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Cicely Davis (Thayer)

Also Known As: "Cicely Thayer", "Sissilla Thayer", "Sissilla"
Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England
Death: May 28, 1673 (73)
Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Thayer, III and Joan Rymer
Wife of James Davis, of Haverhill
Mother of Judith Guile; James Davis, ll, of Haverhill; Ens. John Davis; Ephraim Davis, of Haverhill; Samuel Davis, of Haverhil and 1 other
Sister of John Thayer; Agnes Thayer; John Thayer, Twin; Alice Thayer, Twin; Edward Thayer and 5 others

Managed by: Chrystal Dawn Hornbuckle
Last Updated:

About Cicely Davis

Cicely Thayer

  • chr.1 May 1600 Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England
  • d.28 May 1673 Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts
  • Father John Thayer
  • Mother Joan Lawrence


  1. 11 Jun 1618 Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England Recorded at Thornbury. to James Davis. He was the son of John Davys and Agnes Samon.

Their children

  • 1. James Davis (b. 28 January 1621 - d. 18 July 1694), m. Elizabeth Eaton on 1 December 1648).
  • 2. John Davis (b. 28 January 1621 or 1623)
  • 3. Judith Davis (b. 1625) m. Samuel Gild on 1 September 1647.
  • 4. Perhaps Joanna Davis (b. c1632) m. 26 October 1645 with George Corliss. (sic: more likely the daughter of Thomas Davis as she is not named in his will)
  • 5. Ephraim Davis (b. 1633 - d. 28 September 1679), m. 31 December 1659 with Mary Johnson.
  • 6. Samuel Davis (b. 26 November 1640 in Haverhill - d. 10 September 1696), m. 17 December 1663 in Haverhill with Deborah Barnes.
  • 7. Hannah Davis (b. c1645)
  • 8. Sarah Davis (d. 7 July 1680), m. 16 June 1663 with John Page, Jr.



James Davis b. 1580s Marlborough, England d. 1678 Haverhill, MA

Whenever I do some research on James Davis, I picture this stern looking Puritan looking down on me disdainfully for all of my modern day transgressions! He was my 12th great-grandfather and the great-grandfather of Mary Smith who I wrote about here. He was a prominent man involved in community affairs, obviously brave (or foolhardy?) as he settled in Indian territory, and accused someone of witchcraft.

James was born 1583-1588 in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, according to old Bible records. His father may have been John Davis. He married Cicely (Thayer?) 11 June 1618 in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England. They had seven children: James, John, Samuel, Sarah (who died young), Judith, Ephraim, and Sarah. I descend from John who married Jane Peasley and moved to Oyster River (current Durham NH).

He sailed to Massachusetts Colony with his wife and three oldest children.  His brothers Samuel, Thomas, John, and Ephraim also came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

James was made a freeman at Newbury on March 4, 1634/5.  He received a grant of land at Hampton in 1639.  In May 1644 he had moved to the Indian village of Pentucked (now Haverhill) where he was listed as one of the first settlers.  James Davis was one of 12 original settlers in the "wild woods" of Pentucket who were from Ipswich and Newbury.

Map Showing Haverhill's location

Four years later on 17 August 1648 he sold his land at Hampton. I have read some speculation that the James Davis in Hampton was another man of the same name, but other family was there as well so it is likely this James.

In 1650 his land was worth 200 pounds, the highest amount in Haverhill.

James Davis, Sen., and his son Ephraim Davis along with others, signed a paper presented to the Ipswich Court in February 1658-9, against John Godfrey, accusing him of witchcraft. They said they had suffered losses in their estates or afflictions to their bodies that weren’t from natural causes but rather from an ill-disposed person. This was prior to the Salem witchcraft trials and only five cases on the charge of witchcraft are known to have occurred in Massachusetts before the Salem cases.  Such trials were held periodically, but the outcomes generally favored the accused. 

The case against John Godfrey of Andover, a notorious character consistently involved in litigation, was dismissed. Godfrey was again accused by someone else in 1662.

James was active in town government, serving as selectman (amongst the first named in 1648), on the grand jury, was representative to the General Court, Justice of the Peace. He was discharged from militia training in 1650 because of his age.

He lived near Rocks village, East Haverhill. In 1661, he and his wife “Cisley” sold two acres of his Haverhill house lot to George Brown.

Old photo of Rock's Village from the Eagle Tribune Newspaper

Cicely died 28 May 1673 in Haverhill. James made out his will on 17 May 1675/6 during the time of King Philip's War.  He wrote a codicil 22 July 1678 and was proved 1680. He died at Haverhill, Massachusetts on 29 January 1678/9, age 96.

David Hoyt wrote that James Davis of Haverhill is not James who married Cicely Thayer at Gloucestershire, so there is some doubt.


  • Sybil Noyes, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, 1928
  • David Webster Hoyt, Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury Massachusetts vol 1, 1897
  • George Wingate Chase, The History of Haverhill, Massachusetts, From Its Settlement in 1640 to the Year 1860, 1861
  • Everett S. Stackpole and Winthrop S. Meserve, History of the Town of Durham New Hampshire (Oyster River Plantation), volume 1 history, volume 2 genealogical, 1913
  • Linnda R. Caporael, Ergotism: The Satan Loosed in Salem?, Science Magazine, 2 April 1976
    • Stott, Clifford L. The Gloucestershire T(h)ayer Ancestry: The Ancestry of Cicely Tayer, Wife of James1 Davis of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and Probable Cousin of Thomas and Richard T(h)ayer of Braintree, Massachusetts. American Genealogist (D.L. Jacobus). (Apr, Jul 1998), 73:210.
      • Cicely1 Tayer, bp. Thornbury, 1 May 1600 (godparents: Thomas Pytcher, Als Hilpe, gentlewoman, Mary Tratman); she is mentioned in the will of her father. Cicely d. Haverhill. Mass., 28 May 1673. She m. Gloucester, 11 June 1618 (recorded in the Thornbury register), James1 Davis, son of JohnA Davis of Acton Turville, Gloucs., and emigrated to New England before 1640.
    • "Memoirs: Nestor Wilbur Davis", in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society), Vol 93 p.373, 1939.
      • "… James Davis, who was born in England about 1595, married at Thornbury, co. Gloucester, England, 11 June 1618, Cicely Thayer (baptized at Thornbury 1 May 1600, died 28 May 1673, daughter of John and Joane (Lawrence) Thayer), immigrated to New England and settled at Newbury, where he was admitted a freeman 4 March 1634/5 but in 1639 moved to Hampton and in 1644 to Haverhill, where he was selectman, grand juryman, and representative to the General Court, and died 29 January 1678/9 …"

From Thayer Family Geneaolgy Forum:

RE: Cicely Thayer, I have the following errata from the Thayer Families Association Web page which refers to Patricia Thayer Muno's book "The Thayer - Tayer - Theyer Families of Gloucestershire, England. It corrects some misinformation which has been promulgated for several years.

Compiled by G. David Thayer

The following corrections to this book are required owing to discoveries made by researcher Clifford L. Stott and published in The American Genealogist.1 The errors corrected here were caused mostly by misreading of original parish registry entries from the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Thornbury, Gloucester, England by Walter Faxon, Edward Henry Whorf, and Henry Ernest Woods.2

Number 93 (page 69) Cecily Thayer, who married James Davis and was an immigrant to America, was actually the daughter of #66 John Thayer (Tawier) and Joan Lawrence (page 68). She replaces child vi, #72, Evelyn (or Ellyne) Thayer. Woods3 misread "Cicelye" as "Evelyn (?)" in the will of her father, John Thayer, which led to the confusion about Cicely’s parentage. Cicely was baptized as "Sicely Tayer" on 1 May 1600. All other information about Cicely given on page 69 of this book is believed to be correct.

Number 66 (page 68) John Thayer, who married Joan Lawrence and whose sixth child was the Cecily Thayer discussed in the previous paragraph (and who was baptized on 1 May 1600), was baptized on 6 May 1561, not 28 Feb 1563/1564 (which should have read "1562/1563"). The latter baptismal record was based on a misreading by Faxon et al. of the entry for Johanes Tayler (not Tawier), who was not a Thayer. John Thayer died on 1 Jan 1601 and was buried on 4 Jan 1601 according to the parish records (on page 68 he is incorrectly listed as having been buried on 1 Jan 1601); the Julian year for these events was 1600 (see discussion below). In the will of John Tayer at the bottom of page 68, the second line should read: "… To 3 daughters Alice, Agnes and Cicelye Tayer …" rather than "Alice, Agnes, and Evelyn (Ellyne?)."1,3

Number 3 (pp. 51–52) John Thayer, who was born about 1531 and was buried on 12 Oct 1584, is probably the correct father of #66 John Thayer, except the latter was #11, child iii, baptized 6 May 1561, not number 66, child v, baptized 28 Feb 1563, which is based on the incorrect reading for the baptism of John Taylor, as discussed in the preceding paragraph. Number 66, in effect, does not exist, and #11 was the John Thayer who later married Joan Lawrence and had a daughter named Cicely Thayer. Child v of John Thayer and Mary Roberts probably does not exist. In addition, the text at the top of page 52 should read: "Mary died, and was buried 30 [not 20] Apr 1611 at Thornbury, Gloucester, England. The parish register entry reads: ‘The 30th day [of April 1611] was buried Mrs. Mary Cooke whose sister enlaw [sic] wast the Thomas Tawyer who died in Ano 1573.’ (It should be noted that in those days the term ‘sister-in-law’ had an entirely different meaning than it does today.)" This Thomas was #102 on pp. 51 & 72.

Number 6 (p. 53) Thomas Thayer’s name was mistranscribed in preparing this book; his name was actually Francis Tawier (Thayer). His baptismal date and record (except for the name "Thomas") are given correctly on p. 53.

Number 10 (p. 54) Ferdinando Thayer’s baptismal record was misread. He was listed as "Ferdinando Tawyer" (not "Ferdinand Tawier"), and godfathers were Thomas Pockwood (not "Porkwood") and John Earle (not "Carle").1,2

Number 67 (p. 68) should be Jane Thayer (name mistranscribed as "Joan") baptized 22 Oct 1590. She was buried on 8 Nov 1590, and was listed as unplaced "Jane Tayer" on p. 74.

In addition, Stott reveals that the Thornbury parish records followed the unusual practice of starting the new year on 1 Jan during the period from 1550 through 1610, instead of 25 Mar, which was the rule under the Julian calendar that was in general usage in England until 1752. Beginning in 1611, the parish records switch to using the Julian calendar (new year begins on 25 Mar) through 1752, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted throughout England and her colonies. Thus, the Thornbury parish seems to have anticipated part of the Gregorian calendar reform even before it was offically promulgated by the Vatican (in 1582). This means that the double-dating of entries in this book falling between 1 Jan and 24 Mar during the period 1550-1610 may be incorrect. Many of these should be one year earlier than given. A list of known errors of this sort follows. The page number is given followed by the correct information:

51: #1 John Thayer was buried on 11 Feb 1560/1561. Parish entry is 1561.

If you would like further information on the book, see the website for ordering info.

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Cicely Davis's Timeline

May 1, 1600
Gloucestershire, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Thornbury, Gloucester, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Thornbury, Gloucester, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Thornbury, Gloucester, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Thornbury, Gloucester, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Thornbury, Gloucester, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Thornbury, Gloucester, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England
May 1, 1600
Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom