Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Allen line: John Fish 1620-1689

Much is in dispute about John Fish.  Most sources list him as having been born at Market Harborough, Great Bowden, Leicester, England in 1620/21, the second son of Robert and Alice Fish (her maiden name seems to have been Fish also; it is frequently seen as Fyshe, perhaps in an attempt to differentiate between the two families).  Robert died in 1639, leaving his wife with 10 children, some in early adulthood and the youngest just four months old.  It appears to be during this time period that John and his brother Thomas came to the New World, most likely to find a way to support themselves and perhaps hoping to send money back to their mother. We don't know what kind of education he had in Market Harborough, although he later taught school, so he certainly learned at least the basics.  There was a good preparatory school in Market Harborough, and he may have gone there with the hopes of going on to a university.   

When John arrived in New England, he disappears for a few years.  This means he likely wasn't a landowner or the head of a family, and it also means he may not have been a member of a church.  He apparently shows up in Wethersfield and Mystic, Connecticut, and also in Stratford and finally Stonington by 1670, when he is listed on a record of inhabitants.  He was apparently a man with a temper, and seems to have moved from at least one of these locations (Stratford) due to quarrels with his neighbors.  I haven't seen the records, but it is reported that he seems to have made some unwarranted accusations that eventually made their way to the courts. 

John and his son Samuel were among the volunteers who fought in the Narrangansett War of 1675-76, and eventually, in 1700, Samuel was awarded land in his own name and also his deceased father's name in Voluntown, as a reward for their service. 

John apparently had three wives, but only the first, Mary Ireland, gave him children.  His second wife was Martha Stark, who was unfaithful and absconded with Samuel Culver in 1674.  John was able to obtain a divorce six years later, and then in 1681 married Hannah Palmer Hewitt Steery.  He would have been about sixty years old at this time.  He was at this time a school teacher, instructing the children of Stonington in reading, writing, arithmetic, and grammar.

He was also a land surveyor, and laid out many of the public lands.  By grant and by purchase, he became the proprietor of quite a lot of land in Stonington and at Groton, "considerably over one thousand acres".  So far I have been unable to locate a specific date of death, although it is believed to be about 1689.  I've also not located his will, although it seems that with over 1000 acres of land he would have had a will of some sort, unless he died very suddenly.  More research needs to be done, as usual.

If we are looking for an ancestor to emulate, perhaps John Fish is not the one.  He seems to have had a bit of a temper, and perhaps wasn't easy to live with, moving as frequently as he did.  But I'd love to hear his side of the story, because drawing any real conclusions.  He certainly came to the New World with hopes and dreams, and I hope they were realized, at least to some degree.  For his service to his country, we owe him gratitude. 

The line of descent is:

John Fish-Mary Ireland
Samuel Fish-Sarah Starke
Abigail Fish-Daniel Eldridge
Sarah Eldridge-Thomas Chester
Bathsheba Chester-Jonathan Havens
Betsy Havens-John Starr
John Havens Starr-Clarissa Falley
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants