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John Balch

Birthplace: Bridgewater, Somerset, England
Death: June 25, 1648 (68-69)
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
Immediate Family:

Son of George Balch, Sr. and Jane Balch
Husband of Margery Balch (Lovett) and Agnes or Annis Balch
Father of John Balch; Benjamin Balch; Freeborn Balch and Mary Balch
Brother of George Balch, Jr.

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About John Balch

John came with a company headed by Captain Robert Gorges, to settle the abandoned colony at Weymouth (formerly Wessegusset), which had been abandoned after an earlier settlement attempt by a group headed by a Mr. Weston. Weston's group abandoned in the spring of 1623. Gorges' company was the first direct group from Great Britain to form a nucleus for a permanent settlement in New England. The Plymouth Company and Weston were earlier, but the Plymouth Company came from Holland, and the Weston group did not stay. Gorges made an exploration north, and then returned to England, leaving the settlers to themselves.

In 1624, the colony moved to Cape Ann to establish a fishery. This plan failed, and in 1625, cattle were brought in from England. In September 1625, the colony moved again to Sagamoreship, a peninsula in Massachusetts. The first settlers there were Roger Conant; Peter Palfrey; William Allen; Richard Norman, Jr.; John Woodbury; Rev. John Lyford; Thomas Gray; Walter Knight; John Balch; Thomas Gardner; Richard Norman, Sr.; John Tilley; Capt. William Trask; and others. Four men -- John Woodbury, Peter Palfry, John Lyford, and John Balch -- who were obvious leaders of the colony, were known as "the Old Planters."

On September 6, 1628, John Endicott was assigned governor of the settlement, and in July 1629, the town was incorporated and named Salem, which is Hebrew for "peaceful." On May 16, 1631, John Balch and 18 others were pronounced free men, which is the first date that free men were made in America.

On November 25, 1635, John Balch was granted 200 acres in the Bass River District. In 1638, he built a two-story frame house, which is still standing and still occupied by his descendants. In 1629, he helped organize a church, and on August 6, 1629, a Congregational church was chartered, the first Congregational church completely formed and organized in America.

John Balch came from Somersetshire, England, with Captain Robert Georges in 1623, and died on his plantation in May or June, 1648. He and his wife Margery were enrolled among the first members of the Salem, Massachusetts, Congregational Church ; this church was the first fully formed and organized in America.

John Balch was once thought to be the builder of the John Balch House, but it is now believed the house was built by his son, Benjamin Balch.


John Balch, born 1579 in Bridgewater, Somersetshire, England. Landed at Cape Ann 1623. Built Balch house at Beverly, Mass. 1639.

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John Balch's Timeline

Bridgewater, Somerset, England
Age 44
Cape Ann, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Salem, Essex, MA, United States
December 1628
Naumkeag, Massachusetts
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
May 15, 1648
Age 69
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
May 28, 1648
Age 69
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA