William Nickerson, lI (1604 - 1690) MP

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Birthplace: Permontergate, Norwich, Norfolk, England
Death: Died in Monomoy, Barnstable, Massachusetts
Occupation: William was a tailor apprentice to his father in 1621 and was admitted a worsted weaver and freeman in Norwich, England 18 May 1632.
Managed by: Brett Robert Murray
Last Updated:

About William Nickerson, lI

IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM NICKERSON ENGLAND 1604 - MASSACHUSETTS 1689-1690 BOSTON 1637 - FREEMAN 1638 - YARMOUTH 1640 DEPUTY TO CENTRAL COURT 1655 - FOUNDER OF CHATHAM RELIGIOUS TEACHER - USEFUL CITIZEN - FIRST OF THE NAME IN AMERICA PROGENITOR OF FIFTY THOUSAND DESCENDANTS ---------- HIS WIFE ANNE (BUSBY) NICKERSON ENGLAND 1609 - MASSACHUSETTS 1686+ ---------- THEIR CHILDREN ELIZABETH (MARRIED TRISTRAM HEDGES) - ROBERT (MARRIED - ) SAMUEL (MARRIED MARY BELL) - SARAH (MARRIED NATHANIEL COVEL) JOHN (MARRIED SARAH WILLIAMS) - WILLIAM (MARRIED MERCY WILLIAMS) JOSEPH (MARRIED RUHAMAH JONES)

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The first Nickerson in this country was William Nickerson, who came from Norwich, Norfolk County, England. He arrived in this country in 1637 and settled in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. His land was granted to him by Captain Miles Standish. The First Congregational Church of Chatham, Massachusetts began with Chatham's first settler, William Nickerson, who held services in his home. His place of birth is also given as St. Peters Permontergate, Norfolk, England. William and his family sailed from Yarmouth, England, 15 April 1637 on the ship John and Dorothy, arriving at Salem, Massachusetts, 20 June 1637. Where the family lived for a few years is not known, but in 1641 they moved to Yarmouth Massachusetts. He first bought land at Monomoit from the Indian Sagamore Mattaquason in 1656 and a few years later, moved from Yarmouth with his children's families to begin the settlement of the present Chatham in the area which is now Chatham Port.

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Anne Busby and William Nickerson immigrated 08-Apr-1637 to Boston, Massachusetts; aboard the 'John and Dorothy', Captain William Andrews, Master. Anne Busby and William Nickerson removed to at Chatham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, in 1664.

William is listed as a weaver, aged 33 years old, and Anne is listed as his wife, aged 28, on that ship's registry.

William known as the founder of Monomoy, bought land from the Indians for: a shallop, ten coats, six kettles, 12 axes, 12 hoes, 12 knives, 40 shillings in waumpom, a hat, and 12 shillings in coin.

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William Nickerson's Founding of Chatham (Momomoit), barnstable Co., Massachusettes1656 , Chatham (Momomoit), Barnstable Co., MA

Chatham, Cape Cod Incorporated: 1712 Population: 6,579 Total Area: 24.33 square miles

How Chatham was Settled

" Along this coast we observed smoke which the Indians were making; and this made us decide to go and visit them… Here there is much cleared land and many little hills, whereon the Indians cultivate corn and other grains on which they live. Here are likewise very fine vines, plenty of nut-trees, oaks, cypresses, and a few pines... This would prove a very good site for laying and constructing the foundations of a state, if the harbour were a little deeper and the entrance safer than it is." - Samuel de Champlain, 1606

The French explorer Samuel de Champlain guided his vessel past Harding's Beach and into Stage Harbor in October of 1606. The Native Americans here, who had been here for at least 10,000 years, paddled out in their canoes and greeted Champlain hospitably. Nevertheless, two weeks of increasingly uneasy contact erupted into a fatal skirmish under circumstances that are still unclear. Three of the Frenchmen were killed and one fatally wounded. Many more Monomoyick were killed by French musket shot. After a retaliation that included an unsuccessful attempt to capture slaves, Champlain weighed anchor, giving up any ideas of making Chatham a French foundation of state, and leaving the way clear for the English.

It wasn't until 50 years later in 1656, when the first English settler ran a cart down the ancient Indian pathway with an eye on living here. Englishman William Nickerson struck a deal for four square miles of land with the Monomoyick Sachem, Mattaquason. For this he paid a shallop, ten coats, six kettles, twelve axes, twelve hoes, twelve knives, forty shillings in wampum, a hat and twelve shillings in coins. This transaction took place, however, without the approval of authorities in the Plymouth Colony, and so, for sixteen years his purchase would be disputed until he settled with the courts by paying a fine of 90 pounds and obtaining written deeds from Mattaquason and his son John.

This place was then called "Monomoit", as the Indians called it, and Nickerson immediately appealed to the court for incorporation of Monomoit as a town, but was refused on the grounds that there was no resident minister. Until the time when there was a population sufficient to support a church Monomoit would be known not as a town but as a constablewick. Nickerson gave land to each of his 5 sons and 3 daughters and built his house on Ryder's Cove on a spot now marked by the Nickerson Family Genealogical Research Center.

Early Chatham History

A handful of settlers soon trickled in to join the Nickerson family here. The early houses were not much different from the infamous Cape Cod-style houses of today. They were built with low roofs to withstand nor'easters and hurricanes, and were often situated in protective hollows facing southerly for maximum exposure to the sun. Seaweed, washed and dried over the summer, often was often heaped around the foundation to provide insulation. The small farming village consisted of twenty or so families when Reverend Hugh Adams became the resident minister in 1711. The town wasted no time and the next year a second petition for incorporation was then drawn up and subsequently approved in Boston with the condition that the constablewick give up its Indian-derived name of Monomoit in favor of something a little more English. On June 11, 1712 the constablewick of Monomoit was incorporated under the name of Chatham, taken from a seaport town in England.

But most of the residents were farmers, rather than fishermen. Early Chatham settlers cultivated such crops as corn, rye, wheat, and tobacco on farms of thirty acres or more. The typical family owned a horse or two for transportation, several oxen for work on the farm, and raised sheep to provide wool for New England textile mills.

Corn, introduced by the Monomoyick natives centuries before, already grew readily here, and soon became the town's priniciple crop. In fact, the cultivation of corn was so important in Chatham, that a law was passed in 1696 which stated that all householders were required to kill 12 blackbirds or 3 crows each year, delivering the heads to the selectman or forfeit a tax of 6 shillings.

Farming remained an important part of the Chatham economy well into this century. As late as 1921 there were still 125 cows resident in town, ten active farms, and votes were still being cast to pay a bounty of twenty-five cents for each crow. The Godfrey Mill, built in 1797, ground corn until 1929. You can now see it at the head of Chase Park, one of the last visible reminders of the importance of farming to the first people of Chatham.

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American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) about William Nickerson

Name: William Nickerson

Birth Date: 1604

Birthplace: Eng, Massachusetts

Volume: 125

Page Number: 189

Reference: Gen. Column of the " Boston Transcript". 1906-1941.( The greatest single source of material for gen. Data for the N.E. area and for the period 1600-1800. Completely indexed in the Index.): 9 Apr 1934, 8265; 9 Nov 1934, 9346; 14 Nov 1934, 9346; 26 Jun 1935, 498; 8 Jul1935, 498


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U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 about William Nickerson

Name: William Nickerson

Gender: Male

Birth Place: EN

Birth Year: 1604

Spouse Name: Anne Busby

Spouse

Birth Place: EN

Spouse Birth Year: 1607

Marriage State: of MA

Number Pages: 8


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Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s about William Nickerson

Name: William Nickerson

Year: 1637

Age: 33

Estimated birth year: abt 1604

Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Family Members: Wife Anne 28; Child Robartt; Child Anne; Child Elizabeth; Child Nicho

Source Publication Code: 3540

Primary Immigrant: Nickerson, William

Annotation: From documents in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and the Public Record Office, London. Passengers to New England on the John and Dorothy and the Rose, pp. 21-23; passengers to New England on the Marey Anne, pp. 29-30; passengers to Holland not indexed. Full Source Bibliography: JEWSON, CHARLES BOARDMAN. Transcript of Three Registers of Passengers from Great Yarmouth to Holland and New England, 1637-1639. (Norfolk Record Society Publications, 25.) Norwich: Norfolk Record Society, 1954. 98p. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1964. Page: 22


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Family Data Collection - Deaths about William Nickerson

Name: William Nickerson

Death Date: Sep 1690

City: Chatham

County: Barnstable

State: MA

Country: USA


-------------------- William Nickerson, was born in Norwich, Norfolk County, England. He married Anne Busby, daughter of Nicholas Busby and Bridget Cooke, who were married at St. Mary's in Norwich on June 24, 1605. William Nickerson was a weaver. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- On 28 April 1621, at the age of about eighteen, his father took William and his brother Richard on as apprentices in the tailoring business. William learned the craft of weaving, and was admitted a worsted weaver and freeman in Norwich on 18 May 1632. He continued to practice his craft after leaving England, since he often signed his name as a "weaver." In his will dated 20 July 1567, his father-in-law Nicholas Busby -- also a weaver -- left William one of his looms.

William's decision to emigrate to America probably was a result of the persecution visited upon Puritans and other nonconformists by Bishop Wren of Norfolk, coupled with a rise in taxes and a slump in the economy. These forces joined to drive over 3,000 small craftsmen out of the country over a period of several years. William and his family -- including his in-laws the Busbys -- were "desirous to go to Boston in New England and there to inhabit," and prior to their departure were examined by customs officials on 8 April 1637, in the port of Yarmouth, England. William gave his profession as weaver, his age as thirty-three, and that of his wife as twenty-eight. They sailed from Yarmouth aboard the ship John & Dorothy on 15 April 1637, and arrived at Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, on 20 June 1637, after a voyage of sixty-six days.

On 2 May 1638, he took the freeman's oath at Boston; records indicate that he was living in Watertown with the Busbys at the time. On 1 December 1640, though, he was proposed as a freeman at the Plymouth Colony Court, which shows that he intended to move to that Colony. He took the Plymouth oath of fidelity on 1 June 1641, and settled in Yarmouth where he is later listed as serving as a grand juror.

His home in Yarmouth was in the northeast part of town, near Follen's (Little Bass) Pond at the head of the Bass River. In the final land allotment on 14 May 1648, he received ten acres of upland and six acres of meadow at Little Bass Pond. This was the farm he had lived on for eight years, and it appears that the 14 May allotment simply confirmed him in those lands. He had, however, also acquired new lands -- six acres of meadow -- at Nobscusset Meadows, later known as Hockanom.

His nonconformist religious views, partly responsible for his leaving England, also got him into trouble with the colonial authorities. In 1641, he was complained of as being "a scoffer and jeerer of religion." Records show that for the next few years he had several run-ins with the church authorities. His outspokeness and temper also caused problems with his fellow citizens. On 2 October 1650, several suits for defamation by and against William were brought before the court. In two of them, both parties were found at fault. In one by Edward Dillingham and sixteen others, "the court doe judg yt the said William Nickerson, in regard to his offencive speaches against sundry of the towne, to have carried himselfe therein unworthyly, and desire him to see his evell therein, and to bee ready to acknowlldg it; and yt those hee hath offended in that behalfe should rest therin."

Despite these problems, he held a series of civil offices. In March of 1643/4, he was listed as able to bear arms in defense of the colony in Yarmouth, and he served on a committee chaired by Capt. Miles Standish to settle land boundary disputes. In 1641, 1647, and on 7 June 1651, he served on grand juries, and on 8 June 1655 he served as Deputy from Yarmouth to the General Court.

Around 1656, William purchased a sizable tract of land -- about 4,000 acres -- at place called Monomoy (present-day Chatham). The sellers were a chief named Mattaquason and his son John Quason, and the deal was consumated without the permission of the colonial government, contrary to a law passed in 1643, ... -------------------------------------------------

William was a weaver by trade and no doubt belonged to the Weaver's Guild of Norwich. On account of the persecutions of Bishop Wren, of Norfolk, whose zealous efforts against non-conformists drove over 3,000 small craftsmen out of the country, he and his wife Anne Busby decided to go to America. Their examination just before their departure from England reads thus: "The examination of William Nickerson of Norwich, in Norfolk, weaver, aged 33, and Anne, his wife, aged 28, with four children, Nicho, Robartt, Elizabeth, Anne, are desirous to go to Boston in New England there to inhabit. April 8, 1637." This taken from the Complete Book of Emigrants. They sailed from Yarmouth, England on April 15, 1637 on the ship "John and Dorothy" and arrived in Salem June 20 1637. With them sailed Anne's parents. In the same party was 18 year old Samuel Lincoln, the ancestor of Abraham Lincoln, and also Joseph Lincoln, the famous author of Cape Cod stories.

On May 2, 1638, William took the oath of a free-man at Boston though it was likely that he was living in Watertown with his wife's people who came there after a brief stay in Newbury, MA. On December 1, 1640, he was proposed as a free-man at the Plymouth Colony Court, evidently planning to settle in the jurisdiction of the Old Colony rather than that of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He took the oath of fidelity June 1, 1641, and on the same date he was on the grand jury and was propounded to be a free-man at the next court, being described as of Yarmouth. Evidently, he moved his family to Yarmouth about this time. His house and farm were near Folland's [sic] Pond (then known as Little Bass Pond) at the head of the Bass river. When he later moved to Monomoyick (Chatham), he sold his Yarmouth farm to James Mathews. With others he was complained of March 1, 1641, as a "Scoffer and jeerer of religion", which was true to his spirit of a non-conformist. Several times in the next twenty years he was in trouble with the church, and very likely that had much to do with his decision to move into the wilderness of Monomoy. His trouble with the minister seemed in no way to affect his standing as a citizen, because he continued to be chosen for responsible civil offices as long as he remained in Yarmouth. He was among those between 16 and 60 able to bear arms in Yarmouth. Was chosen on the committee headed by Captain Myles Standish to settle disputes over land boundaries which had become acute in Yarmouth. May 14, 1648, in the final allotment of lands at Yarmouth by the Standish Land Court, 10 acres of upland and 6 acres of meadow were laid out to him at Little Bass Pond ("toward the South sea", the record reads). This was the farm he had lived on for about 8 years and he also had purchased 6 acres of meadow in "Nobscusset Meadows", now known as Hockanom. Prior to or early in 1656 William had bought of the Indian Chief Sagamore Mattaquason and his son John Quason, a tract of land at Monomoy without the consent of the authorities, which was contrary to a law of June 6, 1643, and he had obtained no deed thereof. On June 3, 1656, William was brought before the court. "Att this court William Nicarson appeered, being summoned to answare for his buying of land of the Indians, contrary to the order of the Court, and for selling of a boat to the Indians, against a warrant directed to Yarmouth strictly prohibiting the same, haveing left the boate to bee the Indians; concerning his breach of order in buying of land, hee lyeth under the fine and penalty expressed in the order for the breach thereof; and for his contempt of the warrant, he is disfranchised his freedom." His purchase was again before the Court on June 3, 1657: "In answare unto a petition preferred to the court by William Micarson, desiring to have liberty to enjoy the land hee purchased att Mannamoiett, - the court have ordered, that the said land shall be viewed by some that shall be deputed; and afterwards, upon their report to the court, hee is to have competency or proportion out of it allowed unto him, and then to asigne up the remainder unto the court." In 1657, the family returned to Boston. Prior to January 5, 1661/2 William was back in Yarmouth with his family. Probably his older sons had been keeping his farm going for him in his absence. On November 27, he sold his Boston property to Phillip Gibbs for 150 pounds. July 4, 1663 William Nickerson presented a petition to the Plymouth Colony Court for permission to settle at township at Monomoyick, now Chatham. In the spring of 1664, William, then being about 60 years old but still physically and mentally rugged, left the comparatively settled community of Yarmouth and moved with his wife and all but one son (Nicholas) to the wilderness of Monomoick. His sons and daughters cleared farms and built homes of their own and were the first settlers of the area. In the Records of Plymouth Colony, we find several instances with William Nickerson being fined: March Court-20 pounds (p. 119); June 6, 1667-Debts due by rates and fines-20 pounds (p.120); October 1667-For sending scandalous writings to General Nichols-10 pounds (p.122); Jul 8, 1669-Item due to county also in debts and fines-20 pounds (p.127) In 1682, William deeded a part of his land to his daughter Elizabeth. This was only part of the thousands of acres he had purchased, beginning in 1656, from the Indian Sagamore Mattaquason, who had accepted in pay cows, cloth, wampum, and other trade goods. Together they staked out the metes and bounds, some of which are landmarks to this day; but the Sagamore could give no written deed because the Plymouth real estate operators had passed a law that no Indian could sell property without the consent of the colony. William claimed that the land was the Indian's to do with as he saw fit, but it took him 20 years and a substantial kick-back to the speculators before Mattaquason was allowed to set his hand to a deed.

Their house in Monomoit stood between White Pond and Emery Pond, just south of Old Queen Anne Road, and his father provided him additional properties as he did for all his children, except Nicholas, who remained in Yarmouth. John's lands were located at Oyster Pond, Stage Neck and Buck's Creek. In the division of common land, he received a lot in East Harwich. At Monomoit, the years between 1664 and 1672 must have been arduous and cheerless for the first tiny group of settlers. The forest areas in some placed "wooded to the brink of the Sea", and wild, dense thickets that had to be cleared away are rather hard to imagine now. Present day old-timers will tell you that if you take a small dirt road from Wellfleet to Truro you can see, toward the bay, a stretch of tangled thicket which remains today as it was then. Quite isolated from the other Cape colonists, William and his children's families were the only white and English-speaking inhabitants in that neigh borhood - and relatively few others joined them in twenty-five years. Fortunately, they maintained cordial relationships with their Monomoic Indian neighbors, which "reflects the charity of the Indians at least as much as their own benevolence."

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William Nickerson, II's Timeline

1604
October 16, 1604
Permontergate, Norwich, Norfolk, England
1605
June 24, 1605
Norwich, Norfolk, England
1628
1628
Age 23
Norwich, Norfolk, England
1629
January 1, 1629
Age 24
Norwich, Norfolk, England
1631
November 27, 1631
Age 27
St. Peter's Permontergate, Norfolk, England
1633
January 10, 1633
Age 28
St. Peter's Permontergate, Norfolk, England
1635
May 7, 1635
Age 30
St. Peter's Permontergate, Norfolk, England
1637
April 8, 1637
Age 32
Salem, Essex, MA, USA

Anne Busby and William Nickerson immigrated on 08-Apr-1637 to Boston, Massachusetts; aboard the 'John and Dorothy', Captain William Andrews, Master. Anne Busby and William Nickerson removed to at Chatham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, in 1664.

William is listed as a weaver, aged 33 years old, and Anne is listed as his wife, aged 28, on that ship's registry.

June 20, 1637
Age 32
Salem, MA
June 20, 1637
Age 32
Salem, MA