Jonathan Danforth, Sr

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Jonathan Danforth, Sr

Birthplace: Framlingham, Suffolk, England
Death: September 07, 1712 (84)
Billerica, Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Billerica, MA
Immediate Family:

Son of Nicholas Danforth and Elizabeth Danforth
Husband of Elizabeth Danforth and Esther Danforth
Father of Mary Parker; Elizabeth Danforth; Capt. Jonathan Danforth, Jr.; Lydia Danforth; Anna Whiting and 5 others
Brother of Elizabeth Belcher; Mary Parrish; Anna Bridge; Judge Thomas Danforth, Salem Witch Trials; Lydia Beamon and 1 other

Occupation: Surveyor, land surveyor of Billerica MA
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Jonathan Danforth, Sr

The following article was taken from "Backsights" Magazine published by Surveyors Historical Society:


(1628 - 1712)

Billerica, Massachusetts

One of the most influential surveyors in the Merrimack River Valley and its lower tributaries (in Massachusetts and New Hampshire) of the late 1600's and early 1700's was Captain Jonathan Danforth. Born in Framingham, High Suffolk, England on February 29, 1627/28 to Nicolas and Elizabeth Danforth. Jonathan moved with his family to Cambridge, England about 1634. His father was a minister. The date of Jonathan's arrival in New England is not known, but records in Boston indicate that he married an Elizabeth Powter in that city on November 22, 1654. Within five years, Jonathan and Elizabeth moved to Billerica, where they raised their eleven children. Elizabeth died there on October 7, 1689, and Jonathan married Esther Champney of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 17 of the following year.

New Hampshire records show that Jonathan Danforth was active as a surveyor as early as 1659. Most of his known surveys date from the 1660's, though his last known plan is dated March 1702 (he was then 74 years old). He gave bearings according to the 32-point compass (i.e. "South and by East, East North East", etc.) and distances in poles.

The late 1600's was also a period of heightened Indian raids in Massachusetts. Like most able bodied men on the frontier, Danforth trained with the local militia, becoming a captain. He also served his community as the town "recorder" (clerk) for more than 30 years.

Jonathan Danforth died at the age of 85 on September 7, 1712. His surveys on the New England frontier helped define accurately what were once remote parcels, but are now the very densely populated towns of Nashua, Hudson, Litchfield, Amherst and Milford in New Jersey, and portion of Massachusetts north and northwest of Boston.

(Note by Roy Carr: The towns mentioned in the last paragraph are actually located in New Hampshire, not New Jersey.)


  • Christening: Date: 2 Mar 1627/1628 Place: Framlingham, England
  • s. Nicholas Danforth he arrived 1635
  • Place: New EnglandHe built a house in Billerica which stood there until 1878. He was a leading citizen of Billerica, selectman, town clerk and representative to the general court, captain of the military company. He became a land surveyor and laid out farms, highways and in the book of land grants at Billerica alone his descriptions fill out 200 pages
  • MARRIAGES 1 Elizabeth Poulter; - November 22, 1654 - d. John Pulter. She died 1689 2 Esther Champney: she died 1713
  • DEATH September 7, 1712 Burial: Place: Billerica - South Burying Ground MEMENTO MORI FUGIT HORA HERE LYES ye BODY OF CAPT. JONATHAN DANFORTH AGED 85 YEARS WHO DECEASED SEPTEMBER 7th 1712


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Jonathan Danforth, Sr's Timeline

February 29, 1628
Framlingham, Suffolk, England
January 29, 1656
Age 27
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
May 27, 1657
Age 29
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
February 18, 1658
Age 29
Billerica, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
June 1, 1664
Age 36
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
March 8, 1667
Age 39
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
February 8, 1668
Age 39
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
April 29, 1670
Age 42
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
July 1, 1671
Age 43
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States