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Esdras Read

Also Known As: "Elias Read"
Birthplace: perhaps, Kent, England
Death: Died in Woburn, Massachussetts
Immediate Family:

Husband of Lucy Reade

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Esdras Read

1. Elias, who is supposed to be a son of William Reade of Maidstone, in the county of Kent, professor of divinity, and his wife Lucy, was born in 1595; and the first that is known of him is in Woburn, Mass. He had sons William and Philip, who were both born in England.


  • Researched & Transcribed by Peggy Leyva-Conley, Hollister, California - Ju 200


  1. "History of The Reed Family in Europe and America." By: Jacob Wittenmore Reed. Member of the New-England Historic-Genealogical Society Published: Boston Printed by Johyn Wilson and Son. 22, School Street Year: 1861 Reprinted by: Higginson Book Company, 148 Washington Street, Post Office Box 778. Salem, Massachusetts 01970. Phone: 978-745-7170


   Elias Read, and his Descendants.
   1. ELIAS, who is supposed to be a son of William Reade of MAIDSTONE, in t
   he County of KENT, Professor of Divinity, and HIS WIFE, LUCY was born in 1
   595; and the first that is know of him is in WOBURN, MASSACHUSETTS. He h
   ad sons William and Philip, who were BOTH BORN in ENGLAND.
   2. Philip, the son of Elias, was born in 1623 (the book states). He married Abigail. Their children were- Philip, born March 13, 1671; Jacob, Jan 30, 1673; Abigial, Oct 26, 1675; Amy, June 3, 1678. He was a PHYSICIAN, and settled first in Lynn. In 1669, he made a COMPLAINT against MARGARET, the WIFE of JOHN GIFFORD, for WITCHCRAFT. The complaint was not fully sustained; and, the GIFFORD FAMILY being influential (Mr. Gifford being agent of the IRON-WORKS,- an important position in those times), it operated against the popularity of DR. REED; and he, the next year, MOVED TO CONCORD, where he practised his PROFESSION many years. The unhappy effects of his controversy at Lynn followed him to CONCORD, where he was bitterly persecuted by or thought he influence of the GIFFORD FAMILY, and at one time went to JAIL for Something growing out of it. He was ONE of the TRUSTEES of the ESTATE of JOHN PROCTOR of SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS; appointed in 1689. This Mr. Proctor is supposed to be the FATHER of the PERSON of the same name WHO was HUNG at SALEM, for WITCHCRAFT, in 1692; the principal evidence which contributed to his conviction being the testimony of the Celebrated COTTON MATHER, D.D., who testified that he had seen EVIL SPIRITS COME BEHIND Mr. PROCTOR, and hold conversations with him, during the trial. DR. REED had an extensive PRACTICE in CONCORD, and many other towns in the Counties of MIDDLESEX and ESSEX. He died at CONCORD, May 10, 1696: his wife died April 16, 1709.

•See Register, vols. 42, p. 277; 58, p. 201.

The Myth Of Elias Read.—This name, in Jacob W. Reed's "History of the Reed Family," Boston, 1861, p. 272, is given as that of an original immigrant from England to America, and as the founder of one of the pioneer New England Ueed families. As a matter of fact there was not one of the original immigrants of the Reads, however spelled, that bore the name Elias. An explanation of the error in Mr. Reed's statement is found in the source of his information.

Mr. Thomas B. Wyman of Charlestown, Mass., a noted genealogist in his day, in the course of his work made an " Abstract of Middlesex Court Files from 1649 to 1075," which manuscript is now preserved in the library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. On p. 74, among abstracts from the original court papers in the case of Johnson v. Viaales, appears this entry:

" 1657. 10. 29. Test: Elias Reed about 57 (fifty seven) years of age."

From an examination of the original Middlesex County Court Records at East Cambridge, it was found that the record of testimony reads Esdras Read upon the face of it, and is endorsed very plainly on the back " Ezdras Read. test. Sworne in Court 29. (10) 57 " (29 Dec. 1657).

Mr. Reed undoubtedly took the name Elias from Wyman's copy, as stated above, without verifying it by comparison with the original papers, and so put into print an erroneous statement which has been widely spread in other genealogical works. Esdras Read is a well known original immigrant (History of the Reed Family, p. 151), who lived at an early date in Woburn, Middlesex County, and the statement in regard to the mythical Elias, that" the first that Is known of him is in Woburn, Mass.," (p. 272) plainly relates to Esdras. The further statement that " Elias, who is supposed to be a son of William Reade of Maidstone in the county of Kent, professor of divinity, and his wife Lucy, was born in 1595, " of course does not hold good when the Elias in question never existed! Neither does the statement hold in regard to Esdras, for it is not known what was his native place in England, and by his own testimony above he was born about the year 1600. Further (p. 272) it is stated that Elias " had sons William and Philip, who were both born in England." Not a word of other mention or information is given in regard to this son William. As there was early in Woburn a William Read, doubtless this was the one Mr. Reed had in mind as a son of Elias, but the mistake he made here he failed to correct when later it is evident he knew that William of Woburn was himself an original immigrant and made record of him as such (p. 61). Philip, mentioned above as the other son of Elias, is the well known Doctor Philip Read of Concord who died there in 1696 and was himself an original immigrant, coming to New England but a short time prior to 1660 and founding the Concord branch of the Read Family.

Next (pages 286-7) we find, without a word of explanation as to the reason of the failure to make prior mention with that of sons William and Philip above, the statements that

"2. Thomas, son of Ellas, settled in Sudbury and died July 25, 1659 . . .;

3. Thomas, son of Thomas of Sudbury, married Mary Bigelow . . .;

4. Thomas, son of Thomas and Mary of Sudbury, married Mary Wood. . .; 6. Thomas, son of Thomas and Mary of Sudbury, born May 22, 1678."

Now the birth of Thomas No. 5 is correct, being so given upon the town records of Sudbury. If, therefore, we suppose his father, Thomas No. 4, married at the age of 21, and his first child Thomas No. 5 was born at 22, and that Thomas No. 3 and Thomas No. 2 each did the same, it would give us 1678-22=1656-22= 1634-22=1612-1595 (the given date of Elias's birth)=17 years. So Elias would have been only 16 years of age at the time of his marriage, and 17 at the birth of his first child. But the space of years for each generation is too short, and the age of Elias is too youthful to make the genealogical table a true one, even had the name Elias been a correct one. Clearly on the face of it there is a mistake.

As a matter of fact, Thomas No. 2 who died July 25, 1659, never was resident in Sudbury. He died in Boston, and his estate is a matter of record there in the Suffolk Registry of Probate. He probably belonged to one of the Salem families.

Referring to Thomas No. 3 above, he himself was an original Immigrant and is mentioned in the town records of Sudbury as early as 1655. He came from the city of Colchester, Co. Essex, England, and was the son of Thomas Read, a carpenter in that city, whose will is of record in Somerset House, London (see Hudson's History of Sudbury for further information furnished by the writer).

New England Historic Genealogical Society - 1909 - New England

THE MYTH OF ELIAS READ.— This name, in Jacob W. ... was born in 1595, " of course does not hold good when the Elias in question never existed ! ...

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Esdras Read's Timeline

Kent, England
Woburn, Massachussetts