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Monday, February 1, 2016

John Briggs 1595

The information on John Briggs is based on the research done by Douglas Richardson and published in The American Genealogist Vol. 59 in 1983. It was hoped that updated information was available, by now, but apparently that doesn’t seem to be the case. I have not been able to find any documentation in the Gloucestershire, England records, found on-line. There may, in fact, be non-digitized information, but a trip to England was not going to happen any time soon. 

A general research of the name Briggs shows that the name may well have originally been a Yorkshire name, before the Battle of Hastings. It was spelled Brugges, which in its original form meant ‘Bridges.’ This could have meant they lived near a bridge or were keepers of a bridge, collecting tolls for the magistrate of the area. Whatever the case, there are families of Bridges and families of Briggs and there may be other spellings as well. They could all be connected back in the mists of time, but I only went back as far as 1595.

According to the information in TAG, John Briggs was b. 1595 in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England. He is my 10th great grandfather.  He was the son of Richard Briggs and Agnes Wingod. John married Agnes Thayer and they had 6 children, all born in England:

John - bp. Sep 27 1634 in Thornbury
Katherine - bp. Jan 6 1636/7
Richard - bp. Mar 17 1638/9
Samuel - b. 1641
*William - b. c. 1645
Hugh - b. unknown

One of the biggest issues in researching this family was untangling some of the previous research from another John Briggs (b. 1609) family. This John Briggs was married to Hannah Fisher and does not seem to have any connection to this line of Briggs.  What made it confusing was they both ended up in the same general geographical location. Fortunately, there are some records that show John (1609) was one of the purchasers of Aquidneck Island, RI, while the John Briggs I was following settled in Taunton, MA. Still they used so many of the same names for their children and the families did move around, that it was a hair puller, for sure.

So to continue, William Briggs, b. c. 1645, in England, came here with his parents and siblings sometime around 1657. They spent a few years in the Marshfield, MA (remember this was actually Plymouth Colony) before moving to Taunton. In Marshfield, William married Sarah MacCumber, whose family came from Dorchester, Devonshire, England. Sarah had a twin brother, William McCumber.  By Jan. 1667, they were in Taunton where their first child was born. Their family:

*William - 1667-1731, m. Mehitable Blake
Thomas - 1669-1740, m. Abigail Thayer
Elizabeth - 1671-1735, m. Elkanah Babbitt
Hannah - b. 1672, m. Samuel Woodward
Mary - b. 1674, m. Jacob Staple
Matthew - 1676-1765, m. Abigail Burt
Amos - b. 1678-1770, m. Sarah Payne
John - b. 1680, Hannah Rockett

The first five were born in Taunton and the rest may have been too, I just haven’t found verification for them. Also, I have seen other lists of children for this family and Amos was not included in all of them. I am leaving him in this list because I can not prove one way or another, if he belongs to this William and Sarah Briggs.

Their oldest son, another William, married twice. He first married Elizabeth Lincoln in 1693. They had a daughter, Sarah, b. Jul 5 1894 in Taunton, MA.
He then married Mehitable Blake in Milton, MA on Jun 16 1696.
Their children were:

Agnes - 1697- c. 1735
*Nathaniel - 1698-1773 m. Judith Guild
Mehitable - c. 1703-1782 m. John Ware
Eliphalet  - b. c. 1706
Seth – b. c. 1798

Nathaniel Briggs (1698-1773) is recorded as Lt. in most of the records found, possibly serving in the French and Indian War. He married Judith Guild (1697-1774), the daughter of Deacon John Guild and Sarah Fisher, of Dedham and Wrentham, MA. Judith was the 7th of eight children, born in Wrentham, Norfolk Co., MA. Nathaniel and Judith had eight children as well. They were:

Nathaniel, b. c. 1721
Margaret, b. c. 1723 m. Nehemiah Willis
Jemima (c. 1724-1789) m. John Harvey – They lived in NH
*Judith (c.1725-c.1773) m. Joseph Tower
Marcy, b. c. 1730
William, b 1736
John (?-c.1773)

Information found on the Find-a-Grave site says that Nathaniel and Judith were the 3x great grandparents of five men with the surname Ball, the founders of the Ball Corporation. They were also instrumental in the creation of the Ball State University in Muncie, IN. It also states they were 5x great grandparents of Senator John Goodwin Tower, former US Senator from TexasSenator Tower and his daughter were killed in a plane crash in 1991.

The next generation will be following Judith Briggs. She was also recorded as Judah, but it proved difficult to find much information about her. Fortunately, I had some information which helped. I needed to jump forward several generations and work back which is how I found her in New Brunswick. She fell into that time period before the American Revolution when many colonists were heading north to take up free land offered by King George. A host of people left Cape Cod, SW Massachusetts and RI, for Nova Scotia. To make matters more difficult for researchers, part of Nova Scotia was divided and renamed New Brunswick sometime in the 1780’s. This means that any research for that time frame needs to include both Provinces. A great deal has been written about the families that remained in the colonies, but not much has been written about the ones who headed to Canada. Possibly there was no way to know where certain missing family members had gone or perhaps it was assumed they died young.

Here follows what is known about Judith Briggs, daughter of Nathaniel and Judith Guild Briggs.

Judith Briggs and Joseph Tower were married in 1743 in Attleborough, MA. Soon after, they removed to Cumberland Hill, RI.  They had a family of 7 children, all born in Cumberland Hill, with the possible exception of they very youngest child.  Joseph’s name was listed as a grantee of Sackville, c. 1760, but it was noted that he never took possession of his grant. Joseph was lost at sea around 1761.  One research report claims that Joseph died enroute to Canada, which is entirely possible. Judith was now a widow with a new baby or soon to be new baby. Her older children were also heading north for the free lands as part of the Planter Migration to occupy the vacated Arcadian homes and farms.  There is no telling if Nancy, the youngest was born in RI, on the way to Sackville, or was born after their arrival.
Judith and Joseph’s children were:

*Benjamin – 1744-1804 m. Ann Finney
Joseph – 1746-1822 m. Ellen Mason,  relocated to Ira, VT
Nathaniel – 1748 – 1836 m. Lucy Tingley, relocated to Lennox, PA
Joshua – 1750-1753
Lucy – 1752-1822 m. Gideon Smith
William – 1755-1783 lost at sea
Nancy – c. 1761 – 1828 m. Gershom Maxwell

Benjamin was the progenitor of the Towers in New Brunswick. In 1770, the return of the Township of Sackville showed:
Benjamin Tower (1 man, 1 woman, 3 boys)
500 acres of land, 2 oxen, 2 cows, 7 young neat cattle, 8 sheep, 1 swine.
Benjamin and Ann Finney Tower had 10 children, all born in NS/NB:

Joshua – b.1768
Benjamin – b.1770
George – b.1772
Nathaniel – b. 1774
William – (c.1776 - c.1804)
*Phebe Elizabeth – 1777 – 1822 m.  Edward Buck
Ann -  b. c. 1780 m. Charles Delesdernier
Joseph – (b. c. 1784 – 1857) m. Sarah Maxwell
Gideon – b. c. 1786 m. Catherine McFarlane
Ruth -  b. 1787 m. Israel Thornton

Phebe Elizabeth Tower m. Edward Buck in c. 1792. It is believed that Edward arrived in Canada as part of the Yorkshire immigration, which began in the 1780’s. However, no factual information has been found to support this. It is on record that he came from England, just not where in England. He settled on land that became part of the gypsum mining industry. There were many such mines in New Brunswick, most on private lands. Phebe and Edward had 7 children.

Edward – (1797 – 1875) m. Mary Ann Finney
George – (1798 – 1878) m. Phebe Palmer
Ann Buck – (1800 – 1833) m. Benjamin Simonton, relocated to Cass Co., IA
William – (1801 – 1819)
Thomas – (1803 – 1819
James Richard – (1812 – 1874) m. Sarah Mitton
Phebe – (1814 – 1881) m. Leighton Card

Phebe and Edward are my 4th great grandparents and both are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, Dorchester, NB. Since I have already completed other blogs on the Buck family, I will end this line with this couple.

As a note of interest, for a few years I worked with a Mr. Simonton. I asked him if he knew anything about his ancestry and it seems that someone in his family had done some research. As it turned out, his family was related to the Benjamin Simonton who married Ann Buck. What turned out to be even more remarkable was that he grew up in the town right next to my home town. As a teenager, he had worked at a drugstore where my mother did business. I love small world stories!!

Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Vital and Town Records.
New England Historical and Genealogical Register

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