seale this Instrument as his last Will and that when he so did he was of sound understanding to the best of his knowledge and hereunto made oath before me John Pynchon, Assistant." "Major Pynchon made oath as a testimony to this and that the testator was of sound mind when he made it to the best of his understanding. March 27, 1683. S. P., Clerk."( Hampsh. Co. Prob. Rec., vol. 1, p. 226. ) This instrument having obtained official approval, the court appointed his son Joseph and his widow Mary administrators of his estate.

Notes for Mary [Horton] Mary married Thomas Horton in England and sailed with him on the ship, the Mary and John in 1632/3. They spent a couple years in Windsor, where their son Jeremiah was born in 1636. Shortly afterward, they went to Springfield as original proprietors of the town. Robert Ashley also settled there about that time.

On 7 Aug 1641 "Widow Horton" and Robert Ashley, about to be married, signed an agreement whereby she signed over her house and lot of 11 acres to Ashley. They were for the use of her two sons, one an infant, the other about three years old and named Jeremy. The boys are to be paid their inheritance when they are 21 and are to be sent out as apprentices as teenagers. Her former husband was apparently Thomas Horton, who was dead by Oct 1640, when widow Horton is examined for "selling her husband's peece to the Indians." (NEHGR 33:311)

This is not, as some have indicated, Mary, daughter of John and Amy (Doggett) Eddy. She married Thomas Orton, had her last child by him in Charlestown in 1648, and was still living as Mary Orton when her father made his will in 1677 (See Great Migration for John Eddy)

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Robert Ashley, of Mowsley & Springfield's Timeline

1620
August 13, 1620
Mowsley, Leicestershire, England
August 13, 1620
Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England, United Kingdom
1641
August 7, 1641
Age 20
1642
June 3, 1642
Age 21
Springfield, Hampden , Massachusetts
June 3, 1642
Age 21
Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts
1644
April 6, 1644
Age 23
West Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts
1646
February 25, 1646
Age 25
Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts
1648
August 3, 1648
Age 27
Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, USA
1650
1650
Age 29
1652
July 6, 1652
Age 31
Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts