Rev. Francis Higginson

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Reverand Francis Higginson

Birthplace: Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
Death: August 06, 1630 (44)
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Salem, Essex, Mass, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev John Higginson and Elizabeth Higginson
Husband of Lady Anne Higginson and Anne Higginson
Father of Anne Chatfield; Theophilus Higgonson; Samuel Higgonson; Neophytus Higgonson; Timothy Higgonson and 4 others
Brother of Elizabeth Higginson; Priscilla Higginson; John Higginson; John Higginson; William Higginson and 7 others
Half brother of John Higginson and Dorothy Higginson

Managed by: Private User
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About Rev. Francis Higginson

Emigrated to New England in 1629, on the ship Talbot, with his brothers in Henry Whitfield's company, and settled at Guilford, Conn. He was the first minister at Salem. A few years later he went to New Haven, and then about 1650 went to East Hampton, Long Island.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chronicles of the First Planters The Colony of Massachusetts Bay p. 213 journal listed ___________________________________________________________

Francis Higginson (1588 – 6 August 1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.


The son of a minister, Francis Higginson received his B.A. degree from Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1610 and his M.A. in 1613. About 1615, he became minister at Claybrooke, one of the parishes of Leicester, and acquired great influence as a preacher. Through his acquaintance with Arthur Hildersham and Thomas Hooker, he became disenchanted with the church of England and began to associate himself with Puritan congregations. Religion in England was still going through a very discordant time, especially when King Charles I ascended the throne in 1623 and married a French Catholic Princess. Puritans in England were persecuted for their beliefs and practices with their ministers being forbidden to preach. Higginson left his parish, although he continued to preach occasionally in the pulpits of the church of England. He refused offers of many excellent well paying jobs on account of his opinions, and was supporting himself by preparing young men for the university, when, in 1628, he was invited by the Massachusetts Bay Company to join. Higginson joined the company, and in 1629 the Company obtained a Royal Charter from Charles I of England to form a "plantation" in New England. Higginson and his Puritan sympathizers were asked to lead the first expedition to New England's Massachusetts Bay Colony and establish preliminary settlements.

Higginson led a group of about 350 settlers (including many of his own congregation) on six ships from England to New England. Because of the ever present pirate threat as well as the undeclared war with Spain all ships carried armament. The Lyon's Whelp left from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight 11 February 1629 and arrived in Salem harbor 19 June 1629. The Higginson Fleet brought with them 115 head of cattle: horses and mares, cows and oxen plus 41 goats and some conies (rabbits), along with all the provisions needed for setting up households and surviving till they could get crops in. They would have to build their lodgings for the coming winter from scratch. These were some of the first settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the main body who would start coming in 1630 on the Winthrop Fleet. The Higginson Fleet set sail on the 1 May, 1629, arriving in Salem harbor on the 24 June 1629. The ships in the fleet were:

Talbot (carried 19 cannon)
George Bonaventure (carried 20 cannon)
Lyon's Whelp (carried 40 planters + crew + 8 cannon)
Four Sisters (carried 14 cannon)
'Mayflower (carried 14 guns and was a different ship than the Pilgrim (Plymouth Colony))'s Mayflower.
Pilgrim (small ship with 4 guns that carried supplies only)

Higginson's fleet was greeted in Salem, Massachusetts by a small group of settlers, led by John Endecott. In Salem there were five houses besides Endecott's. They had no trained minister, however, so Higginson and Samuel Skelton began conducting services immediately. Higginson drew up a confession of faith, which was assented to, on 6 August, by thirty persons. In the following winter, in the general sickness that ravaged the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he was attacked by a fever, which disabled him, and finally caused his death at the age of 43, leaving behind a widow and eight children.

He had married Anne Herbert (died in or before 1640) on 8 January 1616 at St Peter's, Nottingham. Their eldest son, John (1616–1708), also trained for the ministry. He succeeded his father-in-law Henry Whitfeld or Whitfield (1597-1687) as minister at Guilford, Connecticut, and served as pastor of Salem from 1659. Another son, Francis Higginson (1618–1673), returned to England and became vicar of Kirkby Stephen, Westmoreland, where he lived until his death.

A portion of his diary was published in 1630 under the title, New Englands Plantation, or a Short and True Description of the Commodities and Discommodities of that Country. He also wrote an account of his voyage, which is preserved in Hutchinson's collection of papers.

Puritan preacher. He graduated with an MA Jesus College Cambridge 1613, and joined his father as rector f Claybrooke from 1615. but later took work as a teacher due to his Puritan views. He arrived in Massachusetts in 1629 and led 350 settlers to Salem, but died of fever the following year. He son John (1615-1708) was also a prominent Puritan minister in Salem. He married (8 Jan 1616, Nottingham) Anne Herbert (d bef 1640). and had nine children: John (1615-1708), Francis (1617-1673), Timothy (c1620-1653), Theophilius (b c 1622), Samuel (c 1620-1664), Ann (b c 1622), Mary (1625-1629), Charles (1629-1677) and Neophytus (c1627-c1647).


  1. Randy A West, The "Cousin" relationship between Rev. Francis1 Higginson of Salem, Massachusetts, and Increase1 Nowell of Charlestown, Massachusetts, in The American Genealogist (TAG). (Donald Lines Jacobus,, Vol 90 No 1 Whole # 357 p 71-76, Jan 2018:

Summary of the connection:

Rev Francis1 Higginson, bp. 6 Aug 1587 Cleabroke (aka Claybrooke, Leicestershire), d Salem, Mass., 6 Aug. 1630; m St. Peter, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, 8 Jan. 1615/6, Anne Herbert, Immigrated 1629; son of Vicar JohnA Higginson b 1543 buried there 19 Feb 1623/4 and his 2nd wife Elizabeth ____ buried 19 Jun 1635, JohnA Higginson whose will dated 4 Dec 1623 proved 2 Apr 1624... etc. Note below Francis1 Higginson had a sister Elizabeth Higginson who married Edward Andrews.

Increase1 Nowell, bp. Sheldon, Warwickshire, 19 Aug. 1593, d Charlestown, Mass., 1 Nov. 1655; m. Holy Trinity Minories, London, 8 Jul 1628, Parnell (Gray) Parker; immigrated 1630. He was son of AlexanderA Nowell and SarahA Smyth. The will of SarahA Smyth dated 1 Mar 1644 proved 18 Jun 1651, etc. Sarah Smyth was bp 27 Feb 1574/5 Sheldon, Warwickshire (daughter of John Smyth) and was buried Claybrooke 12 Mar 1644/5. AlexanderA Nowell was buried Sheldon, 27 Sep 1596. They were married 7 Feb 1591/2. She married 2nd William Perkins by 1605 who was buried Claybrooke, 24 Mar 1608/9. She married 3rd 22 Sep 1610 Claybrooke to Richard Perkins who was buried 2 Oct 1619.

Bartholomew Perkins chr. 21 Mar 1605/6 in Sheldon, Warwickshire, England son of William Perkins and Sarah Smyth above and half-brother of Increase1 Nowell married Ann Andrews daughter of Elizabeth Higginson sister of Rev Francis1 Higginson. Ann Andrews was chr. 11 Feb 1612/3 Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England daughter of Edward Andrews and Elizabeth Higginson. Elizabeth Higginson sister of Francis Higginson was born say 1583 in Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England. They were both children of John and Elizabeth (____) Higginson. Elizabeth Higginson married 5 Jan 1606/7 in Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England to Edward Andrews.

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Rev. Francis Higginson's Timeline

August 6, 1586
Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
August 6, 1586
Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England
Age 16
Age 20
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 20
Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
Age 20
Haborough Dist., Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
August 6, 1616
Age 30
Leicestershire, England
Age 30
Claybrooke Maga, Haborough Dist., Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
January 28, 1625
Age 38