John Burrage, of Charlestown

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John Burrage

Also Known As: "Burridge"
Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Norton Subcourse, Norfolk, England
Death: August 19, 1685 (69)
Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Burrage and Frances Burrage
Husband of Mary Burrage and Joanna Burrage
Father of Mary Marshall; Hannah French; John Burrage; Elizabeth Poor; Sarah Johnson and 6 others

Occupation: Ferryman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Burrage, of Charlestown

John Burrage

  • Birth: Apr 10 1616 - Norton, Suffolk, England
  • Death: Oct 19 1685 - Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts
  • Parents: Thomas Burrage, Frances Dey
  • Wife: Mary
  • Wife: Joanna Stowers


From The Charlestown Ferryman – John Burrage

Sometime between 1648 and 1657, John began operating a ferry between Charlestown and Boston. He partnered with a man named Francis Hudson, who was based on the Boston side. John worked from his side of the river to take people to Boston in a small boat. The two men worked together for many years. When John moved in 1661, it was likely to have a more prime location for the ferry, since it was nearer to the center of business in Charlestown.

In addition to running the ferry, John was elected to serve as "clerk of the market" in Charlestown from 1658 to 1672. The market area was described in 1650: "Charlestown hath a large market place near the water side, built round with houses comely and fair, forth of which there issues two streets orderly built with some very fair houses beautified with pleasant gardens and orchards. The town consists in its extent of about a hundred and fifty dwelling houses. Their meeting house for Sabbath assembly, stands in the market place very comely built and large." It is believed that the market was held once a week there.

In the years following his tenure as clerk of the market, John was appointed "salt measurer" by town officials. He was also involved in a business venture with his oldest son John — they shipped horses to Barbados during the 1660s. John Jr. helped his father with his ferry business, but tragically died of small pox in 1677 at the age of 31.

By this time, John Sr. was suffering the effects of an accident that happened in around 1672 when he fell off a horse. His ferry business partner Francis Hudson described that John had "so shattered his brains that he was never capable of managing any business after so long as he lived, so that I was forced to manage the whole affairs of the ferry for his wife and family." He said that John was so confused mentally, that when strangers asked him where the ferry boat was, he would get angry and say such things as, "She has not been here in one thousand years."

In this condition and with his older brother John Jr. dead, John's middle son William tried to take title of all of his father's property, and on October 23, 1678, John signed everything over to William. John died on October 19, 1685 and the other surviving children contested the title. The court sided with the family, but it wasn't finalized until May 2, 1694. The inventory of John's estate amounted to over £246.

Famous descendants of John Burrage include former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bartlett Giamatti and actor Paul Giamatti.


From "A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register" by Savage, James:

John (Burrage), Charlestown 1637, freem. 18 May 1642, by w. Mary had Mary, bapt. 9 May 1641; Hannah, b. 14 Dec. 1643; Eliz. and Nathaniel, 28 Dec. 1655, d. next yr. and his w. d. bef. this s. By sec. w. Joanna, wh. d. 25 Dec. 1689, aged 65, he had William, b. 10 June 1657, and Sarah, 24 Jan. 1659; and he d. 1 Jan. 1678. Hannah m. 1662, John French of Billerica, as his sec. w. and Eliz. m. 15 Sept. 1668, Thomas Dean, wh. d. in few yrs. and she m. 12 Aug. 1680, John Poor.

From John Burrage, in Wyman, Thomas Bellows. The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Massachusetts: in the County of Middlesex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1629-1818. (Boston, Mass.: David Clapp and Son, 1879), 1:157-58.

Burrage, John. "Burridge" Inhabitant 1637; adm. church 10 (2) 1642; clerk of the market 1658; ferryman 1660; æ. 40, 1662. F. Hudson, æ. 78, testified, Feb. 21, 1693-4, that he managed the ferry 13 years after J. B. fell from a horse. Mar. (1) Mary _____, who was adm. church 11 (2) 1641; (2) Joanna Stower, æ. 47,1671, who d. Dec. 25, 1689, æ. 65; d. 19 (8) 1685, æ. 68. Issue. - i. Mary, bapt. 8 (3) 1641; m. John Marshall, ii. Hannah, 14 (10) 1643; m. John French, iii. John, æ. 22, 1668 (files), iv. Elizabeth, m. (1) Thomas Deane, 1668. v. Nathaniel, Dec. 28, 1655; d. Dec. 21, 1656. vi. William (by 2d w.) June 10, 1657. vii. Sarah 24 (11) 1658-9; m. William Johnson, 1682. viii. Bethia, bapt. "of our bro. John," 26 (3) 1661. ix. Thomas, May 26, 1663. x. Ruth, Feb. 28, bapt. 5 (1) 1664-5; m. Ignatius White, 1683. xi. Joanna, d. 16 (4) 1668.


  1. The Burrage Memorial: A Genealogical History of the Descendants of John Burrage, who Settled in Charlestown, Mass., in 1637 (Google eBook) by Alvah Augustus Burrage. A. Mudge and son, printers, 1877 - Burrage family - 265 pages


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John Burrage, of Charlestown's Timeline

April 10, 1616
Norton Subcourse, Norfolk, England
May 6, 1641
Age 25
Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
October 14, 1643
Age 27
Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Age 29
Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
December 28, 1655
Age 39
Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
December 28, 1655
Age 39
Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts
June 10, 1657
Age 41
Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
November 24, 1658
Age 42
Charlestown, Suffolk County, Massachusetts