Pierre "Peter" Shumway, Sr.

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Pierre "Peter" Shumway (Chamois), Sr.

Also Known As: "Pierre /Chamois/", "Peter the soldier", "Peter The Soldier"
Birthplace: Saint-Maixent-l'École, Poitou-Charentes, France
Death: Died in Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacob Li De Chamois Shumway and Marie Li De Chamois Shumway
Husband of Frances Shumway
Father of Peter Shumway, Jr.; John Shumway; Samuel Shumway; Dorcas Butler and Joseph Shumway

Occupation: Soldier
Managed by: James Lockwood
Last Updated:

About Pierre "Peter" Shumway, Sr.

from www.shumway.org, The Shumway Root Cellar

According to family tradition, Peter I "the soldier" came from France. He was probably a Huguenot. In the period leading up to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes things got very unpleasant for Protestants in France, and about 400,000 left. Shumway probably evolved from a French name like Chamois. All the Shumways in the USA are descended from Peter. He may have come from the area of St Maixent, a small town in Western france on the Sevre River, a region of Huguenot strength.

He probably came here around 1670. In 1675 he was in the Narragansett war, later known as King Phillips War (King Phillips was a powerful Indian). They captured an Indian fort in Rhode Island and drove the enemy out.

See Asahel Adams Shumway "Genealogy of the Shumway Family in the United States of America"

Family lore has been passed through the generations that the Shumway f amily is of French origin and that the it's progenitor in America was a Huguenot. "Shumway" probably evolved from a French name like Chamois, but the English have always been capable corrupters of "foriegn" names both at home in Mother England a nd, of course, in their colonies. Our ancestor accepted his new name and was called Peter Shumway which was pretty close to Pe t, Per, or maybe Pierre Chamois, non?

Because Huguenots (Protestants in France) were becoming very unpopular , Peter left his Roman-Catholic homeland and came to Massachusetts Bay Colony around 1670. He was a colonial soldier as early as 1675 and was a long time in the service of his colony and therefore his adopted country, England. In the Narragan sett war he and other brave soldiers captured an Indian fort in Rhode Island and drove the enemy out of its Narragansett count ry stronghold. This war and particularly the battle at the Indian fort became known as King Phillip's War. "King" Phillip was a p owerful Indian leader who brought together all the New England tribes for one decisive campagne against the white settler s whose aggressive expansion spelled the doom of the Indian and his culture. To distinguish him from other Peter Shumways of his posterity, this Sh umway became styled "Peter the Soldier." But,Military life was intermittent in Colonial days, and though there is no proof that P eter owned land, he spent most of his days tilling it. He and his goodwife Frances continued attending the Topsfield church w here their four sons and one daughter were Baptized.

In 1695, at Boxford, Massachusetts, Peter Shumway died. He was in his sixty-first year. Goodwife Frances lived until 1714. Taken from a letter written by William H. Shumway, esq.,lawyer at Syra cuse,NY May 1871: I understand from an attache' of Joseph Bonaparte that our name Shumway is a corruption of "Chamois " a person bearing it was Compte De Chamois, a member of the court of Louis XIV." A Dr. Baird said " a protestant family named Chamois is mentioned in a list of fugitives from the nieghborhood of St Maixent in the old Province of Poitou, France at the time of the revocation o f the edict of Nantes." Peter came to America among the emigrants who landed before the founding of Oxford Colony. He is said to have taken part in the Narragansett war and taking the Indian fort there.

One of my major sources for this family's research comes from the boo k by Asahel Adams Shumway "Genealogy of the Shumway Family in the United States of America", look ups courtesy of Dave Bardue.

Another source is "The Original Founders of Oxford, Massechussettes".

Third source is the LDS Family History centers.

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The following observations are courtesy of Dean Shumway: Peter resided near Capt. John Peabody, when the family lived in Topsfi eld, Essex, Massachusetts

Much of this information is taken from the Shumway Genealogy compiled by Asahel Adams Shumway and copywrited in 1909. Two hundred copies were printed. So far as is known that is all that w as ever printed.

It is thought that the name Shumway did not exist prior to Peter comin g to Massachusetts. Some have thought he used an assumed name. But if so, what would be the reason? Whatever the reason , there is no trace of the name in France.

Dr. Baird states that a family named CHAMOIS (pronounced Shamwah) is m entioned in a list of Protestant fugitives from France at the time of the Restoration of the Edict of Nantes; also a COMPT d e CHAMOISE was a member of the court of Lois XIV. Their is also speculation it mgiht have been CHAMIER (pronounced Chom e ay).

The name is spelled different three or four times in Peter and France s (his wife) wills. It is apparent he could not read or write English, for he signed his will with an X.

It is not known just when Peter came to Massachusetts, but it is thoug ht he came in 1660 - 1670. It is also not know if his wife, Frances, came with him or if he married after he came. There is no rec ord of her birth or maiden name.

They settled in or near Topsfield, Massachusetts and later moved to Bo xford, Massachusetts nearby. There was another French Huguenot by the name of Michael Dwinall who came to Massachuset ts in 1668 and also settled in Topsfield.

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Peter's name was listed among the names of the Colonial soldiers of th e Colony of Massachusetts as early as 1675. He is also listed as one of the soldiers who fought in King Phillips War at the Battle of Narragansett. This is known as the Swamp Battle with the Narragansett Indians, Dec. 19, 1675.

In the records of the town of Topsfield, at the town meeting of March 7, 1681, Peter and James Waters were chosen to ring hogs for the year.

Peter Shumway's Will is on record, date of April 10, 1665 and was prob ated on June 10, 1695. He left a considerable estate appraised at 83 pounds, 16 shillings and 6 pence.

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Huguenots were Protestants, many of them followers of John Calvin, wh o fled France in their thousands following religious persecution initiated around 1661 by the king, Louis XIV, with thousan ds of them coming to Ireland. The name Huguenot is believed to be derived from St. Hugo a Protestant at the time of the R eformation, although other meanings have been suggested. Persecution had been going on in France sporadically since the middle of the 16th century and on 24th August 1572 the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day had occurred wh en thousands of Protestants were killed.

By 1662 the number of Protestants in France had grown to over one mill ion; in 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and made Protestantism illegal, with the result that more than 400,00 0 fled the country.

The revocation of the "Edict of Nantes" was in 1685.

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The Huguenots were French Protestants who were members of the Reforme d Church which was established in 1550 by John Calvin. The origin of the name Huguenot is uncertain, but dates f rom approximately 1550 when it was used in court cases against "heretics" (dissenters from the Roman Catholic Church). As nickname and even abusive name it's use was banned in the regulations of the Edict of Nantes which Henry IV (Henr y of Navarre, who himself was a Huguenot previously) issued in 1559. The French Protestants themselves preferred to refer t o themselves as "reformees" (reformers) rather than "Huguenots". It was much later that the name "Huguenots" became an hon orary one.

A general edict which encouraged the extermination of the Huguenots wa s issued on 29 January 1536 in France. On March 1st, 1562 some 1200 Huguenots were slain at Vassey, France. This ignited th e Wars of Religion which would rip apart, devastate, and bankrupt France for thenext three decades. During the infamous St . Bartholomew Massacre of Sunday night 24 August 1572 more than 8000 Huguenots were murdered in Paris.

The Edict of Nantes was signed by Henry IV on 13 April 1598, ended th e Wars of Religion. The Huguenots were allowed to practice their religion in 20 specified French "free" towns. After Hen ry IV was murdered in 1610, however, the persecution of the "dissenters" resumed. The Huguenot free cities were lost one afte r the other after they were conquered by the forces of Cardinal Richeleu, and the last and most important stronghold, La Roch elle, fell in 1629 after a siege lasting a month. Louis XIV began with a police of une foi, une loi, une roi (one faith, one law, one king) and revoked the Edict of Nantes on 22 Oct. 1685. Protestant churches and the houses of "obstinates" were burned and des troyed. Many Huguenots were burned at the stake.

At least 200,000 French Huguenots fled to countries such as Switzerlan d, Germany, England, America, and South Africa, where they could enjoy religious freedom. Between 1618 and 1725 between 500 0 and 7000 Huguenots reached the shores of America.

Basic information taken from the book "Genealogy of the Shumway Famil y in the United States of America." Compiled by Asahel Adams Shumway. Volum e 1. Reprinted 1972 by Maple Press, George Shumway, Publisher, York, PA. P age

  1. 12, Book identification #1.

Will dated 10 Apr 1695. Estate appraised 10 Jun 1695. Death would have occurred between these dates. The First of the family in this country. Known as "The Soldier"

On the roll of the Colonial Soldiers of Massachusetts as early as 167 5.

Was in one of "King Phillip's War" (Indian), December 1675.

TRADITION ONLY supports the origin of the Shumway name. Abiel Holmes D .D. visited the town of Oxford, MA in 1819 and 1825 to obtain information about the Huguenot colony which settled in that town. Described in the Massachusetts Historical Collection II, 80. He met with Mr. Peter Shumway (in 1819) "a very aged man of Frenc h descent." He visited again (in 1825) and (Mr. Shumway) "he told me that he was in his ninty-first year; that his great-grandf ather was from France."

The family name is held by many to be a corruption of the French "Cham ois" (pronounced Shamwah). Mr. George F. Daniels while writing his book "The Huguenots in the Nipmuck Country" wrote to the d istinguished authority on Huguenots, Mr. Charles W. Beard, concerning this name. Mr. Baird replied that "IF (note that IF! ) French the name "Chamois" offers a PROBABLE solution. A Protestant family bearing this name is MENTIONED in a list of fugiti ves from the neighborhood of St. Maixent (in the old department of Poitou,) in the present department of Deux-Sevres, Franc e, at the period of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes."

"The fact of the French origin of the Shumways may be considered as fa irly well substantiated; historically their descent from the Huguenots, rests thus far, upon tradition only. Asahel Adams Shumway"

BOOK: Information from the book "Register of Qualified Huguenot Ancestors" by The National Huguenot Society. Third Edition, Second Printing. Compiled 1983 by Vera Reeve, Certified Genealogist, Registrar General. The National Huguenot Society. Room 244, Hearst Ha ll, Washington Cathedral Close. Woodley and Wisconsin Ave., Washington, D.C. 20016 Page #16.

CHAMOIS/SHUMWAY, Pierre. B. 1635 probably Poitou, France; md. Frances. Children: Peter(2), b. 6 Jul 1768, d. ca. 1751, md. 11 Feb 1700/170 1 Maria Smith; John(2), b. 20 Jan 1680; Samuel(2), b. 2 Nov 1681; Dorca s(2), b. 10 Oct 1683; Joseph(2), b. 13 Oct 1686. Children of Peter(2) and M aria: Oliver(3); Jeremiah(3); David(3); Mary(3), md. Caleb Barton; Samuel(3 ); John(3); Jacob(3); Hepzibah(3), md. Kosick Walker; Amos( 3). EVIDENCE: Daniels, "Huguenots", 129-131, 160-161; Daniels, "Oxford" , 681-683; Shumway, 6-15, 28-29, 38-39, 128-131, 142-143.

Shumway, Peter, of Topsfield, 1678; Peter of Oxford, B.1735, is author ity for the assertion that, the family originated in France, the name was probably Chamois or Charmois. In the records of Essex Cou nty the name is often spelled "Shamway." Dr. Baird says, "a Protestant family named Chamois is mentioned in a list of fug itives from the neighborhood of St. Maixent in the old Province of Poitou, France at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes." Peter came to America among the emigrants who landed before the founding of the Oxford Colony, as will be seen b y the following, in the handwriting of Rev. John Campbell:-- "To the Honorable Spencer Phips Esq. Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief in and over His Majestie's Province of The Massachusetts Bay in New England: The Honorable Council and House of Representatives in Gen eral Court Assembled:

"The Memorial of Peter Shumway of Oxford most humbly sheweth that wher eas your humble memorialist did many years ago prefer a petition to the Honorable General Court of this Province pray ing that as he is the legal heir and representative of Peter Shumway of Topsfield who was a long time in the service of this Country and particularly in the Narragansett War, and taking the Indian fort there which he in said petition proved by livin g testimonies and which he believes the Honorable John Chandler and others worthy members of this Honorable Court do yet remember. "And whereas your aged, decrepid and poor memorialist hath never yet r eceived any gratuity, or reward in land or otherwise for his father's services and sufferings as many others have done, your mo st humble memorialist again most humbly prayeth this Honorable Court in their wonted goodness and compassion would make hi m a grant of some piece of country land for said services, or otherwise as in their great wisdom they [see] fit: which will oblige your most humble memorialist as in duty bound will ever pray. "(Signed) PETER SHUMWAY "March 23, 1749-50" - Mass. Arch., XLVI., 212 We find no record of actin on this memorial. Peter of Topsfield was progenitor of all of the name in the country, s o far as known. It is well known that in several other instances in Oxford names, the French termination OIS has been changed to WAY. A letter of William H. Shumway, Esq., lawyer at Syracuse, N.Y., May, 1871, says : "I understand from an attache' of Joseph Bonaparte that our name Shumway is a corruption of 'Chamois,' a person bearing i t was Compte De Chamois, a member of the court of Louis XIV."

HISTORY OF BOXFORD - Perley 1645-1880 Page 101 Peter Shumway was in Topsfield as early as 1677. In 1682 with James Wa ters, he was chosen by Topsfield to "ring swine." He was in Topsfield in 1686, and probably came to Boxford very soon af ter. He undoubtedly resided near Capt. John Peabody, as he calls Peabody his "neighbor." Shumway made a will, which was pro ved in July, 1695. His will was, that his widow and sons should carry on the farm together. By his wife Frances, he had ch ildren (all born in Topsfield): 1. Peter b. 6 June 1678. 2. John b. 20 January 1677. 3. Samuel b. 2 Nov 1681. 4. Dorcas b. 16 O ctober 1683. 5. Joseph b. 13 October 1686. His son Peter married Mariah Smith about 1700 and had six children born in Box ford. The family removed to Oxford, Massachusetts in 1714. SHUMWAY FAMILY Probably came from St. Maixent, Province of Poitou.

The record show his name on the roll call of the Colonial Soldiers of Mass. as early as 1675. An early trace of authentic history in the life of Peter Shumway I appears in a petition by his son Peter Shumway II of Oxford (Mass. Arch. XLVI,, 212).

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Pierre "Peter" Shumway, Sr.'s Timeline

April 10, 1635
Saint-Maixent-l'École, Poitou-Charentes, France
June 6, 1678
Age 43
Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts
January 20, 1679
Age 43
Topsfield, MA, USA
November 2, 1681
Age 46
Topsfield, MA, USA
October 10, 1683
Age 48
Topsfield, MA, USA
October 13, 1686
Age 51
Topsfield, MA, USA
Age 51
Essex County, MA
June 10, 1695
Age 60
Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts