Alexander Shapleigh, of Totnes & Old Kittery

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Alexander Shapleigh

Birthplace: Totnes, Devon, England
Death: Died in Kittery, York, Maine
Place of Burial: Kittery, York, Maine
Immediate Family:

Son of Nicholas Shapleigh and Shapleigh
Husband of Marguerite Bloedel and Jane Shapleigh
Father of Catharine Hilton; Elizabeth Shapleigh; James Shapleigh; Alexander Shapleigh, Jr.; Judith Shapleigh and 7 others

Occupation: A merchant and ship owner immigrated in 1635 to Kittery, Maine and ran a trading post., Eminent Merchant
Managed by: Brooke C DiGiacomo Savage
Last Updated:

About Alexander Shapleigh, of Totnes & Old Kittery

Gustave Anjou (1863-1942) was paid $650 by Alfred Lee Shapleigh for his fraudulent genealogy of the Shapleigh family

ALEXANDER SHAPLEIGH(1), the pioneer of the American Branch of the Family, was born apparently at Kingsweare, Devon, England, about 1574, and was probably the son of Nicholas Shapleigh, of that place, but of this we are not quite sure. His beautiful residence at Kingsweare was called Kittery House. A name that had come down in the Shapleigh family for several generations, and the name, followed the family to America and finally gave name to the Town of Kittery, Maine. From the testimony of Katherine Treworgy, we learn that Alexander Shapleigh was alive May 26, 1642. We hear nothing more about him, and we learn from the court records that he was dead previous to July 5, 1650.

We do not know the name of the wife of Alexander Shapleigh, when they were married, or when or where she died.

The town Kittery, Maine, was incorporated in 1647, and today bills itself as "the oldest incorporated town in Maine." It was named after the birthplace of a founder, Alexander Shapleigh, from the manor of Kittery Court at Kingswear in Devon, England. Shapleigh arrived in 1635 aboard the ship Benediction, which he co-owned with another prominent settler, Captain Francis Champernowne. Together with the Pepperrell family, they established fisheries offshore at the Isles of Shoals, where fish were caught, salted and exported back to Europe. Other pioneers were hunters, trappers and workers of the region's abundant timber. Kittery's original land area extended from the Atlantic Ocean inland up the Salmon Falls River, including the present-day towns of Eliot, Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick.


b.c.1574 m.1. ______ 2. 12 Dec. 1602 St. Saviour's, Dartmouth, Devon, Jane Egbeare d. before 6 July 1650 "On Sept. 20, 1610, Alexander Shapley of Kingswear, Master of the "Restitution" of Dartmouth, while returning from a fishing voyage to Newfoundland and enroute to Portugal was seized by Robert Stephens, a pirate."(1) Alex's largest ship was the "Golden Cat" of 450 tons which was twice as large as most of the ships of the time such at the "Mayflower", and three times as large as Sir Francis Drake's "Golden Hind".(2) Alexander was an eminent merchant in Kingsweare, Devon and named the town of Kittery after his manor of Kittery Court in Kingswear which overlooked the River Dart. His large interests in New England were looked after by the Treworgys and his son Nicholas, whose transactions in his name, with the depositions ofservants, would make it appear that he was here at times when actually he was in England. (3) Kittery Court- Kingswear Fire at Kittery Court- 2007 On 5 May 1636 as Alex's agent, his grandson John Treworgy purchased 500 acres on Kittery Point and on 10 Jan. 1636/7 he bought another 800 acres in Eliot for his grandfather.(2) Alex probably lived most of the time at his home on the 800 acre lot in Eliot at Watts Fort or Point Joslyn and was known as Kittery House after his manor in Kingsweare. Here he built a warehouse and ordinary. Capt. William Everett was in charge of the ordinary. From an article in the "Boston Globe" it seems as though the first cup of tea made in this country was made at Kittery House.(2) On 15 Oct. 1650 in the court records is the following: "Forasmuch as the house at the river's mouth, where Mr. Shapleigh's father first built and Mr. Wm Hilton now dwelleth, in regard it was the first house there built and Mr. Shapleigh intendeth to build and enlarge, it is thought fit it should from time to time be for a house of entertainment or ordinary, with this proviso, that the tenant be such an one as the inhabitants shall approve of".(2) In May 1674 his daughter Catherine pleading for her brother, told that about 38 years since in a time of great scarcity her father laid out a good estate for the supply of the country. In 1679 John White deposed that about 42 years ago Mr. Alexander Shapleigh and Mr. James Treworgye agreed with the neighbors dwelling at and about Sturgeon Creek. (3) The first house was later enlarged and made into a garrison for protection against Indian raids. It therefore appears that Alex had a house, a warehouse and was running a sawmill on Spruce Creek by the mid 1630's. Philip Swadden supposedly held an Indian deed to that part of Kittery Point and he was probably in Alex's employ and was living in a wigwam near the warehouse.(2) Alex spent most of his time in England and his family here managed his estates. On 2 Apr. 1641 James Treworgy sold all of Alex's property in America to Mr. Nicholas Shapleigh, then of Kingsweare, son of Alex Shapleigh for £1,500. The ordinary, warehouse and a small parcel of land was left in possession of Capt. William Everett who died soon afterwards. In 1652 67 acres of land was confirmed by the town to Nathan Lord, son-in-law to Capt. Everett. Another 20 acres were confirmed to the heirs of Nicholas Frost. Another 47 acres were granted to others due to overlapping boundaries to other grant holders leaving Maj. Nicholas Shapleigh with about 760 acres of land.(2) "Alexander Shapleigh of Pascattaquacke in the Province of Mayne marchant... in consideracon that James Treworgy my sonne in law standeth bound for me to severall psons in England for the sume of seaven Hundred pounds and hath taken upon him selfe to satisfie the same, as alsoe for divers other good causes & Valuable consideracons... doe... sell... all that my lands, houses, goods, Chattails, ffish, ffishing craft, botes & all other things to the ffishing trade belonging... together wth all my whole estate boeth reall and psonall wch I now have, shall have or ought to have in New England... the 26th Day of May... 1642, Alexsander Shapleigh... in the prsence of Roger Garde, Mighaell Taynter, Nicholas Treworgy. Memo that the within named Alex : Shapleigh did deliver to the wthin named roger Garde for the Use of the wthin named James Treworgy one silver cupp in pte of the posession of all the prmises within granted in the prsence of us: Michaell Taynter, Nico : Treworgy- This is a trew coppie of the originall taken the 3rd day of July 1650."(4) In 1647 George Ludlow of York County, Virginia, merchant, had dealings with Mr. Alexander Shapleigh of Dartmouth and John Treworgye of Newfoundland.(6) Elizabeth Trickey's deposition made it appear that Alex died here, and apparently he was not long dead 6 July 1650 when the question to whom the estate belonged was brought before Godfrey. He ruled that Mrs. Treworgye was in no way possessed of the estate or responsible for any debts, as her father conveyed everything before he died and no will was proved, he evidently considering the deeds covered the same property. "Whereas Mrs Katheren Treworgy being sumoned to appeare at a Courte houlden for this Province of Mayne in Accomenticus the 5th of July 1650 to shew what Cause she had to challenge or Claim any Interest or Propriety in the Estate of Mr Alexsander Shapleigh deceasd then it was made appear by a Deed bearing Date the 26th of May 1642 from Mr Alexsander Shapleigh to Mr James Treworgy... all the Estate for sarten Sums of Money... that he the sd James Treworgy was engaged for as by the sd Deed more at large doth & may appeare & by another Deed from the sd James Treworgy all the Estate was made over to Mr Nicholas Shapleigh for & in Consideration of ye Sum of £1500... So it appeared to the Court that the Estate of Mr Alexsander Shapleigh was of no Consequence or to be approved of as capable of Bequest nor no Will proved soe it was determined that the Estate was Mr Nicholas Shapleigh's & Mrs Katheren Treworgy to renounce all Interest therein So the Court did find & determine that the sd Mrs Treworgy is any Way possessed of the Estate of the sd Mr Alexsander Shapleigh or liable to any Debtes of the sd Estate... 6th of July 1650. pr me Edw : Godfrey Governr, Basill Parker Re : Cor :".(5) The ruins of the old mill on Shapleigh Creek on River Rd. in Eliot can still be seen having been preserved by the salt water. The current home on the site of Kittery House in Eliot was built in 1802 by Capt. Elisha Shapleigh. There is a bronze plaque on River Rd. in front of the house placed there by the Shapleigh Family Association in 1912. "Site Of The Kittery House Erected About 1638 By Alexander Shapleigh The Immigrant This House Gave Name To The Town Of Kittery This Tablet Was Placed Here By The Shapleigh Family Association Dedicated August 19, 1912" Alexander's son, Major Nicholas Shapleigh, bore the arms "Vert, a chevron between three escallops Argent". Issue- 3I. KATHERINE- m.1. 16 Mar. 1617 Kingsweare, Brixham, Devon, JAMES TREWORGY (d. by 1650), 2. Edward Hilton), adm. 30 May 1676 II. Alexander- m.9 Apr. 1622 Kingweare, Devon, Elizabeth Tellman, d. 1642. His son John, is the ancestor of the Kittery Shapleighs. III. Elizabeth-bpt. 16 June 1602 Kingsweare, m. 4 July 1626 John Bereford IV. James- bpt.16 Apr. 1608 Kingsweare, James V. Nicholas- bpt. 1 Jan. 1617/8 Kingsweare, m. Alice _____ (living 20 Dec. 1685), d.s.p. 29 Apr. 1682, killed by a falling mast at a launching at John Diamond's. Ref: (1) Admiralty Records quoted in Coldham's "English Adventurers" found on the Shapleigh Family Association web site at: (2) Shapleigh Family Association web site at: (3) Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire- pp.623-4 (4) York Deeds- Vol. I, fol. 7 (5) Ibid- fol. 11 (6) Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire- p. 447 Old Kittery and her Families- p. 716

Shapleigh Family Association

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Alexander Shapleigh, of Totnes & Old Kittery's Timeline

March 15, 1561
March 17, 1561
St. Omer, Normandy, France
March 17, 1561
Saint-Omer, Pas de Calais, Artois, France
Totnes, Devon, England
April 2, 1599
Age 25
Kingsweare, Brixham, Devon, England
June 16, 1602
Age 28
Kingsweare, Brixham, Devon, England
Age 28
Brixham, Devonshire, England
February 5, 1605
Age 31
Kingsweare, Brixham, Devon, England