Name: John BENJAMIN 1
Birth: ABT 1595 in Heathfield or Chalvington, Hailsham, Sussex, England 1
Death: 14 JUN 1645 in Watertown, Middlesex, MA 1
Bullet 16 SEP 1632 IMMIGRANT on the "Lyon" 1
The following was copied from "The Great Migration Begins", see source for details.
MIGRATION: 16 September 1632 on Lyon [Hotten 150]
FIRST RESIDENCE: Cambridge
REMOVES: Watertown about 1643
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Church admission prior to 6 November 1632 implied by freemanship (probably to Watertown church, as Cambridge church had not yet been organized).
FREEMAN: 6 November 1632 [MBCR 1:367].
EDUCATION: His inventory included "2 volumes of book of Martire [i.e., Book of Martyrs]," œ1 10s.; "Mr. Perkin's works, 3 volumes," œ1 4s.; "an English Expositor on Matt: & John," œ1; "a law book," 5s.; "Mr. Rog[ers] treatises," 6s.; "two concordances," œ1; "3 or 4 other books," 3s., for a total of œ5 8s.; and, in another part of the house, "an old chest with books & all the iron lumber," 7s.
OFFICES: Cambridge constable (as "Mr. John Beniamyn"), 29 May 1633 [MBCR 1:105]; Cambridge committee to lay out Atherton Hough's lot, 7 July 1634 [CaTR 8]; Cambridge committee to compile land inventory, 3 February 1634/5 [CaTR 12] (which was received by the General Court on 27 October 1636 [MBCR 1:182]); on 4 January 1635/6 Cambridge "reckoned with John Benjamin for his constable's charge," and the account was settled four days later [CaTR 16]. On 7 November 1634 "Mr. John Beniamin" and two others were dismissed from training "by reason of their age & infirmities ... only they are to have in readiness at all times sufficient arms for themselves, besides for their servants" [MBCR 1:133]. Appointed with Joseph Weld to sell land of Mr. Richard Gurling, and settle his estate, 19 September 1637 [MBCR 1:203, 219, 268].
ESTATE: Granted one acre for a cowyard at Cambridge, 5 August 1633 [CaTR 5]; granted "all the ground between John Masters ... and Antho Couldbyes," 2 March 1633/4 [CaTR 7]; granted "the marsh between [word missing] Windmill Hill and the creek next to it," 1 September 1634 [CaTR 9]; given proportional share of 5 in meadow (among the largest shares), 21 April 1635 [CaTR 13]; on 8 February 1635/6 in the list of those with houses in town, John Benjamin appears in the West End with a rating of two, and also on the south side of the river is a lot which had been held by William Wetherell, but annotated as "sold to Mr. Benjamin & by him to Edm Angier" [CaTR 18, 19, 51]; on 17 March 1635[/6] William Wetherell sold for œ8 to John Benjamin a house and twelve acres of land on the south side of Charles River [CaBOP 35]; on 24 March 1635[/6] William Ruskew sold for œ1 10s to John Benjamin one acre in shipmarsh [CaBOP 36].
In the Cambridge Book of Possessions, John Benjamin appears on 4 June 1635 with three parcels: one house and lot in West End, six acres; one-quarter of an acre in town; and three acres on the west side of Charles River [CaBOP 10-11]; in the Cambridge land inventory of 6 September 1642 he held two parcels: one dwelling house with six acres in the West End, and twenty-seven acres in the Great Marsh [CaBOP 114].
On 7 April 1636 Winthrop reported "Mr. Benjamin's house burnt, and œ100 in goods lost" [WJ 1:220].
In the Watertown Inventory of Possessions, John Benjamin held four parcels: sixty-acre homestall, eighteen acres of upland with two acres of meadow, eighty acres of upland in the Great Dividends, and twenty-four acres of plowland in the further plain [WaBOP 123]; the third and fourth of these lots had previously been held by ROBERT FEAKE. In the Composite Inventory he held the same four parcels [WaBOP 35].
On 28 February 1643 John Benjamin of Watertown sold to "Barnabye Wind junior ... one house with two acres of ground adjoining, also eight acres of land lying in a common corn field" [SLR 1:51].
In his will, undated but proved on 3 July 1645, John Benjamin bequeathed to "my son John a double portion of my estate & my beloved wife two cows, forty bushels of corn out of all my lands to be allowed her towards the bringing up of my small children yearly such as grows upon the ground, one part of four of all my household stuff, all the rest of my lands, goods & chattels I will shall be equally divided between seven other of my children, provided that out of all my former estate my will is that my wife during her life shall enjoy the dwelling house I live in & three acres of the broken up ground next the house, & two acres of the meadow nearhand belonging to the house"; in swearing to this will John Eddy said that John Benjamin "did further declare (as an addition to this his will) that his wife should have liberty to take wood for her use upon any of his lands during her life" [SPR 1:40-41].
The inventory of the estate of John Benjamin (which was not totalled) included real estate valued at œ162: "dwelling house with the whole land & meadow next the mill," œ50; "the lot bought of John Bernard containing threescore acres of land with a house upon it & all belonging to it," œ75; ten acres marsh land at oyster bank, œ10; "ten acres marsh in Rocky Meadow," œ3; "80 acres of great dividend," œ12; and "16 acres of Capt. Sedgw[ick]," œ12 [SPR 2:43-45].
On 1 September 1646 "George Pickrom of Watertowne & Ester his mother" sold to "Joshua Stubs & Abigail Benjamin his mother-in-law ... a homestead of sixteen acres together with ... the great dividend, plow ground, meadows or whatsoever lands belongeth to them with farms ..." [SLR 1:78]. On 22 March 1646[/7?] "Abigail Benjamin & Joshua Stubbs executors to John Benjamin granted unto Jeremiah Norcrosse a parcel of land in Watertowne containing sixteen acres ..." [SLR 1:103].
BIRTH: By about 1595 based on estimated date of marriage.
DEATH: Watertown 14 June 1645 [WaVR 12].
MARRIAGE: By about 1620 Abigail Eddy, baptized at Cranbrook, Kent, October 1601, daughter of Rev. William Eddy of that parish [Eddy Gen 20]; she died at Charlestown 20 May 1687 [Wyman 77; Bond 26 (this date does not appear in the published Charlestown vital records, and may be from a tombstone)].
i JOHN, b. about 1620 (d. Watertown 22 December 1706 aged 86 [Watertown Records (Watertown 1900) 2:2:33]); m. by 1651 Lydia Allen (eldest child John b. 10 September 1651 [WaVR 16]; in his will of 15 December 1674 William Allen bequeathed to "my daughter Lydyah Beniamine wife unto John Beniamine of Watertowne" [SPR 6:78]).
ii ABIGAIL, b. say 1624; m. (1) by 1646 Joshua Stubbs (eldest known child b. Watertown 3 August 1646 [WaVR 13]); m. (2) after 1654 John Woodward [Bond 27, 658; Wyman 1049].
iii MARY, b. say 1626; d. Watertown 10 April 1646 [WaVR 13]. On 16 May 1646 (note conflict with recorded date of death) she made a will, transcribed here verbatim: "I Marie Beniamen being in perfect memory of Walthertowne do give to Pastor Knowles 5 acres of marsh at the Rockie Meadows in Walthertowne bounds. I give to my Aunt Wines one cow. I give to my sister Abigill Stubbes 2 cows, my best clothes(?) with my best petticoat. I give to my brothers in general one cowsworth. I give to my cousin Ane Wyes my best waistcoat" [SPR Case #41]. The General Court "doth conceive, that if this Court doth not confirm the will of the said Mary Benjamin, she not being of age, (which it seeth no equity for in this case), that the administration of the estate of the said Mary should be granted to Abigaile Benjamin, the mother of the said Mary, for bringing up the younger children, & then the estate to be divided by 5 commissioners, to be appointed by this Court, who shall make return thereof to the next Court" [MBCR 2:183].
iv JOSEPH, b. say 1634; m. (1) Barnstable 10 June 1661 "Jemima Lumbard" [MD 2:214; TAG 52:139], daughter of THOMAS LOMBARD; m. (2) Sarah _____ [TAG 10:35; Otis 1:143].
v SAMUEL, b. say 1636; m. by 1666 Mary _____ (eldest child Mary b. Watertown [WaVR 28]); the family moved to Hartford [Manwaring 1:182].
vi CALEB, b. say 1638; m. by about 1671 Mary Hale, daughter of Samuel Hale of Wethersfield [Manwaring 1:272; Hale, House 8-11].
vii ABEL, b. say 1640; m. Charlestown 6 November 1671 "Aminathia Mirrick" [ChVR 1:77; also Wyman 77].
viii JOSHUA, b. about 1642 (d. Charlestown 6 May 1684 [ChVR 1:121], aged 42 [gravestone, as in Wyman 77 (although Wyman or his typographer incorrectly gives the year of death as 1648!)]; m. Charlestown 24 August 1682 Thankful Stow [ChVR 1:115-16].
ASSOCIATIONS: The probable connection between JOHN BENJAMIN and RICHARD BENJAMIN is discussed in the sketch of the latter. John Benjamin in his will calls JOHN EDDY his brother, which has been interpreted to mean that Benjamin married Eddy's sister, and John's daughter Mary Benjamin refers in her will to "aunt Wines" and "cousin Anne Wines," indicating a connection with Barnabas Wines, whose wife Ann is also supposed to be a sister of John Eddy. This would also connect the Benjamins to SAMUEL EDDY.
COMMENTS: Banks claims that John and Richard Benjamin derived from Heathfield, Sussex, citing only "Banks Mss." [Topo Dict 171], but this has not been proved. Gloria Wall Bicha and Helen Benjamin Brown have published extracts from the Heathfield parish register which show that a Benjamin family resided there, but little more. In the nearby parish of Chalvington they found many more entries, with some that show promise: John, son of John Benjamin, baptized 12 March 1585/6, and Richard, son of John Benjamin, baptized 16 July 1602 [The Benjamin Family in America (n.p. 1977), pp. vii-viii]. These dates seem to be about a decade too early, but this family deserves further study.
Estimating the birth dates and birth order for the children of John Benjamin raises many problems. Since John Benjamin was residing in Watertown in the early 1640s, we would expect to find birth records for some of his children in the earliest Watertown vital records, compiled about 1643 or 1644; the absence of such entries remains unexplained.
In his will John Benjamin names only his son John, and then refers to "seven other of my children"; although this language is not totally clear, this would seem to indicate that John Benjamin was survived by eight children. We learn of two other children from the will of Mary Benjamin, in which she names her sister Abigail Stubbs.
The list of children can be filled out by five sons who can be placed in this family by a combination of direct and indirect evidence, including common migration pathways and common usage of given names. On 30 October 1682 Joseph Benjamin of Barnstable, tailor, sold to Walter Hastings of Cambridge two and a half acres of marsh in the Neck of Land in Cambridge, including all his right in "my honored father's estate Mr. John Benjamin, sometimes of Watertown deceased"; the abutter on the west was "my brother Abel Benjamin" [MLR 10:61]. Samuel Benjamin married in Watertown and then moved to Hartford, died soon, and made "my brother Caleb Benjamin overseer [Manwaring 1:182]. Caleb Benjamin resided in Wethersfield, where he died in 1684 [Manwaring 1:272-73]. Finally, two sons followed or accompanied their mother and surviving sister in their move to Charlestown. Joshua, who had no surviving issue, made his brother Abel his heir at the decease of his wife [Wyman 77]. The younger John Benjamin, the only member of the family to remain in Watertown, named his youngest son Abel. Abel Benjamin of Charlestown named a son Joshua. John, Joseph, Samuel, Caleb and Abel all named daughters Abigail.
The estimation of ages for the children leaves a gap of about eight years between the first three children and the last five. This might suggest that John Benjamin had two wives, and that the first died perhaps in England in the 1620s. We have evidence, however, for only one wife, and the full range of birth dates for the eight children is well within the childbearing span of one woman.
Father: John BENJAMIN , yeoman b: 8 APR 1545 in Chalvington, Hailsham, Sussex, England
Mother: Joanne HOOKES b: 1559 in Laughton, Hailsham, Sussex, England
Abigail EDDY b: BEF OCT 1601 in Cranbrook, Kent, England
- Joseph BENJAMIN b: ABT 1634 in Cambridge, Middlesex, MA
- Title: The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Vol I-II, Robert Anderson, NEHGS, Boston 2000