Francis Johnson

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Francis Johnson

Birthplace: England
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Joan Johnson and Hannah Johnson
Father of Hannah Johnson; Naomi Sherman; Elizabeth MacCarthy (Johnson); Francis Johnson; Sarah Morris and 2 others

Managed by: Hatte Blejer on partial hiatus
Last Updated:

About Francis Johnson

The Great Migration Begins



  • ORIGIN: Unknown
  • MIGRATION: 1630
  • REMOVES: Marblehead by about 1634, Boston by 1672
  • OCCUPATION: Trader. He was possibly the Francis Johnson involved in outfitting the first vessels for the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1628/9 [MBCR 1:23].
  • CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: In the list of Salem church members compiled late in 1636 [SChR 5].
  • FREEMAN: 18 May 1631 [MBCR 1:366].
  • EDUCATION: Wrote well and as clerk of writs used some extraordinary spelling.
  • OFFICES: Massachusetts Bay grand jury, 6 March 1676[/7], 7 March 1681[/2] [RCA 1:78, 202]. Coroner's jury, on an Indian named Peter, November Term 1665 [EQC 3:297].

Commissioner to end small causes at Marblehead, 29 November 1655, 25 November 1656 [EQC 1:412, 2:6]. Clerk of the writs, confirmed 28 November 1651 [EQC 1:245]. Selectman of Marblehead, 1663, 1664 [EQC 3:110, 4:378].

Lieutenant, Marblehead train band, 18 May 1653 [MBCR 3:304].

  • ESTATE: On 1 April 1634 he pledged 40s. towards the sea fort [MBCR 1:113].

On 4 January 1635[/6] Salem granted to "Leiftenant Johnson" a farm of 20[0] acres at Brooksby on the north side of the river, highways exempted and all rivers free, and shall maintain highways in that with the usual proviso in case of sale. When the land was laid out, he was called "Mr. Francis Johnson" [STR 1:12]. His 200 acre grant was apparently in the freeman's land [STR 1:20]. He was evidently restricted from building on the property without town consent; possibly the town elders wished to control where he might set up a store or trading post [STR 1:32]. The two groups could not agree, and "forasmuch as that Mr. Franc[i]s Johnson did relinquish a farm formerly granted him at Brooksbie upon the town's request, & now desiring meet accommodations elsewhere, it is therefore ordered that he shall have six acres of meadow and fourteen acres of other grounds at Brooksby ... where his cow house now is, and nine score acres more near the Cedar Pond above a mile distance from it" [STR 1:33-4].

In the 25 December 1637 grant of marsh and meadow "Mr. Johnson" was granted three quarters of an acre for a household of four [STR 1:103].

On 8 January 1643/4 Mr. Francis Johnson was allowed to exchange six or seven acres near his farm on the plains and Capt. Trask and Thomas Gardner were directed to lay it out, ensuring that there was a convenient cartway near the farm [STR 1:123-24].

At June Term 1674 John Legg laid claim to land he paid a cow for to Mr. Francis Johnson [EQC 5:347].

Francis Johnson "of Boston" sued Joseph Curtis at the provincial court at York in November 1677 for "pulling down [his] ... house in York and carrying it away, as also pulling down of his fences of his orchard and garden" [MPCR 2:333].

On 23 March 1690/1 administration on the estate of "Capt. Francis Johnson, late of Boston, deceased, intestate is granted unto Thaddeus MacKartey of Boston, Shopkeeper, and to Elizabeth his wife, the eldest daughter of the deceased" [SPR Case #1827].

  • BIRTH: About 1607 (deposed aged "about fifty-nine years" 7 March 1666/7 [EQC 3:417]; deposed as "Francis Johnson, Sr., of Boston, aged about sixty-six years" 25 November 1672 [EQC 5:115]; deposed aged sixty-seven years, 28 March 1674 [EQC 5:282]).
  • DEATH: Boston 3 February 1690/1 [BVR 193; Sewall 275].
  • MARRIAGE: (1) By 1636 Joan _____; "Johane Johnson" was in the list of Salem church members compiled late in 1636, with the annotation "dead" [SChR 6]; she died after February 1653/4 (birth of last child) and before 24 October 1656 (remarriage of husband). (2) Boston 24 October 1656 Hannah Hanbury [BVR 57], widow of William Hanbury. (Noyes, Libby and Davis mistakenly give her name as "Madbury" [GDMNH 382].)
  • CHILDREN (all baptized Salem):

With first wife

  1. NAOMI, bp. 1 April 1638 [SChR 16]; m. by 1661 Samuel Sherman of Boston [BVR 79, 93]. (On 5 October 1665 "Mrs. Sherman the daughter of Mr. Johnson (our brother) living in Boston but belonging to this Church" came into Salem church under the Halfway Covenant and had her son baptized on the twenty-eighth of the same month SChR 27, 107].)
  2. RUTH, bp. 29 March 1640 [SChR 17]; no further record.
  3. ELIZABETH, bp. 24 April 1642 [SChR 19]; m. by 1667 Thaddeus McCarthy (son b. Boston 21 March 1667 [BVR 105]).
  4. FRANCIS, bp. 16 June 1644 [SChR 20]; possibly the Francis Johnson at Pemaquid 1683-90 [GDMNH 382].
  5. SAMUEL, bp. 20 May 1649 [SChR 22]; no further record.
  6. JOAN, bp. 5 October 1651 [SChR 23]; no further record.
  7. i SARAH, bp. 19 February 1653/4 [SChR 24]; suspected of infanticide in November 1682 and spirited away by her father to York where she m. before 6 March 1683[/4] John Morris [MPCR 3:174-75].
  • ASSOCIATIONS: The General Court on 31 May 1660 ruled

In answer to the petition of Francis Johnson, humbly craving the grant of lands for money laid out in the common stock by his uncle, Mr. Christopher Coultson, the Court sees not reason to grant his request, in regard it doth not appear that there was any money disbursed, or if there were, yet the petitioner hath no order to receive it [MBCR 4:1:429].

This uncle was probably the "Mr. Colston" who attended meetings of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Company in London on 28 and 29 August 1629 [MBCR 1:49, 50].

About 1635 Francis Johnson was in partnership with ROGER CONANT, PETER PALFREY and ANTHONY DIKE. At November Term 1655 the partners sued Johnson over a parcel of beaver received some twenty years since from Mr. [RICHARD] FOXWELL. The court attached Johnson's dwelling house, the house that had been Walsingham Chelson's, and the orchard and seven or eight sheep as bond [EQC 1:409]. The case went all the way to the Court of Assistants [EQC 2:22] and generated many interesting depositions. The most genealogically significant of them was by Dorothy Norris, who deposed that when she was at Marblehead at her brother Johnson's house, about three or four years since, there came a man from the eastward who said to Mr. Johnson that Mr. Foxwell was poor, and had nothing to pay with, unless he took a child or two [EQC 2:26].

  • COMMENTS: Francis Johnson was a shrewd and aggressive trader who did business up and down the coast. His frequent appearances in the Boston, Essex and York courts were predictably to pursue debtors and clear debts.

In a deposition dated 27 September [1684], Francis Johnson aged eighty years or thereabouts testifieth and saith that at my first coming to Marblehead in New England which was about forty years since I knew and was well acquainted with Elizabeth Weston the reputed daughter of Mr. Thomas Weston of the City of London in the Kingdom of England, merchant, who was then gone on a voyage from New England aforesaid to Virginia and that he left the said Elizabeth at the house of Mr. Moses Maverick of Marblehead aforesaid [NEHGR 50:203].

On 26 October 1674 Mr. Francis Johnson and Henry Harwood were sureties for the bond of Ezekiel Fogg when Fogg was charged with fornication by Mary Hawkins [SCC 1:518].

In December 1648 Mr. Francis Johnson was ordered to pay Salem for half a barrel of powder, which he acknowledged but pled that he might be respited until 25 June 1649 that he might provide it "at the coming of ships in the spring" [EQC 1:154].

With Mr. Edmond Batter, Johnson was administrator of the estate of Macklin Huckstable of Marblehead [November Term, 1656, EQC 2:7]. He took the inventory of Jane James, widow of Erasmus James, for the June Term 1660 court [EQC 2:213]. He took the inventories of Roger Tucker and of James Smith for the June Term 1661 court [EQC 2:302, 306]. At November Term 1670 He was appointed an appraiser of the house and land at Boston belonging to Susanna Pitt, widow of William Pitt of Marblehead [1670, EQC 4:313].

Francis Johnson of Marblehead had his license to sell wine renewed for one year June Term, 1658 [EQC 2:100]. He was fined for "four times selling strong water" that same term, however [EQC 2:135]. At the December Term, 1661, he was licensed to sell strong waters at retail "as other shop keepers do" [EQC 2:339]. At June Term, 1662, he was renewed "provided he be governed by the restrictions made by the last Ipswich court in such cases" [EQC 2:413]. He was still selling retail wine, beer and cider in 1673 [EQC 5:223].

While in the business of trading up and down the coast, "Francis Johnson & Co." made the mistake of mooring their boat on a rock before Christopher Lattimore's land. Lattimore announced that he would have a quintal of fish for the mooring or he would cut them away, and promptly cut away their mooring anchor. Johnson was forced to go to Boston to get another anchor and was several days inconvenienced as a result. He won his suit against Lattimore at the November Term, 1663 [EQC 3:102-3].

At March Term 1674, some discrepancies were noted in the Marblehead town book kept by Thaddeus Radden. William Beale, aged above forty years, deposed that "Mr. Francis Johnson told him that he could neither attest nor swear that the book called Marblehead town book was a true copy of the records" [EQC 5:279]. On 28 March 1674 Francis Johnson, himself, "aged about sixty-seven years" deposed that he had been the keeper of the Marblehead town book, "and after another had been chosen and kept the book for some years, it was returned to him again. Then he found that several leaves had been cut or torn out" [EQC 5:282].

There are possible discrepancies in the records of Francis Johnson's children. In the 1637 grant of land Francis Johnson is credited with a household of four, but we do not have any record that he had children by that date, although he may well have had servants. The gap of five years between Francis, born in 1644, and Samuel, born in 1649, might be indicative of miscarriages or of another wife.

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Francis Johnson's Timeline

Age 29
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
April 1, 1638
Age 31
Age 34
Age 37
Age 42
Age 47
February 3, 1691
Age 84
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States