Friday, April 17, 2015

Holbook line: John Field 1616-1686, Immigrant

John Field is another mystery.  He is important to our family because he was the immigrant ancestor, and because he seems to be the grand son of the famous John Field, English astronomer and mathematician.  However, little is known about his life.

It is believed that he was born in Thurnscoe, South Yorkshire, England, the son of William Field and Jane Sotwell.  However,  the given year of his birth, 1616, would not permit him to be the son of William, if his birth dates are correct.  He may be the son of one of William's sons, possibly Matthew.  Since we do know John's death year of 1686, he was likely not born much before the date given as 1616.

So if 1616 is correct, then he was quite a young man when he crossed the seas and showed up in what is now Providence, Rhode Island, in 1637.  Providence, of course, was founded by Roger Williams just a couple of years earlier, when Williams was banished from Massachusetts.  The settlers who were in Providence early enough to sign a document agreeing to obey the orders or agreements of the settlement, only in civil things.  He was one of thirteen settlers to sign the first agreement, and one of 39 to sign an agreement in 1640 as to the form of civil government.  We don't know for sure what drove him to Providence but most of the early settlers were there because of their admiration for Roger Williams or/and their desire for religious freedom. 

We know that he acquired or maintained a degree of respectability in Providence, as he is referred to as the Honorable John Field.  He owned land in 1645, in 1655 was made a freeman, and by 1676 was a deputy (probably to a court or council of some kind).  His will, which was submitted on November 22, 1686, showed an inventory of 34 pounds, 19 shillings, 6 pence, but it appears that there may have been more, as the court declined to probate it since a division of property had already been made. 

We know his wife was Ruth Fairbank, possibly the daughter of Jonathan Fairbank and Grace Lee Smith, and they were married in Providence in 1638. Their known children were John, Zechariah, Hannah, Daniel and Ruth. Ruth, widow of John, apparently also died in 1686.  It is believed they are buried in the North Burial Ground, Providence, R.I.

This is as much as I currently know about John Field.  I'd love to know when he came to New England, and why he came to Rhode Island.  Surely he left a record somewhere in New England, if he was in Providence at such an early time.  He must have caught the attention of some church or court, somewhere!  And of course, I'd like to solve the mystery of who his parents really were, as 60 year old couples did not give birth.  There must be more to his story.

The line of descent is:

John Field-Ruth Fairbank
Hannah Field-James Mathewson
Thomas Mathewson-Martha Sheldon
Deborah Mathewson-Joseph Winsor
Lillis Winsor-Nathan Paine
Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy
 Joseph Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis E. Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their Descendents