Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Two Williams: William Palmer the Younger and his brother, William Palmer

In researching, or actually, with the depth that the early residents of Plymouth have been studied, researched and written about, what was left for me to do was just to read about, and not research, Henry Palmer, The Pilgrim, who arrived from England on the second ship to Plymouth, The Fortune, I've found that several people get these two men very confused, thinking, he could not possibly have two sons named William. But he in fact did. One son was born in England and came with him, his wife arriving 2 years later.
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After Henry the Elder's wife Francis Blossom Palmer died, he married a young woman named Mary, and she would also have a son and name him William. Some claim William, son of Mary was born posthumously, but I do not believe so. She was simply expectant with him during the writing of the Will. William the Elder lived for awhile after writing his will and had made arrangements with a neighbor for the care and raising of his child. He seemed to know his time was near, maybe falling into bad health, and after that, his cares and concerns for the stiff rules and regulations of the Pilgrims did not worry him any more, as he was listed among those who had a drunken party at the house of Steven Hopkins in Duxbury, but he did not live to make it to trial.
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Mary Trine  Palmer was obviously much younger than William the Elder. She married twice after his death. Knowing her other children would bear a different name, it probably seemed very important to her that her son bear his father's name, so that he could remember who he was and honor that memory with his own name.

There was without doubt, two sons of William Palmer, named William Palmer. Some family trees have the elder brother William being the father of Elizabeth Palmer Head, the direct ancestor of my grandson, but that was not the case.

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William Palmer the Younger, the eldest son William:

William arrived at Plymouth along with father when he was about 15 years old. 
He appears in several records during the lifespan of his father, clearly as himself, referred to as William the Younger. He had siblings, recorded as half-siblings, who remained in England, Henry and Bridget. Being older, they may have started families of their own already, or intended to, and did not want to leave to make the dangerous journey. 

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Younger, as I will call him, was listed with his parents on the May 22, 1627 document, "Division of Cattle". 

He was listed on the freeman's list in 1633 and taxed at 9 shillings in 1634. It seems at this point, he was considered to have been of age. 

Younger married Elizabeth Hodgkins on March 27, 1634 in Plymouth. They had one daughter, Rebecca.

Younger died prior to the August 25, 1636 settlement of his estate. He would have been about 30 years old. Property was mentioned and debts were owed. 

His widow Elizabeth would remarry to Deacon John Willis. 

At a session of court on January 2, 1638, John Willis and his wife Elizabeth sued the executors of the estate of William Palmer, Sr. for damages for a lot of land which they claimed they had a right to, due to the marriage of Elizabeth to William Palmer, the younger, son of William Palmer, the elder, but the jury did not find in their favor. 
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 The Willis's were living in Duxbury in 1640. John Willis owned land "northwest of North Hill" and also 50 acres at Namasakeeset. He sold his property in 1657 and they moved to Bridgewater. 

Rebecca Palmer was born about 1635 to William the Younger and wife Elizabeth Hodgkins Palmer. Her grandfather, William the Elder, left her a legacy in his will, that was not to be put into her father or mother's hands, but preserved for her until she came of age. It sounded like he did not trust either parent to hold her property to her, although he loved his little granddaughter. 
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In 1651, Rebecca would have been around 16 years old. Her step-father, John Willis, filed a complaint against Trustum Hull and his wife on behalf of his step-daughter Rebecca (this relationship was referred to as a daughter-in-law in those days). He charged the Hulls with assault and battery on Rebecca and claimed that she was "molested and hindered in performing faithful services unto her master, Samuel Mayo, of Barnstable by the wife of Trustum Hull, of Barnstable".  The charge also claimed, "The Court have sent downe order by Roger Goodspeed, grandjuryman, of Barnstable, aforesaid to warn the wife of ye said Trustum Hull to desist from such practices any further, as shee or any other that shall do will answare it at theire perill, and allsoe that the said wife of Trustum Hull doe gie answare not appeering at this Court nor her attornie to answare the suite comenced against her by the said John Willis."
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The defendants were found to have defaulted. I can not find who Rebecca married or if she survived. It is apparent that her stepfather hired her out. His intervention on her behalf does not necessarily mean that he cared for her safety. If she was beaten so badly as to have been hindered from her work for the Rev. Mayo, he may not have gotten the wages she earned, that would have gone to him, and therefore, could have been all about money. 

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William Palmer, son of Mary. The Youngest William.

I've seen two different birthdates for this William: June 26/27 1634 and 1638. I've even seen him being listed as two different Williams. There seems to be no evidence of that, that one died and another was born and renamed with the same name. There are facts that definitely separate him from his half-brother, William the Younger. 

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William may have been adopted by Robert Paddock and his first wife, prior to Paddock marrying Mary, the widow of William Palmer. In the book, "Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England: Miscellaneous Records, 1633-1689" Nathaniel B Shurtleff, in 1857, is this passage:

"Register of the Age of some of the Children of Robert Paddock, William Palmer, the son in law of the said Robert Paddocke, was borne the 27th of June 1634."

In the November 13, 1637 inventory of the estate of William the Elder, an amount of money was set aside to "goodwife padock for ye child". 

On October 20, 1646 Robert Paddock asked the Court for "an account of which is due unto him by the last will and testament of William Palmer, deceased." As the amount was the same as the amount designated to his wife for the care of the child, it can rightfully assumed that the first wife passed away and the money set aside by William the Elder to care for the small child was due to Robert Paddock.

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Around 1663, William Palmer, the youngest and the only one still living, married Sussannah Briggs. Sussanah was the daughter of John and Sarah Cornell Briggs. 
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He appears in the records as follows:

  • May 22, 1657-Listed as a creditor to the estate of William Bradford.
  • April 28, 1659- William Palmer of Plymouth, a Cooper, son of William of Duxbury, a Nailer, deceased, acknowledged that he had recieved the full portion of his share of the legacy of his father's Will and released the Executors of the Will from any future claims. He recieved money and a horse.
  • He also recieved from his father's property, a lot in Acconquesse that had been distributed to William Palmer, Nailer and 57 other of the first settlers of Plymouth, by an act of Court on March 3, 1639. Young William selected his spot on the east side of the Acushnet River in Duxbury. 
  • On March 24, 1661 William Palmer of "Accushenah" (present day Dartmouth), a Cooper, sold to John Barnes, Yeoman of Plymouth, "all that my home 'lott', lying and being at Accushenah (25 acres) with all the house, housing, and fences thereon with 3 acres of meadow as yet unlayed out.....except my right of commonage." It can be understood that the names Acconquesse, Achushnet and Accushenah, were all one and the same place.
  • June 5, 1666, William Palmer was named as a Constable of Dartmouth.
  • June 5, 1667 William Palmer and Thomas Roberts of Dartmouth, bought from Edward Gray of Plymouth, his half share of upland which he had purchased of John Russell in Dartmouth. Thomas Roberts was William Palmer (of Dartmouth's) stepfather at this time. 
  • May 29, 1670 William Palmer is listed as a Freeman of Dartmouth.  
  • June 6, 1671, William Palmer was appointed as a Surveyor of Highways.
  • 1672, he was again appointed as a Surveyor of Highways. 
  • June 3, 1674 William Palmer was one of 3 representatives from Dartmouth to the General Court at Plymouth.
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Acushnet River

By the time William Palmer, the Youngest or "Of Dartmouth", was a grown man, the Native Americans in the area had grown more than annoyed with the Englishmen's growing encroachment. 

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The region was under constant attack during the summer of 1675, during King Phillips War. King Phillip was otherwise known as "Metacomet". When relations between the Pilgrims and the Natives were good, he had adopted the name "King Phillip", in order to gain a closer relationship and understanding of the Pilgrims. I will not go into the details of the War, but to state that the English and other immigrants built garrisons for protection against Indian attack. 
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One was built by John Russell on the west side of the river and John Cooke had built one on the east. William Palmer built one on Palmer Island in the Acushnet River. A settlement east of the river was burned by attacking Natives in June of 1675. Most of the survivors took refuge at Cooke's garrison. William Palmer, the youngest "of Dartmouth" was on his way to this garrison when he was ambushed and killed.

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Being a younger man, probably around 40 in age, he had not yet made a will. An inventory of his estate was made on June 30, 1675 and was presented in court by his widow, Susannah Palmer on June 3, 1679. Letters of Administration were granted to widow, Sussanah Palmer of Dartmouth and the court appointed neighbor John Russell and her brother, William Briggs, as overseers to assist her in settling her deceased husbands estate.
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After the estate was settled, Sussanah and her children moved back to her hometown of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where she could be close to her family, her brothers and parents. Once there, she married John Northway, who was a close family friend. Her sons by Wiliam Palmer were not satisfied in Portsmouth and set out to the new settlement of Little Compton, Rhode Island.
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Widowed once more, Sussanah herself moved to Little Compton after John Northway's death, presumably to be near her sons and grandchildren. She was there in 1697. On March 2, 1702 Sussanah Northway, widow, purchased property in Tiverton, Rhode Island, from Edward Gray. This property was located right next to her son, Joseph Palmer.

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The threes sons of William Palmer of Dartmouth, Cooper and Sussanah Briggs were;

1) William Palmer III born in 1664 in Dartmouth. He married Mary Richmond in 1685. William had died by 1745. He and Mary settled in Little Compton and were the parents of 12 children. I will post more on this family as this is the direct line that my grandson descends from.

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2) John Palmer, born May 18, 1665. John Palmer married Elizabeth Richmond, the sister of Mary who married his brother. When Elizabeth died, he married Mary Blood, daughter of Gideon Blood. John was a soldier in the Colonial Wars and attained the rank of Captain. In early deeds, he is called a "Carpenter" and in later documents, he is referred to as a "Gentleman", so he appears to have risen in status in later years. John died October 13, 1752 and is buried with his two wives in the Little Compton Olde Commons Cemetery. 

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3) Jospeh Palmer, born  in 1667, married a woman named Sarah. Joseph made his home in Tiverton, and took care of his mother Sussanah in her later days. After the death of their mother, William and John, who lived in Little Compton, signed their portion of their mother's land in Tiverton, that she had purchased from Edward Gray, to Joseph. Joseph would move back to Little Compton in his later days and was referred to in later documents as a "Yeoman" and "Husbandman". He died in Little Compton in 1728.

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Knowing that those who don't stick their noses into history are probably unfamiliar with some of the careers of the Palmer men, I've decided to define these occupations or titles. 

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Nailer- Simply put, he made nails for building. Nailers at this time, would have been first and foremost farmers and pursuing their occupation of nail-making during the winter and times of bad weather, when they did not have to attend to their crops. It was in other terms, a part-time occupation. William Palmer, the nailer, would have learned his trade in Sudbury, England, where nails were made in a "Slitting Mill", and undoubtedly brought his tools with him to America. Because of his skillset, he may have been selected and sought out to contribute to the building of a new Colony. His son, William the Younger, was most likely an apprentice to his father, and was sought out as well. 

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Cooper- William Palmer, the Youngest, or "of Dartmouth", was a Cooper. He did not grow up with his father, the Nailer, but with a stepfather. In this sense, he was probably apprenticed out to a Cooper in the village at a young age to learn the trade. Cooper's were barrel-makers. The name probably started with a term for working with copper. Barrels were used for many things in the early Colonies, especially in ports. They were used for the storage and shipping of everything from gin to flour to gunpowder. Coopers did not make just barrels, either. They made a variety of items from buckets to churns to pipes. William would not have lacked for work. 

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Yeoman-Yeoman, originally in Old England,was a knight's retainer, coming from "young man". In later days, it pretty much referred to a farmer who tended to his own property, as opposed to a Gentleman, who had servants to tend the property for him. Joseph Palmer, son of William the Cooper, was called a Yeoman. He was also referred to later, as a Husbandman, which was considered below the status of a Yeoman, and either referred to a tenant farmer, or either one who tended to animals. This change may have taken place in his older years, when he sold his property in Tiverton and moved to Little Compton. He may have went from tending his own property, which may have gotten to be too much for him, to just tending animals on someone's else's property, or tending a small spot on someone else's land, maybe that of a member of his own family. 
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Gentleman- Captain John Palmer, son of William the Cooper, seems to have advanced in life further than his two brothers. It stood for a Member of the Landed Gentry and stood below the title of "Esquire" and above that of "Yeoman". John, perhaps because of his military service, would have owned a substantial portion of land and would have had at minimum, a few servants to work it. 

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From here, we will move on to William Palmer of Little Compton, son of William the Cooper of Dartmouth, son of William the Nailer of Plymouth, who married Mary Richmond and was the father of Elizabeth Palmer who married Henry Head. 


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