John Dane & Rev. Francis Dane, His Son, of Andover, MA

John Dane and his son, Rev. Francis Dane, were early residents of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, having settled there by the late 1630s.

Not a lot is known about John Dane. Assuming John Dane was at least 21 when he married, he was born no later than c1584, as he married Frances (possibly Bowyer) c1605. The Danes were likely from Hertfordshire, possibly Bishops Stortford or a nearby village, as daughter Elizabeth married there in 1628 and John’s second wife, Agnes Bayford, was also from Bishops Stortford, although they married in the colonies after emigrating.

Some say Frances (Bowyer) Dane died in England before the family emigrated to the colonies. Others say she died c1642. John married (2) Agnes/Annis Bayford, 2 July 1643, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. She was the widow of William Chandler. Agnes/Annis married (3) John Parmenter, 9 August 1660, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

John Dane was not only literate, but his will is “on file in his own handwriting” in the Boston court records.

I’m not going to even pretend that I could read the handwriting, but a partial transcript was published in the New England Historical Genealogical Register IX:37 in January 1855:

John Dane and wife Frances had only three surviving children:

  1. Elizabeth, born c1607, England, if she was 21 years old when she married; died 21 January 1693/94, Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts; married James Howe, 27 June 1628, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He was born c1603; died 17 May 1702, reportedly at the age of 104 years old.
  2. John, born c1612, England; reportedly died November 1673; married Eleanor Clarke, by 1638
  3. Francis, born c1615, England; died 17 February 1696/97, Andover, Essex, Massachusetts; married (1) Elizabeth Ingalls, c1640 She was born c1618, England; died 9 June 1676, Andover, Essex, Massachusetts (2) Mary (MNU) Thomas, 22 November 1677, Andover, Essex, Massachusetts (3) Hannah Chandler Abbott, c1690.

Reverend Francis Dane had quite an interesting life. He graduated from Kings College, Cambridge in 1633. A few short years later, the family sailed for Massachusetts, settling in Roxbury. Francis was an ordained minister, who was well respected and highly influential in the town of Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, where Francis made his home and raised his family.

He was appointed as the second pastor of the North Parish of Andover in 1649. He spoke up against witchcraft by 1658, when John Godfrey of Salem, Massachusetts was charged for the first of three times. (He was acquitted all three times.)

About 1680, Reverend Francis was getting up there in years, being about 65, and his parishioners decided they wanted a younger, more vibrant minister. The lives of the Dane family began to change quite dramatically at that point.

The Andover church hired Thomas Barnard to replace Francis Dane, but the court ruled that the church had to pay both men, who were to share £80. Barnard was paid £50, while Dane received only £30.

Neither man was likely happy with this outcome; tension between the two was inevitable, but further strain was put on their relationship when Thomas Barnard not only invited two of the Salem witchcraft accusers to visit an Andover prayer meeting, he went one step further.

A “touch test” was instituted by Barnard and it was unique to the Andover community. Basically, if an afflicted person was having an hysterical episode and the person who was accused of causing it touched him/her with the fit then ending, the accused was considered guilty of being a witch.

Rev. Dane not only spoke out against the witchcraft hysteria, he petitioned the governor and General Court to step in and end the witch trials. As a result, the Dane family had more of its members accused of witchcraft than any other family.

The reverend himself was accused (although not arrested) as were two of his daughters, various in-laws and grandchildren: Elizabeth Dane Johnson, Abigail Johnson, Dr. John Dane, Deliverance Dane, Hannah Dane, Phebe Dane, Nathaniel Dane, Stephen Johnson and Abigail Faulkner.

Daughter Abigail Dane Faulkner was examined twice, on 11 August and 30 August, 1692, convicted and sentenced to death. The governor reprieved her sentence because of insufficient evidence and the fact that she was pregnant. (Aside: Does that mean if she hadn’t been pregnant, he might not have issued the reprieve???)

Thus, the last few years of Reverend Francis Dane’s life were fraught with stress and worry. His will was written during this period. Rev. Dane died on 17 February 1696/97 in Andover, Essex, Massachusetts.

9 thoughts on “John Dane & Rev. Francis Dane, His Son, of Andover, MA”

  1. I’ve recently discovered a cousin was the second wife of Francis Dane! He didn’t save a different cousin from being hanged, but did come to her defense. Great post “cousin in-law”.

  2. Guess we are cousins. My 7x great grandfather is William Goodhue who married Hannah Dane.

    Scott William Goodhue

  3. Re: Abigail Dane Faulkner, my great times 9 grandmother. Women who were sentenced to hang and were pregnant were never hung per English law at that time. They waited until the baby was born. The governor’s pardon had nothing to do with her being pregnant.

  4. I obtained my love of genealogy from my mother, and have known for a long time that I was a descendant of Abigail Dane Faulkner and Rev. Francis Dane. What I recently discovered was that I am directly descended to Rev. Dane’s third wife, Hannah Chandler Abbot, through my father’s family. I love discovering interesting tidbits. I am also directly descended from Sarah Smith Buckley, Mary Buckley Witheridge and her second husband Benjamin Proctor, and son of John Proctor (hung 8/19/1692) and his first wife Martha Giddings. Interesting stuff!

    1. wow this is so frustrating , I know I am connected to these families, the names just keep reappearing…..my ggrandfather was Hiram Dane from Maine USA born circa 1809 possibly came to New Zealand on whaling or seal hunting boats as occupation listed was boatman. I dont even have a birthdate for him. Its close via DNA matches ,but not quite sure where to go with this one……..

  5. Hi, all!

    Just discovered this great blog site with details about John and Francis Dane early settlers in Essex County, Mass.
    Does anyone know whether Nathan Dane (one of the authors of the Northwest Ordinance, is a direct descendant of John and Francis? (One of his siblings is an ancestor of mine, but not nearly as important to American history!) Many thanks for any help here.

    1. John Dane Sr had two sons, John and Francis. Francis was the minister at Andover who was instrumental in ending the witch trials. Nathan Dane is descended from his brother, John.

      I am descended from the Rev. Francis Dane, and grew up with the stories of the witch trials. But, I think we can all be proud to be connected to both him and his great great (can’t remember how many generations) nephew, Nathan Dane. They are both important players in the history of the colonies and the United States.

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