Robert Mason and the Bolton Massacre of 1644

Yesterday, I shared data on the family of Sampson Mason and his wife, Mary Butterworth, who lived in Rehoboth, Massachusetts in the 1600s.

It seems that the Mason and Butterworth ancestral origins weren’t far apart back in Old England as Bolton to Halifax is only about 40 miles distance.

It is unusual, at least in my family, to find ancestors who hailed from the north of England. Many of mine came from Devon, Cornwall, and some of the other southern, or at least more southern shires, of England.

However, the Masons and the Butterworths were from northern England towns about 40 miles apart – the Mason family from Bolton, Lancashire and the Butterworth clan from Halifax, West Riding, Yorkshire. Both are close to Manchester.

Back in the 1600s, forty miles’ distance made it very unlikely that the families knew each other, but they may have felt some kinship with each other on arrival in Massachusetts with so many other families from the south.

Today’s story is about Robert Mason. The name of his wife isn’t known and he is credited with a houseful of children, but the only records I am able to locate name:

Mary – possibly this child, baptized 28 August 1621, Wigan, Lancashire, England, daughter of one Robert Mason, was a sister to Sampson. Wigan is only ten miles from Bolton and it is certainly possible that the family moved from one village to another.

Sampson, baptized 6 December 1624, St. Peter Bolton, Lancashire

Thomas, baptized 29 January 1638, St. Peter Bolton, Lancashire

None of these records names a mother and no likely marriage record has been found for this Robert.

However, Robert’s death has been well documented, as he was one of 78 people (76 men and 2 women) who were killed in the Storming of Bolton, or the Bolton Massacre on 28 May 1644.

This event was a brutal episode during the English Civil War. Bolton had two strikes against it – it was supportive of Parliament and Oliver Cromwell AND it was strongly non-conformist in terms of religious leanings.

On that fateful day, Prince Rupert mounted an attack on Bolton. The Parliamentarians fortified the town by setting up a defensive line of men, ready to defend their homes and families.

Fighting continued until the Parliamentarians were overcome by the Royalists. A true count of men lost doesn’t exist. Some sources claim thousands were killed, but town records only name 78 souls lost in the battle.

There are a number of undocumented lores about Sampson’s involvement in the Civil War, but I hestitate to repeat them since they are just that – lore.

Thus, the story of Robert Mason and his family is quite short. Perhaps future research will shed light on his wife and other possible children.

Next week, I will outline Mary Butterworth’s ancestors, which have already been proven.


14 thoughts on “Robert Mason and the Bolton Massacre of 1644”

  1. Thank you for this post! I am researching Masons and Edsons in Swansea and Rehoboth, MA and I think this line pertains to me, though I have to confirm it.

    1. Hi Ellen , I am also from Robert and son Samsons line. I am doubly related thru Cousin marriages thru out the generations. The latest being my Grandpa Robert Mason to Sadie Bell Mason/Keim.. I will gladly share any information I have been able to find. Cousin,Karen Mason

  2. i am descended from Daniel Mason who would move to Erie county NY. He was a Rev. War Soldier and perhaps was killed by Native Americans. His son Truman Mason was the father of my great grandfather Daniel Mason born in 1850 in New Hope Illinois . i have some dna matches . but not necessarily Mason line.

  3. This is great! I found that my grandpa’s ancestors were Robert Mason and Mary Butterworth so I love the information

  4. I am also a descendant of Robert Mason and Hannah Wheaton. Thank you for your information and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  5. My Aunt, Mary Jane King married Frank Mason from Swansea Mass. He owned Walk Over Shoes on Main St., in Taunton Massachusetts. They married at mid life and had no issue. There are Masons buried in the Cohannet St Cemetery, it’s beautiful. Permission is required now to enter. I have some photos of these people as well as the desk used in the home to
    Keep the records. Aunt May also had a genealogy sheet done and her husband did go back to Sampson. Taunton is about 10 minutes drive by car to Taunton. King Phillips war took place all around the area.

  6. Thanks for the wealth of information. Sampson is my 7th great grandfather. I’m curious how many relatives are still in the Rehoboth and Swansea area. My Mason ancestors slowly moved west through Pennsylvania, Kansas, Colorado then California by the late 1800s. Thinking of doing a trip back to the Rehoboth area.

    Samuel Mason, Elizabeth Miller
    James Mason, Rose Nails
    James Mason, Mary Coggseshall
    John Ellis Mason, Mary Dorcas Loman
    Benjamin Mason, Nancy Johnson
    Owen Benjamin “Oldbuck” Mason, Francis Ann Benton
    Herbert B Mason, Mary Ethel Johnson
    Herbert B Mason Jr, Thelma Ellison
    And myself…..

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