Major Robert Pike

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Maj. Robert Pike, Major

Also Known As: "James Robert Pike"
Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: Landford, Wiltshire, England
Death: December 12, 1706 (90)
Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts (Natural Causes)
Place of Burial: Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Lt John Pike and Dorothy Pyke
Husband of Sarah Pike and Martha Pike
Father of Sarah Stockman; Mary Pike; Dorothy Light; Mary Allen; Elizabeth Carr and 3 others
Brother of Capt. John Pyke; Hannah Fiske; Dorothy Hendrick; Israel Fletcher, widow True; Sarah Pike and 1 other

Occupation: Founder of Salisbury, MA ,Magistrate,Selectman,Lawyer, Adviser to the Royal Governor of Massachusetts ,Captain then Major in the Royal Army in the colonies .
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Major Robert Pike

6. Maj. ROBERT PIKE (JOHN1) was born May 17, 1615, and died Dec 12, 1706 in Salisbury, MA. He married (1) SARAH SANDERS Apr 03, 1641 in Salisbury, MA, daughter of JOHN SANDERS and ALICE COLE. He married (2) Martha Moyce Oct 30, 1684 in Salisbury, MA.

"His biographer says of Robert Pike that he was engaged in three conspicuous controversies during his life. The first was his arraignment by the general court in 1653, for his hostility to the persecution of the Quakers. The second was his resistance to the dogmatic authority of the clergy, in the person of his paster Rev. John Wheelwright. The third was his bitter opposition to the witchcraft prosecutions in 1692. In all of these controversies, Mr. Pike stood practically alone. He was a century in advance of his time, and a century more than vindicated his adavanced positions. The historian of the Salem witchcraft delusion says that "not a voice comes down to us of deliberate and effective hostility to the movement, except that of Robert Pike.."" For More information on Robert Pike read "Loyal Dissenter" by Roland L. Warren 1992

Biographical Notes

Came to America aboard the ship "James of London" which sailed from Southampton, 5 April 1635; arriving in Ipswich, Massachusetts 2 June 1635.He spent part of his early childhood in Whiteparish and arrived with his father John G., his brother John, and three sisters: Dorothy, Ann and Israel. His family went first to Ipswich, but soon afterward moved to the newly settled town of Newbury, Massachusetts where he lived until 1639 when he joined the colony which founded Salisbury, Massachusetts.

It has been said that he was a man of much strength and of a robust constitution. Tradition states that on the voyage to this country he asked the captain for an increase of rations. When questioned as to his need for more food to keep up his strength; he took a large iron bar and bent it into a U form. This so surprised the captain that his request was granted. (Pike records 1900-1901, page 10.)

At the age of 21, 17 May 1637, he took the oath as freeman, just before the exciting election at which John Winthrop (1588-1649, q.v.) defeated Sir Henry Vane (1613-1662, q.v.) for governor, and is said to have been of the Winthrop faction.

On 3 April 1641, Robert married Sarah Sanders. Sarah was born in Langford, England ca. 1622, the daughter of Henry Sanders who was the son of Sir Edwin Sanders who died at the time of Henry VIII (1491-1547) of England. Her mother was Alice Coles.

After Sarah's death in 1679, Robert married on 30 October 1684 Martha (Moyce) Goldwire, widow of George Goldwire. No children are recorded by the second marriage.

When the Town of Salisbury was settled in 1638, Robert, then aged 22, was one of 60 odd pioneers who crossed the Merrimac. In the choice of a house lot, fortune seems to have favored him with two acres in the corner of the way to Hampton and the way to the Great Neck (later called the "Beach Road"). Here he built his home and where was born to him a family of three sons and five daughters who reached mature years.

Together with others of the "commoners" he received allotments of land in all of the divisions, the chief of which was his pasture (later referred to as the "Pike Homestead" on the Old Ferry Road), 100 acres at Batt's Hill and a large division at Amesbury. This land he mostly disposed of by deed or gift to his children during his life leaving only a moderate estate at his death. His home and lot of three acres he gave to his grandson Robert, son of Robert, the year prior to his death. Robert the grandson in later years sold the property to his father-in-law, William Hook, Jr. and Robert the grandson moved to Exeter.

To his younger son Moses, he deeded his pasture where he later settled and which remained in the family for many years.

He early took a prominent position in the militia being a Lieutenant at 32, Captain at 37 and Major when 41 years of age. During King Philip's War (q.v.) he was in command of all the forces of Norfolf Co., Massachusetts, and those located in the State of Maine (although Maine did not become a state until 1820 q.v.). As early as 1650 he was what would now be called a trial justice and in 1672 an assoociate judge of the courts of Norfolk Co. In local affairs, a selectman from 1661-1677 and on many responsible committees. In political life, a member of the General Court when 32 and of the Governor's Council from 1682 to 1696, when having reached the age of 80 years he retired to the private life of the farm and was ngaged in giving away to his heirs the property which he had accumulated during his lifetime. The last ten years was passed in the quiet of his town, Salisbury, where he died December 12, 1706, at the age of ninety-one. No stone marks Robert's grave on the Old Beach Road. However, in the center of the City of Salisbury, Massachusetts, has been erected a memorial plaque to Major Robert Pike. The plaque reads:




One of the first settlers of Salisbury, a leader in

civil and military affairs. He stood far in advance

of his time and having the wisdom and courage to

proclaim witchcraft a delusion and to advocate

religious freedom.

Among Robert and Sarah's children, Sarah, who married Wymond Bradbury (son of Mary Bradbury who was accused of witchcraft; convicted but not executed. Robert Pike, Sarah Bradbury's father defended Mary Bradbury).

Robert Pike was living in Salisbury, MA by 1637. According to David W. Hoyt's "Old Families of Salisbury," Robert Pike was one of five men given "full powers to order all the affairs of the town" in 1643. He was wealthy enough to have "paid the largest tax in 1652" and socially prominent enough that he and his wife were first on the membership list of the Salsibury church in 1687. Prior to the witchcraft controversy of 1692, he had represented Salisbury at the Massachusetts General Court for several years, held the colonial office of Assistant for 10 years, and had been justice of the peace for several years. Simply put, "he was the most prominent citizen of S[alisbury] during the last half of the 17th century."

Pike is especially known for his role in the witchcraft controversy of 1692, when he was in his late 70's. His office resulted in his recording most of the testimony against Susannah Martin, who was later executed. However, when the accusation was leveled against Mary (Perkins) Bradbury (whose son was married to his daughter), he defended her. In fact, Hoyt says Pike was credited in general with being the "power which squelched the witchcraft delusion." In August 1692, he wrote a letter protesting against the unreliability of the evidence upon which witchcraft convictions had been based, saying that "the Devil is accuser and witness." The trials continued (Mary Bradbury was tried on September 9) but ultimately his view prevailed. (bio by: Maxine Stansell)


  1. Ancestry of Charles Stinson Pillsbury and John Sargent Pillsbury (1938) By Holman, Mary Lovering, 1868-1947; Pillsbury, Helen Pendleton Winston, 1878-1957. Page 508


Born in Wiltshire, England on 1618 to John Pike and Dorothy Day. Robert married Mary Moyse. Robert married Sarah Sanders and had 8 children. He passed away on 12 Dec 1708 in Newbury, Massachusetts, USA.

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Major Robert Pike's Timeline

March 17, 1616
Landford, Wiltshire, England
Landford, Wiltshire, England
February 24, 1642
Age 26
Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
February 22, 1644
Age 28
Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
November 11, 1645
Age 29
Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
August 5, 1647
Age 31
Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
June 24, 1650
Age 34
Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
May 13, 1653
Age 37
Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
June 26, 1655
Age 39
Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts