Nicholas Danforth

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Nicholas Danforth

Birthplace: New Street Farm, Framlingham, Suffolk, England
Death: Died in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Danforth and Jane Danforth
Husband of Elizabeth -------; Elizabeth Symmas and Elizabeth Danforth
Father of Lydia Danforth; Elizabeth Belcher; Mary Parrish / Parker; Anna Bridge; Judge Thomas Danforth and 3 others

Occupation: came in the ship Griffin from London toBoston and Cambridge, in 1634 with six motherless children aged from one year to eleven, Innkeeper
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Nicholas Danforth

Birth: 1 MAR 1588 in New Street Farm, Framlingham, Suffolk, England

Baptism: 1 MAR 1588/89 PURITAN


Nicholas Danforth was the son of Thomas Danforth (? - April 20, 1620), grandson of Nicholas Danforth (? - November 12, 1585), and the fifth generation of William Danforth, all of whom were born, died, and were buried in Framlingham, Suffolk, England. He also was born in Framlingham in 1589, was baptized there on March 1, 1589 and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in April 1638. He married Elizabeth (Symmes?), who died February 22, 1628, and was buried in Framlingham.

Cotton Mather in his Memorablia,II 59, describes him as "a gentleman of such estate and repute in the world that it cost him a considerable sum to escape the knight-hood which King Charles I imposed on all of so much per annum; and of such a figure and esteem in the church that he procured that famous lecture at Framlingham, where he had a fine manour; which lecture was kept by Mr. Burroughs and other noted ministers in their turn; to whom especially he proved a Gaius, and especially when the Laudian fury scotched them."

In Framlingham the parish register and records indicate that Nicholas was one of its leading citizens and that he became a church warden in 1622. This was a most important position as these wardens made the assessments on all properties of the townspeople, collected the taxes, and performed many other secular duties now carried out by local governmental bodies. He also was a member of the "Court Baron of Burrough Lect Jury," according to the records for the year 1629.

In 1937, Dr. Edward P. Danforth, of White Plains, New York, while doing postgraduate work in England spent a weekend at the old Danforth home-site, being received by the townspeople with great interest and a warm reception. He reports: "The old Danforth manor house, with a now dry moat around it, still stands, and was, at that time, being occupied by a retired brewer and his family. He was a bit of a country gentleman farmer with several tenant farm houses on the estate..."

In the summer of 1969, Mr. Charles Danforth Saggus, of Augusta, Georgia, made a two day visit to Framlingham, conferred with the present Rector of Saint Michael's Church and called on Miss Hilda Fulcher, who owns the old sixteenth century New Street Farm, which he was told had been the former property of Nicholas Danforth. Apparently this farm was one of the "tenements" of "closes," of which Nicholas owned several.

In 1634, when 45 years of age, Nicholas Danforth left Framlingham, England, and arrived at Boston, Massachusetts on the good ship Griffin, accompanied by his three sons, Thomas, Samuel, and Jonathan and his three daughters, Anna, Lydia, and Elizabeth, all of whom had been born and baptized in Framlingham. His reasons for leaving England are not known but it is surmised that he was influenced by the death of his wife five years before; the desire to escape the knighthood offered by King Charles !; and because, he being a Puritan, the heat was on him and those other non-conformists, who could not stomach the manner in which the church was being administered by the powerful bishops, supported by the Popish kings.

Nicholas Danforth left Boston soon after his arrival and took up residence at Cambridge, Massachusetts, where at once he became prominent in the affairs of the community. He is mentioned in the town records of 1635 as a proprietor and freeman (meaning eligible for Colonial office and to vote on matters of general government). The same and the following year he purchased several parcels of land. He made his house on what is now Bow Street, near Mount Auburn Street.

"He was chosen a deputy or representative of the General Court in 1635." On March 3, 1635-36 he was with others deputed to set out the bounds of the newe plantacon above Charles Ryver (Concord). The Committe made its report April 13, 1636. In September following he was appointed to a similar duty to measure and sett the boundaries of Roxbury and to sett those between Dedham and Dorchester. When the important committee to take order for a college at Newtown, November 20, 1637, Mr. Danforth was one of those selected. Another land

boundary was submitted to him with associates, 6 (1) 1637-38. He was also one of eleven men (one to a town_ whom the Court, by its vote of March 12, 1637-38, allowed to sell wine and strong water----. No one else to sell by retail without liscence from the council, so great was pressure to provide places where these articles could be bought and so many the abuses of the retail traffic, that they sought to place the traffic in the hands of their first citizens."

The Society of Colonial Wars in its publication (New York 1898) lists Nicholas Danforth (1585-1638) as a captain in the Pequot War of 1637.

The disposition of Nicholas Danforth's property is not clearly revealed by the records but minutes of the proprietors and the recorded wills of his sons indicate that his children were the principal heirs.

Nicholas was the first Danforth to come to America. He emmigrated in February 1635/36 (or 1631) on the "Griffin" Deputy to the General Court, 1636 - 1637..

NICHOLAS DANFORTH of Framlingham, Suffolk, England, was a man of position, with influence in civil and church affairs. Though a Puritan with religious convictions, there is nothing on record to indicate that he was persecuted because of them. He was a church warden and a generous tither. Cotton Mather said of him, "He was a gentleman of such estate and repute in the world, that it cost him a considerable sum to escape the knighthood which King Charles I imposed on all of so much per annum". He was the founder of the Framlingham Lecture in Suffolk "where he had a fine mannour". The wife of Nicholas is believed to have been Elizabeth, daughter of William Symmes, a minister of Canterbury, and sister of Rev. Zachariah Symmes, the long-time minister of Charlestown, Ma. Together on the Griffin in 1634 coming to New England were Rev. Symmes, his wife and six children; Rev. John Lothrop and family, later minister at Scituate; and William and Anne Hutchinson and their family. Nicholas, now nearly fifty years of age, may have been influenced by them to leave his comfortable home in East Anglia where his wife Elizabeth had recently died, in 1629, and join them on the Griffin, bringing with him his six young children. The Griffin was a ship of some 300 tons carrying "about 100 passengers and cattle for the plantations", arriving in Boston September 18, 1634. Although not sworn a freeman until March 3, 1636, Mr. Danforth was chosen a "townsman" (selectman) of New-Towne and re-elected in 1636 and 1637, serving until his death in April, 1638. In December, 1635, he and two others were appointed to build a bridge or causeway at the southerly end of present Dunster street "down to the low water mark" to accommodate the patrons of the ferry, and to set up a broad ladder on the farther side of the river for convenience in landing. He often served as surveyor for the town and colony, helping to "sett out the bounds" of Concord, of Roxbury in 1636, and in 1637 to establish the boundary between Dedham and Dorchester. He resided on what is now Bow street near Mount Auburn street, New Towne, and served as a deputy to the General Court, attending five sessions in 1636 and 1637. These sessions gave the town its present name of Cambridge and made the first recorded appropriation for public education in New England, œ400 for the establishment of Harvard College. He was selected as one of eleven men given the responsibility of selling at retail "strong water", an early effort to place the sale of liquor in the hands of leading citizens. Historians have been generous in their praise of Nicholas Danforth and his noted sons. One wrote, "He was the progenitor of a family in New England ....... more than ordinarily distinguished in their day and generation, and whose name, honorable alike in Church and State (has been) the ornament and the oracle of each of the learned Professions in turn." Another called him the "founder of a veritable dynasty."

After sailing to America in 1635/36 aboard thE Griffin, he settled in Framlingham Massachusetts. Before his death he served as representative to the General Assembly from 1636-7.

Nicholas Danforth was a beneficiary by the will of his maternal grandfather, Thomas

Sudbury, in 1606. He was the executor of his father's will, church warden of St. Michael's at Framlingham in 1622 and on a "Borough Leet Jury" in 1629. His position as church warden proves that in 1622 he was a member in good standing in the Established English Church. It is said that King CHarles I wanted to impose knighthood on Nicholas because his annual income was so high. No information is available about the date of his emigration nor of the ship he sailed on. Because he paid an English tax late in 1634 and his earliest recorded appearance in New England was October 1635, it is probably more accurate that he emigrated in 1635. On 6 March 1637/8 he was ordered to survey land and on 12 March he was appointed to supply the demand for strong drink in Cambridge. However, at their meeting on 2 May, less than two months, later, reference was made to his death, and the court appointed a successor to complete the survey earlier required of him. The Boston records say he died in April 1638 and the Cambridge records agree, so he may even have died in Boston while attending a session of the court. No will has been found for him nor has a distribution of his estate been found.

[Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines compiled by Mary Walton Ferris]


Title: Representative to General Assembly 1636-37

Fact 2: Emmigrated February, 1635/36 on the "Griffin"

The Oath of a Freeman, or of a Man to be made free.

I, A B, etc., being, by the Almighty's most wise disposition, become a member of this body, consisting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants and a commonalty of the Mattachusets in New England, do freely and sincerely acknowledge that I am justly and lawfully subject to the government of the same, and do accordingly submit my person and estate to be protected, ordered, and governed by the laws and constitutions thereof, and do faithfully promise to be from time to time obedient and conformable thereunto, and to the authority of the said

Governor and Assistants and their successors, and to all such laws, orders, sentences, and decrees as shall be lawfully made and published by them or their successors; and I will always endeavor (as in duty I am bound) to advance the peace and welfare of this body or commonwealth to my utmost skill and ability; and I will, to my best power and means, seek to divert and prevent whatsoever may tend to the ruin or damage thereof, or of any the said Governor, Deputy Governor, or Assistants, or any of them or their successors, and will give speedy notice to them, or some of them, of any sedition, violence, treachery, or other hurt or evil which I shall know, hear, or vehemently suspect to be plotted or intended against the said commonwealth, or the said government established; and I will not at any time suffer or give consent to any counsel or attempt that shall be done, given, or attempted for the impeachment of the said government, or making any change alteration of the same, contrary to the laws and ordinances thereof, but shall do my utmost endeavor to discover, oppose, and hinder all and every such counsel and attempt. So help me God.

Freemen made at the General Court, March 3, 1635/1636

Mr. Nicholas Danforth

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Nicholas Danforth's Timeline

March 1, 1589
New Street Farm, Framlingham, Suffolk, England
March 1, 1590
Age 1
Framlingham, Suffolk, England
August 3, 1619
Age 30
Framlingham, Suffolkshire, England
May 3, 1621
Age 32
Framlingham, Suffolk, England
September 3, 1622
Age 33
Framlingham, Plumesgate, Suffolk, England
November 23, 1623
Age 34
Framlingham, Suffolk, UK
May 24, 1625
Age 36
Framlingham, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom
October 17, 1626
Age 37
Framlingham, Suffolk Co., England
February 29, 1628
Age 38
Framlingham, Suffolk, England, (Present UK)