Captain Joseph Silvester

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Captain Joseph Silvester

Also Known As: "Sylvester"
Birthplace: Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Colonial America
Death: July 22, 1690 (52)
Scituate, Plymouth County, New Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Silvester and Naomi Silvester
Husband of Mary Silvester
Father of Joseph Sylvester; Mary (Sylvester) Curtis - Chesebrough; Anna Bates; Solomon Silvester; Naomi Turner and 3 others
Brother of John Silvester, Sr.; Elizabeth Lowell; Israel Sylvester; Charity Ricks; Dinah Silvester and 6 others
Half brother of Frances Slade

Occupation: Military officer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Captain Joseph Silvester

Born on 12 Apr 1638 at Weymouth, MA (Vital Records of Weymouth, Massachusetts to the year 1850, Boston, 1910).

Joseph settled north of Church Hill (L. Vernon Briggs, History and Genealogy of the Briggs Family, 1254-1937). In the Indian raid of 1676 his house was burned. He was a captain under Col. Benjamin Church in the Eastern Expedition in 1689. In the Canada Expedition of 1690 led by Sir William Phips, Joseph Sylvester was Captain of a company (the Plymouth Regiment) which included several men from Scituate; many never returned. Capt. Sylvester died in the expedition (see in Soldiers in the Expedition to Canada, 1690, page 27); his name appears in a list taken from Probate Records of Plymouth County (Soldiers in the Expedition to Canada, 1690, page 80). Doubtless based on this and similar sources, Captain Joseph's FindAGrave entry states he died October 1690 in Beauport, Quebec, Canada. (Note: Find A Grave link no longer working 10/17/2018)

The online journal Archeology posted in 1997 that a sunken ship in the St. Lawrence River had been identified as one of four lost during the ill-fated Phips Expedition to "capture" Quebec:

"Found half-buried in sand near the town of Baie Trinité, Quebec, the ship is believed to have carried soldiers from Dorchester, Massachusetts. In the summer of 1690, a flotilla of 34 ships under the command of Sir William Phips left Massachusetts to attack Quebec City in the early years of the French and Indian War. Phips was so confident of success that he sent a messenger to the governor of Quebec, the Comte de Frontenac, telling him that the French had an hour to surrender. The French, however, were well prepared and turned back the attack." According to National Geographic (August 2000), "the sunken ship was the Elizabeth and Mary ... found with muskets, silver and other historical treasure on Christmas eve, 1994 by Marc Tremblay near his cottage after a strong storm. Four ships in the expedition never made it back to Massachusetts, and the colony, which had invested heavily in the expedition, was brought to near bankruptcy."

"The New England colonies and New York [had] dispatched a force overland against Montreal, which accomplished virtually nothing; while Phips, with about 32 ships (only 4 of which were of any size) and somewhat more than 2,000 Massachusetts militiamen, moved against Quebec by way of the St. Lawrence. Phips’s expedition was inadequately supplied with ammunition; and was delayed until unduly late in the summer by awaiting supplies hoped-for from England which never came. He sailed from Hull, near Boston, only on 19 or 20 Aug. 1690. Bad weather, contrary winds, and lack of a St. Lawrence pilot hampered progress, and Phips did not anchor in the Quebec basin until 16 October. Quebec’s defences had hitherto been very slight; but during the past few months the governor, Buade de Frontenac, had strengthened them considerably. When on October 16 Phips sent Frontenac, by Major Thomas Savage, a summons to surrender, the governor made the famous reply that he had no answer to give “save from the mouths of my cannon and from my muskets”."

"On 23 and 24 October, 1690 [after several skirmishes], an exchange of prisoners was negotiated and effected, and Phips’s ships then made sail for Boston. Although his own account of the expedition claims that his casualties did not exceed 30 men, the loss by sickness or marine accident ran into hundreds; James Lloyd of Boston wrote in the following January, “7 vessels yet wanting 3 more cast away & burnt.” Cotton Mather tells how one brigantine was wrecked on Anticosti; her crew maintained themselves on the island through the winter and were apparently rescued the following summer by a ship from Boston. Phips’s defeat was complete and disastrous . . . [but] t.his reverse was far from ending Phips’s career. When William III granted a new charter to Massachusetts in 1691, the appointment of the governor was reserved to the Crown. On Increase Mather’s recommendation, Phips was made the first royal governor, taking up his duties in May 1692. The witchcraft mania was then active in Massachusetts. After a period of uncertainty, Phips put an end to the executions, reprieving all condemned persons pending instructions from London. In 1693 a letter from Queen Mary supported his attitude and, Phips said, averted the ruin of the province." Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Sir William Phips.


From John Stetson Barry, A Historical Sketch of the Town of Hanover, Mass., with family genealogies, Drake, Boston, 1853; also found at Capt. Joseph lived where Samuel Waterman’s house stands [in 1853], in South Scituate [Norwell], near Church Hill, and improved the farm where he purchased of John Whiston, 1664. As a reward for his services in the Indian wars, a grant of land was made to him and his company by the General Court, which was designed to have been in Maine, but which, when the line was run between the Provinces, proved to be in New Hampshire; and on a representation of these facts by Charles Turner, and others, agents for the claimants, in 1765, a new grant was made in Maine, on condition that 30 families and a minister should be settled, and a meeting-house built, within six years; and this is now known as the town of Turner, Maine. The land grant is also discussed in Soldiers in the Expedition to Canada, 1690, page 91.

Capt. JOSEPH Sylvester), b. Apr. 12, 1638; m. Mary {Barstow; see Pane-Joyce Genealogy} by1664. In 1689 Joseph was Captain under Col. Church, in the Eastern Expedition against the Indians. The next year he was Capt. (with 16 men from Scituate, many of whom never returned,) in Phillps' Canada Expedition, and died in the service. His will was verbal; and proved in the Court by three of his soldiers, viz.: Benjamin Stetson, John and William Perry. Wife, Mary, Executrix. "The town of Turner, Me., was a grant to this family for services in the Canadian wars."

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Captain Joseph Silvester's Timeline

April 12, 1638
Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Colonial America
November 11, 1664
Scituate, Plymouth Colony
June 26, 1666
Scituate, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
May 5, 1669
Scituate, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
March 31, 1674
Scituate, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
March 5, 1677
Scituate, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
December 11, 1680
Scituate, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
April 20, 1683
Scituate, Plymouth Colony, Colonial America
November 15, 1685
Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA