I can't believe I haven't written about William Tubbs in the almost three years I've been doing these blog posts. He is really an interesting ancestor, and there's a lot of information about him. There's a great write up in Robert Charles Anderson's The Great Migration, and also other information primarily authored by Louis McCartney, which are worth looking at if this just whets your curiosity.
Once again, the sources disagree on when and where William was born. McCartney thinks about 1617 but Mr. Anderson thinks about 1611. If it was 1611, there is a William Tubbes who was christened September 1, 1611, in Sutton, Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. The father's name was William Tubbes. Many family historians are accepting this as his birthplace and father. Anderson doesn't go that far, but accepts a birthdate of about 1611 due to William's marriage date.
William Tubbs was a shoemaker and a planter, but it's possible that he started out in the New World as a servant or indentured servant. He was illiterate and as either a servant or a tradesman, would have had a lower social status than some of our other ancestors from this time period. As a shoemaker, William was probably kept as busy as he wanted to be. This was not a bad job, as far as trades go. He could work inside in the winter and outside, if he wished, in the warmer months because his only equipment was his shoemaker's bench, which usually also included a box for his tools. It was also a good time to be a shoemaker, because it was only necessary to make one pattern or last for each person. Left and right shoes were still 150 years in the future.
Various dates are given for William's arrival in Plymouth but we know he was there in January of 37/38, when he was admitted a freeman. This likely meant he had been in the colony for a while. He volunteered in June of 1637 to serve in the Pequot War. This was a particularly nasty war with the Puritans murdering hundreds of Indians in their village, along with assorted battles. It did, however, help take the pressure off of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies so the English could continue to expand and start more towns and villages.
As the war wound down, William found love, or we like to think that's what happened. He married Mercy Sprague, daughter of Francis Sprague who had arrived in Plymouth in 1623. The couple had three children together, Bethiah, Samuel, and William. William referred to his two youngest children, Benjamin and Joseph, in his will. These were his children with his second wife, Dorothy.
William and Mercy moved to Duxbury in 1638 or 1639, one of the first towns that Plymouth Colony established. Some of the inhabitants of Duxbury moved there because they found Plymouth to be too strict and they hoped Duxbury would be a little freer. Others moved to Duxbury because they were promised land there. The family may have moved for both of these reasons, or it may have been that it looked like Duxbury would grow and business would be good there. He was granted various pieces of land at Duxbury, and by 1653 sold some of his property, including his "now dwelling house and orchard with housing and whatever appurtenances thereunto..." so apparently he had been busy during the 15 years he had been there. He acquired more property in 1655,1659, and 1662, and in 1658 had to have "Goodwife Thomas, a Welsh woman" removed from his land through court proceedings.
During this same time period, William Tubbs' marriage was coming apart. We don't know the ins and outs or who did what when, but this situation seems to have come right out of the tabloids. Mercy may have been a free spirit, one who was not suited to matrimony in a Puritan culture. She was admonished in 1651/52 against mixed dancing, or which she was cleared but admonished. Ten years later there were charges involving Josepth Rogers, that he had been "lying under a blanket" with Mercy Tubbs. About this time, William started asking for a divorce. In fact, he tried to divorce Mercy in the Old Testament fashion, by giving her a written divorce signed by witnesses. Of course, this was not legally binding, and there were other reports of the misbehavior or Mercy and Josepth. Finally, in 1668, William was able to obtain his divorce from the courts. "Marcye" is referred to"being a woman of ill fame and light behavior apparently manifest, hath for the space of four years and upwards absented and withdrawn herself from the husband into another colony, pretending she is at liberty..." Apparently Mercy regarded the "Old Testament" decree as being good enough for her.
William stayed single for about three years, and then married Dorothy widow Soanes, who had two children. William tried to be careful in this marriage, giving a kind of pre-nuptial agreement so Dorothy would have the use of a house and land that was to return to his heirs upon Dorothy's death.
William and Dorothy got themselves in trouble and were sued for 15 pounds in one case and 100 pounds in another case, for slander and defamation of character. One case was withdrawn, the second was found for the defendant (Tubbs). Dorothy was fined for breaking the King's peace in October of 1674.
William died March 2, 1688, leaving an estate of only 14 pounds, with no real estate included. Some he had already given or sold to a son, but we don't no what became of the rest of his land. He was an interesting character, showing up in court records and in land records, and not much else. It must have been difficult for him to hold his head up high, when his wife was causing such dishonor that a divorce was necessary. We can hope he found some degree of happiness with Dorothy.
The line of descent is:
William Tubbs-Mercy Sprague
Samuel Tubbs-Mary Willey
Mercy Tubbs-John Crocker
Rachel Crocker-Kingland Comstock
Rachel Comstock-John Eames
John Eames-Elizabeth Longbottom
Hannah Eames-James Lamphire
Susan Lamphire-Joseph Eddy
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen