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About Nathaniel Souther
The ancient records of the Colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay contain all that is known of Nathaniel Souther, who was the earliest settler in America who bore the family name. In Shurtleff and Pulsifer’s edition of Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, page 4, is a list of the Freemen of the Colony, which is dated 1633; but the last six names have several marginal dates set opposite them and among these is Nathaniel Souther’s, with the date, October 4, 1635. The list was, no doubt, prepared in 1633 and the names of newly admitted freeman added from time to time, until a new list should be made; which was done in 1636. This is the earliest mention of his name and though nothing is certainly known of his previous history, the inferences which may be fairly drawn from the records, warrant the belief that he belonged to a respectable English family and had received a good education and that his religious opinions were similar to those held by the Pilgrims.
At the first session of the General Court held after his admission as a freeman and three months after his presumed arrival, he was elected Secretary of the Colony. This was on January 3, 1636. At the same election, Edward Winslow was chosen Governor for the Colony in some of its affairs; among other things, he was commissioned to employ a minister for the church at Plymouth. He returned in the latter part of the same year and brought out Rev. John Norton, who was afterwards famous as a preacher at Boston. It appears not improbable that Mr. Winslow also induced Nathaniel Souther to come over to fill the office of Secretary. Nathaniel Souther’s family consisted of his wife, Alice, who, no doubt, came to America with him; and his daughters, Hannah and Mary, who were presumably born in England, as there is no mention of the birth of either in the old Colony records. Hannah was married to Mr. William Hanbury, of Duxbury, at Plymouth, on September 28, 1641. She was probably fourteen or fifteen years old when the family arrived at Plymouth. She was married again to --- Johnson, and appears to have been again a widow in 1659. Mary, the second daughter, was also married twice: first to Joseph Shaw, on October 1, 1653 and on August 16, 1654, (she being then a widow) to Mr. John Blake, of Boston. She appears to have been dead in 1659. John Blake was the son of William Blake, the ancestor of the well known New England family of that name, who emigrated from Little Baddow, Essex county, England in 1630 and settled at Dorchester Neck. John Blake died 1689, leaving no issue.
Nathaniel Souther continued to reside at Boston during the remainder of his life. His wife, Alice, died on July 27, 1651 and on November 5, 1652, he married Sarah Hill, a widow. He was appointed “Publicke Notary for this jurisdiction,” by the General Court of Massachusetts, on October 26, 1652, “in the roome of Mr. Wm. Aspinwall and took the oath suitable to the place in open court.” He died on April 27, 1655 and on July 12, of the same year, “the goods of Mr. Souther, lately deceased (were) appraised by Samuel Beltzell, Thomas Bumstead and Godfrey Armitage at £150, 16s. 6d., and the goods of Mrs. Souther, which she brought to Mr. Souther, at £83.” His widow was appointed administratrix July 31, 1655. (1)
- Memoranda relating to Nathaniel Souther the First Secretary of Plymouth Colony from "Joseph Souther of Boston," by George Howard Souther.Springfield, Ill.: H. W. Rokker, Printer and Binder,1886
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