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Joanna Towne (Blessing)

Also Known As: "Jone"
Birthplace: Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England
Death: Died in Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Topsfield, Essex , Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Blessing and Joan Blyssynge
Wife of William Towne
Mother of Rebecca Nurse; John Towne; Susanna Towne; Edmund Towne; Jacob Towne and 3 others
Sister of Juliana Goose; Alice Firmage and Margaret Buffam

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Joanna Towne

(Ted Nadeau) There seems to be some confusion / debate about the parents (in particular the father) of Joanna Blessing.

e.g. John or William

From research, I think it is resolved as 'John' and any confusion might be due to the fact that Joanna married a 'William Towne'

This source supports 'John':

Blessing Family

Generation No. 1

1. JOHN1 BLESSING1,2,3 was born 1549 of Somerlayton, Suffolk, England3. He married JOANNE PREISTE4,5,6 October 15, 1569 in Somerleyton Parish, Suffolk, England7,8. She was born 1553 of Somerlayton, Suffolk, England8.


  1. i. JULIAN2 BLESSING9,10,11,12, b. 1571, Somerlayton, Suffolk, England13,14; m. THOMAS GOOSE15,16,17.
  2. ii. WILLIAM BLESSING18,19,20, b. 1575, Somerleyton, Suffolk?, England21,22.
  3. 2. iii. ALICE BLESSING, b. 1577; d. Abt. February 1655/56, Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts.
  4. iv. MARGARET BLESSING23,24,25, b. 1580-159025; m. ROBERT BUFFAM26,27,28, August 23, 1613 at Great Yarmouth. She d. before 1634 when he remarried THOMASIN WARD. He d. August 06, 1669 at Salem, Essex Co., Massachusetts.

This source also supports 'John'

Joanna was the daughter of John Blessing (b. 1549) of Somerlayton, Suffolk County, England, and Joanne Preiste (b. 1553)

This source also supports 'John'

Joanna Blessing's record of baptism is from the Caister Parish Register. She was baptized in The Holy Trinity Church in the town of Caister on-Sea, Norfolk Co. The record reads:

22 Jun 1595 Jone BLESSING daughter of John and Jone.

Joanna was the daughter of John Blessing (b. 1549) of Somerlayton, Suffolk County, England, and Joanne Preiste (b. 1553)

When Joanne [nee Blessing] Towne (b. 1594) came to the colonies her sister, Alice [nee Blessing] Firmage (b. 1577), and her brother-in-law, Robert Buffam, husband of her late sister, Margaret [nee Blessing] (b. 1580) (deceased) came too. Joanne Blessing was known as "Mother Goose." This was a misleading name, since it was her sister, Juliana [nee Blessing] (b. 1571) who married Thomas Goose. Juliana was the eldest daughter. William Blessing was their brother (b. 1575).

In the book Death in Salem by Diane E. Foulds, published 2010 by Globe Peguot Press, the stories of Johanna Towne's daughters Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce, and Mary Easty in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 are told. On page 68, Johanna is mentioned. The author states that, "all three were frequently reminded that their mother, Johanna Towne, had been a witch before them." A request to the author for further information has been sent, and this information will be updated as evidence is discovered.

Birth: 1594 Norwich Norfolk, England Death: 1682 Topsfield Essex County Massachusetts, USA Joanna Blessing was born about 1595 to William Blessing/Blyssyne, according to her age given in a lawsuit in 1670. She was probably born near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, but neither the record of her birth nor her baptism has been found. On April 25, 1620, Joanna married William Towne at the Church of St. Nicholas in Yarmouth. William and Joanna's first six children were also baptized at St. Nicholas.

William brought his family to New England before 1636, and they settled in Salem, where he was granted land in 1640. William and Joanna had two more children, Sarah and Joseph, born in Salem around that time. In 1651, William bought some land in the neighboring town of Topsfield. He sold his Salem land the next year and soon bought more land in Topsfield. On the occasion of his son Joseph's marriage in 1663, William deeded two thirds of his land to Joseph. William and Joanna probably lived with Joseph for the remainder of their days. William died in Topsfield on June 24, 1673, and his widow Joanna was named administrator. His estate wasn't probated until April, 1683, soon after the death of Joanna, when the estate was distributed among his children. Three of William and Joanna's daughters were accused in the Salem Witch Trials. Two of them, Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty, were hung. Sarah Cloyes escaped from the Ipswich jail before she could be executed.

Family links:

 William Towne (1598 - 1673)*

 Susanna Towne Hayward*
 Rebecca Towne Nurse (1622 - 1692)*
 John Towne (1624 - ____)*
 Edmund Towne (1628 - 1678)*
 Jacob Towne (1631 - 1704)*
 Mary Towne Easty (1634 - 1692)*
 Sarah Towne Clayes (1637 - 1703)*
 Joseph Towne (1639 - 1713)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Pine Grove Cemetery Topsfield Essex County Massachusetts, USA Created by: Nareen, et al Record added: Sep 05, 2009 Find A Grave Memorial# 41604390

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Joanna Towne's Timeline

June 22, 1595
Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England
June 22, 1595
Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
Age 4
Bracely, Engl
Age 4
Age 4
Bracely, Engl
Age 4
Bracely, Norfolk, England
February 16, 1621
Age 25
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

Unfortunately, birth records are not available for Rebecca Towne, only baptismal records. Her actual birth may have been one or two months before her February 21 baptism. According to descendant Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, she was the eldest of six children born in England (two other siblings were recorded as being born after reaching North America):

February 21, 1621
Age 25
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

Unfortunately, birth records are not available for Rebecca Towne, only baptismal records. Her actual birth may have been one or two months before this date.

(Note on the date: the baptism took place on 21 February 1620/21. In the English calendar, February 21 was the 12th month of the year, and thus was recorded by their calendar as 1620. Because this was recognized as problematic when dealing with just about every other country, all of which used January 1 as New Years Day, these were customarily "double dated," i.e., 1620/21. To prevent confusion in our computerized date system, which inflexibly maintains a change of year at January 1, the second year is used, e.g., for this case, 1621.)