Petition of John Shepley of Groton, MA in 1704

My Heritage recently added a huge digitized book collection to its website. Although I have a subscription to My Heritage, the best thing about this collection is that My Heritage has pledged to keep it free for all to access.

I have many colonial New England lines, so I imagine I might find some undiscovered gems buried here. I decided to start the hunt by looking for “Shepley” in Groton, Massachusetts.

Back in March of 2015, I wrote about Susannah Wheeler Shepley, wife of John Shepley. The Shepleys lived in Groton at the time of the 27 July 1694 Indian raid that devastated the little town. Their son, John, was the sole family survivor of this attack. John, born about 1678, was captured and taken to Canada. About 1698, he returned to Groton, married and had a family. John born c1678 is my 8X great grandfather. and I am descended from him a couple of times. He married Lydia Lakin, the daughter of Ensign John and Mary (Bacon) Lakin about 1699, possibly in Groton.

John and Lydia Shepley had six known children, although there are significant gaps which might indicate the loss of young children or possibly some unidentified children. Groton was definitely a town on the frontier and there seem to be some missing records.

Children, births all recorded at Groton:

Jonathan, born 1 September 1700; died 4 November 1744 in Groton; married Lydia Lakin, daughter of William Lakin and Elizabeth Robertson, 26 December 1728.
John, born 1 April 1703; married Elizabeth Boyden on 16 February 1725/26.
Jane, born 6 April 1705; no further record
Mary, born 20 December 1712; married Jonas Varnum, 28 Janaury 1730/31
Nathaniel, born 16 November 1714; no further record
Joseph, born 22 May 1721; no further record

Given the years between some of these births, one would think that John might have married twice, but Lydia survived him, so it is more likely that this list of children is incomplete.

In my first search of the My Heritage book collection, I came across the Proceedings of the Centennial Celebration at Groton, Massachusetts, 1876 and I found the following petition to His Excellency Joseph Dudley in 1704:

ShepleyJohnPetition1704Page1

ShepleyJohn1704PetitionPage2
1704 Petition of John Shepley

I know that money was paid for Indian scalps and, normally, I wouldn’t even be commenting on this topic. However, knowing that John saw his family slaughtered – his mother, his father, his sister and one other unidentified sibling – and that he spent four years in captivity himself, I can only imagine the feelings he had when he made this petition. He and Samuel Butterfield were each paid the sum of four pounds for killing this Indian.

This discovery is okay – perhaps I will find some treasures if I keep digging.

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