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John Moses

Also Known As: "John Moysis"
Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: The Netherlands
Death: circa May 13, 1693 (69-85)
Portsmouth, NH, USA
Immediate Family:

Husband of Alice Moses and Ann Moses
Father of Mary Huff; Alice Creber; Joanna Moses; Sarah Moses; Elizabeth Walker and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Moses

Many researchers believe his surname indicates he was a Sephardic Jew whose ancestors fled Spain, went to the Netherlands, and ultimately came to England. There is, however, no direct evidence.

In New England by 1638. In 1646 Apr he had a grant of 100 acres at Casco Bay adjoining that of George Lewis after serving 7 years as apprentice to Cleve & Tucker of Casco Bay.

In 1696 deposition he claimed to be 70 years old, meaning he was 13 when he came to New England and only 20 when land was granted.

MOSES, John (1616-) & 1/wf Alice _____; by 1639?; Portsmouth, NH {McIntire Anc. 217; Moses 198; GDMNH 170, 496; Waterhouse 71} (Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior To 1700 (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1985)).

MOSES, John & 2/wf Ann [JONES], w John; ca 1667; Portsmouth, NH {Moses 198; GDMNH 496; Waterhouse 73} (Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior To 1700 (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1985)).

"John came to the mouth of the Spurwink River in Maine in 1630 at age 14 years as an apprentice to George Cleeve and Richad Tucker. After a land dispute with other new settlers, they moved to Casco Bay where now stands the city of Portland, Maine.

"Soon after completing his indenture, he left Casco Bay, married wife, Alice, and settled at Sagamore Creek in 1638 or 1639, near Stawberry Bank, now Portsmouth, NH. It is stated in a manuscript of 1715, that 'Goodman Moses was the first in Sagamore Creek'. To an original lot of 8 acres, he added 42 acres in 1652, and 43 acres more in 1660. Cleeve and Tucker deeded 100 acres to him at Casco Bay, but he did not claim it promptly, and much later the courts decided against him and his heirs. He kept his daughters near him by giving their husbands small tracts on which to build homes.

"He served on the Grand Jury of the Province in 1651, 1654, 1655, 1657,1659, 1664, 1674, and 1681; and on the Trial Jury 4 times. By 1672, he was Sergeant of the local 'train band' and was thereafter called Sergeant Moses in the official records of the time."

W.G. Davis, The Ancestry of Joseph Waterhouse.


In searching the earliest records of the sparsely settled New England of 1640-1650, we find the uncommon name of John Moses making its appearance about the same time in different colonies, and naturally the theory is evolved that the two men bearing the same name must have been closely related. It will be seen, however, from the facts and circumstances that herein follow, that it extremely improbable that they were of the same family.

John Moses of Plymouth was by tradition a Welshman, he was a shipwright and was apparently a Church man among Purtains. Now John Moses of Portsmouth was a Scotchman, an Agriculturalist, and a Purtain among Churchman. For a better understanding of the general surroundings connected with the founder of the New Hampshire branch, historical quotations are given.


It appears that Portsmouth was first settled in 1623 by the Laconia Company, and that the "most interested and active men of the Company were Ser Ferd Gorges and John Mason," That a Manor house was erected at "Ordiornes Point," that between "three and four thousand acres" were "attached to this branch of the plantation," and that "the provisions of the grant were ample for carrying out the idea of the proprietors, which was to establish a Manor hero agreeably to the English custom, the occupants of the land to be held as tenants by the proprietors of the soil." The company had agents to manage the colony, and from Doyl’s ENGLISH IN AMERICA we learn that, "in 1638 there were in the colony more than 40 horses, 100 cattle, 200 sheep, 54 goats, 22 cannon, 250 small arms, 48 boats for sighting, 50 workman, and 8 Danes to overlook saw mills and make potash, also 22 woman were among the settlers. Also in the inventory a set of Church furniture this makes it likely Mason was a zealous Anglican.

After the deviation of territory between Gorges and Mason and the death of Mason in 1634, the settlement was now free to shape its own course. The colonists either elected Williams governor or acquiesced in his continuance in office. Five years later it is recorded that "Williams the Governor" and Ambrose Gibbons Assistant, and 18 others, have built a chapel and parsonage and endowed them with 40 acres of glebe, and have elected two church wardens and an encumbent.

From LECHFORD’S PLAIN DEALING.’ Published January 17,1642

At northern alias Pascattaqua is Master Larkam pastor. One Master H.K. (Knowls) was also lately minister there. The two fell out about baptizing children, receiving members, buried of the dead...." And further Master Larkam flying to the Magistrate, Master K. and a Captain raised arms. Master K. going before the troops with a Bible upon a poles top, and he or some of his party giving forth that their side were Scots and the other side English... Master K. And the Captain there leaders, were find $100 a piece which they were not able to pay." From what we leaned later on in the history of the colony it is quite probable that the Scotchman, John Moses, was Master Knowl’s party. Through transfers of the colonial grant, George Cleeve and Richard Tucker claimed and held a disputed agency and jurisdiction over certain lands. Gov. Winslow of Plymouth writes to Gov. Winthrop of Mass, in 1644;

"Rigby has good hap. To light on two of the arrantest known knaves that ever trod, the New England Shore to be his agants in Cleeves add Morton. In 1645, Cleeves was exercising jurisdiction at Casco."

From PORTLAND IN THE PAST is also quoted;

"On June 8,1637, Gorges gave Cleeves as commission for the letting and settling all or part of his lands or islands lying between Cape Elizabeth and the end of Sagadock River, and so up the main land 60 miles."

With this introduction, we come to the first historical mention of John Moses of Portsmouth or Pascattaqua as it was then called.

In folio 1 of York Deeds, is the record of a grant which places the date of John Moses’ settlement in the colony at least as far back as 1639. The document is interesting from its quaintness, and is given in full.

"Witness these presents that We, Geo Cleeve and Richard Tucker of Casco Bay in New England hentlem for and in consideration of Seaven years Service as an apprentice performed vunto us by John Moses now of Puchatag River we have given granted & conformed unto him the 7 d. John Moses his heyers and assigns one hundred acres of land in Casco Bay living & next Adjoyneing vnto the land formerly granted vnto Geo Lewis by vs was hundred acres of land is to begin at the side of the Lott of the sd Geo Lewis & soe to run westwardly by the side of the bay one hundred pooles in length and eighty seaven pooles in breadth vnto the main land vntull the sayd hundred acres he ended together with so much marsh ground as belongeth to every hundred acres of land in the grant or deed granted to the sd Geo Cleeve and Richard Tucker in consideration of the yearly rent of 2s and 2 days work to be payd vnto the longest liven of them or their assigns & during the term of nineteen handwrite years to be fully compleated and ended. To have and to hold all the so lands and premises vnto him the sd John Moses his heyers and assigns during ye sd term of & from them to whom it shall belong vpon ye decession between them for the rent a foresaid for all seruices wisoner and her the 8 d Geo. Cleeve & Rich Tucker do further promise vnto his the sd John Moses that we or one of us will at all times herafter make further assuarance of the sd lands & premises herein specified vnto him the sd John Moses his heyres & assigns as shall be requested for the further conformation of the same according to ye sounsill learned in the Iawa."

In witness werof we have hervnto set out hands & seals the sisth day of April in the years 1646.

Memoranda. That ye two days work inserted in the deed is exempted & clearly taken off.

In the presence of’

Jno Dausi Geo Cleeve (seal)

Day. J.M. Easter Richard Tucker (seal)

In the introduction to the printed volume of YORK DEEDS it is stated that ‘ all of the Gorges lands were to be granted on the feudal plan." From PORTSMOUTH RECORDS, by Frank W. Hackett, we quote from pages 31, : town meeting list of January, 1648 land granted to Robert Davis a lot of Sagamore Creek, next point west of John Moysis.’ Page 20; ‘January 13,1652, granted to John Moysis 15 acres.: Page 23." December 5,1652, to John Moysis 5 acres." Brewster’s RAMBLES, Page 27, gives the record of a distribution in 1660 of lands to "all such as were reputed inhabitants and free comyners unto the year 1657. In this distribution or confirmation of titles, John Moses received 83 acres. Brewster also gives in subscrivers, 1658 to 1666 to ‘inaintenance of ye minister.: The first name on the list is John Moses. In the PRO. PAPERS OF NH VOL. 1 page 185. John Moses appears in 1665 as one of the signers of a petition favoring the jurisdiction of Massachusetts over New Hampshire. He is mentioned several times in the early histories as Sergt. Moses, and he may have been sent over as a soldier by Sir Ferd. Gorges, who was of high military rank in England. Brewster’s RAMBLES gives a plan of the seating in the meeting-house in 1693. The first of the three seats ‘under the pulpit’ is assigned to ‘sergt. Moses.’...In the mens gallery fronting the pulpit is "Aaron Moses."...In the womens seat in the gallery. "Aaron’s wife."

Aaron and Sarah Moses were children of John Moses. Concerning them and their descendants, quotations from histories are given; from Brewster’s RAMBLES, "Timothy Waterhouse early in 1700 married a Miss Moses "Ruth" daughter of Henry Sherburne, born in 1660, married Aaron Moses 1677. The original will of the "widow of Aaron Moses, dated in 1732, now in the possession of the Moses family at Portsmouth, and personally examined by Zebina Moses knows that her name was "Mary" and that she had married for a second husband, John Sherburne. The NEW ENGLAND HIST. AND GEN. REGISTER VOL. XVII, page 253, states "Ruth Sherburne married Aaron Moses of NH June 1,1676." Also another history uses the same language, evidently taken from some record. There is no other conflicting entry showing the marriage of a Ruth Sherburne, while we find that Ruth’s sister married a Richard Sloper, Sherburne. From, the record, it may be assumed that Aaron married first, Ruth, a daughter of Henry Sherburne and from the will of his widow we infer that he had a second wife named Mary, family name unknown. A grandchild of Aaron was named Ruth. Brewster mentions that Henry Sherburne was decended from a noble family in England and came to Portsmouth in 1631, and on page 55 of his RAMBLES ABOUT PORTSMOUTH he states as follows: "Henry Sherburne on Pascataway may have been a papist; he was church warden of out Church of England Chapel in 1640; is spoken of by Winthrop, in the only document left of the town records burnt by the Bay Puritans in the Civil Wars, when the church was broken up and they re-annexed Maine and New Hampshire to their empire. It would look as if he turned Purtain in the civil wars and went to meeting, and wouldn’t again after the king was brought back." On page 161, is given a list of the tax-papers of 1727, among them are James Moses, Mark Moses, Josiah Moses and Joseph Moses,. On page 176, "at the siege of Lousiburg in 1745, Col. Nath. Meserve rendered essential service in construction sledges for cannon;. In 1749 he was commissioned by the British Governent to build a ship of war of 50 guns, called the AMERICA. The ship was built near where the present Raynes shipyard is now. As the bridge was not then constructed, it may have been built in the rear of the Moses’ House," Page 196. "Among those who have kept their first localities for over 200 years are the Odeorne, Picjering, Moses, Widem, and other families.;" Page 206, "Next on the south side of the creek, comes the farm of James Moses, which has been in the family for two centuries.: Page 215, association Test, August 14,1776; We the subscribers...will to the utmost of our Power at the Risque of Our Lives and Fortunes with area oppose the Hostile Proceedings of the British Fleets and Armies against the United American Colonies" Among the signers, Thomas Moses, Theodore Moses, Aaron Moses, Samuel Moses, James Moses, Nadab Moses, John Moses, Aaron Moses," Brewster gives two entire chapters of his book to sketches and anecdote concerning Joseph, Samuel and Thomas Moses. In Vol VII to XXXVII of the New England HIST. AND GEN. REGISTER, are given items concerning many of the NH branch of the Moses Family. In the State Library of Concord, NH may be found a credible book of Poems by Thomas Moses of Portsmouth.

In passing through Portsmouth on a business trip in 1889, Zebina Moses the writer of Volume 1 and 2, visited the Old Homestead of the Moses family. It is located near the suburbs of the city of the Sagamore Creek and can only be reached by a private road. The original "ancestral Acres" were still in the Moses family then. A part of the original farm was owned by William Moses, age 82 then, whose house was burned in 1884. The house of the first John Moses and the greater part of the first farm was occupied by Martha J. Moses and her nephew, William E. Rand and family. Every deed and will, even the certificate of the first survey of the land, was in the possession of the family. Although it was so near the city, it was located in a secluded and picturesque spot. It had been handed down in a direct line in the Moses family from John Moses, who is mentioned in the deed of Cleeves and Tucker 1646, as they located in Portsmouth. Zebina Moses believed that except in the neighborhood or Portsmouth, there are very few instances in the United States where a property had remained continuously in the family name and been occupied by direct decedents of the first proprietor for 244 years.

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John Moses's Timeline

The Netherlands
Age 26
Portsmouth, NH, USA
Age 29
Age 31
Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States
Age 34
Sagamore, Old Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Age 38
May 13, 1693
Age 77
Portsmouth, NH, USA