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John Pickering

Birthplace: Pickering, N. Yorkshire, England
Death: between June 30, 1655 and July 01, 1657 (35-46)
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Elizabeth Deacon
Father of Lieutenant John Pickering; Jonathan Pickering; Eliza Pickering and Elizabeth Pickering

Occupation: Carpenter
Immigration Year: 1634 or before
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Pickering

John Pickering was a carpenter. He built the meeting house in 1639 and repaired the bridge in Salem in 1644.[1]


Unknown. Not the same as John Pickeram

Death & Will

John Pickering's will was dated at Salem, Massachusetts, 30 July 1655, and proved in court 1 July 1657. Lists sons John and Jonathan and wife Elizabeth.


  • John, prob. b. 1637[2]
  • Jonathan, b 1639[2]
  • Elizabeth bapt. 3 Mar. 1644, d. soon; [2]
  • Elizabeth again, perhaps b. 3, bapt. 17 Aug. 1645, prob. d. young;

and His wid. m. 25 Dec. of the latter


in 1630 a man named John Pickering and his wife Esther came to Salem, Mass with their three children (born before 1630 obviously).

He had two sons John, and George, and a daughter Joan.

It seems that John married a woman named Elizabeth Alderman ( as per her fathers will). John and Elizabeth had two boys John and Jonathan who are listed in a will of 1657, who are not yet 21 (born in 1637 or after). And, this John Pickering born 1637+ married Alice (Flint)) and had the following listed in his will: sons John, Benjamin, and William and a daughter named Elizabeth, plus two grandchildren John and Hannah Boltolph.


John Pickering, the founder of the Pickering family in Salem, was born in England, in 1615, according to a record made in the family Bible of his grandson John Pickering. Tradition says that he came from Yorkshire, England. This is quite probable, but by no means certain.

He is said to have been living in Ipswich, Mass., between 1634 and 1637. He was living in Salem in the early part of the year 1637, as we learn from the following entry in the Salem town records: "7 of 12 mo: 1636 [that is, Feb. 7, 1637] Jno. Pickering, Carpenter granted to be inhabitant."'

Shortly after this he was guilty of irregular action in fencing land without the consent of the authorities, as appears from the following: "17th of 2 mo: 1637 [April 17, 1637] That wheras Jno. Pickering hath fensed in, a portion of the Towns Land [contrary] without Consent from ye Towne A fine of Twenty shillings therfore we think meet should be Levied upon him, but being [a] full court [doth] not assent hearunto: we therfore whose names ar[e here] underwrit doe protest ageanst all disorderlie Lay[ing] out of Land in thes Limitts of Salem." This method of acquiring land seems not to have been uncommon, for we find that other citizens, and even so prominent a man as Major William Hathorne, transgressed in the same way.

At a town-meeting held in Salem on the 25th of the 10th month, 1637 [Dec. 25, 1637] it was agreed that the marsh and meadow land that had formerly laid in common to the town, should be appropriated to the inhabitants. John Pickering's name is in the list as the grantee of one-half an acre, and the number in his family is put down as two. The 10th of the 3d month, 1639 [May 15, 1639], he requested a farm at the south end of the long pond, going to Lynn, which he received, as the town records state that " 8th" of the 6th month 1639 [August 8, 1639] at a private towne meeting C4raunteto John Pickringe 50 acres of land beyond the "West pound lying next to Lin bounds to be layed out by the towne."

He had a grant of four poles of ground near his house the 29 of the 9th month, 1642 [Nov. 29, 1642], and at a town-meeting held the 17th of the 10th month, 1649 [Dec. 17, 1649], it was ordered that: "Wheras goodman Pickerin left some pt of his farme by running of lin lyne it is ordered that the layers out shall lay out soe much as neare as they can adioyning to the rest of his land." He also acquired other land by purchase, as will appear later.

It has been seen that he was by trade a carpenter, which vocation he probably combined with agriculture. The only knowledge we have of his services as a builder is derived from the Salem town records, where we find a contract between him and the town for building a meeting-house in 1639. A facsimile of this contract is here given.

"We suppose his work on the meeting-house was satisfactory, for we find him again employed by the town to keep the bridge in repair, as is shown in the following order: — "At a generall Towne meeting held the XXV"' of the first moneth 1644. [March 25, 1644.]

"It is ordered & agreed with the consent of John Pickeringo that the Bridge shall be kept in repaire by John Pickeringe for sixteene yeares to come, for Which the Towne is to give him twentie shillings a yeare. excepting the finding of the planke or new planking thereof which is to be done at the chardge of the towne. but for the mending of any planks to sett in a plank twoe or three || as neede shall require || , that is to be done at the chardge of John Pickeringe. And || it is ordered |j that he shall be paid out of the rates yearly or allowed in his owne rate."

From the following it would seen\ that John Pickering did not always keep the bridge in a satisfactory state of repair. "23 of the 11 mo 1645 [Jan. 23, 1646] Injoyned John Pickering forthwith to repayre the bridge."

At a meeting held the 16th of the 12th month, 1645 [Feb. 16, 1646], it was generally agreed, "That the Timber bridge at the Townesend shall be pulled downe, or so much of it as shall be needfull when the Causeway is begun to be made." Probably the bridge was reconstructed, or a new one built, for on the 26th of the 8th month, 1646 [Oct. 26, 1646], the following order was passed: — " It is ordered by the Towne that the eight pound & fowre shillings due from John Pickering in regard of his defect in building the old bridge it his agreemt under his hand to pay it to the building of the last bridge for which hee hath given securitie A Bull & a Cow, The Towne doeth agree that the said Bull & Cow shall be sould forthwith II unless hee give other satisfaction || to be prized by 3 indifferent men. The one to be chosen by the said Jo: Pickering & an other by the Towne & the third to be the marshall || to prize them. || & if the said Jo: Pickering refuseth to choose any, the Marshall is to choose one for him, & the Cattle to be deliuered into the hands of Mr. Garford & Mr ffogge."

"It is agreed that Thomas Wheeler shall worke at the bridge worke w'" hee is contented to doc. & he is to have 2' 6 a day till the bridge worke be ended if hee work so long. But the said Tho: Wheeler doeth binde himselfe to worke there 10 dayes together if wether will pmit k to begin vpon the sixth day of this weeke: & is to be paid in come or cattle at the Merchants price."

It would appear from the following extract from the memorandum-book of Colonel Timothy Pickering, that John Pickering at one time contemplated moving from Salem : — "It rests on my mind, that when a boy my father told me that my first American ancestor (1 mean the John Pickering who came from Old England) made a journey from Salem to Connecticut, with a view to find land for a plantation on which he might settle; but returning in the winter season, his feet and legs got frozen, which, rendering him a cripple for life, put an end to the project."

The following statement in regard to the family estate is taken from the same memorandum-book: — "The lot of land on which my brother [John Pickering] now dwells has for a long period belonged to the family."

Octavius Pickering, in the life of his father, Colonel Timothy Pickering-, quotes the above passage from his memorandum-book, and adds the following foot-note : — "It was purchased by the first settler (John Pickering) in 1642 who built upon it a wooden house, of which the frame is in part still standing and in a sound condition. J. P. It is now owned and occupied by John Pickering, a grandson of Colonel Pickering. 0. P."

"The first John Pickering died in 1657, and his widow, Elizabeth, married John Deacon. The oldest sun, John, remained in the house which his father built in 1651; while his mother and the younger son, Jonathan, removed to the new house which John Deacon built on that part of the homestead which was sett off to Jonathan. The mother died in 1662, and in 1671 the two brothers made a final settlement of the estate between them, at which time according to Deacon Pickering, the western part of the present house was built. In regard to the original house in which John Pickering lived previous to 1651, we have the following evidence in a deposition given by his grandson, showing that it was sold in 1663 or 1661 and removed to another place.

On the Commoners' Record for 1714, is entered one right to John Pickering for his grandfather's house, which shows that another house had stood on his land which had belonged to his grandfather, and was built before 1661. The following shows what became of it, and is also interesting in showing at what an early period houses were moved: "The testimonie of John Pickering of full age saith to his certain knowledge the little house that was William Beenes was his father's Cottage Right that is allowed to me.'

"He further saith that in the year 1663 or 1664 my father sold it to William Beens, and it was removed to that place with oxen. John Pickering.'

From the foregoing account, we get a very good idea of this ancient estate, the house of which was partly built in 1651, by John Pickering, and which was probably much larger and more comfortable than his previous dwelling, but which unhappily he lived to enjoy but a few years.

The early death of John Pickering, in the year 1657, when he was little more than forty years old, leads us to suppose that his end was hastened by the injuries he sustained during his journey into Connecticut.

We have not been able to ascertain the full maiden name of John Pickering's wife, neither have we found the full date of their marriage, nor where it took place. The Bible of their grandson, John Pickering, according to the memorandum-book of Colonel Timothy Pickering, says that they were married in 1636; and if this is the case, we suppose it must have taken place in this country.

Of their children, but four are known to us: John, and Jonathan, and two named Elizabeth. The daughters must have died young; for only two children, John and Jonathan, are named in John Pickering's will. The married life of John and Elizabeth Pickering Lasted about twenty years; and it is highly probable that there were other children, who died young, for this would be an unusually small family for that period.

Excerpts From "The Pickering Genealogy"


  • Ellery, Harrison and Charles Pickering Bowditch. The Pickering genealogy: being an account of the first three generations of the Pickering family of Salem, Mass., and of the descendants of John and Sarah (Burrill) Pickering, of the third generation, Volume 1 GoogleBooks. University Press, J. Wilson and Son, 1897.
  • Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692. Vol. I-IV. Boston, MA, USA: 1860-1862. GoogleBooks
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John Pickering's Timeline

Pickering, N. Yorkshire, England
July 5, 1637
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
February 10, 1643
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
March 3, 1643
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
August 17, 1645
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
June 30, 1655
Age 40
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States