Friday, September 23, 2016

Holbrook line: Edward Converse, Immigrant

I suspect this is on of the best documented of my previously unblogged Holbrook ancestors.  In less than an hour, I've found a lot of information about him, including articles from "The Great Migration Begins" and an article by Douglas Richardson, and one by Robert J. Kurtz.  The problem is, even with these fine sources, they don't always agree, and some of them omit information that others included.  So it's possible that this summary won't quite be correct, as I pick and choose and try to at least get the basics written for my family. 

Edward was most likely born January 30,1589/90 at Stanford Rivers, Essex, England, to Anthony Convers or Combers and Clemence Spady.  They had been married three years when Edward was born.  He had an older brother as well as a younger sister and three younger brothers.  This area was mostly small cottages and farms, rural and probably poor.  We don't know whether Edward could read and write, although we know he signed his name.  Based on all the offices he held in later life, it would surprise me to learn that he was illiterate. 

Anthony married Sarah Parker June 29, 1614, at Great Burstead, Essex, England.  She was the daughter of John and Mary Ashels Parker.  The new family stayed in England for just 16 years, long enough to have three of their four children.  In 1630 the family sailed for New England with the Winthrop Fleet and either landed at or went directly to Boston.  (This was very early, as the Massachusetts Bay Colony had just been established one year earlier.)  Edward was listed as member number 66 when he joined the Boston church in the fall of 1630 and became a freeman in 1631.  In the fall of 1632, Edward and Sarah were dismissed from the Boston church to found a church in Charlestown, where they are listed as founding members.  Edward was a selectman in Charlestown from 1634 until almost the time he moved to Woburn. 

Edward was granted a ferry license, with stated fees, and apparently operated or managed the ferry for most of the time he lived in Charlestown.  He was also busy accumulating land.  By 1638, he had been granted 13 different parcels of land there, most if not all as an original settler, grants from the town and not cash purchases.  Edward and his family, which now included an additional son, moved to Woburn in 1640 and he is considered a founding father of that town.  This was only about 10 miles from Charlestown, but it was "frontier" at the time, and once again all the land needed to be cleared, homes built, and a village set up.  Edward was involved in all of that.   He was a selectman there from the founding of the town to at least 1663, indicating that he was both a strong churchman, a strong leader, and able to get along with his neighbors.  We are also told that he was a tithing-man, responsible for church attendance and discipline.  He is listed as "yeoman" so he was not necessarily of a high social standing.

Edward wrote his will in 1659, when Sarah was still alive, but it wasn't proved until 1665, by which time Sarah had died and he had married Joanna Warren widow Sprague.  He died on August 10, 1663, not long after his remarriage.  I've not found a record of a conflict so perhaps Joanna was treated fairly by the executors, or they came to some sort of an agreement between Edward's death and the date the will was proved. 

I'm sure there is more of Edward's story to be found, and I'm sure that a good story-teller could make much of what we know of him.  The facts don't indicate the emotions and motives behind the moves.  Why did they come to New England?  Why did they leave Charlestown for Woburn?  How did he feel about some of the events in England, including the events that led to England's Civil War?  Were any of his extended family affected by the war?  Was Edward himself in the militia or training band? 

I admire this man.  He lived his life walking in his faith, and he seems to have prospered. He is seldom mentioned in court records (only two incidents, each resolved peaceably) so he was somewhat unusual in that regard.  If we had lived during that time period, he would have been a man to emulate. 

The line of descent is

Edward Converse-Sarah Parker
Mary Converse-Simon Thompson
Jonathan Thompson-Thankful Woodland
Martha Thompson-Ebenezer Thayer
Ebenezer Thayer-Mary Wheelock
Abigail Thayer-Jesse Holbrook
Amariah Holbrook-my missing Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susanna Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook=Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants